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Frontpage Slideshow | Copyright © 2006-2010 orks, a business unit of Nuevvo Webware Ltd.
Wednesday, 12 August 2009 00:49

Twelve X58 Boards roundup

Written by Eliot Kucharik

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Review: Money doesn't buy performance

We would have liked to have published this round-up much earlier, but as you know things happen, especially when dealing with broad subjects and a lot of comprehensive tests. While we may not be the first, we had a chance to witness how BIOS versions of some boards grew-up. And we also noticed some companies don't care about BIOS upgrades at all, regardless of how often we mailed them.

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Anyway, after more than half a year on the market, none of the boards proved difficult, apart from some usually silly BIOS settings, but you can get around them easily.

The more complicated thing was to understand how Core i7 works. Most boards come with energy-settings disabled, except Foxconn which does give an edge performance-wise, but increases power-consumption considerably. While at first we could not explain why one board is faster compared to the others, setting all boards manually did the job. Enabling all energy options will decrease performance about 1% which is really no big disadvantage, except for some OC-freaks, but saving up to 30W in idle is quite impressive.

So all our benchmarks were done with C1E enabled, but C-States disabled. BIOS versions which don't have separate settings have C1E if possible, otherwise it's disabled.

For overclocking we choose normal stuff which is to get an i7 920 to 3.46GHz and an i7 975 to 3.86GHz. This is nothing fancy, but any board should manage to do that and for any users that is mostly enough. Depending on the CPU you will get higher with the same voltage or will not reach it. All overclocking tests were conducted with Prime95 and CineBench with Hyperthreading enabled. Benches were done with Hyperthreading and Turbo-Mode disabled to have better comparsion to  Core2 and AMD-platform.

We did not apply any memory overclocking tests, because i7 CPUs do vary much. 1333MHz is possible with any board, but consider you may reach 2000MHz with some CPUs and only 1666MHz with others. Also the more modules you use the more difficult it will get. Because the CPUs are so diverse we decided to stick with the maximum specified speed of 1066MHz. Why we have proved that faster memory does cost much more, but does not offer much of a performance boost. The best performance gains will be achieved when increasing the BCLK while overclocking Uncore, QPI and memory.

Let's have a look at all the boards we have lined up for the test.







Features:
Intel X58/iCH10R
4-phase VRM, quad lane design
PEM ASP0801 4-phase controller/ASP0800 lane duplicator

ImageImage

2x Marvel 88E8056 PCIe Gb LAN controller
JMicro JMB363 SATA II/PATA controller
VIA VT6308P PCI Firewire controller

Image

Winbond W83667HG-A super I/O controller
ICS 9LPRS918JKLF clock generator
passive cooling of chipsets/VRM
8Mb BIOS, version: 1406
Mainboard Revision: 1.00

Image

Slots:
3x PCIe 2.0 x16, 2x 16x, 1x 16x/2x 8x
2x PCIe x1
1x PCI

Memory:
6x Triple-Channel DDR3-slots for PC3-12800U memory up to 24GB

Storage:
6-Port SATA II featuring RAID 0, 1, 5, 0+1, JBOD
1-Port IDE
1-Port Floppy

Image

Backpanel ports:
1x PS/2 keyboard
2x Gb LAN
6x USB 2.0
1x Firewire 400
1x eSATA II 2go
1x CMOS clear button

Image

Accessories:
1x Dual-SLI bridge
1x Triple-SLI bridge
1x IDE cable
1x ASUS Q-Connector Kit
4x SATA cable
1x HDD-power to SATA-power
1x LED-poster
7x Cable Ties
1x SupremeFX Soundcard

Image


The board is pretty standard for ASUS.  If you believe ASUS marketing with it's 16-phase VRM, just forget it, because that's only 4-phases quadrupled. As we and many other sites said before, this is just not the way to go. It uses more power, is not more stable compared to other solutions and has no benefit whatsoever.

The unique feature is the voltage monitoring on the bottom of the board and with many overclocking buttons. While for some overclockers this feature brings benefits, we think it's just a way to increase the price of such boards. We also don't think it's wise to overclock when the system is running, because it does strain components on the board.

