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X58 On A Budget: Seven Sub-$200 Core i7 Boards

X58 On A Budget: Seven Sub-$200 Core i7 Boards
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Sometimes it pays to be patient. When Intel’s high-end Core i7 processors burst onto the scene last fall, motherboards that supported them were both expensive and relatively less mature than they are today. As a consequence of the top-down approach many vendors used in introducing X58, shipping their most-expensive products first, buyers willing to sacrifice a few features will sometimes find that the newest mainstream parts are less troublesome than high-end predecessors.

We saw this type of maturation between last winter’s $300+ X58 motherboard roundup and this spring’s $200-300 follow up, and we expected further progress in small items such as BIOS implementation for today’s planned sub-$200 comparison. But something happened to alter our plan: prices slowly crept back up.

Extended stability tests for overclocking lead to weeks of testing in a seven-motherboard roundup, but prices don’t stop fluctuating during that time. Recent increases in the price of several models would have excluded two of today’s products from a sub-$200 roundup had those increases occurred before testing began. One company had even given us a choice between two models, and the board we chose went over the limit while the other did not. Forced to add a caveat to our “sub-$200” title, we’ve kept an eagle’s eye on value in these sensibly-priced parts.

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  • 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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