Catching the Eclipse - MSI's X58 Motherboard Previewed

MSI's X58 Motherboard Previewed

MSI's X58 Motherboard Previewed

Will it Eclipse the competition? With such a name, we bet that when MSI's upcoming X58 motherboard does the review circuit, it's bound to generate such similar headlines among both enthusiasts and reviewers. At the moment though, we can't answer that question yet, since our unit came without an Intel Core i7 (Nehalem) processor. We can however show you some of the features that you can expect to find on the Eclipse, which is targeted at the enthusiast.

As you should know by now, Intel's next generation CPU is almost upon us. We are about a month or so away from the launch of the Core i7, hence in recent weeks, we have first seen the ASUS P6T Deluxe arriving in our lab and now followed by the MSI Eclipse. We have no details about the number of SKUs that will be based on the Eclipse, though knowing motherboard vendors, it's quite likely that they are multiple SKUs for any designs, varying slightly in terms of features.

Meanwhile for our early preview sample, the Eclipse appears to be brimming with all the expected features of the Intel X58 + ICH10R chipset. Obviously, there's a new socket for the larger Core i7, the integration of a triple-channel DDR3 memory controller and Intel's QuickPath Interconnect for greater bandwidth and up to 24GB of DDR3-1333 memory if you so desire.

Additionally, MSI has its own proprietary technologies, ranging from the integrated MOSFETS (DrMOS) to the Green Power feature found in its P45 boards and mentioned in our review here . A new, less elaborate Circu-pipe like heatsink with dual heatpipes is also found. There is even a Creative X-Fi Xtreme audio add-on card instead of the usual onboard audio, which is a clue that this board is anything but mainstream.

MSI has gone with blue and black with its new Eclipse X58 motherboard and these colors certainly fit the name. From here, it's looks like a fairly conventional and well designed layout.

MSI is including a PCIe Creative X-Fi Xtreme soundcard for the audio on the Eclipse, giving it more real estate to place up more USB and eSATA ports at the back. There's also dual Ethernet LAN ports, a FireWire port and more convenience' sake, a Clear CMOS switch at the back. Users would have to be more careful when attaching their peripherals since accidentally pressing the CMOS switch would not be cool.

With three PCIe 2.0 slots for graphics, a pair of PCIe x1 and another pair of PCIe, this board is ready for the latest technologies, including CrossFireX. MSI is expected to have a X58 SKU with NVIDIA's nForce 200 to give it SLI functionality besides native CrossFireX.

With the Intel X58 chipset and its onboard memory controller/QuickPath Interconnect, you can expect DIMM slots to be in multiples of three and MSI has included 6 on the Eclipse, supporting up to DDR3-1333 and a total of 24GB.