For some reason most vendors went for triple PCIe x16, so they can say the do support Triple-SLI. But you can have only two slots at full speed, adding a third card, two of the slots will only run with half the speed. Also only the first black PCIe x1 slot can fit the added soundcard, which is not an X-Fi, but just an ADI2000B chip with some EAX. The second PCIe x1 is just useless, most high-end graphics cards use at least two slots. This should be the high-end dream from ASUS, but we simply can't grasp why they put a PCI FireWire controller on it. At least ASUS stays with Marvell LAN chips, they do perform better compared to any Realtek chip.
The board does not clock at nominal speeds, which is a shame.

Image

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Overclocking:

ASUS provides auto-overclocking of any CPU, but we advise against it. As we can show, it increases VCore massively and if you don't want invalidate the warranty of your CPU, you should know know better.

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So we did it manually and the results where quite satisfying.

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The i7 920 does not provide unlocked multipliers, so we test each board with a BCLK of 173MHz. While the auto-overclocking feature sets the VCore to 1.3000V (screenshot), we managed to get a stable system with 1.2500V.

Image







Features:
Intel X58/iCH10R
6-phase VRM, dual lane design
ISL6336 VRM controller

Image

Realtek ALC888S
2x Realtek 8111DL PCIe Gb LAN controller
JMicro JMB363 SATA II/PATA controller
Texas Instruments TSB43AB22A PCI Firewire controller

Image

ITE IT8720F super I/O controller
Realtek RTM885M-914 clock generator
passive cooling of chipsets/VRM
8Mb BIOS, version: 604
Mainboard Revision: 1.00

Image

Slots:
3x PCIe 2.0 x16, 2x 16x, 1x 16x/2x 8x
1x PCIe x1
2x PCI

Memory:
6x Triple-Channel DDR3-slots for PC3-12800U memory up to 24GB

Storage:
6-Port SATA II featuring RAID 0, 1, 5, 0+1, JBOD
1-Port IDE
1-Port Floppy

Image


Backpanel ports:
1x PS/2 keyboard
2x Gb LAN
8x USB 2.0
1x Firewire 400
2x eSATA II
7.1 analog audio
1x optical audio out
1x coxial audio out

Image

Accessories:
1x Dual-SLI bridge
1x Crossfire bridge-cable
1x IDE cable
2x SATA cable with clip
2x SATA cable angeled with clip
5x HDD-power to SATA-power


Biostar designs its board to be as cheap as possible, but to offer all the essentials you need. So you get a pleasing layout, a back-panel with all the connectors you can wish for and, of course, an all-solid-capacitor design. Surprisingly it comes with a dual-lane six phase VRM design which does increase costs.

While the layout looks nice, the slots could have been done better. "To fit all" approach with 3x PCIe x16 slots does hinder any other useful expansion slots. The PCIe x1 is wasted, except you can manage with a single-slot card which can get very loud. Meanwhile any expansion card is available as PCIe version, so adding sound or TV tuner cards will get a bit messy. Also, PCI Firewire is not the best choice. Because it's a low-cost board two Realtek Gb-LAN chips are onboard.

As a bonus it comes with 80 diagnostic LEDs, which will also show the CPU temperature but in hex. We reported this to Biostar, but they are not willing to even admit a problem let alone fix it.

The most disappointing thing about this board are the BIOS settings. Disabling Executive Bit protection is just silly. Also, the BIOS is missing the HPET item. We have no clue if it's enabled but we guess it's not. For some reason EIST is disabled but C-States enabled, this should be reversed. Why this is the only board running with USB 1.1 per default is also a mystery to us.

The board is slighly factory-underclocked, but you won't feel it.

Image

Image


Overclocking with auto-settings is a very bad idea with this board. Increasing the FSB to 173 on our i7 920 the board sets the VTT aka QPI voltage to 1.4000V which is well over Intel's specification. So the board does invalidate the warranty and if your CPU is defective you won't get a replacement. While we could overclock both CPUs without problems, it did need a higher VTT/QPI voltage where as any other board did not need any increase.

The i7 920 run fine with 1.2500V VCore and 1.3000V VTT/QPI, also the i7 975 needed a VCore increase to 1.3000V. So it can manage but it's not the overclockers dream.

