Sapphire Pure Black X79N review

Sapphire hitting the top end of Intel's motherboard chipsets

TODO alt text

The real eye-catching element of the Sapphire Pure Black X79N, once you get it out of the box, is the sheer number of PCIe lanes this thing sports.

With six PCIe x16 slots stretching out into the motherboard horizon, it's ready and able to take all the interface cards you care to throw at it.

To control them, Sapphire not only uses the lanes built into the CPU, it also employs the services of an Nvidia SF200 chip to supply enough extra PCIe lanes support everything. Inevitably, though, even that extra chip can't offer full x16 functionality to all six slots, so they're split up.

Right, deep breath, here we go…

Slots 1 (full x16 speed) and 2 (x8) use lanes provided by the CPU and are to the Generation 3 specification, while slots 3 - 6 are looked after by the Nvidia chip and are Gen 2.5 ready.

The speeds for these Nvidia controlled slots are as follows; slot 3 and 5 are both x16/x8, while slots 4 and 6 are x8 speed only.

Sapphire pure black x79n


Well, what this all means is that because of that extra Nvidia silicon, you can run a three-card CrossFireX setup at full x16 speed. But despite that existing Nvidia silicon, there's no SLI loving for its graphics cards.

That probably shouldn't come as much of a surprise from such an AMD-centric brand, but we have seen SLI from Sapphire before...

As much as the graphical interfaces are important, a good enthusiast's motherboard stands or dies by how good the overclocking options are in the Bios, and how easy it is to use.

The good news is that Sapphire's new UEFI-based QBios does the job rather well. It may not be in the Asus Bios territory, yet but not many Bios's are.

Sapphire also uses a dual Bios chip setup on the board, so if you should be a bit over-keen while overclocking, or are unfortunate enough to pick up a virus, then by using the board-mounted switch you can swap over Bios in a trice.

We liked

Sapphire has only been producing Intel boards for around 12 months, since it launched the Pure Black X58, but with every board it seems to be making progress.

The Sapphire Pure Black X79N is certainly no exception, with a good choice of overclocking settings in the BIOS and plenty of hardware options on the board.

Whether you will use them all is a different matter, but at least they're there.

We disliked

OK, if we were being picky then the fact there are only four DIMM slots (some competitors' motherboards offer eight) might be a cause for concern, as might be the lack of SLI support in the graphics side of things.

Final verdict

The Sapphire Pure Black X79N is a well featured motherboard supporting Intel's latest high-end chipset technology.


Tech Specs

Product TypeDesktop Motherboard
Chipset ManufacturerIntel
Chipset ModelX79 Express
Multi GPU SupportedCrossFireX
Number of PCI Express x16 Slots3
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
Processor SocketSocket R LGA-2011
Brand NameSapphire
Form FactorATX
Processor SupportedCore i7
Total Processor Supported1
Maximum Memory32 GB
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityRoHS, WEEE
64-bit ProcessingYes
Number of Memory Slots4
Audio Channels7.1
Gigabit EthernetYes
Number of SATA Interfaces8
RAID SupportedYes
Number of Total Expansion Slots6
Number of Network (RJ-45) Ports2
Network (RJ-45)Yes
Total Number of USB Ports10
Number of USB 3.0 Ports4
PS/2 PortYes
Number of PS/2 Ports1
Total Number of Onboard USB Ports6
Number of Onboard USB 2.0 Ports4
PCI Express StandardPCI Express 3.0
Total Number of PCI Express Slots6
Memory Form FactorUDIMM
Number of eSATA Ports2
Processor TechnologyTurbo Boost Technology, Hyper-Threading Technology
Width304 mm
Depth244 mm
ManufacturerSapphire, Inc
Product ModelPURE Black X79N
Product NamePURE Black X79N Desktop Motherboard
Controller TypeSerial ATA/300, Serial ATA/600
Manufacturer Part Number52043-00-40G
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

Developed for the Enthusiast, the SAPPHIRE PURE Black X79N is engineered to achieve the ultimate in innovation, performance, feature and quality.

Combining stability, a commitment to performance hardware and BIOS tweaks as well as the use of high quality components, The PURE Black series is the pinnacle in the SAPPHIRE series of mainboard products.