EVGA X58 x3 Classified Motherboard Page: 1
Introduction
 
EVGA, for those who do not already know, were founded in 1999 and are based in Brea, California. In that relatively short time EVGA have materialised as one of the top producers of PC components and are now very popular with enthusiasts worldwide. EVGA rocketed to fame with the skt 775 680i based motherboard which despite some of it's short comings was a triumph for NVidia and the manufacturer of choice for that chipset was, you guessed it - EVGA.
 
Because EVGA are a top tier partner of NVidia anyone looking for anything from the 'Green team' tend to lean toward EVGA because of the fantastic support they offer the consumer, not least the award winning Step-up program which allows buyers of their hardware to upgrade within 60 days for a nominal fee. Great news for those who don't like to splash the cash only to find out something bigger and better has just been released. It also serves as a safety net for those looking to buy now but are afraid of what might be on the horizon thereby avoiding the waiting game.
 
X58 motherboards have been around for a while now and in that time we have sampled various offerings from all the major manufacturers. Until today we have not had the pleasure of reviewing a motherboard from EVGA so what better way to start than to put EVGA's finest example through it's paces. Ladies and gentlemen may I present you with the EVGA X58 x3 Classified motherboard.
 
Here's what EVGA had to say:
 
The ULTIMATE in X58 motherboards is here! The EVGA X58 Classified raises the bar for enthusiast grade motherboards everywhere.
With never before seen features such as 3-way SLI + PhysX + 1x PCIe device on a single board, 2 8pin +12V connectors capable of delivering 600 watts of power, 10 phase Digital PWM with a switching frequency of up to 1333KHz, three times the amount of normal gold content in the CPU socket and much, much more.

The EVGA X58 Classified motherboard is engineered for those who demand more than just the best!
 
Specification
 
Before we take a look at the classified in detail, let's take a moment to assess the specification:
 
Product EVGA X58 SLI Classified
CPU
Supports Intel Core i7 Processors Skt LGA1366
Chipset
ICH: Intel X58
MCH: Intel ICH10R
Memory
6 x 240-pin DIMM sockets
Triple Channel DDR3
Maximum of 24GB of DDR3 1600MHz+
Expansion Slots
4 x PCIe x16/x8, 1 x PCIe x1, 1 x PCI
1 x 32-bit PCI, support for PCI 2.1
Audio
Realtec ALC899 8 Channel HD Audio
Optical and coaxial outputs
LANDual Realtek Gigabit Lan Controller 10/100/1000
Storage
1 x UltraDMA133
9 x Serial ATA 300MB/sec (3 x Jmicron, 6 Intel) with support for RAID 0, RAID1, RAID 0+1, RAID5, JBOD
I/O
1 x PS2 Keyboard
12 x USB2.0 ports (8 external + 4 internal headers)
Audio connector (Line-in, Line-out, MIC)
FireWire 1394A (1 external, 1 header)
Dimensions
EATX Form Factor
Length: 12in/304.8mm
Width: 10.375in/263.5mm
Features
USB 2.0 Support
A standard plug and play interface providing easy-to-use connectivity for USB devices. 
PCI Express® 2.0 / 1.1 Support
Allows 500MB a lane or up to 8 GB/s at 16x speeds - allows for full support for new PCI-E 2.0 graphics cards.
Serial ATA II
Also known as SATA2, features a 3.0 Gbit/s transfer speed, faster than Standard Serial ATA. 
Solid Capacitors
Offers a longer lifespan, better stability when at high frequencies, can operate at higher temperatures, and no longer runs the risk of exploding. 
Passive Heatsink
Consist of a metal heatsink. 
On-Boad Clear CMOS Button
An onboard clear CMOS button which allows you to easily clear your BIOS without moving a jumper.
On-Board Power Button with Integrated Power Light
An onboard power button for easily powering on or off your system. Also shows a power indication light.
On-Board Reset Button with Integrated HDD Activity Light
An onboard reset button for easily rebooting your system as well as gives current status of your HDD via an activity light. 
On-Board Diagnostics LED Readout
Helpful for when diagnosing a problem is needed.
2-Way SLI® Support
Feel free to turn up the eye candy and experience the performance of 2 Graphics Cards running together. 
3-Way SLI® Support
Experience the amazing performance that only 3 Graphics Cards can deliver, a visual experience that will take you to the next level.
 
