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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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  • 0 Hide
    arkadi , February 24, 2009 6:32 AM
    Some times it really hard to stay objective, but you did it, grate article.
    I would consider few other aspects as well, like service and RMA statistics.
    In some countries you wont have official representation of a vendor, and in case of RMA you can end up with different MB model, usually not for the best.
    From my experience i recommend for most of you to get more common boards.
  • 8 Hide
    wdmso , February 24, 2009 8:50 AM
    "Intel X58 Roundup: Six $300+ Platforms Compared " this title will lead
    some less informed readers that they can get the cpu memory and MB for 300.00.
    It should read "Intel X58 Roundup: Six $300+ Motherboards Compared"
    the title is misleading
  • 0 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , February 24, 2009 9:45 AM
    I can't afford an i7 system, but when I see beautiful motherboards like that dfi and the foxconn board, I wish I could! That foxconn board almost makes me feel like looking at a beautifully built soltek board with uniform colors and good looks. Looks ain't everything, but looks do matter. I love my gigabyte board because it works great, but I would love it even more if it came 'styled' like the dfi green or the foxconn red board ....
  • 6 Hide
    Anonymous , February 24, 2009 10:08 AM
    When you review the less-expensive X58 boards, I'd appreciate it if you would evaluate them in terms of which is the likely to be the most stable, most reliable, and most problem-free non-overclocked board. Thanks.
  • 0 Hide
    phantom93 , February 24, 2009 11:15 AM
    Lol nice article, lol i love the soldering job on the port-80 diagnostics digits for the DFI lan party board.
  • 4 Hide
    inversed , February 24, 2009 12:16 PM
    It seems odd to have skipped mentioning the Gigabyte EX58's driver-less RAID capability. I was able to get Windows XP to boot off of a mirrored RAID without needing the floppy and the initial setup went very quickly. One unfortunate aspect of this mobo, however is that it cannot output digital audio and analog audio at the same time. So no switching between surround sound and headphones without changing settings in the audio control software.
  • 1 Hide
    jeffunit , February 24, 2009 12:23 PM
    Though the core i7 is a crazy fast processor, it doesn't offer ECC support. That is why I just bought an amd phenom II 940. Perhaps 'gamers' don't care about ECC but only how many graphics cards they can stuff in the mb. On the other hand, IBM estimated 1 error per gig per week. So at 4gb, that is less than 2 days between errors. Perhaps that isn't noticeable with microsoft operation systems, but I keep my machines up for weeks or months at a time...

    My cheap asus mb not only supports ECC, but ECC scrubbing, chipkill, and more. Who cares how fast a computer is, when it crashes often?
  • -4 Hide
    jeffunit , February 24, 2009 12:23 PM
    Though the core i7 is a crazy fast processor, it doesn't offer ECC support. That is why I just bought an amd phenom II 940. Perhaps 'gamers' don't care about ECC but only how many graphics cards they can stuff in the mb. On the other hand, IBM estimated 1 error per gig per week. So at 4gb, that is less than 2 days between errors. Perhaps that isn't noticeable with microsoft operation systems, but I keep my machines up for weeks or months at a time...

    My cheap asus mb not only supports ECC, but ECC scrubbing, chipkill, and more. Who cares how fast a computer is, when it crashes often?
  • 1 Hide
    Crashman , February 24, 2009 1:17 PM
    wdmso"Intel X58 Roundup: Six $300+ Platforms Compared " this title will lead some less informed readers that they can get the cpu memory and MB for 300.00.It should read "Intel X58 Roundup: Six $300+ Motherboards Compared"the title is misleading


    You're right: I belive the word "Platform" was substituted by another editor to make the title shorter, so it would fit better in the headline bar. I might have chosen "Mobos" myself when encountered with such an issue, but they don't like using slang in titles.

    temporary87654When you review the less-expensive X58 boards, I'd appreciate it if you would evaluate them in terms of which is the likely to be the most stable, most reliable, and most problem-free non-overclocked board. Thanks.


    Good suggestions, but the problem is that all these boards were stable and built for reliability when overclocked. Using lower speeds increases stability and reliability, and you just cannot exceed "100% Stability". All the boards also used high-quality electrical components, which means a reliability test would require years to reveal any differences.

    inversedIt seems odd to have skipped mentioning the Gigabyte EX58's driver-less RAID capability. I was able to get Windows XP to boot off of a mirrored RAID without needing the floppy and the initial setup went very quickly. One unfortunate aspect of this mobo, however is that it cannot output digital audio and analog audio at the same time. So no switching between surround sound and headphones without changing settings in the audio control software.


