X58 Motherboards Round-up December 08
Final Words and Conclusion
Of course a great bundle does not make a great product, the motherboard itself also has to impress in various areas such as features, performance and stability. On the feature level the P6T has more than most people will require, Express Gate on SSD for quick and easy access to the internet and basic functionality, EZ-Flash 2 for simple BIOS updates and onboard SAS (Serial Attached SCSI) all add value to the product. There are also no issues with performance as our results show, this board is right up there with the best of them including the products tested today and Asus own Rampage 2 Formula which we previously reviewed. Finally we have stability and it is in this area which the P6T excels.
When we started the testing for this review there were four boards in the round-up, we began testing on the P6T and it performed flawlessly, regardless of what we threw at it in terms of components, BIOS settings or tests. From there on it was all downhill as other boards in the review suffered from the need for BIOS updates to resolve bugs or enhance compatibility and one product even had to be removed due to basic features missing in its BIOS. Asus rarely, if ever, give us problems like this and the P6T gains our Gold Award for its exceptional performance, features and stability.
In addition to these great features the EX58-UD5 was more often than not the top performer in our tests and once up and running it remained very stable throughout the testing. It is in the area of stability and compatibility that we do have some issues though with the main concern being with memory. In this review, like our previous tests on X58, we installed Corsair’s triple channel DDR3-1600 modules which are designed specifically for the Core-i7. Boards from Asus ran these modules without any problems but on the EX58-UD5 we saw some issues with incorrect selection of memory timings when XMP was enabled and a few minor niggles such as sluggish BIOS screens. We have no doubt that Gigabyte will resolve these issues and we can confirm that they are regularly passing us updated BIOS versions however at this time there is still a little work to be done.
For those who want the best performing X58 board they can find, with all the performance features available (such as 3-way SLI) there is very little need to look any further than the EX58-UD5. We are confident that Gigabyte will resolve the BIOS/compatibility issues soon and this, combined with a very attractive price, earns this product our Gold Award.
Stability is what Intel motherboards are all about and we can confirm that Extreme Series products excel in this area; we trust no-one more than them to build a board which will run without issue until the system is ready to be replaced. Our V8 system (Review Here) for example runs as well now as it did in when delivered to us in early 2007. Even further back the X6700/D975XBX2 combination (Review Here) we reviewed in 2006 still sees regular use, despite spending part of its life on a Vapochill system. We expect the same reliability from the DX58SO and our initial experience is that the board has performed flawlessly with the latest BIOS.
Speaking of the BIOS, Intel offer the best update method around which basically involves double clicking a file on the desktop, the system then reboots, flashes and returns to Windows. We also know from experience that Intel do not drop support for their motherboards when new models become available, using the D975XBX2 as an example again that board received its latest BIOS in September of this year. Nearly 2 years after it first hit the market.
Performance is also a strong area for the DX58SO and it was able to match the other boards being tested today almost point for point throughout the review. There is however one major issue that we have with the DX58SO and that is the lack of SLI support. For those who like to change between graphics card companies from generation to generation and go with the best performing product(s), regardless of the manufacturer, the DX58SO basically limits consumers to ATI. Thankfully, the lack of SLI is offset somewhat by the very reasonable price of the DX58SO and it cannot be beaten for stability, reliability and support. For these reasons the product wins our Editors Choice award… but we live in hope of a DX58SO-SLI. (Look Intel, we even named it for you!)