Introduction and Technical Specifications
The 775 generation of motherboards made a lot of our jaws drop as the more extreme motherboards headed towards, and sometimes even upwards, of £200. For those of us brought up on £80 motherboards this was quite a shock.
Of course once the LGA1366 X58 motherboards hit the market we all quickly realised that average ones were around £200 and a full-fat all-the-features model could cost more than the processor. Thankfully as time as gone on we've seen some cheaper models released that, although not cheap, are at least affordable for the more modestly paid of us.
These usually come with huge feature cuts though to get them down to an affordable price. Today ASUS have taken their excellent P6X58D Premium motherboard and produced an E version that weighs in around £170. Are we sacrificing a lot to get it to this price point or can it still seperate the Dijon?
As always we pop along to the ASUS website and grab the specifications for you.
|CPU||Intel® Socket 1366 Core™ i7 Processor Extreme Edition/Core™ i7 Processor|
Supports Intel® Turbo Boost Technology
|Chipset||Intel® X58 / ICH10R|
|System Bus||Up to 6400 MT/s ; Intel® QuickPath Interconnect|
|Memory||6 x DIMM, Max. 24 GB, DDR3 2000(O.C.)*/1600/1333/1066 Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory|
Triple channel memory architecture
Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
*Hyper DIMM support is subject to the physical characteristics of individual CPUs.
|Expansion Slots||3 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (at x16/x8/x8 or x16/x16/x1 mode) |
1 x PCIe x1
2 x PCI
|Multi-GPU Support||Supports NVIDIA® 3-Way SLI™ Technology |
Supports ATI® Quad-GPU CrossFireX™ Technology
|Storage||Intel ICH10R controller |
6 xSATA 3.0 Gb/s ports
Intel Matrix Storage Technology Support RAID 0,1,5,10
Marvell® 9128 PCIe SATA 6Gb/s controller (Drive Xpert Technology)
- 2 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports (gray)
- Supports EZ Backup and SuperSpeed functions
|LAN||Gigabit LAN controller Marvell 88E8056® PCIe Gigabit LAN controller featuring AI NET2 |
|Audio||Realtek® ALC889 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC |
- DTS Surround Sensation UltraPC
- BD audio layer Content Protection
- Supports Jack-Detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-Retasking
- Coaxial / Optical S/PDIF out ports at back I/O
|IEEE 1394||VIA® VT6308P controller 2 x 1394a ports (one at mid-board; one at back panel)|
|USB||NEC® USB 3.0 controller |
- 2 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports (at back panel)
Intel® ICH10R Southbridge
- 8 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports (4 ports at midboard; 4 ports at back panel)
|ASUS AI Lifestyle Features||True USB 3.0 Support |
True SATA 6Gb/s RAID Support
ASUS Xtreme Design
ASUS Xtreme Phase
- ASUS 16+2 Phase Power Design
ASUS Exclusive Overclocking Features
- ASUS TurboV
ASUS Exclusive Features
- ASUS EPU
- Express Gate
ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution
- ASUS Fanless Design: Heat-pipe solution
- ASUS Fanless Design: Stack Cool 3+
- ASUS Fan Xpert
ASUS Crystal Sound
- ASUS Noise Filter
ASUS EZ DIY
- ASUS Q-Design: Q-Slot
- ASUS Q-Shield
- ASUS Q-Connector
- ASUS O.C. Profile
- ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
- ASUS EZ Flash 2
- ASUS MyLogo 2
- Multi-language BIOS
|Overclocking Features||Intelligent overclocking tools|
- ASUS TurboV
Precision Tweaker 2
- vCore: Adjustable CPU voltage at 0.0125V increment 0.00625V - vCPU PLL: 36-step reference voltage control
- vDRAM Bus : 49-step DRAM voltage control
- vChipset(N.B.) : 31-step chipset voltage control
- vNB-PCIe : 65-step chipset-PCIe voltage control
SFS (Stepless Frequency Selection)
- PCI Express frequency tuning from 100MHz 180MHz at 1MHz
- Internal Base Clock tuning from 100MHz up to 500MHz at 1MHz increment
- ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
|Back Panel I/O Ports||1 x IEEE 1394a |
1 x RJ45 port
8 Channel Audio I/O
1 x PS/2 Keyboard (Purple)
1 x PS/2 mouse port (Green)
1 x Clear CMOS button
1 x Coaxial S/PDIF Output
1 x Optical S/PDIF Output
2 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
4 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
|Internal I/O Connectors||2 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s connectors (gray) |
6 x SATA 3.0 Gb/s connectors (blue)
2 x USB connectors support additional 4 USB 2.0/1.1 ports
1 x CPU Fan connector
3 x Chassis Fan connectors (1 x 4-pin, 2 x 3-pin)
1 x Power Fan connector
1 x IEEE1394a connector
Front panel audio connector
1 x S/PDIF Out Header
1 x CD audio in
24-pin ATX Power connector
8-pin ATX 12V Power connector
1 x MemOK! Button
1 x Power on switch
|BIOS||16 Mb Flash ROM , AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI 2.0, WfM 2.0, SM BIOS 2.3, ACPI 2.0a, Multi-language BIOS, ASUS EZ Flash 2, ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3 |
|Manageability||WfM 2.0,DMI 2.0,WOL by PME,WOR by PME,WOR by PME|
4 x Serial ATA 3.0Gb/s cables
2 x Serial ATA 6.0Gb/s cables
2 in 1 Q-connector
1 x ASUS 3-Way SLI bridge connector
1 x ASUS SLI bridge connector
Anti-virus software (OEM version)
|Form Factor||ATX Form Factor|
Of the things we can see in that list it's clear that not a lot of hacking and slashing of features has gone on. We still have USB3.0, SATA6 and the ALC889 on-board sound. So what is different between this and the Premium model?