Image

Image








Features:
Intel X58/iCH10R
6-phase VRM, dual lane design
CHiL CHL8316 VRM controller

Image

Realtek ALC889
Marvell 88E8053 PCIe Gb LAN controller

Image

JMicro JMB363 PCIe SATA II/PATA controller
VIA VT6308P PCI Firewire controller
ITE IT8718F-S super I/O controller
ICS 9LPRS918JKLF clock generator
passive cooling of chipsets/VRM
8Mb BIOS, version: 0502, 0704, 0728
Mainboard Revision: 1.00

Image


Slots:
3x PCIe 2.0 x16, 2x  PCIe x16 and 1x PCIe x16@x4 shared with PCIe x4
1x PCIe x4
2x PCI

Memory:
6x Triple-Channel DDR3-slots for PC3-12800U memory up to 24GB

Storage:
6-Port SATA II featuring RAID 0, 1, 5, 0+1, JBOD
2-Port SATA II featuring RAID 0, 1
1-Port IDE
1-Port Floppy

Image


Backpanel ports:
1x PS/2 keyboard
1x Gb LAN
6x USB 2.0
1x Firewire 400
7.1 analog audio
1x optical audio out
1x coxial audio out
1x CMOS-clear jumper

Image


Accessories:
1x Dual-SLI bridge
1x Crossfire bridge-cable
1x Triple-SLI bridge
1x Floppy cable
1x IDE cable
2x SATA cable
1x HDD-power to 2x SATA-power
1x smart connectors


While DFI normaly stands for high-end, it seems the company now wants to go mainstream. Thats what the DK series stands for. It offers just the essentials, but for some reason DFI forgot eSATA ports. While you get two additional ports, you can only connect them internally because the eSATA bracket is missing.

As most of any other boards, it has a bad slot design, because it offers 3x PCIe x16. Using two, gives you x16 speed, connecting a third card to the yellow slot will give you only x4 speed. This slot is shared with the PCIe x4 slot - removing it would have been a smarter choice. So you can try to put your PCIE x1 card in the yellow PCIe x16 slot, otherwise you can only use the PCI slot, if not blocked by some PCIe graphics card. Also the Firewire controller is only PCI, meanwhile even VIA offers controllers with PCIe x1 connection.

At least DFI offers a debug LED which is useful, especially when overclocking. Thinking CMOS reset should be done with a jumper to save 5 cents is just plain stupid, there's no other way of putting it. But, of course, pressing reset and power-on at the same time, does the same.

The BIOS has "ok" settings, except for enabling both COM ports while not offering a COM bracket in the package. Dear DFI, we write the year 2009 not 1989, if you put an useless COM-port on the board, at least make sure people can use it out of the box.

The CPUs are clocked nearly to the nominal speed, but they could clock more precisely.

Image

Image


Overclocking:

While overclocking with Turbo was no problem at all, we had the problem to overclock the i7 920 with BCLK 173 but with ~1040MHz memory clock. DFI solved this problem with the latest beta BIOS, so you can overclock the CPU without overclocking your memory. As we have proved it, faster memory doesn't matter that much. Besides that, the i7 CPUs vary very much. Some memory controllers do fine, some are hard to deal with.

Also very annoying is the constant VCore over-voltaging of 0.05V by the BIOS. This only increases power consumption and does nothing for stability in our opinion. You should get what you set. So, we lowered the VCore of the i7 920 to 1.2000V. The i7 975 was not changed and you see what you get, more than necessary.

Image

Image







Features:
Intel X58/iCH10R
6-phase VRM, dual lane design
CHiL CHL8316 VRM controller
Realtek ALC889
Marvell 88E8053 PCIe Gb LAN controller
JMicro JMB368 PCIe PATA controller
ITE IT8718F-S super I/O controller
ICS 9LPRS918JKLF clock generator
passive cooling of chipsets/VRM
8Mb BIOS, version: 0502, 0704
Mainboard Revision: 1.00

Image


Slots:
2x PCIe 2.0 x16
1x PCIe x4
1x PCI

Memory:
6x Triple-Channel DDR3-slots for PC3-12800U memory up to 24GB

Storage:
6-Port SATA II featuring RAID 0, 1, 5, 0+1, JBOD
1-Port IDE
1-Port Floppy

Image


Backpanel ports:
1x PS/2 keyboard
1x Gb LAN
6x USB 2.0
7.1 analog audio
1x optical audio out
1x coxial audio out
1x CMOS-clear jumper

Image


Accessories:
1x Dual-SLI bridge
1x Crossfire bridge-cable
1x Floppy cable
1x IDE cable
2x SATA cable
1x HDD-power to 2x SATA-power


This board is unique in our roundup, because it's micro-ATX form factor model. As you can see it's the smaller brother of the DK board, so all we said about that is also true for this one.

