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Core i7 beats them all

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The Intel DX58SO "Smackover" Mainboard

As Intel has now followed AMDs lead, including integrating a memory-controller into the CPU and doing a native four-core, the board resembles many Athlon boards. It's quite odd that the memory slots are beside the CPU instead of underneath. The first impression was quite disappointing, because this is a €300 board and it's not an all solid capacitor design. You also notice the Northbridge cooler, now called hub, features a cheapo aluminium cooler which will exceed 60°C when under heavy load and overclocked. Intel did indeed include a ridiculous 4cm fan which does lighten up your case inside, but also annoys you with unbearable noise. We hope they won't include such a toy in the retail product, otherwise just forget about it and buy something better.

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The VRM is a six-phase analog design, which due to the high current the i7 needs, should be mandatory for any board you consider buying. Of course, we would have liked to see a digital solution, but it did fine. For reasons beyond our imagination they still stuck with the ICH10R Southbridge, which could have been easily integrated into the new Northbridge, but we guess they have a lot of them in stock and we will have to wait a bit longer to see a true single chip chipset from Intel.

Two PCIe 2.0 x16 slots gives you Crossfire compatibility but this board is not SLI certified, because Intel has no reason to pay nVidia. Luckily, fanboys will get plenty of boards with this feature, of course with a price premium. An additional PCIe x4 slot and PCI slot limits your flexibility for additional cards when running this board with two dual-slot graphic-cards, otherwise it is enough.

Intel finally managed to put a tiny power-on button on the board, but "forgot" to addreset and CLR-cmos buttons. At least, in the majority of cases the board was able to boot up even when overclocked too high or setting the memory to too tight latencies.

While we hoped Intel would get rid of the push-pins which are a pain in the you-know-what, they managed to disappoint us again. The holes are now even wider and this will result in some problems to put enough pressure to the CPU-cooler. The funny thing is, the Northbridge cooler features a bracket and screws were used.

Overall, it's an okay board, but we expected more. For 965 users it will be better, because there are limits while overclocking the 920.


Last modified on 18 January 2009
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