 As you can see from the specification above, the EVGA Classified certainly appears to be a feature packed motherboard. More often than not we see that ultra high end motherboards sacrifice their features in favour of higher performance but this does not seem to be the case with the EVGA classified.
 
Let's take a look at the packaging and presentation of the mainboard...


EVGA X58 x3 Classified Motherboard Page: 2
Packaging & Appearance
 
The packaging of the classified is different to what we are normally used to here at OC3D. The flimsy removable outer sleeve that we are familiar with has gone, instead replaced with a stern printed cardboard box. I doubt very much whether potential buyers of the Classified will be too concerned with the exterior but indulge me while I highlight some of the finer points as packaging is still important in ensuring the motherboard and accessories reach you in perfect condition.
 
The front of the box is very moody with the main title shadowed with a kickplate backdrop. The Classified logo is plastered underneath with the now all too familiar Intel logo's as well as an NVidia SLI emblem. Turning the box over we find that EVGA list both the features and contents of the package along with EVGA statement that this product come with an amazing 10 year warranty (assuming you register the product within 30days of purchase)! 
 
box front box rear
 
Opening the lid of the box I was greeted with a split compartment containing the accessories, one side for the manuals and driver disk and the other for the mass of cabling. Lifting out this cardboard compartment revealed a securely packed, foam encased, static bagged motherboard. Unless your favourite delivery guy has a fondness for parcel basketball then I cannot see how this package should arrive in anything other than A1 condition. The accessory list is what you would expect from a premium product with 6 SATA cables, 3x Molex to SATA power connectors, Firewire/USB bracket, 3 SLI Bridges (Various lengths - 2 fixed, 1 flexi), IDE cable, Rear I/O Backplate, and the accompanying manual and driver CD.
 
 
Moving on to the main attraction, the EVGA X58 3x Classified. First impressions are the motherboard is simply jaw dropping. Recently we have seen manufacturers putting in that little extra effort to ensure their boards are presented as aesthetically pleasing as possible. EVGA have gone that extra mile. The black PCB has contrasting red slots and barring the motherboard headers (which will no doubt be covered anyway) this is a two tone motherboard which is a stunner to behold. Glancing around the motherboard, everything appears to be laid out as efficiently as possible with all the connector found around the leading edge ensuring a tidy, easy installation. Flipping the board over we find nothing too disturbing with the CPU backplate area clear of any obstruction.
 
Dominating the motherboard is the Northbridge (QPI bus) heatsink. Something else that we are not used to seeing is the inclusion of a fourth PCIe slot which EVGA claim allows the Classified to run 3x GPU's in TRI-SLI along with a fourth GPU for Physics processing!
 
board board rear
 
At first glance, the CPU socket area appears to be fairly restrictive but this is an illusion as the Northbridge heatsink is so large. Along with the NB heatsink is another oversized heatsink whic covers the main power delivery unit, the full digital PWM of the Classified. So while it may appear crowded at first, on further investigation the CPU socket area is surprisingly sparce and will no doubt be very appealing to those who like to play with extreme cooling. Worthy of note is the three times the amount of gold used on the CPU sockets pin area. This lowers the imedance of the current going through the pins resulting in less resistance of current that goes to the CPU and hence the 3x name in the product title. The color coded memory slots appear to be spaced far enough from the CPU socket area that fitting most oversized CPU coolers should not be an issue. Above the memory slots is a unique design allowing extreme clockers to read the correct voltage outputs of any voltage adjustment allowed in the BIOS.
 
socket memory
 
Perhaps the major design feature of the 3x Classified is the ability to run un 3x GPU's in TRI-SLI along with a fourth GPU for Physics. Most users I suspect will not require anything near that amount of GPU power save for folk who like to benchmark until the early hours. There is no doubting though that with a GPU capability such as the Classified affords, world records could well tumble should the classified fall into the right hands. Along with the four 16x PCIe slots is a further 1x PCIe slot which due to the NB, will be restricted in useable length. Last of all there is a legacy PCI slot allowing the ultimate in backwards compatability.
 
