X58 Motherboards Round-up December 08

14. OverclockingOn Last Page


Final Words and Conclusion



Asus P6T Deluxe
Over the last year or two we have come to the conclusion that Asus are not capable of making a bad high-end motherboard and the P6T Deluxe continues a fine tradition of well made performance products. It was clear from the moment we unboxed the huge bundle of extras that Asus have gone above and beyond the level anyone would expect. Whether it is the sheer number of cables which ensure even the most packed system is catered for, or the nice little touches that make builds easier such as the Q-Connectors or Q-Shield … Asus have everything pretty much perfected. This is before we even look at their new OC Palm device which completely out-does any diagnostic device from their competitors.

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.

Available from OCUK – £247 Available from NewEgg – $338

Gigabyte EX58-UD5
We were impressed by the bundle offered by Asus with their X58 board and the same can be said of this product from Gigabyte. It does lack the fancy diagnostic device provided by the P6T but we are given plenty of cables and connectors, some of which are not included with the competitor’s offerings. One such item is the 3-Way SLI bridge connector which points us to one of the major advantages that the EX58-UD5 has over some other X58 boards. That is support for 3-Way SLI which could be a real selling point for those who want the best gaming performance available. Gigabyte also offer 10 SATA ports on this particular model and dual BIOS chips which allow users to recover from corruption caused by overclocking. In addition to this we also have Q-Flash for simple BIOS updates and support for 24 GB of DDR3, something many X58 boards do not offer.

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.

Available from OCUK – £230 Available from NewEgg – $298

Intel DX58SO
When releasing a motherboard Intel do not tend to bundle it with a huge amount of extras and as a result the items included with the DX58SO seem a little disappointing at first glance. In reality though Intel provide consumers with all they need to get a system up and running, SATA cables, well written documentation, a clear quick start guide and a software CD full of extras to ensure a smooth running system. Additionally, for those who want to dabble in overclocking there is also a chipset fan to aid Northbridge cooling.

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!)

Available from SCAN – £212 Available from NewEgg – $258

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