    We'll have to see what we can do about getting the author some digital speakers or a digital receiver headset to test for such issues in the future. That particular issue hadn't come up prior to testing.
  • 0 Hide
    ryanaxiom , February 24, 2009 1:24 PM
    What about the Gigabyte UD5? I guess it doesn't fall in the 300+ category at $288 from Newegg, but stil...

    It has all the benefits of the EX-58-Extreme minus the gigantic NB cooler, but also allows use of an x8 RAID card in the open ended slot (I have one installed) and if you get straight risers/wearout protectors you can install a x1 sound card in the top slot! The best of all worlds!!!

    The only small complaint I have is that sometimes I have to try to boot twice since the AHCI bios doesn't always want to load after post.
  • 0 Hide
    ram1009 , February 24, 2009 1:24 PM
    I got as far as reading that XP was an outdated operating system before I decided I didn't want to hear what this guy has to say.
  • 3 Hide
    Crashman , February 24, 2009 1:28 PM
    ram1009I got as far as reading that XP was an outdated operating system before I decided I didn't want to hear what this guy has to say.


    LOL, it's a bit of SARCASM the represents what the MANUFACTURERS think of the market. If it weren't sarcasm, floppy connector placement wouldn't have been examined on every...single...board...repetitiously.
  • -1 Hide
    kamkal , February 24, 2009 3:33 PM
    nice roundup

    if only i wasnt broke lol
  • 2 Hide
    A Stoner , February 24, 2009 4:02 PM
    jeffunitThough the core i7 is a crazy fast processor, it doesn't offer ECC support. That is why I just bought an amd phenom II 940. Perhaps 'gamers' don't care about ECC but only how many graphics cards they can stuff in the mb. On the other hand, IBM estimated 1 error per gig per week. So at 4gb, that is less than 2 days between errors. Perhaps that isn't noticeable with microsoft operation systems, but I keep my machines up for weeks or months at a time... My cheap asus mb not only supports ECC, but ECC scrubbing, chipkill, and more. Who cares how fast a computer is, when it crashes often?


    I dunno about most people, but I have kept my Intel Based non ECC computer running for over a month with no problems. The reason I reboot my computer though has nothing to do with errors from random photons and deepspace radiation, it is because there are still companies who do not code very well and have memory leaks. Either way, I still do not have to reboot all that often, and the only time I crash and burn is when I overclock too high and the house temperature goes up enough to set off a system crash. Not exactly things I can complain about, and certainly not something that is due to the lack of ECC ram.

    I am probably going to wait until Intel comes out with it's 6 or 8 core products though before I splurge for my next computer upgrade. My Q6600 is doing just fine at 3GHz at crunching the numbers for the games I am playing today, and likely for the rest of this year. Next year though, I might be in line for a nice upgrade.

    As for outdated XP, that is what my computer runs on today, I cannot stand Vista, and Windows 7 did not find any greater love from me either. Intel may win my money, but so far Microsoft keeps punting the ball when it comes to making something that is actually an upgrade from XP. We old men change hard!!!!
  • 3 Hide
    seboj , February 24, 2009 5:41 PM
    ram1009I got as far as reading that XP was an outdated operating system before I decided I didn't want to hear what this guy has to say.


    But it is. :) 

    Anyways, good article. This was exactly what I was looking for, as I'm about to build an i7 system.
  • 0 Hide
    Aviking , February 24, 2009 6:25 PM
    So you're saying none of the earlier driver problems are still present that have been mentioned in numereos consumer reviews, or other sites? If so great news, because it's why I've been holding off my purchase.
  • 2 Hide
    Crashman , February 24, 2009 7:52 PM
    AvikingSo you're saying none of the earlier driver problems are still present that have been mentioned in numereos consumer reviews, or other sites? If so great news, because it's why I've been holding off my purchase.


    No driver issues with the software that was tested.
  • 0 Hide
    Aviking , February 24, 2009 7:56 PM
    Great that puts my mind at ease, Thanks for the nice article.
  • -2 Hide
    Tindytim , February 24, 2009 8:21 PM
    CrashmanLOL, it's a bit of SARCASM the represents what the MANUFACTURERS think of the market. If it weren't sarcasm, floppy connector placement wouldn't have been examined on every...single...board...repetitiously.

    Only reason I have a on floppy in all my machine I needed install XP on.
  • 0 Hide
    billiardicus , February 24, 2009 10:08 PM
    Great article. Thanks!
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