Image

Image


Overclocking:


It behaves excactly as the DK board, so here are just the screenshots:

Image

Image







Features:
Intel X58/iCH10R
6-phase VRM
ISL6336 VRM controller

Image

2x Realtek RTL8111DL PCIe Gb LAN controller
JMicro JMB362 SATA II/PATA controller
VIA VT6308P PCI Firewire controller
ITE IT8720F super I/O controller
Realtek ALC888S
IDT CY193CPAG clock generator
passive cooling of chipsets/VRM
8Mb BIOS, version: 0628
Mainboard Revision: 1.00

Image


Slots:
2x PCIe 2.0 x16
1x PCIe x4
2x PCIe x1
1x PCI

Memory:
6x Triple-Channel DDR3-slots for PC3-12800U memory up to 24GB

Storage:
6-Port SATA II featuring RAID 0, 1, 5, 0+1, JBOD

Image


Backpanel ports:
1x PS/2 keyboard
1x PS/2 mouse
2x Gb LAN
6x USB 2.0
1x Firewire 400
2x eSATA II
7.1 analog audio
1x optical audio out
1x CMOS clear button

Image


Accessories:
1x Dual-SLI bridge
1x Triple-SLI bridge
6x SATA cable angled with clips
1x eSATA cable
1x 2-port USB 2.0 & Firewire 400 bracket


In recent months Elitegroup has created its Black-Series to improve its standing in the retail market. They are still lower cost compared to other brands but should offer decent quality. Elitegroup is not on the triple PCIe x16 which is nice indeed. You get two PCIe x16 slots for your graphics cards, and at least you can add an additional card to the PCIe x4 slot.

The layout is quite pleasing and even Elitegroup went for a debug LED. Sadly this LED does not show the CPU-temperature when running any OS. This board comes with all energy saving features enabled, but the BIOS has Executive Bit Support disabled. We have mailed Elitegroup about this issue, but according to Elitegroup some games have problems when it is enabled. We have never encountered such problem, and as far as we're concerned it's not wise to disable a security feature.

The backpanel offers all connections you need, also with two eSATA ports, well done. This is the only board which comes without legacy devices such as PATA and Floppy, so some companies have indeed moved on.

The board is clocked according to spec, and we like that.

Image

Image


Overclocking:


This board offers quite a lot overclocking capabilities, not yet seen on any other Elitegroup board. Luckily if you set a higher BCLK and don't increase the VCore the board won't boot. So overclocking is in your hands. On the i7 920 we set the VCore to 1.3000V which is quite high, but it did not need any other voltage increase. The i7 975 was not a problem with 1.2500VCore.

Image

Image







Features:
Intel X58/iCH10R
8-phase VRM
uPI Semiconductors uP6208AM

Image

Realtek RTL8111DL PCIe Gb LAN controller
JMicro JMB363 SATA II/PATA controller
Texas Instruments TSB43AB23 PCI Firewire controller
Winbond W83667HG-A super I/O controller
ICS 9LPRS918JKLF clock generator
passive cooling of chipsets/VRM
8Mb BIOS, version: E758SZ2F
Mainboard Revision: 1.00

Image


Slots:
3x PCIe 2.0 x16, 2x x16  or 1x x16 & 2x x8
1x PCIe x1
21x PCI

Memory:
6x Triple-Channel DDR3-slots for PC3-12800U memory up to 24GB

Storage:
6-Port SATA II featuring RAID 0, 1, 5, 0+1, JBOD
2x 2-Port SATA II
1-Port IDE
1-Port Floppy

