The Board - Layout
At first glance, the X79S-UP5 appears similar to the X79-UD5 I reviewed about nine months ago. There are, however, quite a few changes here, including better cooling. That cooling is the only point of color contrast from the matte black that covers the PCB, making it immediately obvious that there is another cooler present. The rear of the board is very basic with pins and such sticking out in the usual places. I also noticed that the cooling uses screws, which is good news for those that want to watercool the board, although it does say right on the front of the box that the X79S-UP5 WiFi is ready for watercooling right out of the box.
The socket area is standard fare for SKT 2011 motherboards, with the VRM cooling and ram slots close-by. The rear of the socket is, compared to some other boards I have looked at recently, clear of surface-mounted parts, although this is less of a focus here than it is with SKT 1155 parts since coolers mount right to the socket retention mechanism.
There are six total expansion slots with a single PCI and PCIe x1 slot, and a total of four PCIe x16 slots. Only two of those slots are x16 slots electrically. The lower x16 slot will pass a PCIe x8 link up to the second physical x16 slot, while the third is always a PCIE x4 slot. The DIMM slots are pretty basic with four on either side supporting DIMMs of up to 8 GB each, bringing memory capacity to a staggering 64 GB, the size of some high-performance SSDs.
All the usual suspects for pin headers are here, and since this is a Workstation-oriented board, a TPM header is here as well, along with the USB 2.0, FireWire, and audio headers. There are also two 3-pin fan headers on the bottom edge, with three 4-pin PWN-based headers located higher up the board as indicated by the red and yellow circles on the third image above.
The rear I/O panel is pretty busy, including eSATA, FireWire, dual LAN, and a mix of 10 USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports ports, with blue ports supporting USB 3.0 of course. The SATA ports are, with eight SAS ports, four SATA 3Gb/s ports, and two SATA 3 GB/s ports, far more than the traditional X79 board carries, one major feature of the Gigabyte X79S-UP5 Wifi. That is 14 ports all together, which should be more than enough for nearly any user.
I got to say, I really like the blue Gigabyte uses for bits of the X79S-UP5 WiFi's heatsink, which appear to be some crazy interlocking design of many pieces that really is made up of some crazy interlocking design of many pieces! I didn't find much more than the Intel C606 Express chipset under that heatsink. The thermal paste used is of high quality, not that pink bubble-gum-like stuff I have seen before. I also noticed that the X79S-UP5 WiFi is made with a 6-layer PCB. I thought that it might have nine layers, but the other side had a "1" pointing in the direction that makes the number above really a "6". The board looks a bit thin to be made of nine layers anyways.