Tom's Holiday Buyer's Guide 2008, Part 4

MSI X58 Eclipse SLI

http://www.msicomputer.com/
$350
By: Chris Angelini

As the Core i7 launch approached early in November, we searched for a vendor who was ready with an X58-based motherboard supporting CrossFireX and 3-way SLI—and MSI was the first to answer our call. Though Asus and Gigabyte have claimed much of the high-end spotlight in 2008, MSI’s entry for the holidays demonstrates that the company is ready to revisit enthusiast computing and we’re happy with how the board performs.

Of course, most of the go-fast logic belongs to Intel’s Core i7 itself, from the processing core to the integrated memory controller to the QPI interconnect. However, MSI adds its own touches to make the X58 Eclipse SLI unique amongst stiff competition.

To begin, you get six, 240-pin DDR3 memory slots able to take up to 24 GB of 1,600 MHz modules. The board also boasts three PCI Express x16 slots spaced with enough room between them to accommodate dual-slot graphics cards. Now, we all know that the X58 chipset itself only includes a pair of x16 links. All of the 3-way SLI-compatible motherboards we’ve seen up until now run the first PCIe slot at x16 and the second two at x8 when three cards are installed. MSI’s approach is to give the first two slots full x16 throughput and borrow four lanes from Intel’s ICH10 for the third, yielding more aggregate bandwidth for the whole graphics subsystem, but less for that one slot.

The Eclipse goes especially well with the i7 920 we’re recommending in this guide as well, due to its onboard OC switch—a small bank of DIP switches that lets you select a faster Bclk frequency without altering any of the board’s other frequencies. Basically, you’d drop in the 920, set the switches for a 166 MHz Bclk (stock is 133 MHz), and shoot up from 2.66 GHz to 3.33 GHz—faster than the $1,000 Core i7 965 Extreme. On our sample, it was even possible to hit the higher speed without altering any voltages.

Although the X58 Eclipse SLI only comes armed with six-phase voltage regulation for the CPU, we didn’t encounter any problems running at either stock or overclocked settings. In fact, as we recently found in our Power-Saving Motherboards: Fact or Fiction story, MSI’s Dr.MOS technology is one of the few we found able to make a measurable difference in power consumption. The bundled GreenPower Genie dongle sits between the motherboard and your power supply, monitoring just how much power is saved and reporting it to included GreenPower Center software.

One thing you will want to note before taking the plunge: although MSI advertises the included PCI Express sound card as a Creative X-Fi Xtreme hardware audio card, it’s merely a Creative codec with software support for EAX Advanced HD 4.0 effects—and no acceleration.

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41 comments
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  • snotling
    The model is way too skinny. she makes the hardware look cheap.
    -7
  • snotling
    SnotlingThe model is way too skinny. she makes the hardware look cheap.

    I did notice there were two girls in there, but even if you add them up you still get too little meat to call that a woman.
    -6
  • wicko
    Wow, I can't believe I'm reading complaints about these girls. They are skinny, but not anorexic, they look like they're in very good shape. My girlfriend is getting jealous :p
    0
  • blackened144
    I personally like the brunette for the articles.. Something about her reminds me of Christmas.. The blonde, not so much..
    1
  • LSoares1
    Wait, Did I miss something? What happened to part 2 and 3 of the 2008 Holiday Guide? All I see is part 1 and now this one....
    -2
  • LSoares1
    nevermind - I see the links in this article, but I didn't notice them on the Guide section.
    -1
  • antiacid
    SnotlingThe model is way too skinny. she makes the hardware look cheap.

    Were you looking for "fat girls gone wild" when you opened this review? Seriously, this had to be the dumbest complaint of the year.
    7
  • WINTERLORD
    Quote:
    Of course, you’ll void your warranty in the process,


    does anyone know if intel really can tell if your CPU has been just mildly overclocked? with no burn marks ect. i wonder about that cause id love to overclock it's fun to tinker with, but could not afford getting a bum chip, and it not be under warranty.
    2
  • Anonymous
    Nice to see the update about the Seagate fix, finally.
    2
  • WINTERLORD
    That "the Gigabyte’s board with 2 graphics slots" is a sweet looking motherboard. and for anyone who just needs one graphics card slot i bet this be an alswome rig as well. a deffinit choice if i upgrade to the core 2 quad route. prolly go nehalem core i7 though
    0
  • romans11
    wickoWow, I can't believe I'm reading complaints about these girls. They are skinny, but not anorexic, they look like they're in very good shape. My girlfriend is getting jealous


    Yeah, but the point is compared to Sarah (particularly with long hair in 2006) these ladies aren't in the same league. Some of us like women who look at least a little curvy.

    I know I should probably comment on the products not just the modeling talent, but since this is where the conversations begins, I'll jump in to the fray.
    -4
  • snotling
    antiacidWere you looking for "fat girls gone wild" when you opened this review? Seriously, this had to be the dumbest complaint of the year.

    the actual dumbest "comment chain" of the year were on spotlight where hundreds of comments criticized Tamara for using a mac, dressing to casual, dressing to formal, being to expressive, being not expressive enough, being sexy, not being sexy... well I just find it amusing that nobody cares how Ben Meyer and Rob Wright look or dressup.
    Fat girls gone wild... how drastic. What about water-cooled hot chicks ?
    -3
  • Shadow703793
    For part 6 of this guide, consider recommending this: http://www.livescribe.com/smartpen/index.html My friend has one and god I envy him for it. Helps to handle long lecturs (1hr +) easily.
    1
  • tipoo
    SnotlingI did notice there were two girls in there, but even if you add them up you still get too little meat to call that a woman.

    lmao
    0
  • KyleSTL
    I'm surprized I'm the first to catch it, but the motherboard in the picture is not the UD3R, it is the UD3P. The UD3P has 2 PCIe 16x slots, whereas the UD3R only has one. It you click to see the full sized picture you can read (barely) the correct model number.
    3
  • randomizer
    It must suck to handle all that hardware but not be able to keep it.
    2
  • randomizer
    Snotlingwell I just find it amusing that nobody cares how Ben Meyer and Rob Wright look or dressup.

    Ben and Rob posing in Christmas gear, that would be funny.
    3
  • caamsa
    I am sure that none of you boys have the hardware that these ladies would be interested in anyway.

    Keep your flash drives in your pockets. ;-P
    2
  • motleydogg
    Sorry but my floppy drive has been replaced with a hard drive,... I wonder if I can place my RAM in the slot, I wouldn't try turning it on until after everything is in. I would like to monitor the cable being managed. It might get hot, but if we have a fan, I shouldn't have to twist those knobs to control things much,...
    -3
  • MitchMeister-
    So I keep seeing everyone recommending the E8600.. but why when an E8400 is $100 less and the only difference is that it's not factory overclocked? Or is something on the E8600 that much better?
    1