BIOS Settings & Test Setup
Most enthusiasts should already be more than familiar with the BIOS on these boards, along with the custom tweaks that they have done to the default versions provided by companies like Phoenix. However, we did have a complaint about the updating of BIOS on the EVGA, something that enthusiasts are likely to do quite frequently. Unfortunately, while the Gigabyte and MSI have their own BIOS flashing tool accessible from within the BIOS, EVGA's methods for flashing the BIOS were the tried and tested ones involving booting up using floppy/CD/thumb drive. Compared to the convenience offered by Gigabyte's Q-Flash or MSI's M-Flash, EVGA is definitely behind the times.
The company did make up for this with some rather uncommon BIOS settings that hint at its enthusiast leanings. For example, besides an auto-overclocking option called Dummy OC (which was rather tame in terms of the overclock when we tried), the EVGA also had an Extreme Cooling mode that they recommend be enabled if liquid nitrogen is involved. The voltage settings were also impressive in their breadth, which should be appreciated by enthusiasts.
With our Core i7-980X, we found that the maximum base clock that we achieved were identical at 220MHz, though the auto-overclocking tools on both the EVGA and MSI had the base clock at much lower values.
|O/C Settings||EVGA X58 SLI Classified||Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD9||MSI Big Bang-XPower|
|Base Clock (MHz)||133 - 500||100 - 600||100 - 600|
|CPU Ratio||12 - 50||12 - 65||12 - 60|
|DRAM Frequency/Ratio||Auto, 800, 1067, 1333, 1600, 1867, 2133, 2400, 2667, 2933, 3467, 3733, 4000MHz||Auto, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18||Auto, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8|
|Tested Overclock Settings||
||Base Clock: 220MHz max||
Since we had done a couple of Intel X58 boards with the updated SATA 6Gbps support, we'll be using one of them, the ASUS P6X58D Premium as a reference. The system configuration used is similar, though due to circumstances, we had to change the HDD from a Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB to a Western Digital Caviar Black for this article. Hence, there could be some variations in some results. Finally, as the EVGA does not support SATA 6Gbps, it will be based on the more typical SATA 3.0Gbps interface.
- Intel Core i7-980X (@3.33GHz, Intel Turbo Boost, HyperThreading enabled)
- 3 x 1GB Kingston HyperX DDR3-1333 @ 7-7-20 CAS 7.0
- Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB SATA 6Gbps hard disk drive (for ASUS P6X58D Premium)
- Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB SATA 6Gbps hard disk drive (for the remaining motherboards)
- ATI Radeon HD 5870 1GB (Catalyst 10.2)
- Intel INF 184.108.40.2065 and Intel Matrix Storage manager 220.127.116.113 driver set
- Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 32-bit
The following benchmarks were used:
- BAPco SYSmark 2007 (version 1.05)
- Futuremark PCMark Vantage (18.104.22.168)
- Futuremark 3DMark Vantage (22.214.171.124)
- SpecView Perf 9.0
- Far Cry 2
- World in Conflict
- Crysis Warhead