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Intel X58 Roundup: Six $300+ Platforms Compared

Intel X58 Roundup: Six $300+ Platforms Compared
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Few motherboard vendors were fully prepared for Intel’s Core i7 launch last November, but is it really hard to figure out why? Intel's "Nehalem" architecture introduced triple-channel memory and an on-die memory controller, so we’re certain that many engineers spent sleepless nights trying to figure out what effects this would have on BIOS configuration and how to optimize pathways for the new QuickPath Interconnect (QPI) CPU-to-northbridge link.

Manufacturers had to deal with big changes, yet Intel’s use of a pre-existing southbridge lends a similar look to the block diagram. Yet, the X58 chipset isn’t simply an X48 with the memory controller removed. In addition to a change from the front side bus (FSB) to QPI, Intel added four more PCI Express (PCIe) 2.0 lanes. Intel left the decision about what to do with those added lanes up to motherboard manufacturers, and most simply chose to ignore them.

We gave motherboard manufacturers 100 days from the Core i7 CPU launch to sort out any remaining problems before we began testing for today’s comparison of high-end platforms. In the months to come, we'll also be taking a look at mid-range boards in the $200-$300 range and offerings that fall in under $200. But for now, we're sticking to premium parts. Are all of these pricey motherboards finally ready for prime time?

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  • 1 Hide
    avatar_raq , 24 February 2009 16:42
    Nice review..For so long we waited for such comparison.
  • 1 Hide
    FelixM , 24 February 2009 17:52
    Please: add FSX to the test!
  • 1 Hide
    avatar_raq , 24 February 2009 19:44
    1. Why adding crossfire bridges when each and every ATI graphics card is shipped with one? When did mobos come with them anyway?
    2. Are the slots of DFI mobo made of UV reactive material? They look so to me
    3. One might think wider bios OC options take into consideration future CPUs but new CPUs usually require bios update, and then the manufacturer may improve the new bios. That said each mobo reviewed here has enough OC potential in its BIOS, question is: which one will endure extreme OC 24/7 for a long period? This is the one thing that can only tested retrospectively. Personally I had 2 cheap ASUS mobos (P35)and they both overclocked well and worked flawlessly.
    4. I see ASUS and Gigabyte mobos take the lead in most of the tests. ASUS has the lead in most games and better customer service in my country and GB having a water block for the NB.

  • 0 Hide
    avatar_raq , 24 February 2009 23:45
    It would have been nice to mention the net prices of these motherboards to compare their value.
    Quick search on newegg gave the following (not counting the MIRs):
    ASUS ~400 USD (ooph!!)
    GB ~330
    DFI not found !
    EVGA ~270
    Foxconn not found !
    MSI ~350
    After putting everything into consideration I would go for the Gigabyte model if I have net shopping. Nevertheless from a value point of veiw the EVGA one wins since it's the cheapest of the "4" models whose price is found at newegg and the performance defecit is so small. This card do not even fit into the title of the article, it's not $300+ at the time being (perhaps it was so when they started preparing for this article).
  • 0 Hide
    avatar_raq , 25 February 2009 00:32
    Update:
    DFI ~300 USD
    XFX ~290 USD (not included in the article)
    Foxconn: Still I can't find the blood rage on newegg.
  • 0 Hide
    mi1ez , 25 February 2009 02:28
    Why are these companies giving the option of taking the PCIe freq to 200MHz?!
  • 0 Hide
    LePhuronn , 25 February 2009 03:04
    Asus Rampage II Extreme: £321.99
    DFI Lan Party UT X58-T3EH8: £293.24
    EVGA X58 3X SLI: £241.49 (I think)
    Foxconn Bloodrage: £280.59
    Gigabyte EX58 Extreme: £264.49

    Prices from overclockers.co.uk

    Incidentally, isn't the Gigabyte EX58 Extreme the only board here that can handle 24GB of RAM? All other boards are capped at 12GB aren't they?

    Also, I'd suggest to Tom's to review this subject again - they've already mentioned mainstream board reviews, but personally I'd like to see the Asus P6T6 WS Revolution reviewed - always had good experiences with the Asus workstation boards so I'm very interested in this new one.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 1 March 2009 23:36
    I think a determening factor could be less in the boards overclockability, and perhaps more in it's functions and price.

    Like, if I'm going to install WinXP or a 32 bit version of vista, having 3 ramslots is more then sufficient (3GB).
    If I want a server, install a 64 bit os, 6 slots (12-24GB) is rather a must.
    I probably won't use a server to play games, though some people might.

    Also pricepoint is a good factor to determine which board could be a snatch.

    Quality of capacitors and boardmaterial, as well as longetivity of hardware play a role in making one board win over another.

    There's no winner when a certain board manufacturer has increased performance for lower power, but when their boards die within their first year of use due to the use of bad components!
  • 0 Hide
    zebzz , 10 March 2009 22:01
    I think unless your a gaming freak with lots of money or as ProDigit80 has stated that you want to use them for servers, then the current socket 775 and AM2 processors / and DDR2 memory are cheaper and provide the performance about 99.5% people need. Again its all down to specialised needs.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 13 March 2009 18:47
    Nice
  • 0 Hide
    swharth , 23 April 2009 05:12
    It's a pretty cool board. The only complaint I had was that the slots for the Dual GTX280 cards were to close together. Not a lot of room for air circulation. I had to replace mine, and now using a DX58SO. Also a nice board, but missing the "WOW" factor.