Extreme X58 Motherboards - All Hail the Ultimates!


All Hail the Ultimates!

All Hail the Ultimates!

Ever since the 6-core Intel Core i7-980X hit the market in March, we have seen a mini-revival of sorts for Intel X58 motherboards. Of course, the reality is that mainstream boards using Intel's LGA1156 package dominate the retail shelves and demand for such boards is unlikely to change. That however doesn't seem to deter board manufacturers. Vendors have been re-releasing boards based on the X58 Express chipset, integrating both SATA 6Gbps and USB 3.0 support. We reviewed a couple of these refreshed X58 boards, but who knew that there were more to come.

Not only have vendors refreshed their offerings, they have really worked hard on putting the X58 on the pedestal. Gigabyte and MSI have both released updated flagship versions of this chipset recently, which we previewed here. We have tested both in our lab and will be reporting the results in this article. To add more spice to the mix, we also brought in EVGA's X58 SLI Classified, which is one of the earliest, 'extreme' X58 boards. While it was launched mid last year and lacks the new SATA 6Gbps and USB 3.0 interfaces that have swept the motherboard industry, the EVGA remains a prime example of the excesses that the enthusiast segment is capable of.

All the three boards here are among the most expensive of motherboards. The most 'affordable' of the lot, the MSI Big Bang-XPower, costs slightly more than S$500, while the Gigabyte UD9, hits the wallet like a gang of pickpockets at a staggering retail price of S$839. Even the older EVGA X58 SLI Classified will set you back by around S$749. In short, if you're hunting for a mainstream motherboard, you can skip these boards. If however, you're here to gawk at over-the-top designs and larger than life (and ATX) motherboards, this is just what you have to read. Let's start with the specifications below, where among all the many listings, the form factor of two of these boards will certainly raise a few eyebrows. Yes, the EVGA and Gigabyte boards are "super-sized".

 