A fantastic feature of the Classified is its ability to designate which 16x slots can be used at full bandwidth. No longer are you restricted to which port you wish have to use, with a set of four jumpers you have the choice of setting which PCIe slots will be used for GPUs. For example you can set the jumpers to use both 1st and third slots fot an SLI configuration, thus allowing the best amount of airflow through the cards or indeed if you wish to make use of the PCI slot. Should you wish to use TRI SLI without wanting the final card to overhang the bottom of the board (a fault with so many X58 motherboards) you can set it up so. However, EVGA are keen to show off their prowess in this field by allowing all four slots to be filled making the Classified one of the most versatile motherboards around.
 
Below the PCIe slots is are the power, rest and CMOS clear button. The Power switch glows up red and the rest button doubles as a hard disk activity light, flashing yellow when the hard drive is seeking. To the extreme bottom left corner we also find that there is an on-board speaker. While this feature is becomming a rarity these days thanks to debug LED's, I do find that the beep when powering the motherboard up for the first time is still a reasuring sound.
 
PCIe
 
The bottom right hand quarter of the mainboard is a feature packed goldmine of gadgetry. An IDE port and 8 SATA ports line the leading edge along with colour coded motherboard headers, two external USB headers, CMOS chip, EVGA control panel (available separately) header and a diagnostic LED. This LED also doubles as a temperature readout for the CPU once the system is fully booted which is a very usefull feature although in testing the temperature was a over 10c lower than most popular software based utilities, perhaps due to the fact different sensors were being scanned. Another neat feature of the Classified, and perhaps one most appealing to the extreme overclockers using LN2/DICE will be the ability to supply up to 600W to the CPU. This is done by using an additional 8 pin12v+ EPS connector which along with the digital PWM should ensure the cleanest possible power delivery to your silicon. While I cannot see this feature being neccesary to anyone but the extreme clockers it is certainly a welcome addition which may tempt watercoolers to take that extra step into the wonderfull world of liquid Nitrogen.
 
 
The I/O backplate area is populated to the max with 8 x USB ports, 6 x 3.5mm Audio jacks (capable of 7.1 audio), optical and coaxial SPDIF outputs, PS/2 Keyboard port, , e-SATA, Firewire, dual Gigabit LAN NIC ports and a tiny CMOS clear button. With the backplate in-situ, the CMOS clear button hardly protrudes from the plate and I would have like to have seen a better button design here but this is a minor point for what is a very well designed I/O area.The eight SATA ports (+ additional one above 1st PCIe slot) support RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5 and JBOD arrays. The three red ports are controlled by the Jmicron JMB363 controller while the six black ports are controlled by the Intel ICH10r chip.
 
backplate
 
The D686 BIOS chip on the EVGA Classified (covered in the next section) is based on the Pheonix-Award BIOS which should make it easy to navigate if any of EVGA's previous BIOS setups are anything to go by. Audio for the Classified is provided by with the ALC889 chip, the latest CODEC offering from Realtec. This chip supports 7.1+2 channel multi streaming audio, Nosie supression HDCPM along with acoustic cancellation. In testing this chip, while certainly adequate still lacks the thrust of a good bass note and can appear 'tinny' at times. Another Realtec offereing on the classified is the RTL8111C, two of them in fact which control the Gigabit ethernet controllers found on the backplate.
 
  
 
The most dominating feature of the mainboard is the main X58 chipset heatsink. This huge heatsink is the size of a small GPU and is covered by a plastic cover which serves no purpose other than to enhance the looks of the whole mainboard. This cover has a pulsating 'e' which glows on and off when the board is recieiving power, even in standby state. I must confess I do like the look of it and it will certainly look the part in any case bar the older Lian LI cases which have the board placed upside down, in which case it will look odd. Both this heatsink and the flat anodised heatsink covering the ICH10R chip are linked together by a flattened heatpipe ensuring that for the msot part, all the heat is dissipated by the main tower heatsink.
 
NB Southbridge
 
The heatsink covering the digital PWM area is akin to heatsinks made by Thermalright which is no bad thing and while this sink stands alone, not being connected to the other heatsinks, it appeared to keep the power delivery area cool enough not to interupt stability while testing. Removing the heatsinks was a very simple affair thanks to the screw design EVGA have employed.
 