Image


Backpanel ports:
1x PS/2 keyboard
1x PS/2 mouse
1x Gb LAN
8x USB 2.0
1x Firewire 400
1x Firewire mini 400
7.1 analog audio
1x optical audio out
1x coxial audio out
1x CMOS clear button

Image


Accessories:
1x IDE cable
1x Floppy cable
1x 2-port eSATA slot-bracket
2x eSATA cable with clips
2x eSATA cable angled with clips


If you want to go for Triple-SLI, this board fits nicely in any case, but of course you will loose any other ports. Due to the triple PCIe x16 ports, all other ports lay waste. For some reason EVGA decided to put only one eSATA port on the back-panel and left one beside the PCIe x16 master slot. Because there is no eSATA-bracket it's quite useless.

Also, the connectors for CPU-power and CPU-fan are placed at a rather messy spot. The big VRM-cooler is blocking the cables and it's never a good idea to have cables hanging over a cooler. Also a high-end board which is expensive should also not carry a PCI FireWire chip.

This is the only board fitted with an active cooling solution. While the cooling is not really silent, it's not a bad idea either, because the Intel hub-chip which only provides the PCIe lanes and a link to the CPU gets incredible hot. The finish of this cooling-solution could have been better.

We are not fans of the low-cost Realtek Gb-LAN controllers. At least you get an debug LED with CPU-temperature after boot-up. All in all, this board is a very mixed bag.

For some reason the board always underclocks. How hard can it be to program a clock generator correctly?

Image

Image


Overclocking:


The CPUz enhancend version which eVGA calls "Eleetune" is capable of overclocking the board while running in Windows, there is no such tool for Linux. But as mentioned before, we are not fans of software solutions, especially the software can't cover all aspects of overclocking and doing that when the system is running does strain the components on your mainboard.

Doing it in the BIOS is also a piece of cake. But also when overclocking the clock you want is not the clock you want get.  Also don't use auto-settings, because setting VCore to 1.4000V is much too high. We managend to overclock with the 173MHz BCLK with 1.2650VCore and reduced VTT/QPI of 1.1750V. The i7 975 didn't need any change.

Image

Image







Features:
Intel X58/iCH10R
6-phase VRM
ISL6336 VRM controller
Realtek RTL8111C PCIe Gb LAN controller
JMicro JMB368 PATA controller
ITE IT8720F super I/O controller
Realtek ALC888
ICS 9LPRS139AKLF clock generator
passive cooling of chipsets/VRM
8Mb BIOS, version: P06
Mainboard Revision: 1.00

Image


Slots:
2x PCIe 2.0 x16
1x PCIe x4
2x PCI

Memory:
3x Triple-Channel DDR3-slots for PC3-12800U memory up to 12GB

Storage:
6-Port SATA II featuring RAID 0, 1, 5, 0+1, JBOD
1-Port PATA

Image


Backpanel ports:
1x PS/2 keyboard
1x Gb LAN
8x USB 2.0
7.1 analog audio
1x optical audio out

Image


Accessories:
3x SATA cable


This is the most basic board in our round-up. While we can't argue about the price which is about €139, we find the lack of eSATA ports which costs about $1 and the cheapo SATA cables quite lacking. Also, they have stripped one PCIe x1 port. Hello? How much could such a port possibly cost? Probably as much as a sip of coffee, and bad coffee at that.

Besides that, the board was quite as good as the high-end boards which cost double the price. Two PCIe x16 are quite enough, two PCI slots are not the best you can wish for, but at this price range nobody expect customers will upgrade heavily. Spending €40,- more, you get into the price range of DFI,but get the same board with full solid capacitors, the missing PCIe x1 slot and two eSATA ports. Elitegroup offers that at just the same price-level.

So if you do only need the most essential basics, this board does nicely.

The board does feature a factory overclock:

Image

Image


Overclocking:

Overclocking via BCLK did work fine, but for some reason the clock is not accurate. Adding 100mV more to the VCore did the job nicely. The i7 975 failed. We could enter the 29x multiplicator, but while the BIOS screen wrote 133x29, CPU-Z always reported x25. Also the BIOS does not offer any option to edit the Turbo per core which is quite disappointing. Of course we contacted Foxconn, but they did not fix it for over a week.

