A lot of the high-end LGA2011 motherboards on the market today all top out at mostly the same spec and some with the same level of insanity used in the design. Most boards you’d see around are featured around the needs of the enthusiast overclocker or ultra high-end gamer, which feature quad-channel memory, PCI-Express 3.0 ports and a smorgasbord of overclocking-related enthusiast features. That’s all fine and dandy, but some of us, gamers in particular, don’t want that kind of needless complexity. So what if you use computers in a professional capacity as well as for pleasure? What if you’d like a board that could run Crysis but offers you more in the way of capability, expandability and productivity, rather than just the ability to clock a Core i7 3770K to insanely high speeds? Enter the 6PXSV3, a workstation motherboard that you might want to appear in your wishlist very soon.
Based on Intel’s high-end workstation C604 chipset, the 6PXSV3 brings two things not commonly found on enthusiast boards – legacy connectivity and ultra-reliable components. The board features a 6-phase VRM with CPL chokes, IR-made FETS and a VRM controller for high voltage stability. There’s eight RAM slots on board supporting up to 256GB of DDR3-1600 ECC Registered DIMMs, with the option for up to 64GB of regular DDR3 RAM.
Also standard is two PCI-Express 3.0 16x ports and one PCI-Express 2.0 4x slot. If you’re wondering where the other PCI lanes disappeared to, they were eaten up by the four SAS ports for enterprise hard drives. In addition there’s also four SATA 3Gb/s ports, two SATA 6Gb/s ports, a COM port, VGA-out, six USB 2.0 ports and 7-in-1 channel audio courtesy of an onboard Realtek chip. There’s also dual Gigabit LAN for teaming, with the third ethernet port serving as a management interface.
So how much will it cost? If you have to ask, honestly, you probably can’t afford it. The 6PXSV3 is meant for high-end workstations that need more reliability, but it could also serve as a high-end board for an ultra high-end gaming rig. There is a huge amount of Xeon chips to choose from, but the way in which they work with data is different to a desktop processor. Whether running modern games on Xeon CPUs will help isn’t something a lot of sites on the internet have investigated. A while ago you could use Nehalem-based Xeons and overclock them as well, but that’s only because Nehalem processors for desktops were thinly disguised workstation processors anyway.
If your workload deals with virtual machines, Photoshop and programming more than games and you don’t want to spend ridiculous amounts on a proper Xeon server, this board with an entry-level Xeon quad-core chip and 32-64GB of RAM would allow for a very flexible option. The option to not use SAS drives also helps drive down the cost of running a proper server/workstation, while the management-only ethernet port allows admins the full use of Intel’s enterprise network features without buying into a rackmount server and an expensive support agreement with IBM, Dell or HP.
Whether its got any place in a high-end gaming rig is a good question. I know a fair amount of people who use older Xeon chips for gaming, but whether or not that brings any benefits is something I’m still struggling to find out. As it is, the high-end Core i7 chips are based on lower-end server processors and the Core i7-3770K is all the CPU most gamers will probably ever need. Will Xeon help make things smoother? I doubt it, but then again, there’s always bragging rights to consider.
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