X58 Roundup: Seven $200-300 Core i7 Boards

MSI X58 Platinum SLI

MSI’s MS-7522 motherboard is available in both SLI and non-SLI versions, because Nvidia charges per-motherboard to add an SLI driver hook to BIOS code. The version we received is aptly named X58 Platinum SLI.

MSI doesn’t pretend that reduced-cost motherboards will be adequate 3-way SLI solutions, and instead omits any third slot from the X58 Platinum SLI layout. It’s still perfect for SLI or CrossFire configurations that use only two graphics units, including four-GPU solutions using two high-end GTX 295 or HD 4870 X2 cards.

MSI puts an extra space between its two x16 slots to allow better cooling for the top card, but it does bother us a little that the company didn’t take advantage of the X58 northbridge's four left-over PCIe 2.0 lanes. We don’t believe substituting an x1 slot for an x4 slot would have had a very large effect on pricing. A full seven expansion slots provide tremendous flexibility, but this is a situation where the “missing” x4 slot could have seriously boosted the motherboard’s specification sheet.

Power cables connections are exactly where we want them, but the Ultra ATA connector is a little low in the X58 Platinum’s front edge for use with upper drive bays. Bottom-rear corner placement of Front-Panel Audio and IEEE 1394 FireWire headers make cable management a challenge for owners of top-panel-access cases.

As with every board in today’s comparison, forward-facing Serial ATA ports allow cables to slip easily under the leading edge of long expansion cards while also requiring additional space around any nearby hard drive cage. Most cases are designed with these types of connectors in mind. Two additonal SATA ports that face outward from the X58 Platinum SLI’s surface are located far enough below the top PCIe x16 slot to fit under any oversized graphics card coolers.

Power and Reset buttons located under the bottom PCI slot make bench testing a little easier. A third button near the motherboard’s front edge is intended to switch modes for the optional D-LED2 diagnostics display.

MSI X58 Platinum SLI (Revision 1.0)

Northbridge

Intel X58 Express

Southbridge

Intel ICH10R

Voltage Regulator

Six Phases

BIOS

V3.1 (01/21/2009)

133.3 MHz Base Clock

133.7 (+0.28%)

Clock Generator

ICS 9LPRS133BKLF

Connectors and Interfaces

Onboard

2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (Full Bandwidth)

 

3 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)

 

8 x Serial ATA 3.0Gb/s

 

1 x Fan 4-pin (CPU, System)

 

5 x Fan 3-pins (Chassis, Power)

 

1 x D-LED2 Diagnostics Module Header

 

1x Front Panel Audio connector

 

1 x CD-Audio In

 

1 x Power Switch

 

1 x Reset Switch

 

1 x D-LED2 Function Switch

IO panel

2 x PS2 (keyboard, mouse)

 

8 x USB 2.0

 

1 x IEEE-1394 FireWire

 

1 x Digital Audio Out (optical)

 

1 x External SATA (eSATA) 3.0Gb/s

 

1 x CLR_CMOS button

 

2 x RJ45 Ethernet

 

6 x Analog Audio Jack (8 ch. out + line, mic in)

Mass Storage Controllers

Intel ICH10R

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

JMicron JMB363 PCIe

1 x Ultra ATA-133 (2-drives)

 

1 x External SATA (eSATA) 3.0Gb/s

 

1 x SATA Interface for JMB322 Port Multiplier

JMicron JMB322 on SATA

2 x SATA 3.0 Gb/s to 4x SATA 3.0 Gb/s

Network

2x Realtek RTL8111C PCIe

Dual Gigabit LAN with Teaming

Audio

Realtek ALC888 HD Audio Codec

Eight-Channel (7.1 Surround) Output

IEEE-1394 FireWire

JMicron JMB381 PCIe

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


Just as with the competing Asus model, the MSI X58 Platinum SLI uses a JMicron JMB322 port multiplier to provide two internal ports from a single JMB363 connection, sending the controller’s other connection to an eSATA port. Everything on that controller, including any Ultra ATA drives, must then share a single 2.5 Gigabit PCIe pathway to the chipset. MSI labels its two red SATA ports “Double Speed” in spite of this huge bottleneck, a marketing slogan that refers to the port multiplier’s built-in RAID 0 capability.

Networking faces no such bottlenecks, as each Realtek RTL8111C Gigabit Ethernet controller is fed by its own 2.5 Gb PCIe link.

FireWire 400 ports have no need for the bandwidth of PCIe, but the newer interface allows JMicron’s JMB381 controller to use less motherboard real estate.

