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Intel X58 Roundup: Six $300+ Platforms Compared

EX58-Extreme BIOS, Software, And Accessories

A reference clock ceiling of 1,200 MHz is about as useful as a 200 mph speedometer on a bicycle, but remaining control limits are far more realistic.

BIOS Frequency and Voltage Settings
CPU Reference Clock100 to 1,200 MHz (1 MHz)
Clock Multiplier AdjustmentYes
DRAM RatiosDDR3-800 to DDR3-2400
PCIe Clock90 to 150 MHz (1 MHz)
CPU Vcore0.500 to 1.900 volts (0.00625 volts)
QPI/VTT (Uncore) Voltage1.075 to 2.015 volts (0.020 volts)
IOH (Northbridge) Vcore1.00 to 2.00 volts (0.020 volts)
ICH (Southbridge) Vcore0.92 to 2.38 volts (0.020 volts)
DRAM Voltage1.30 to 2.60 volts (0.020 volts)
CAS Latency RangetCAS:6-15; tRCD: 1-15; tRP: 1-15; tRAS: 1-63

We hope to eventually see a Core i7 processor that can support the DDR3-2400 setting, since we’ve already tested memory that can exceed the roughly 2,100 MHz that most Nehalem-based memory controllers can endure.

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Gigabyte’s latest attempt to cater to every overclocker’s needs includes redundant settings under advanced menus, which can make navigation somewhat cumbersome. With a little patience, advanced users should find everything they need to get the most out of this motherboard.

Gigabyte’s Dynamic Energy Saver application appeared to use at least as much power as it saved when all CPU-integrated power-saving features were enabled.

Accessories

Accessories
Documentation and SoftwareMotherboard Manual
Quick Installation Guide
Motherboard Driver DVD
Hardware2 x Case Badge (Gigabyte, Dolby)
1 x 3-way SLI Bridge
1 x SLI Bridge
1 x 80-Conductor Ultra-ATA Cable
1 x Floppy Cable
4 x SATA Cable
1 x SATA to eSATA Breakout Plate
1 x SATA Power Adapter (2 drives)
2 x eSATA to SATA Adapter Cables
1 x I/O Panel Shield

The EX58-Extreme accessory kit is adequate for most installations, but is slightly disappointing given the product's ultra-high-end market. We’d have at least liked to see two more SATA cables and a CrossFire bridge, but at least Gigabyte included a floppy cable for Windows XP users who would like to load their operating system on a RAID array or AHCI-enabled drive.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • arkadi
    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.
    Reply
  • 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
    Reply
  • neiroatopelcc
    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 ....
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • phantom93
    Lol nice article, lol i love the soldering job on the port-80 diagnostics digits for the DFI lan party board.
    Reply
  • inversed
    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.
    Reply
  • jeffunit
    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?
    Reply
  • jeffunit
    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?
    Reply
  • Crashman
    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.
    Reply
  • ryanaxiom
    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.
    Reply