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Test Settings

X58 On A Budget: Seven Sub-$200 Core i7 Boards
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We carried forward several older benchmarks and hardware to make today’s benchmark results comparable to those of previous X58 motherboard roundups.

Test System Configuration
CPU

Intel Core i7-920 (2.66 GHz, 8.0 MB Cache)

CPU Cooler

Swiftech Apogee GTZ Liquid Cooling

RAM

Kingston KHX16000D3ULT1K3/6GX (6.0 GB)
DDR3-2000 at DDR3-1866 CAS 7-8-7-20

Graphics

XFX GeForce GTX 285 XXX Edition
670MHz GPU, GDDR3-2500

Hard Drive

Western Digital WD5000AAKS, 500 GB
7,200 RPM, SATA 3 Gb/s, 16 MB cache

Sound

Integrated HD Audio

Network

Integrated Gigabit Networking

Power

Cooler Master RS850-EMBA
850W, ATX12V v2.2, EPS12V

Software

OS

Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate x64 SP1

Graphics

NVidia Forceware 181.20 WHQL

Chipset

Intel INF 9.1.0.1007


Kingston’s DDR3-2000 is no longer the fastest memory we have, but it is the only model of which we have two triple-channel sets for testing six-DIMM configurations. Using it also allows us to compare today’s DRAM overclocking results to those of previously-tested models.

Zalman’s ZM-STF1 thermal grease was chosen for its quick set-in time, low thermal resistance, and mess-free application.

Excellent cooling is required to reach our Core i7-920’s overclocking limit. Swiftech’s Apogee GTZ moves heat quickly away from the CPU, via its MCP-655b high-volume pump and 3 x 120mm radiator.

XFX’s mildly-overclocked GTX 285 XXX Edition was our card of choice in the first X58 motherboard shootout, and retaining it allows readers to compare today’s benchmark results to those of former roundups.

Benchmark Configuration

3D Games

Call of Duty: World at War

Patch 1.1, FRAPS/saved game
High Textures, No AA / No AF, vsync off
Ultra Textures, 4x AA / Max AF, vsync off

Crysis

Patch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit executable, benchmark tool
Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA
Test Set 2: Very High Quality, 8x AA

Far Cry 2

DirectX 10, Steam Version, in-game benchmark
Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA
Test Set 2: Ultra High Quality, 8x AA

World in Conflict

Patch 1009, DirectX 10, timedemo
Test 1: High Details, No AA / No AF
Test 2: Very High Details 4x AA / 16x AF

Audio/Video Encoding

iTunes

Version: 7.7.0.43
Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 min
Default format AAC

Lame MP3

Version: 3.98 Beta 3 (05-22-2007)
Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min
wave to MP3

TMPGEnc

Version: 4.5.1.254
Import File: Terminator 2 SE DVD (5 Minutes)
Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9

DivX 6.8.3

Encoding mode: Insane Quality
Enhanced multithreading enabled using SSE4
Quarter-pixel search

Xvid 1.1.3

Display encoding status = off

MainConcept Reference 1.5.1

MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264), MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2), Audio: MPEG2 (44.1 kHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 kbp/s), Mode: PAL (25 FPS)

Productivity

Autodesk 3ds Max 9

Version: 9.0, Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)

Grisoft AVG Anti-Virus 8

Version: 8.0.134, Virus base: 270.4.5/1533, Benchmark: Scan 334 MB Folder of ZIP/RAR compressed files

WinRAR 3.80

Version 3.70 BETA 8, WinZip Command line Version 2.3, Compression = Best, Dictionary = 4,096 KB, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)

WinZip 11

Version 11.2, Compression = Best, Benchmark: THG-Workload (139 MB)

Sythetic Benchmarks and Settings

3DMark Vantage

Version: 1.0.1, GPU and CPU scores

PCMark Vantage

Version: 1.00, System, Memory, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks, Windows Media Player 10.00.00.3646

SiSoft Sandra XII SP2

Version 2008.5.14.24, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark

Display all 56 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    midnightgun , July 29, 2009 7:00 AM
    If I am not mistaken, the reason the Asus P6T SE is so cheap is because it does not support SLI, only supports Crossfire. Is that not correct?
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , July 29, 2009 7:24 AM
    Quote:
    If I am not mistaken, the reason the Asus P6T SE is so cheap is because it does not support SLI, only supports Crossfire. Is that not correct?


    At the time the review was written, the P6T SE web page read that it supported SLI. Perhaps Asus changed the web page following a complaint?

    The big difference between the P6T SE and the P6T is the missing Jmicron SATA multiplier. By removing it, Asus killed the pathway that went to it, leaving the JMB363 controller with a "dead port".
  • 0 Hide
    midnightgun , July 29, 2009 7:51 AM
    Perhaps. I have had my eye on this board since I started planning my eventual upgrade to i7/i5 architecture (MSI and Gigabyte as well). I know on ncix's forums (canada's equivalent to newegg in the states) the P6T SE had been listed as only crossfire since at least mid May.
  • 2 Hide
    midnightgun , July 29, 2009 7:52 AM
    Anywho, thanks for the review. Interesting read.
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , July 29, 2009 8:25 AM
    midnightgunPerhaps. I have had my eye on this board since I started planning my eventual upgrade to i7/i5 architecture (MSI and Gigabyte as well). I know on ncix's forums (canada's equivalent to newegg in the states) the P6T SE had been listed as only crossfire since at least mid May.


