The Sapphire PURE Black X79N I feel is a great addition to the motherboard line up from Sapphire and working with the board, it just worked straight out of the box. None of the issues that we've experienced with some of the less friendly Sapphire boards were present this time around.
The layout is strong, although I would've liked to have seen a board with 6x PCIe x16 slots support four dual slot video cards. Overall it's a strong layout, though, and the fact we are dealing with physical PCIe x16 slots really expands our PCIe options as other PCIe sized cards can be installed in the slots.
On the bundle side of things there's not heaps going on, but the addition of the USB 3.0 header is a nice one and it's still something we see a lot of companies ignore. Apart from that we've got all the normal culprits in the bundle including a bunch of SATA cables.
On the performance side of things we again see the board is also very solid. Out of the box we've got some strong performance and you can see we had the ability to overclock at 4.6GHz without issue. To be honest as well I feel we've got more performance under the hood as we found ourselves getting into Windows at 4.8GHz. I think we need to see some more work on the BIOS and that end of things and we'll see even higher stable overclocks out of the board.
This is my problem with the Sapphire PURE Black X79N, though, it's a good board. That's about it, though. At the moment it's not listed on Newegg, so we can't get a price, it also means we're not sure on availability. We know that these are two areas lacking for Sapphire as they continue to get their name into the market as a serious motherboard contender. I wish we knew the price it would hit the channel at, but to be honest with the range from companies like ASRock and Gigabyte, the chances are they're hitting that price point strong.
The other issue for Sapphire was that the board was delayed. If I got this board at launch and it was the second X79 board I looked at I probably would've found myself a lot more impressed with it. The issue is since launch this is the 13th X79 board I have looked at and we've seen boards from companies hit at every price point with every kind of highlight including strong OC performance, fantastic price or a massive feature list. I'm recommending this board over something like the Intel X79 offering, anything from companies like Biostar and a few others. But with ASRock, MSI, Gigabyte and ASUS hitting at multiple price points due to the massive range, it's a struggle for Sapphire.
I would like to see Sapphire shift focus over to a segment that isn't as heavily populated, mainly something like performance mATX motherboards. This is an area that creates cheaper boards and is also more lenient to maximum overclocking potential. It's an emerging market, though, and that's obvious by the fact we're seeing Gigabyte start to move over to performance mATX boards. I feel that if Sapphire could cement themselves as a contender in an area that isn't as heavily populated, they could then start to use the name they've created in that area to expand out of.
The Sapphire PURE Black X79N is a good board and I'd recommend it over some other boards I've looked at. The issue for Sapphire continues to be that there are boards from other companies I'd recommend over it. Until they can kind of break into that area where people can recommend a Sapphire board with the same confidence as the big four; they're always going to be lagging behind a bit. It can happen, though, a few years ago I didn't think ASRock would be a brand I'd be recommending to so many people, but they've come an extremely long way since their introduction and now create some of the best motherboards on the market.
Sapphire need time, I'm just not sure if the upper levels of Sapphire management are going to give them that. Let's hope so, if they can bring some the passion and focus into the motherboard segment as they do the VGA one, I think we can expect good things from the company in this area in the future.