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EVGA X58 3X SLI

Intel X58 Roundup: Six $300+ Platforms Compared
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Features and Layout

The first motherboard ever manufactured by EVGA, the X58 3X SLI, carries forward several visual cues from previous models the firm had previously re-branded as its own. However, other than cosmetics, this is a completely new design.

The X58 3X SLI was also the first Core i7 motherboard to provide proper slot spacing for 3-way SLI, with a slot layout similar to the more recent DFI motherboard in today’s comparison. Other brands often force builders to take special precautions in case selection by placing the third PCIe 2.0 slot at the bottom.

Also like the DFI motherboard, there is a lack of any expansion slot in the top position, which eliminates the possible use of a discrete sound card when three double-thick graphics cards are installed. The onboard audio quality should be good enough for all but the most discriminate audio fanatics, although casual users may complain about its limited support for Creative Labs' EAX technology.

A few things that stand out as being completely different from DFI include EPS12V, ATX/EPS main power, and Ultra ATA connectors that have all been moved “southward” away from the X58 3X SLI’s top edge. The EPS12V connector could be problematic in cases that have the power supply at the bottom, since builders typically try to rout that cable around the back of the motherboard tray and over the top edge of the board. That installation method usually stretches the cable to its limit, so moving the connector away from the top edge exceeds available cable length.

Any objection to the Ultra ATA’s lower placement is placated by absence of this technology in recent devices. EVGA could have easily done away with this interface, as it has with the floppy connection. Indeed a floppy connection would have been more useful, since many builders will require these to add AHCI or RAID drivers during a Windows XP installation.

A slightly unusual SATA arrangement puts two of the chipset’s ports along the bottom edge and two of an add-in controller’s ports next to the four forward-facing chipset ports. Buyers must take cable management into consideration when selecting an appropriate case for use with forward-facing ports.

A ninth internal port is connected to the eSATA controller, so its location above the uppermost expansion slot is logical. We’d suggest using it for removable devices or a front-panel eSATA interface.

Above the two outward-facing SATA ports, a Port-80 diagnostics display makes quick work of diagnosing boot failures, if you know the codes.

Reset, Power, and Clear CMOS buttons along the X58 3X SLI motherboard’s lower edge make quick work of bench top-tuning sessions, but they become both redundant and impossible to reach once the motherboard is installed in a system.

EVGA X58 3X SLI (Revision 1.0)
Northbridge

Intel X58 Express

Southbridge

Intel ICH10R

Voltage Regulation

Ten Phases

BIOS

Z1G (02/12/2009)

133.3 MHz Base Clock

132.8 (-0.40%)

Clock Generator

ICS 9LPRS139AKLF

Connectors and Interfaces

Onboard

3 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (Two with Shared Pathways)

1 x PCIe x1

2 x PCI

2 x USB 2.0 (2 ports per connector)

1 x IEEE-1394 FireWire

1 x Serial Communications Port

1 x Ultra ATA (2 drives)

9 x SATA 3.0 Gb/s

1 x Fan 4-pin (CPU)

4 x Fan 3-pins (Chassis, Power)

1 x Front Panel Audio connector

1 x S/P-DIF I/O

1 x Power Button

1 x Reset Button

1 x CLR-CMOS Button

1 x Port-80 Diagnostics Display

I/O Panel

1 x PS2 (keyboard)

8 x USB 2.0

1 x CLR-CMOS Button

2 x Digital Audio Out (Coaxial + Optical)

1x IEEE-1394 FireWire

1 x External SATA (eSATA) 3.0Gb/s

2 x RJ45 Ethernet

6 x Analog Audio Jacks (8-ch. out, 4-ch. in)

Mass Storage Controllers

Intel ICH10R

6 x SATA 3.0 Gb/s (RAID 0, 1, 5, 10)

JMicron JMB363 PCIe

1 x Ultra ATA-133 (2-drives)

2x  SATA 3.0 Gb/s

JMicron JMB362 PCIe

1 x SATA, 1x eSATA, 3.0 Gb/s

Network

2 x Realtek RTL8111C PCIe

Dual Gigabit LAN

Audio

Realtek ALC889 HD Codec

Eight-Channel (7.1 Surround) Output

IEEE 1394 FireWire

TI TSB43AB22

2 x FireWire 400 (1 x Internal, 1 x I/O Panel)


High-quality components are used throughout, but one problem we’ve had when installing the X58 3X SLI in a 3-way SLI system is insufficient clearance between the front-panel audio header and the sinks of popular graphics cards such as the reference-design GTX 280 and GTX 260. The cards we tried were even EVGA models, where a notch in the sink provides almost adequate space that still requires excessive force to install the middle card. A Realtek ALC889 codec provides high-quality digital-to-analog conversion for the ICH10R integrated audio controller.

A JMicron JMB363 controller provides Ultra ATA and two SATA 3.0 Gb/s ports at the motherboard’s front, while a JMB362 adds an eSATA and another SATA 3.0 Gb/s port near the rear panel. PCIe x1 links provide 250 MB/s peak interface bandwidth (~2.5 Gb/s) that must be shared by all devices on each controller.

Two Realtek Gigabit Ethernet controllers also make use of PCIe bandwidth, without any device-sharing limitations.

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