Rated at 97dB signal-to-noise ratio, the RTL888 HD Audio codec provides 7.1-channel surround audio and is capable of multi-streaming a separate stereo signal to the front-panel headphone jack.

Check prices for MSI's X58 Platinum SLI

Create a new thread in the US Reviews comments forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
58 comments
    Your comment
  • dragonsprayer
    hey guys good info - its 4am i should not be posting with one eye closed to see the screen!
    Warpedsystems has tested a least half of these, my Evga failed out of the box, i would normally let that slide but with all the 680i and 780i issues and failures over the years - beware. So i can not speak of the evga - i will say the 780i FTW is kick butt mobo!

    Asus is asus and 90% or so of my stuff i ship, i switched to the new P6t from the deluxe and have had some issues - i am sitll working on the P6T tonight as i type. Opps- my jr tech set the blk to 180 and over clocked the QPI to max - i think he smoked the mobo ran amd cpu = its first in 5 years if so?

    Some did not make it? no gigabyte? gigabyte is really pushing on asus for number one - really! Ya, all the evga fans are what? I can say how many evga mobos break and fail: pci-e slot fail, pressure around the cpu mounting failure, lock ups - evga lock ups are just accepted as part of life! We all know that evga error code!

    I have to say the gigabyte and the higher end asus deluxe version sure seem a lot more reliable for 4ghz systems - again - we only took 1 evga and it locked up and i said "that is it the last time" - the FTW 780i gives me faith evga will come around on x58.

    what ever you do - do not oc the blk and QPI - poof!

    nice stuff THG!
    1
  • Crashman
    dragonsprayerhey guys good info - its 4am i should not be posting with one eye closed to see the screen!Warpedsystems has tested a least half of these, my Evga failed out of the box, i would normally let that slide but with all the 680i and 780i issues and failures over the years - beware. So i can not speak of the evga - i will say the 780i FTW is kick butt mobo!Asus is asus and 90% or so of my stuff i ship, i switched to the new P6t from the deluxe and have had some issues - i am sitll working on the P6T tonight as i type. Opps- my jr tech set the blk to 180 and over clocked the QPI to max - i think he smoked the mobo ran amd cpu = its first in 5 years if so?Some did not make it? no gigabyte? gigabyte is really pushing on asus for number one - really! Ya, all the evga fans are what? I can say how many evga mobos break and fail: pci-e slot fail, pressure around the cpu mounting failure, lock ups - evga lock ups are just accepted as part of life! We all know that evga error code!I have to say the gigabyte and the higher end asus deluxe version sure seem a lot more reliable for 4ghz systems - again - we only took 1 evga and it locked up and i said "that is it the last time" - the FTW 780i gives me faith evga will come around on x58.what ever you do - do not oc the blk and QPI - poof!nice stuff THG!


    One of the companies forgot to send a board and didn't respond in time to the reminder...see the introduction of the article. What makes you think that company wasn't Gigabyte?
    0
  • Anonymous
    Which ASUS board was actually tested - the plain "P6T" or "P6T SE?" There are subtle differences, like JMB322 in P6T but not in P6T SE. Also, some difference in e.g. back panel IO and advertised overclocking capabilities.
    Judging from the feature list, the board was plain P6T, but all pictures seem to be of P6T SE.
    0
  • Crashman
    RipaWhich ASUS board was actually tested - the plain "P6T" or "P6T SE?" There are subtle differences, like JMB322 in P6T but not in P6T SE. Also, some difference in e.g. back panel IO and advertised overclocking capabilities.Judging from the feature list, the board was plain P6T, but all pictures seem to be of P6T SE.


    http://media.bestofmicro.com/7/3/192063/original/asus_p6t_kit.jpg
    2
  • wicko
    Sadly, none of the good mobos in this review are sub 300$ in Canada.. what a damn ripoff.
    0
  • hardwarekid9756
    Could you expound on "Catastrophic Failure?" I'd be interested to know what all went wrong in the fray. I've been using an ASRock Mobo recently, and noticed it full-out sucked at Overclocking when compared to my MSI board, so I'd like to know what exactly caused the thing to bomb out.
    0
  • salavat23
    No Gigabyte.

    Sorry, but you can't make a good review without including one of the top manufacturers of X58 motherboards.
    -8
  • salavat23
    No Gigabyte.

    Sorry, but you can't make a good review without including one of the top manufacturers of X58 motherboards.
    -15
  • msdx_bizkit
    Gigabyte EX58-UD3R and MSI X58 Pro are the cheapest X58 motherboards out there at the moment. (~250$ CAD - NCIX) Could you guys give me your input on those two particuliar boards?

