With only one 6-core processor available now and at a premium price of US$999, we don't expect enthusiasts to be flocking en masse to these costly, albeit powerful processors. There's a tad slower 3.2GHz Core i7-970 on the horizon in the second half of the year but that seems to be it for Gulftown processors, at least according to the information available now. That means the majority of users getting an Intel X58 motherboard will likely remain quad-core users who would in time probably upgrade to Intel's top chip when the time is right. If you're getting a brand-new Core i7 LGA1366 processor, there's no reason not to go with one of the newer, updated X58 boards like the two we tested today.
The ASUS P6X58D Premium and the Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD7 emerged mostly equal in our performance tests. For the most part, our reference, non-SATA 6Gbit/s motherboard could keep up with these upgraded X58 boards. Only in certain benchmark segments do we find a slight difference, which meant that if you already have a competent X58 board, there are no pressing reasons to upgrade. SATA 6Gbit/s by itself unfortunately will not make an impact, at least not without a SSD that can take advantage of it.
As for the individual performances by the two boards, they are mostly similar in benchmarks overall. The ASUS however has the edge by virtue of its better layout, at the expense of some features that is arguably not needed on a modern motherboard, like floppy and IDE. The Gigabyte no doubt has the advantage in terms of storage options, but that is typical of the brand. Not many would require that many ports and storage options, while the cramped PCIe expansion slots aren't ideal for the UD7.
That said, the lower power consumption of the Gigabyte board is a plus point, though it's balanced somewhat by the lower operating temperatures on the ASUS. Finally, the cost of the two boards firmly tilt the balance towards ASUS. At US$309, it's significantly less than the Gigabyte's US$349. No doubt, the Gigabyte UD7 has extra frills that may result in the higher cost, but you would be hard-pressed to argue that the ASUS is any less capable or polished. As such, the Gigabyte UD7 is more appropriate for a niche group of users requiring the maximum amount of storage options.
On another note, getting a 6-core processor sounds great for gaming, but looking at our overclocked results and the subsequent testing, it's clear that the graphics card is the bottleneck at the highest settings. If you're not yet reaching the performance zenith, then getting a faster graphics card would be the more cost-effective improvement. Leave the 6-cores to those who can fully utilize its potential, in video encoding, 3D rendering and other powerful content creation applications.
**Updated on 5th April 2010**
While our above comparisons have mentioned about the price discrepancy in the global market based off the US pricing, here in Singapore, both boards are pegged pretty close in pricing. So for the local enthusiasts, you can pretty much select either board based off your preference without concerns on price. In any case, at the going price of nearly S$600 for both boards (at the time of update), we're sure enthusiasts looking for boards of their calibre have deep pockets to begin with, thus price is probably the least of their concerns.