Image







Features:
Intel X58/iCH10R
6-phase VRM
ISL6336 VRM controller
Broadcom BCM8756 PCIe Gb LAN controller

Image

Marvell 88SE6320 SAS controller

Image

ITE IT8720F super I/O controller
Realtek ALC888
ICS 9LPRS139AKLF clock generator
passive cooling of chipsets/VRM
8Mb BIOS, version: P13
Mainboard Revision: 1.00

Image


Slots:
2x PCIe 2.0 x16
1x PCIe x4
2x PCI

Memory:
3x Triple-Channel DDR3-slots for PC3-12800U memory up to 12GB

Storage:
6-Port SATA II featuring RAID 0, 1, 5, 0+1, JBOD
1-Port PATA

Image


Backpanel ports:
1x PS/2 keyboard
1x Gb LAN
8x USB 2.0
7.1 analog audio
1x optical audio out

Image


Accessories:
1x Audio card
4x SATA cable
2x SATA with HDD-power to SATA connector with power
1x SLI Bridge


This board offers quite a few suprises. The first one are the godawful SATA connectors. They are of extremly poor quality and face the wrong side. Using latching SATA cables will not result in a satisfying "click". On the other hand this board is the only one with a Broadcom GbLAN chip and a Marvell 88SE6320 serial attached SCSI controller, features common on workstation boards.

The  layout is also quite unique. It features two PCIe x16 and two PCIe x8 ports, but using two-slot graphics-cards, the ports will be rendered useless. At least the PCIe x4 slot will be available. 

In contrast to the Flaming Blade GTI board, this board clocks exactly on the spot.

Image

Image


Overclocking:

Using our i7 920 and setting BCLK to 173MHz; CPUz told us 174.7MHz which is quite high and mystery. How hard can it be to program a clock-generator correctly? The BIOS reports low voltages for the VCore and instead of entering absolute values, you can only change relative to the VCore.  The i7 975 did take lots of TDC and TDP upping, but worked fine. But as you can see compared to the screenshots above, the VCore is higher and we did not change a bit.

Image

Image







Features:
Intel X58/iCH10R
4-phase VRM, dual lane design
Intersil 6334A CRZ VRM controller

Image


Realtek RTL8111DL PCIe Gb LAN controller
JMicro JMB363 SATA II/PATA controller
Texas Instruments TSB43AB23 PCI Firewire controller
Winbond W83667HG-A super I/O controller
ICS 9LPRS918JKLF clock generator
passive cooling of chipsets/VRM
8Mb BIOS, version: F5
Mainboard Revision: 1.00

Image


Slots:
2x PCIe 2.0 x16
1x PCIe x4 open
2x PCIe x1
1x PCI

Memory:
6x Triple-Channel DDR3-slots for PC3-12800U memory up to 24GB

Storage:
6-Port SATA II featuring RAID 0, 1, 5, 0+1, JBOD
2-Port SATA II
1-Port IDE
1-Port Floppy

Image


Backpanel ports:
1x PS/2 keyboard
1x PS/2 mouse
1x Gb LAN
8x USB 2.0
1x Firewire 400
1x Firewire mini 400
7.1 analog audio
1x optical audio out
1x coxial audio out
1x CMOS clear button

Image


Accessories:
1x IDE cable
1x Floppy cable
1x 2-port eSATA slot-bracket
2x eSATA cable with clips
2x eSATA cable angled with clips


This board is being phased out by Gigabyte, but while we are testing, why not include it here? 

This board comes with only two PCIe x16 slots which is enough for most users. The newer UD4P is a downgrade of the UD5 which comes with three. The first PCIe x1 slot is quite useless, because the hub-cooler is blocking most of the available cards. Anyways beside you find a PCIe x4 slot which is open, so you can also put in PCIe x8 or even PCIe x16 cards. 

While some two years ago an eSATA bracket was a nice and welcome add-on, meanwhile we would expect such basics on any high-end board on the backpanel. Having some cables crossing the cables behind or in front of a graphics card is not a smart choice either, as they will hinder airflow. PCI slots are also a bit outdated nowadays, so three of them is too much in our opinion. 