    I am not the extreme overclocking kinda guy. In fact, I still am running on default settings on my Core 2 Duo E6750. I don't plan to overclock over 3,2Ghz on my new 920, if I ever do overclock.

    Neither boards support SLI, but I'd be interrested in a dual Radeon 4870 1GB Crossfire config.

    Thanks in advance
    0
  • daft
    i was just wondering if the "more on this topic" could be omitted in future articles, i like to skip to the conclusion in the mornings and its annoying to hit more on this topic and get a little window than to go to the conclusion
    0
  • Anonymous
    where is my GIGABYTE 1366 EX58-UD4P? supports crossfire and it's cheap
    -1
  • Crashman
    salavat23No Gigabyte. Sorry, but you can't make a good review without including one of the top manufacturers of X58 motherboards.


    Tell that to Gigabyte.
    5
  • theloser
    salavat23No Gigabyte. Sorry, but you can't make a good review without including one of the top manufacturers of X58 motherboards.


    No salavat23. Sorry but you can't make a good reader without reading the introduction.
    6
  • hellwig
    What happens when 4 PCIe x16 slots share two sets of x16 lanes? I mean, if I plug an x1 card into a secondary slot, is it going to reduce my graphics card in the primary slot down to x8 lanes? So in other words, if I have two GPUs in the two primary slots, and I want to plug in a x1 PCIe TV Tuner, its going to reduce one of the GPUs down to x8? Seems to me they should have made one of those PCI slots a x1 PCIe.
    0
  • MotorMouth
    msdx_bizkitGigabyte EX58-UD3R and MSI X58 Pro are the cheapest X58 motherboards out there at the moment. (~250$ CAD - NCIX) Could you guys give me your input on those two particuliar boards?I am not the extreme overclocking kinda guy. In fact, I still am running on default settings on my Core 2 Duo E6750. I don't plan to overclock over 3,2Ghz on my new 920, if I ever do overclock.Neither boards support SLI, but I'd be interrested in a dual Radeon 4870 1GB Crossfire config.Thanks in advance


    I have the P6T and love it. 3.8 GHz using DDR3 1333 RAM. All I need to do is change these settings:

    Ai Overclock Tuner: Manual
    CPU Ratio: Auto
    Intel Speed Step: Disable
    Bclk: 190
    DRAM: DDR3- 1523
    DRAM: Bus 1.66

    That's all that you need to do to get 3.8 GHz out of it. Works like a charm.
    0
  • nevadarain72
    hardwarekid9756Could you expound on "Catastrophic Failure?" I'd be interested to know what all went wrong in the fray. I've been using an ASRock Mobo recently, and noticed it full-out sucked at Overclocking when compared to my MSI board, so I'd like to know what exactly caused the thing to bomb out.


    Agreed. While manufacturers not meeting the deadline is somewhat annoying, I'd really like to know which brand, and especially which motherboard model had the spectacular failure. I'm about to buy components for a Core i7 build, and knowing which one had issues would add some piece of mind to the decision.

    Tom's guys, can you help us readers out on on this?
    0
  • harlequin6791
    I find it very interesting that review after review on just about every other site are GLEAMING about the Asrock X58. Everyone has been pleasantly surprised by the fact a budget board maker could make one of the top overclockers on their tests. This was a consistent theme it seemed.

    I'm curious what's the difference between their reviews and the ones here?
    0
  • harlequin6791
    I'm hoping Toms just got a bad batch of boards because mine is waiting at home for it's new case to arrive.

    As for the reviews here you go..

    http://www.motherboards.org/reviews/motherboards/1861_16.html
    http://www.thinkcomputers.org/index.php?x=reviews&id=943&page=11
    http://www.tweaktown.com/reviews/1761/13/asrock_x58_supercomputer_motherboard/index.html

    I guess my concern is who is right??
    0
  • cangelini
    harlequin6791I find it very interesting that review after review on just about every other site are GLEAMING about the Asrock X58. Everyone has been pleasantly surprised by the fact a budget board maker could make one of the top overclockers on their tests. This was a consistent theme it seemed.I'm curious what's the difference between their reviews and the ones here?


    From my discussions with Thomas, it seemed that this board was solid until you started overclocking it, after which we had two different boards burn up. Thomas can clarify, though.
    0
  • ART-T
    Tom's; I know there are more MB manufacturer's out there. I don't expect you (or anyone) to do all of them. It may be that I am about to mention 1 of the 3 you said died. But what about the Intel board DX58SO.

    I would really love to know where the Intel board stacks up in this.
    0