Now that we are just three weeks away from the launch of Intel's Sandy Bridge-E processors, motherboard makers are starting to showcase more and more LGA 2011 solutions , the latest to make its appearance being the ECS X79R-AX Black Extreme. The motherboard features the characteristic ECS look and it sport four DIMM slots that are placed around the LGA 2011 socket. These work in a quad-channel mode and support DDR3 speeds of up to 2400MHz, depending on the number of DIMM sockets populated (2400MHz is only supported in dual-channel mode). To the left of the memory sockets, ECS has placed four PCI Express x16 slots, which are driven by the 40 lane PCIe controller integrated inside Sandy Bridge-E processors. Judging from the color coding of the PCI Express x16 slots, only two of these appear to work in x16 mode, while the other have only 8 PCIe lanes routed to them. The motherboard is, however, compatible with both SLI and CrossFireX 4-way GPU setups (the PCIe slots drop to x8 when all are populated). Other expansion options include a pair of PCI-E x1 slots, eight SATA 6Gbps and four SATA 3Gbps ports. ECS is one of the few manufacturers that have decided to retain the high number of SATA ports after Intel castrated its X79 PCH, so this could give the X79R-AX Black Extreme an advantage when compared to other LGA 2011 motherboards. An on-board USB 3.0 pin-header is available on the board's PCB, and more USB 3.0 ports were installed on the rear I/O panel, where ECS has also installed a Bluetooth radio transmitter, the board's 7.1 channel audio connectors and a Clear CMOS switch. Two additional Power and reset switches are placed on the board's PCB near a BIOS debug display. CPU power is delivered by what seems to be a 14-phase PWM, which is cooled by a low-profile heatsink. No information regarding pricing was made available by ECS, but this should be unveiled on November 14 when Intel's Sandy Bridge-E CPUs get launched.