Also, Gigabyte is pursuing the ASUS VRM war with adding much more phases then required or even benificial. This board comes only with a 4-phase dual-lane approach which is sufficient and did well.

This is not an über-high-end board but at a price-target of €200,- we would also expect a PCIe FireWire controller and a faster Gb LAN chip. BIOS settings are pretty standard, but disabling USB keyboard support simply sounds like a bad joke.

The board is slightly underclocked, but this is nothing to worry about

Image

Image


Overclocking:

As expected overclocking did not pose any problems for this board. For some reason Gigabyte does slightly over-voltage the VTT/QPI-voltage to 1.175V by default, but this works without any problems. We didn't like the auto overvoltage the CPU to 1.4000V when leaving the VCore at auto, it's too much. As always we set the BCLK to 173 and reduced the VCore to 1.2750V. This worked stable and does save lots of energy

Here what hapens with auto-settings:

Image

And now with 1.2750V VCore:

Image

Also overclocking the i7 975 with a turbo-multi of 29 is not a problem. Auto sets the VCore to 1.3125V, manually we let the VCore at default 1.2625V.

Image

Image






Features:
Intel X58/iCH10R
6-phase VRM, dual lane design
Intersil 6336A

Image


2x Realtek RTL8111DL PCIe Gb LAN controller
JMicro JMB363 SATA II/PATA controller
JMicro JMB322 SATA II port multiplier
Texas Instruments TSB43AB23 PCI Firewire controller
Winbond W83667HG-A super I/O controller
ICS 9LPRS918JKLF clock generator
passive cooling of chipsets/VRM
8Mb BIOS, version: F7
Mainboard Revision: 1.00

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Slots:
3x PCIe 2.0 x16, 2x 16x, 1x 16x/2x 8x
2x PCIe x1
1x PCI

Memory:
6x Triple-Channel DDR3-slots for PC3-12800U memory up to 24GB

Storage:
6-Port SATA II featuring RAID 0, 1, 5, 0+1, JBOD
2-Port SATA II
1-Port IDE
1-port Floppy

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Backpanel ports:
1x PS/2 keyboard
1x PS/2 mouse
2x Gb LAN
8x USB 2.0
1x Firewire 400
7.1 analog audio
1x optical audio out
1x coxial audio out
1x CMOS clear button

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Accessories:
1x Dual-SLI bridge
1x Triple-SLI bridge
1x IDE cable
1x Floppy cable
1x 2-port eSATA slot-bracket
2x eSATA cable with clips
2x eSATA cable angled with clips


As we already said, this is the UD4 series' big brother, so you get three PCIe x16 slots, which run either at 2x16 speeds or 1x16 and 2x8 speeds. The PCIe x1 slot is blocked by the massive heatsink, so only small cards will fit. The PCIe x4 slot is open, so even bigger cards will fit in nicely.

This board does also not feature native eSATA ports, you need to use the bracket. If you do really use a triple SLI setup you can forget about putting the bracket in, because some compoents will hinder you to do so. So it's time Gigabyte changes its mind and does the smart thing by putting them on the backpanel.

Gigabyte was the only vendor not considering a debug-LED, but yes, this board does have one. But of course Gigabyte forgot the code to activate the CPU temperature after booting into an OS. The BIOS settings are also very crude. Besides, nobody wants to boot from a floppy, also to disable USB keyboard support is one of the most stupid things we saw. 

For some reason this board is heavily factory overclocked, and we don't like that.

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Overclocking:

The UD5 is the same story as with the UD4, auto-settings for overclocking is not an good idea. Lowering the VCore for the i7 920 to 1.2750V and reducing the VCore of the i7 975 to 1.2625V again.
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Features:
Intel iOH X58/iCH10Ri
6-phase analog VRM
ON Semiconductor ADP4000JCPZ 6-phase VRD11.1 controller

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Realtek ALC885
ti TSB43AB22A 1394a Firewire controller

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Intel 82567 PCIe Gb network

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Marvel 88SE6121 dual-port SATA controller
Winbond WPCD3761AUFG Super I/O controller
passive cooling of chipsets/VRM
16Mb BIOS, version 4196

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Slots:
2x PCIe 2.0 x16
1x PCIe x4
2x PCIe x1
1x PCI