PWM sink
 
Hopefully, here is why you have chosen to read the OC3D review of the EVGA Classified as here is where we get down to the guts of the motherboard. Let me start by saying the EVGA classified comes in 3 varients, the e759, e760 and e761. Only the 759 has the nForce200 chip which allows 16x on all PCIe slots.
 
The version we have here is the 760 which DOES NOT have the nf200 chip. I know this because while some other sites simply assume it has, I took the trouble to look for myself and while the heatsink indicates there should indeed be a chip there, no such chip was on the mainboard itself. While this is disappointing, the practical uses of the very expensive chip are now somewhat depleted thanks to X58 supporting SLI out of the box. The only real neccesity of the nf200 chip is for users who plan on filling all of the slots up and need the full bandwidth of 16 lanes each. Only a quad SLI setup will see any tangible benefit from using such a setup and as such for the most part the standard X58 chipset will do very nicely. Not only that but the nf200 chip is rumoured to increase latency so while it does provide more bandwidth for the cards, the higher latency will for the most part, offset this advantage. The e761 version is an exact replica of the 760 except it has the optional ECP (external control panel) included in the package.
 
NB SB
 
The 10 Phase digital PWM is a class leading power delivery product and while other motherboards also make use of this more expensive form of power handling, the classified has the ability to switch frequencies via the BIOS upto 1333MHz. What this means is that the EVGA Classified will have a much smoother power delivery than it's competitors. Below we see the heatsink assembly which as you can see has a copper plate for the missing nf200 chip, a copper plate for the ICH10R and the X58 core is cooled by the gun metal plate upon which sits the huge tower cooler. The PWM cooler is staggered and has thermal tape to conduct heat as does the additional mosfet cooler.
 
PWM cooler
 
It was clear from the outset that the EVGA 3x SLI Classified is an extreme motherboard built from the ground up for the extreme enthusiast. Quality exudes the package from both the exterior and the interior and while I was innitially dissappointed to find that this was the 760 version rather than the 759, all things considered it's very hard to fault the mainboard or the package as a whole.
 
Let's take a look at that Pheonix-Award BIOS....
  


EVGA X58 x3 Classified Motherboard Page: 3
BIOS Options
 
Upon initial boot we are greeted with the same image as found on the packaging and while this is attractive I would like to see a little animation as with the Asus ROG range of motherboards. Progression in this area is something that appears to be overlooked and while hardly important in the greater scheme of things, I do think it is an area which could do with freshening up somewhat.
 
front page 
 
Straight from the word go I went to the overclocking section of the BIOS where I was greeted by what appeared to be an extremely basic setup. After consoling myself and getting over the initial dismay I realised that this was just a frontpage with each option displayed opening up a new window containing more options that I could ever have wished for. Unfortunately I don't have extreme cooling available at the time of writing the review but should I have, EVGA recommend setting the Extreme cooling option to enabled for greatest stability. If I were forced to make a best guess then I would assume it was to prevent cold boot scenarios.The manual does not however expand on why or what the three modes do so I can only suggest EVGA's recommendation is followed. The Dummy O.C option allows an quick and dirty automatic overclock but I doubt many users of this motherboard will settle for this, not when there are so many options to explore.
 
overclock extreme cooling
 
The memory section is very complex, containing a huge array of options. The memory divider ranges from 800 - 2933MHz which should be enough for any kit on the market at present. However, If you are not familiar with memory overclocking and instead wish to concentrate solely on the CPU then EVGA will automatically overclock your memory for you in line with the CPU speed.
 
memory frequency
 
Both Channel and rank interleave setting are out in force with the Pheonix BIOS. Channel interleave divides the memory blocks and spreads the data across the interleaved channels which can have a benificial effect on bandwidth due to the fact the data requests can be made to all the affected channels via overlapping rather than queuing. Rank interleave works pretty much the same as the old SDRam Bank interleaving allowing each rank to be read while another is being refreshed. Memory performance is then increased as the refresh cycle of each memory bank is masked while access is taking place. Most memory modules are double sided these days and as such you can take advantage of rank interleaving. For best performance I would leave this to the 4 way setting (default) for optimum performance.
 