EVGA, Gigabyte and MSI High-end X58 Compared
  EVGA X58 SLI Classified (SKU E760) Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD9 MSI Big Bang-XPower
CPU Support Support for Socket LGA1366 Core i7 processors
Chipset Intel X58 and ICH10R
Graphics Supports NVIDIA 3-way SLI with PhysX and ATI CrossFireX Support for up to 4-way NVIDIA SLI and ATI CrossFireX Support for up to 4-way NVIDIA SLI and ATI CrossFireX  
Memory
  • Supports 6 unbuffered DIMM of DDR3-1600+/ 1333/1066MHz SDRAM
  • Triple-channel memory architecture
  • Supports up to 24GB memory size
  • Supports 6 unbuffered DIMM of DDR3-2200/ 1333/1066MHz SDRAM
  • Triple-channel memory architecture
  • Supports up to 24GB memory size
  • Supports 6 unbuffered DIMM of DDR3-2133/1800/1600/1333/1066/800MHz SDRAM
  • Triple-channel memory architecture
  • Supports up to 24GB memory size
Storage
  • Southbridge
    • 6 x SATA 3.0Gbps
    • Support AHCI controller with SATA RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10 configurations
  • JMicron JMB363 controller
    • 2 x SATA 3.0Gbps that support SATA RAID 0, 1, 0+1 and JBOD
    • 1 x IDE connector supporting up to 2 devices
  • JMicron JMB362 controller
    • 1 x eSATA 3.0Gbps ports
    • 1 x SATA 3.0Gbps port
  • Southbridge
    • 6 x SATA 3.0Gbps
    • Support AHCI controller with SATA RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10 configurations
  • Marvell 9128 SATA 6Gbps controller
    • 2 x SATA 6Gbps ports
    • Support for SATA RAID 0 and 1
  • Gigabyte SATA2 controller
    • 1 x IDE connector supporting up to 2 devices
    • 2 x SATA 3.0Gbps that support SATA RAID 0, 1 and JBOD
  • JMicron JMB362 controller
    • 2 x eSATA 3.0Gbps connectors at the rear
    • Support for SATA RAID 0, 1 and JBOD
  • iTE IT8729 controller
    • 1 x floppy drive connector
  • Southbridge
    • 6 x SATA 3.0Gbps ports
    • Support AHCI controller with SATA RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10 configurations
  • Marvell 9128 controller
    • 2 x SATA 6Gbps ports
    • Support for SATA RAID 0 and 1
  • JMicron JMB362 chip
    • 1 x eSATA 3.0Gbps port and 1 x eSATA 3.0Gbps/USB combo (rear panel)
    • Support for SATA RAID 0, 1 and JBOD
Audio  Realtek ALC889 HD CODEC Realtek ALC889 HD CODEC
  • QuantumWave audio card
  • 1 x optical S/PDIF output (rear)
  • 1 x coaxial S/PDIF output (rear)
  • Realtek ALC889 HD CODEC
Networking  2 x Realtek RTL8111D Gigabit LAN controllers 2 x Realtek RTL8111E Gigabit LAN controllers 2 x Realtek RTL8111DL Gigabit LAN controllers
IEEE 1394 (FireWire) Up to 2 x IEEE 1394a ports (1 rear, 1 header)
  • T.I TSB43AB23 controller
  • Up to 3 x IEEE 1394a ports (2 rear, 1 header)
  • VIA VT6315N controller
  • Up to 2 x IEEE 1394a ports (1 rear, 1 header)
I/O Interface
  • 8 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
  • 1 x eSATA port
  • 2 x RJ45 LAN ports
  • 6 x audio jacks
  • 1 x optical S/PDIF output
  • 1 x coaxial S/PDIF output
  • 1 x IEEE 1394a port
  • 1 x PS/2 keyboard port
  • 1 x Clear CMOS button
  • 4 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
  • 2 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
  • 2 x eSATA/USB combo ports
  • 2 x RJ45 LAN ports
  • 6 x audio jacks
  • 1 x optical S/PDIF output
  • 1 x coaxial S/PDIF output
  • 2 x IEEE 1394a ports
  • 1 x PS/2 keyboard port
  • 1 x PS/2 mouse port
  • 1 x Clear CMOS button
  • 5 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
  • 2 x USB 3.0 ports
  • 1 x eSATA port
  • 1 x eSATA/USB combo port
  • 2 x RJ-45 ports
  • 1 x IEEE 1394a port
  • 1 x PS/2 keyboard port
  • 1 x PS/2 mouse port
  • 1 x Clear CMOS button
  • 1 x D-LED2 panel connector
Internal Connectors
  • 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
  • 9 x SATA 3.0Gbps connectors
  • 1  x IDE connector
  • 5 fan connectors
  • 1 x S/PDIF output header
  • 1 x IEEE 1394a header
  • 24-pin ATX power connector
  • 2 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connectors
  • PCIe x16 Disable jumpers
  • EVGA Control Panel connectors
  • Clear CMOS button
  • Power and reset buttons
  • 3 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
  • 8 x SATA 3.0Gbps connectors
  • 2 x SATA 6Gbps connectors
  • 1 x IDE connector
  • 1 x floppy drive connector
  • 6 fan connectors
  • 1 x S/PDIF output header
  • 1 x S/PDIF input header
  • 1 x IEEE 1394a header
  • 24-pin ATX power connector
  • 2 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connectors
  • 2 x 4-pin PCIe 12V power connectors
  • Power and reset buttons
  • 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
  • 8 x SATA 3.0Gbps connectors
  • 2 x SATA 6Gbps connectors
  • 5 fan connectors
  • 1 x IEEE 1394a header
  • 1 x TPM module connector
  • 1 x 24-pin ATX power connector
  • 2 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connectors
  • Power and reset buttons
  • 1 x Over-voltage switch
  • 1 set Voltage check points
  • 1 x O.C Genie button
  • 2 x Base Clock control buttons
Expansion Slots
  • 2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 slots (x16/x8)
  • 2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 slots (x8)
  • 1 x PCIe x1 slot
  • 1 x PCI slot
  • 4 x PCIe 2.0 x16 slots @ x16
  • 3 x PCIe 2.0 x16 slots @x8
  • 2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 slots @ x16
  • 2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 slots @ x8
  • 2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 slots @ x4
  • 2 x PCIe x1 slot
Special Features
  • EVGA VDroop Control
  • EVGA E-LEET Tuning Utility
  • EVGA EZ Voltage read points
  • @BIOS
  • Q-Flash
  • Xpress BIOS Rescue
  • Download Center
  • Xpress Install
  • Xpress Recovery2
  • EasyTune
  • Dynamic Energy Saver 2
  • Smart 6
  • Auto Green
  • eXtreme Hard Drive
  • ON/OFF Charge
  • Q-Share
  • O.C Genie
  • M-Flash
  • EZ Button
  • Active Phase Switching
  • SuperPipe
  • DrMOS
  • USB Saveguard
  • LiveUpdate 4
PCB EATX Form Factor (30.5 x 26.4cm) XL-ATX Form Factor (34.5 x 26.2cm)
ATX Form Factor (30.5 x 24.4cm)