Memory:
4x Triple-Channel DDR3-slots for PC3-8500U memory up to 8GB (only three work for triple channel)

Storage:
6-Port SATA II featuring RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5

Backpanel ports:
1x Gb LAN
1x Firewire
8x USB 2.0
2x eSATA
7.1 analog output
1x SP/DIF optical out

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Accessories:
Far Cry 2
unknown


The first thing you notice is that this board is designed in a rather unusal way. CPU, hub and memory are rotated 90° which gives it some advantages. Because Intel knows their controller is not that good at handling six modules, they stick with one triple-channel and one spare slot - which should have been removed, because it's useless. Due to the position of the hub the cooler is rather close to the hard drives where more air should reach the cooler. This little bugger in fact uses only PCIe lanes and connection to the CPU and nothing else, but it gets incredibly hot. Quality-wise it's a piece of junk. Also, the board is the only high-end board which does not feature an all-solid design, which is very disappointing.

The slot design is very intelligent. While it "only" features two PCIe x16 slots, the first slot is an open PCIe x4 slot with a retension to fit also x16 cards. The SATA-connectors shouild have been angled because a sata-cable on the backside of a hot graphics-card is not a good idea. Because this in an Intel board, it does also feature an Intel Gb-LAN chip instead of a cheap Realtek. 

Because we have already benched this board more than once, we would have liked to pass on this review, but Intel did release the new 4196 BIOS. The older 4106 BIOS was very good with i7 975 but weak with i7 920. Now Intel has fixed that, but for some reason they introduced a new bug. The CPUs do not downclock. Our screenshot show a bit lower VCore but the full multi. If you think CPUz is wrong, that may be the case, but our power consumption proved energy consumption increased about 15W.

The board clocks quite on spot.

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Here the i7 975 in "idle"

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Overclocking:

The new BIOS did not change the good OC response from the Intel board. i7 920 needed 98mV VCore increase to run stable with BCLK 173 - which is surprisingly not on spot. i7 975 with turbo of x29 needed no changes at all, very impressive.

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Features:
Intel X58/iCH10R
6-phase VRM
Intersil ISL6336A

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2x Realtek RTL8111DL PCIe Gb LAN controller
JMicro JMB363 SATA II/PATA controller
JMicro JMB322 SATA II port multiplier
JMicro JMB362 SATA II controller
VIA VT6308P PCI Firewire controller
Fintek 71882FG Super I/O controller
ICS 9LPRS933BKLF clock generator
passive cooling of chipsets/VRM
32Mb BIOS, version: various, 1.8beta2
Mainboard Revision: 1.00beta

Image


Slots:
3x PCIe 2.0 x16, 2x 16x, 1x 16x/2x 8x
1x PCIe x1
2x PCI

Memory:
6x Triple-Channel DDR3-slots for PC3-12800U memory up to 24GB

Storage:
6-Port SATA II featuring RAID 0, 1, 5, 0+1, JBOD
4-Port SATA II featuring RAID 0, 1, 0+1, JBOD
1-Port IDE

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Backpanel ports:
1x PS/2 keyboard
1x PS/2 mouse
2x Gb LAN
8x USB 2.0
2x eSATA
1x Firewire 400
1x CMOS clear button

Image


Accessories:
1x Dual-SLI bridge
2x Crossfire cable
1x IDE cable
1x 2-port eSATA slot-bracket with eSATA cable
4x eSATA cable with clips
1x 2-port USB 2.0 bracket
1x M-Connectors
1x DLED2 with temperature sensor
1x GreenPower Genie
1x X-Fi Audio card


The biggest difference between this board an all the others is the use of hi-cap capacitors. This little buggers are not only small and expensive they also help to keep the temperatures down and can do load and unload at incredible speeds compared to standard capacitors. Of course MSI is also using integrated MOSfets. The area around the CPU is really cool. Not so on the cooler for the hub-chip. Because the heatpipes are not connected to the VRM cooling the heat can't disappear. So we advise you to use a top-blower CPU-cooler, otherwise inceasing the so called "NB voltage" may cause harm to the board without proper cooling. 

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Last modified on Thursday, 13 August 2009 13:02
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