As far as we can see the following changed have occured. There are two fewer heat-pipes on the chipset cooling. We only have a single Marvel Gigabit rather than the twin LANs of the Premium. The on-board reset button has disappeared. And rather than the Marvel 9123 of the Premium we have a Marvel 9128 which actually should provide more robust support for RAID.
All in all then not a lot is missing. So let's have a look.
Yes, you are still in the right review, and yes this is an ASUS board. It's a shock to see a baby blue box when we opened the parcel. You get used to how a company do something and then they throw you a curve ball. It looks nice though although the rear of the box is a bit busier than we're used to seeing. A little budget tweak on the box design then.
Internally we definitely see where some of the savings are. No stiff black boxes with lots of goodies here. More the standard bit of cardboard keeping the accessories off of the motherboard.
Speaking of accessories they're sparse. We've got everything we need but it's not exactly inspiring. Being hyper critical it would have been nice to see blue SATA cables to go along with the board, or even four blue and two white to make it easier to determine what's plugged in where.
Onto the board itself we can see it's a very standard layout. One nice thing is that ASUS have given us a lot of room to the right of the CPU socket for those oversized coolers that seem to be everwhere.
The first big area that is different to the Premium version is around the CPU. Firstly the X58 chipset cooler has only a single heatpipe out of it, rather than one leading to the southbridge. Considering how small the southbridge cooler is it's an area we'd like to have seen either the heatpipe retained or a large southbridge cooler installed. The other is that the heatsink to the north of the CPU socket, to the right on this picture, is also flying solo and not part of the cooling solution.
PCI slot wise we have three PCIe sockets running at 16/16/1 or 16/8/8. Two legacy PCI sockets, the uppermost of which is almost useless with todays large graphics coolers, and a single PCIe x1 port.
In terms of interface we have two internal USB ports, 6 SATAII ports, two SATA6Gb/s ports (the white ones) and the front-panel headers.
On the rear are the usual PS2 port, USB3.0, SPDIF, USB2.0, Firewire, USB2.0 and LAN, along with the outputs for the Realtek ALC889.
Motherboard : ASUS P6X58D-E
CPU : Intel Core i7 930 @ 2.8GHz stock and 4.2GHz OC
RAM : 6GB Corsair Dominator GT @1333mhz stock and 2000MHz OC
GPU : ATI 5870 1GB using Catalyst 10.3
PSU : Corsair HX850
HDD : 160GB Western Digital
Monitor : Samsung 2433 24" @ 1920x1200
OS : Windows 7 Ultimate 64
ASUS motherboards have always been a pleasure to overclock on thanks to their excellent BIOS and very refined motherboards. The P6X58D-E is no exception.
As always the first goal is to find out our maximum BCLK. With the multiplier lowered to ensure we don't overstress the CPU we managed to hit 209.8 MHz BCLK which should allow us to easily bust 4GHz on the CPU.
With this BLCK the next job is to get the CPU stable at its default multiplier. This was easily achieved with a mild 1.336v on the CPU, once again showing the might of the i7-930. However this requires some curious memory dividers so let's get it all stable at our usual settings.
Finally we have the settings we're using for todays overclocking tests. 200x21 gives us a rock solid 4.2GHz on the CPU and allows our Corsair Dominator GT to run at its rated 2000MHz speed.
Time for some testing.
Sandra is a selection of synthetic tests that checks how little overhead the motherboard has and the pure performance of the CPU. The Processor Arithmetic suite uses the tried and tested Dhrystone and Whetstone tests. If there is one thing that's clear it is that the P6X58D-E certainly doesn't have much affect on the performance of the i7 930.
