Flame Freezing the Intel X58 - DFI LANParty UT X58-T3eH8

The DFI UT X58-T3eH8

The DFI UT X58-T3eH8

We first saw the Flame Freezer heatsink in DFI's high-end X48 motherboard. The current heatsink on the DFI UT X58 is slightly modified, with fewer fins and heat pipes. However, the rear heat fins array on the motherboard itself appears to be larger than the one on the DFI X48, which we suppose compensates for this.

DFI's Flame Freezer heatsink has undergone some slight, seemingly cosmetic changes from the first time we saw it on the UT X48. The idea remains the same: It is attached at the back of the motherboard as an extra cooling option.

Installation is the same, with the user required to unscrew the metal clip mechanism at the back of the motherboard which acts to hold the Flame Freezer in place, attach the Flame Freezer and then screw it back into position. With a case fan pushing air out of the casing, it should help to generate some airflow to cool the Flame Freezer and by extension, the motherboard chipset. The hassle remains too. You do have to install the motherboard in the chassis before attempting to install the Flame Freezer and even with the screws aligned facing inwards and hence towards the chassis (you should therefore screw/unscrew the from inside the chassis, especially if you had already mounted your CPU heatsink), it's not the easiest to assemble.

The rear metal clip that needs to unscrewed for the Flame Freezer to be installed.

The alternative is to install the Flame Freezer inside the chassis, by mounting it on the passive heatsink over the Northbridge chip. This does take up some space within the chassis, not to mention that it won't be able to take advantage of the air currents generated by the rear system fan. It's no surprise then that DFI highly recommends the first scenario.

Or you could remove the heatsink via these two screws and mount the base of the Flame Freezer under it.

Besides the distinctive Flame Freezer heatsink, the DFI UT X58-T3eH8 is similar to the other three motherboards that we had in our shootout. The number of expansion slots, the DIMM slots, the SATA ports are on par with the competition. This means that one can choose either CrossFire (dual) or 3-way SLI on this board, as expected from an Intel X58 chipset. The eight SATA ports places the DFI on the lower end of the spectrum, just slightly more than the ASUS Rampage II Extreme, while the lack of eSATA is another quibble we had.

Three-way SLI at x16/x8/x8 or dual CrossFireX at x16/x16 are possible multi-GPU configurations with the three PCIe 2.0 x16 slots present. There's also a PCIe x4 slot, which allows greater flexibility when it comes to choices of adding a PCIe card.

As a motherboard for the triple-channel capable Core i7 processor, the number of DDR3 DIMM slots is in a multiple of three. In this case, you'll find six such slots for your memory.

The socket for the CPU is surrounded on three sides, two by the motherboard cooling though we had no issues with heatsink installation with our standard Intel LGA 1366 heatsink fan.

Like most motherboards nowadays, onboard switches, LED status indicators and solid capacitors are the norm, with DFI fulfilling all these. The vendor prefers digital PWM chips in fact, with Volterra the touted brand for them. Meanwhile, there are quite a few jumpers on this board, allowing users to bypass the BIOS if they prefer and do it the 'old-school' way.

A feature that DFI has been emphasizing for its products has been the use of eight-phase digital PWM from Volterra to handle CPU voltage regulation.

A diagnostic LED indicator and onboard power/reset buttons are the least we expect from an enthusiast grade motherboard nowadays and DFI provides that.

While DFI has a comprehensive BIOS with options to tweak everything from CPU voltages to memory timings, they have also included the 'old-school' jumper methods as an additional option. These jumpers here govern the CPU FSB. There are other jumpers dotting this board that affects CPU voltage, USB power select and even the PC speakers.

Generally, we were quite pleased with the board layout. SATA ports are aligned properly facing outwards while the PCIe x16 slots are spaced sufficiently apart to allow for dual-slot graphics cards. We had no problems too when installing the CPU heatsink, with the surrounding motherboard heatsinks not interfering.

The Bernstein audio module is yet another distinctive add-on from DFI. It removes the audio component from the motherboard, though it's using a common Realtek ALC889 HD CODEC.

Also, while the Bernstein audio module does not exactly require a PCIe/PCI slot, it does take up an expansion slot. Good thing is that it does have quite a comprehensive array of I/O audio ports, including coaxial S/PDIF.