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Performance zealots will remember the ASUS Z7S WS which went head on with then Intel 'Skulltrail' D5400XS Xeon luxury gaming platform (using dual unlocked QX9775 chips), but since then ASUS has done nothing of that sort, leaving EVGA with the iconic SR-2 to mop up things in the Xeon 55xx/56xx era. This is about to change with the imminent launch of the Sandy Bridge-EP Xeon E5 platform, and the ASUS Z9PE-D8 WS may well be the followup that power hungry gamers and high frequency traders are looking for.

ASUS Z9PE-D8 WS is a dual Socket 2011 motherboard designed for the upcoming 'Sandy Bridge-EP' Xeon E5s, featuring 8 DDR3 dimm slots and 7 PCIe slots in a SSI CEB form factor

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Rear view – we see that three out of seven of the PCIe slots have actually 8 lanes worth of solder points only – which makes sense as each CPU has 40 PCIe Gen 3 lanes only

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Nothing notable at the I/O panel except the provision of only two USB 3.0 connectors (probably due to PCB space restrictions)

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Besides using Intel PHYs and Realtek audio, there is an ASPEED AST2300 2D VGA controller and also provides management over IP.

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We also spotted the swappable LOTES 'X-Socket' used on the X79 ROG boards and CHiL PWMs

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There was a fully assembled but powered down system next to it – and the use of the performance HyperX rams implied some level of overclocking prowness

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Support for 4-Way GPUs – or actually more if you use single-slot cards

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