The Processor Multimedia test really stresses the the number crunching ability of your setup. Our P6X58D-E definitely rocks and rolls here giving great results through all three tests, as seen from the aggregate result.
Finally Sandra has a Cryptography suite. Because our i7-930 doesn't have the extended AES instructions we saw on the Intel 980X this can be an important test if you use a lot of encryption. The lack of overhead from the P6X58D-E is clearly demonstrated here with our 25% overclock giving a 25% result increase. Give or take a couple of points.
This is a similar test to the Super Pi that we all know well. It's a very good test of pure number crunching and the 1024M one in particular stresses the rig over a long period of time.
Everest tests in a similar method to SiSoft Sandra, but with different tests and a different method of scoring. Thanks to the always speedy updates from Lavalys (a brand-new build to identify the latest hardware is back to us within the day) we can be certain that it's testing as well as possible.
As a great demonstration of the quality of the P6X58D-E we see our 25% overclock obtain about a third better score. Impressive indeed.
CineBench from Maxon utilises their ever popular Cinema 4D rendering engine to perform both real-time and static rendering. The difference our 4.2GHz overclock makes to the OpenGL test is mind-blowing, but even at stock the P6X58D-E performs well.
POV-Ray is a freeware ray-tracing program that tests the processing capabilities in a more real-world setting than our synthetic tests.
PC Mark Vantage
Finally we have the excellent PC Mark Vantage, here in 64 bit guise. The P6X58D-E has plenty of ability to hand even the harshest applications. Despite our system running at the high edge of performance every test showed an improvement. The only test that didn't was the HDD one which, as we all know, is very variable at the best of times and so not a true reflection of the performance of the board.
As more and more gamers use decent sized monitors these days, and this isn't a test of the graphics card alone, we're test 3D Mark Vantage at High settings to show the CPU score in the most useful state. Again we find a score a third larger than the stock settings. This is definitely a good overclocking board.
Both Dirt 2 and Crysis Warhead are more reliant upon the graphics card than the motherboard as such, we're including the results for completeness sake. Naturally with a bigger CPU speed you have a better minimum frame rate but the other scores remain roughly similar.
Finally Unigine really pounds the entire system with some amazing DX11 eye candy. Despite this being a "synthetic" test it gives results similar to our gaming ones.
So has this cut-price model cut the performance too or is it quite the bargain?
Unquestionably, as our results indicate, it's a bargain.
Starting with the looks, it reminds us a lot of the earlier Rampage models. It's nice to see a motherboard from ASUS that moves away from the red and black theme if for no other reason than it gives the modders something different to work with. Personally it just makes a nice change to look at some different colours. The major visual difference between this P6X58D-E and the Premium is that there isn't a heatpipe from the X58 chip to the ICH10R southbridge nor from the left side of the CPU to the block above. Despite them being passive they control the heat well although at higher clock speeds we'd recommend, as always, a case with good airflow just to help push the air across the large surface area available.
The packaging is definitely a step down from what we normally see from ASUS, although if it means the motherboard is cheaper just because we're a SATA cable or two and some black boxes short, we don't mind at all. The simplistic finish on the rear I/O shield probably demonstrates where the costs have been cut more than looking at the board does.
Speaking of the board, everything is nicely laid out with nothing either exceptional, or more importantly, terrible about it at all. Although "functional" can be seen as something of a pejorative term we mean it entirely as a compliment. So often cuts mean, as we saw from the Asrock Extreme 3, bizarre design choices. Here ASUS have merely taken a couple of unimportant features off their Premium model. Good stuff.
To use it's a joy. The BIOS is simple to navigate with all the options you'd hope to see to enable easy overclocking. As you saw from our results easy it most certainly is. No need to strike the balance between RAM and CPU speed as we got 4.2GHz on the i7-930 CPU whilst also maintaining 2000MHz on our Corsair Dominator GT.
Although SATA6 isn't taken full advantage of yet it's good to know that it's included, saving you a PCI upgrade card in the future. USB3.0 is much more useful and, similarly, the P6X58D-E comes equipped with that too.
So it's got all the latest features. ASUS build quality and technical support. Excellent overclocking performance. Well laid out and nice to look at. Most importantly it's available around the staggeringly affordable price point of £170.
Without question it's deserving of our Recommended award.
- Great performance
- Exceptional value
- All the latest technology
- Accessories package is a bit lackluster
- Southbridge heatsink is about as small as we'd like to see
- Could do with another two USB ports on the back
- None whatsoever
Thanks to ASUS for supplying the P5X58D-E for todays review. Discuss in our forums