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

Gigabyte EX58-UD3R

With three FireWire ports, four DIMM and seven expansion slots, Gigabyte’s EX58-UD3R almost resembles a high-end Core 2-class part. Its Core i7-compatible LGA 1366 socket tells a different story, however.

Those four memory slots are somewhat of a distraction on a triple-channel motherboard. The EX58-UD3R manual claims that triple-channel mode still operates with four DIMMs installed, though.

Both PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots support full bandwidth, and Gigabyte even provides an open-ended connector on its x4 slot. The real-time clock battery unfortunately prevents insertion of anything longer than an x4 card in that open-ended slot. It’s frustrating that the X58B-A and FlamingBlade don’t have this type of slot while the EX58-UD3R does, since the other two boards have room for longer cards on the x4 interface while the EX58-UD3R does not.

Another point on the subject of expansion slots is that the x1 slot is blocked by the X58 Express northbridge heat sink, making what appears-to-be a seven-slot motherboard in theory become a six-slot motherboard in practice, at least until someone produces a three-inch long PCIe x1 card that’s worth installing.

Windows XP users who need to load RAID drivers from floppy during installation will find that yet another manufacturer relegates its floppy header to a bottom-rear-corner position. We could also complain that the Ultra ATA connector is too low on the motherboard to support upper bay optical drives, but Ultra ATA has become far less relevant than Windows XP.

Remaining connectors are well-placed, including the front-panel audio header immediately forward of the rear audio jacks.

Gigabyte puts its extra SATA ports up front, rather than provide eSATA. This allows builders to choose between front-panel eSATA jacks or an SATA to eSATA breakout plate. But anyone willing to jump ahead to the accessory photo will notice that the EX58-UD3R doesn’t include the SATA to eSATA breakout adapter that has recently become a Gigabyte value-add.

BIOS

BIOS clock, timing, and voltage ranges can be found on Page 17’s overclocking comparison.

Gigabyte’s MB Intelligent Tweaker menu provides access to a wide range of clock and voltage controls suitable to meet the demands of most overclockers.

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Advanced Clock Controls include drive strength and clock skew.

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Advanced DRAM features include an “XMP Profiles” setting that doesn’t appear to work the way we expected, but we’re perfectly capable of configuring memory manually. Memory timings are adjustable per-channel, but anyone looking to save a little time will still find per-timing automatic settings.

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Advanced voltage controls include the now-popular (among manufacturers) DRAM reference voltage settings, though we’re not sure how many users require these.

Accessories

Like most motherboards in the $200 X58 class, the EX58-UD3R’s installation kit could be just as easily described by what it doesn’t include. Only the basics are found here, and Gigabyte’s signature SATA to eSATA adapter will be sorely missed by anyone who wanted eSATA on this motherboard.

  • 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