    I never trust a seller as a source: Asus listed the P6T SE as having SLI support as little as four weeks ago, and now has a completely different page for it. They weren't the only company that advertised SLI capability and leave out the bridge, but it now appears the former P6T SE web page must have been an error, probably from the company copying its P6T page and editing it for the P6T SE, but missing one detail.
  • 0 Hide
    anamaniac , July 29, 2009 9:16 AM
    Personally I will (atleast attempting to now) head straight for the Foxconn Bloodrage with a i7 920 and 3 ddr3 1333 sticks (and give them good timings, ignoring bandwidth and attempting a lower voltage) and a 4870 1gb (due to them being quite cheap now). =D
    Though first on my priority list is a better monitor (and rent).

    Neat article regardless.
  • 2 Hide
    ceteras , July 29, 2009 10:03 AM
    What an inspiring name for the Foxconn mainboard... looks like it's a corporate culture thing.

    I've skipped the Foxconn page, wouldn't buy from them anyway.
  • 2 Hide
    Onus , July 29, 2009 1:10 PM
    Interesting read. If I were going to build an i7 rig for myself, that ASRock would probably be my choice. I'm not thrilled about the VRM heating up so much, but I only do low-moderate overclocks so it ought to be ok. The feature set of that board looks suitable.
  • 2 Hide
    gxpbecker , July 29, 2009 1:46 PM
    I am kinda surprised that the ECS board held its own against these "sronger" boards. From my past experieces ECS has been the walmart brand of mobos. :) 
  • 0 Hide
    Ryun , July 29, 2009 2:02 PM
    Question: Is the Asrock board able to go into S3 state/Standby mode? The one board I got from Asrock would not and after emailing their tech support they responded by saying that their boards do not support S3 state.
  • 1 Hide
    Aerobernardo , July 29, 2009 2:10 PM
    This is just the perferct article for me. And the timing couldn't be any bette with i5 just sround the corner. As soon as it's reviews comes out, we will now be able to compare performance and price of i5's and i7's rigs.

    Thank you Tom's. Reminds me why this is my home page since 2001.
  • 0 Hide
    Proximon , July 29, 2009 2:28 PM
    That's a whole lot of work. I agree the ASRock is maybe too hot to be my first choice, but I can't quibble on the award. Good work.
  • 0 Hide
    dman3k , July 29, 2009 2:34 PM
    Tom's should take a stand and don't even feature any Foxconn products in any reviews.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , July 29, 2009 2:40 PM
    I would like to disagree with all this talk about useless IDE connectors, I still use it for optical drives as it is still fast enough. Most systems only come with 6-8 SATA ports, why would i waste one on a crappy optical drive when i need them for faster HDDs.
    Give parallel ATA a break! it still has a valuable place on the mb!
  • 1 Hide
    randomizer , July 29, 2009 3:21 PM
    scott314159Give parallel ATA a break! it still has a valuable place on the mb!

    A very large valuable space mind you. Not to mention the air space ;) 

    The X58 Pro-E doesn't seem to like S3 sleep. The power and HDD LEDs turn off but the fans are still going and I think the HDDs might be as well. I've made it turn off completely once, but then USB didn't work right once it woke, so I had to restart anyway.
  • 0 Hide
    Kill@dor , July 29, 2009 3:46 PM
    AerobernardoThis is just the perferct article for me. And the timing couldn't be any bette with i5 just sround the corner. As soon as it's reviews comes out, we will now be able to compare performance and price of i5's and i7's rigs.Thank you Tom's. Reminds me why this is my home page since 2001.


    I don't think there will be too much difference between the 2.
  • 0 Hide
    Shadow703793 , July 29, 2009 3:49 PM
    ceterasWhat an inspiring name for the Foxconn mainboard... looks like it's a corporate culture thing.I've skipped the Foxconn page, wouldn't buy from them anyway.

    Agreed, the Foxconn boards are fine (actually quite good) for one time things on LN2 etc, but reliability for 24/7 is lacking.
  • 0 Hide
    Shadow703793 , July 29, 2009 3:52 PM
    scott314159I would like to disagree with all this talk about useless IDE connectors, I still use it for optical drives as it is still fast enough. Most systems only come with 6-8 SATA ports, why would i waste one on a crappy optical drive when i need them for faster HDDs.Give parallel ATA a break! it still has a valuable place on the mb!

    Agreed. However, they should eliminate floppy, Parallel,MIDI/GAME ports.
  • -2 Hide
    freak77power , July 29, 2009 4:17 PM
    Better purchase then board with LGA1156 socket.
  • 0 Hide
    kaydee , July 29, 2009 4:27 PM
    I've been using the MSI pro-e sli since the initial launch of this mobo. Anyhow, I've used both of the x58 pro and pro sli, and the northbridge temnperature IS a problem for both of the boards. When the PC full loaded (tried using prime, everast stability test) the NB temperature rises up to 114 degrees C. With a thermal paste and a small fan work, the temperature is lowered to 70 dC. at max, but still, it really concerns me. OC ability is at top notch. With air cooling, it is OCed at 3.2Ghz. (150Mhz) no problem what so ever. With the 3R system's prima boss 2 heatsink and enermax 120mm fan, the temperature is at 30 dC. under normal load, and 35 at max load.
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