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Intel X58 Roundup: Six $300+ Platforms Compared

Eclipse SLI BIOS, Software, And Accessories

MSI Eclipse BIOS ranges are more than adequate for extracting the ultimate performance from most components, but the company’s use of plus and minus volts, rather than resulting values, is a little awkward.

BIOS Frequency and Voltage Settings
CPU Reference Clock133 to 400 MHz (1 MHz)
Clock Multiplier AdjustmentYes
DRAM RatiosDDR3-800 to DDR3-2133
PCIe Clock100 to 200 MHz (1 MHz)
CPU VcoreStock -0.32 to +0.63 volts (0.010 volts)
QPI/VTT (uncore) VoltageStock -0.32 to +0.63 volts (0.010 volts)
IOH (Northbridge) Vcore0.78 to 1.73 volts (0.010 volts)
ICH (Southbridge) Vcore0.70 to 2.13 volts (0.010 volts)
DRAM Voltage1.20 to 2.77 volts (0.010 volts)
CAS Latency RangetCAS:6-11; tRCD: 3-15; tRP: 3-15; tRAS: 9-31

MSI bests several competitors by including clock skew controls in addition to VREF, voltage, memory timing, and clock speed settings. XMP Profile settings appeared ineffective, so users should instead set memory speed, timings, and voltage manually.

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The menus do get somewhat unwieldy, with a few “detected value” pages that have no settings.

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The Eclipse SLI includes four BIOS profile registers, allowing for a variety of configurations to be saved for later use.

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MSI OverclockingCenter and GreenPowerCenter provide several clock and voltage controls. Manual selections worked for us, but selecting any of MSI’s pre-defined profiles caused our system to lock up.

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Accessories

Accessories
Documentation and SoftwareQuick Installation Guide
Motherboard Manual
Motherboard Facts Sheet
Audio Card Manual
HDD Backup Guide
Driver CD (Windows Vista)
Driver CD (Windows XP)
Sound Card DVD
MSI HDD Backup DVD
Hardware1 x Quick Connector Kit
3 x 4-pin to SATA Power Adapter
6 x SATA Data Cable
1 x X-Fi Xtreme Audio PCIe Card
1 x 80-conductor Ultra ATA Cable
1 x Floppy Cable
1 x SATA to eSATA Breakout Plate (2 ports)
1 x USB 2.0 Breakout Plate (2 ports)
1 x eSATA to SATA Data Cable
1 x 4-pin to SATA Power Adapter (External)
1 x GreenPower Genie power monitor
1 x Power Monitor Connector Cable
1 x D-LED2 System Status Display
1 x D-LED2 Thermal Probe
1 x GreenPower Genie data cable
1 x I/O Panel Shield
2 x CrossFire Bridge
1 x SLI Bridge

MSI packs its Eclipse SLI box with accessories, but some are more useful than others. We found the GreenPower Genie adapter particularly questionable since it adds resistance to the circuit through several added connectors and appears to monitor only the 24-pin connection.

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