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

Conclusion

First place overclocker Foxconn FlamingBlade gives way to second-place overclocker MSI X58 Pro-E when more than three memory slots are required. Comparing features, the FlamingBlade supports a second Gigabit Ethernet connection, while the X58 Pro-E supports a third x16-length card in its x4 slot. Both also support two full-bandwidth PCIe 2.0 x16 slots, but the same can be said of any X58-chipset motherboard.

Anyone more interested in performance leadership than top overclocking might instead choose the Gigabyte X58-UD3R, its higher-spec eight-phase voltage regulator and two ounce copper PCB providing cooler VRM operation rather than an overclocking crown. Equally priced to the X58 Pro-E but with slightly less room for memory and expansion cards, its lower operating temperatures might make it a more reliable choice in high-stress environments.

Perhaps the most surprising board in today’s comparison, ASRock’s X58 Extreme came in third place in both overclocking and performance while also having the lowest price. Lacking no features compared to MSI’s high-flying X58 Pro-E, the X58 Extreme puts a little more emphasis on easy installation with front panel connections located above the board’s center line. ASRock even includes a floppy header to ease RAID driver access during Windows XP installation, and its Port 80 diagnostics display is unmatched by the X58 Pro-E.

Supporting up to five graphics cards, Jetway’s BI-600 provides the best combinations of features for the price. It also won our efficiency comparison, but only by using lower-than-specified CPU voltage. From a features perspective it’s a terrific bargain, but we won’t be able to recommend it until Jetway does some serious work on its BIOS, and we’re hoping improved BIOS might also address its severe core voltage droop.

With the BI-600 out of the running in recommended value, the ASRock X58 Extreme’s combination of great overclocking, good performance, and lowest price earn it our “Recommended Buy” award.

  • 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