Skip to main content

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

Test Settings

We carried forward several older benchmarks and hardware to make today’s benchmark results comparable to those of previous X58 motherboard roundups.

Test System Configuration
CPUIntel Core i7-920 (2.66 GHz, 8.0 MB Cache)
CPU CoolerSwiftech Apogee GTZ Liquid Cooling
RAMKingston KHX16000D3ULT1K3/6GX (6.0 GB) DDR3-2000 at DDR3-1866 CAS 7-8-7-20
GraphicsXFX GeForce GTX 285 XXX Edition 670MHz GPU, GDDR3-2500
Hard DriveWestern Digital WD5000AAKS, 500 GB 7,200 RPM, SATA 3 Gb/s, 16 MB cache
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
PowerCooler Master RS850-EMBA 850W, ATX12V v2.2, EPS12V
Software
OSMicrosoft Windows Vista Ultimate x64 SP1
GraphicsNVidia Forceware 181.20 WHQL
ChipsetIntel INF 9.1.0.1007

Kingston’s DDR3-2000 is no longer the fastest memory we have, but it is the only model of which we have two triple-channel sets for testing six-DIMM configurations. Using it also allows us to compare today’s DRAM overclocking results to those of previously-tested models.

Zalman’s ZM-STF1 thermal grease was chosen for its quick set-in time, low thermal resistance, and mess-free application.

Excellent cooling is required to reach our Core i7-920’s overclocking limit. Swiftech’s Apogee GTZ moves heat quickly away from the CPU, via its MCP-655b high-volume pump and 3 x 120mm radiator.

XFX’s mildly-overclocked GTX 285 XXX Edition was our card of choice in the first X58 motherboard shootout, and retaining it allows readers to compare today’s benchmark results to those of former roundups.

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
Call of Duty: World at WarPatch 1.1, FRAPS/saved game High Textures, No AA / No AF, vsync off Ultra Textures, 4x AA / Max AF, vsync off
CrysisPatch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit executable, benchmark tool Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA Test Set 2: Very High Quality, 8x AA
Far Cry 2DirectX 10, Steam Version, in-game benchmark Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra High Quality, 8x AA
World in ConflictPatch 1009, DirectX 10, timedemo Test 1: High Details, No AA / No AF Test 2: Very High Details 4x AA / 16x AF
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunesVersion: 7.7.0.43 Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 min Default format AAC
Lame MP3Version: 3.98 Beta 3 (05-22-2007) Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min wave to MP3
TMPGEncVersion: 4.5.1.254 Import File: Terminator 2 SE DVD (5 Minutes) Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9
DivX 6.8.3Encoding mode: Insane Quality Enhanced multithreading enabled using SSE4 Quarter-pixel search
Xvid 1.1.3Display encoding status = off
MainConcept Reference 1.5.1MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264), MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2), Audio: MPEG2 (44.1 kHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 kbp/s), Mode: PAL (25 FPS)
Productivity
Autodesk 3ds Max 9Version: 9.0, Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)
Grisoft AVG Anti-Virus 8Version: 8.0.134, Virus base: 270.4.5/1533, Benchmark: Scan 334 MB Folder of ZIP/RAR compressed files
WinRAR 3.80Version 3.70 BETA 8, WinZip Command line Version 2.3, Compression = Best, Dictionary = 4,096 KB, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)
WinZip 11Version 11.2, Compression = Best, Benchmark: THG-Workload (139 MB)
Sythetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark VantageVersion: 1.0.1, GPU and CPU scores
PCMark VantageVersion: 1.00, System, Memory, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks, Windows Media Player 10.00.00.3646
SiSoft Sandra XII SP2Version 2008.5.14.24, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
  • midnightgun
    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?
    Reply
  • Crashman
    9477978 said:
    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".
    Reply
  • midnightgun
    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.
    Reply
  • midnightgun
    Anywho, thanks for the review. Interesting read.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    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.
    Reply
  • anamaniac
    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.
    Reply
  • ceteras
    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.
    Reply
  • Onus
    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.
    Reply
  • gxpbecker
    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. :)
    Reply
  • Ryun
    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.
    Reply