interleave rank interleave
 
Memory low gap is a feature often overclocked. Personally I have never seen much point in this feature either as I have never had to set this to anything other than Auto, if indeed the options is available at all. In it's most basic form it is a throwback to the AGP aperture size of yester year. If memory subtimings are your bag then the EVGA Classified has plenty of them to keep you busy. I have never really seen much benefit in adjusting the settings for performance gain but the odd tweak can certainly give a boost in stability.
 
low gap subtimings
 
The EVGA classified is crying out for some extreme cooling and as such EVGA have allowed for some extreme voltages to be applied to your hardware. A ridiculous 2.24v on the CPU is a crazy amount of Vcore for even the most extreme of benchers but the fun does not stop there with a whole host of mad voltages available with which to fry your silicon. Perhaps the first section you should visit when aiming for high overclocks is the CPU feature where, in the Classifieds case all the usual suspects are lined up and disabled one by one.
 
voltages CPU features
 
I have yet to see an i7 CPU hitting anything near 300 Base Clock but should you have a God like CPU, the Classified will allow you to reach it's heavenly potential by allowing up to 500 Base clock frequency, or as EVGA like to call the CPU Host frequency. Lowering the MCH strap used to mean an increase in memory performance (but more often than not a drop in stability). However, the X58 Chipset no longer has a MCH (Memory controller Hub) as Core i7 CPU's have an IMC (integrated memory controller) so why have EVGA instilled this setting? Its really quite simple, the MCH strap just adjusts the subtimings according to the memory frequency. The MCH strap works by using a set table of equations that derive final subtimings and latencies for any given strap. It's a nice one size fits all setting but for the most part, it is simply a way to auto overclock the subtimings of your memory to predefined levels as opposed to overclocking the memory controller itself.
 
base clock mch strap
 
The rule of thumb for CPU Uncore frequency is 2x the ram ratio but should you think you have a miracle CPU then increasing this setting will ultimately increase performance. Another throwback to BIOS options of yesteryear is the CPU clock skew. While of some use in older sockets such as the Skt775, Core i7 automatically compensates for this. The greater the overclock, the more risk there is for clock signals being mis-timed when arriving at different compenents. Many things can cause this timing skew, not least temperatures but in testing I have noticed very little difference in adjusting this setting.
 
cpu uncore
 
Once you have waded through the wealth of BIOS options it would be very frustrating should your overclock fail and you therfore have to clear the CMOS to get the board back to a bootable state. EVGA have thankfully afforded the end user the chance to back up those settings into one of eight profiles which can be easily reloaded at a later time with a couple of keyboard presses. The health status screen gives a comprehensive run down of the current voltages and temperatures of the main components and should you wish to decrease temps further the EVGA board allows configuration of each fan header to run the fans at a given percentage allowing you to balance noise with cooling performance.
 
profile monitor
 
Any premium motherboard designed for overclocking should have a complex but easy to navigate BIOS so I was expecting great things from the classified. I was one of the many poor souls who had to suffer at the hands of the 680i BIOS, attempting to convert the multitude of options to something that resembled the more popular Intel format. I am happy to report that for the most part, EVGA have made the Classifieds BIOS easy to navigate yet as complex as the user requires. There is very little criticism I can aim at the BIOS as all the major settings are there for Joe Average with many hidden gems available for those more experienced overclockers out there.
 
Let's take a look at what these BIOS options allowed us to achieve... 


EVGA X58 x3 Classified Motherboard Page: 4
Test Setup
 
To ensure that all reviews on Overclock3D are fair, consistent and unbiased, a standard set of hardware and software is used whenever possible during the comparative testing of two or more products. The configuration used in this review can be seen below: 
 
Processor: Intel Core i7 920 (2.66Ghz)
Motherboard: EVGA X58 3x Classified
Memory: 6GB Corsair DDR3 @ 8-8-8-24 1600Mhz
Graphics Card: NVidia GTX280
Power Supply: Gigabyte Odin 1200W
CPU Cooling: OCZ Gladiator
Hard Disk: Hitachi Deskstar 7K160 7200rpm 80GB
Graphics Drivers: Geforce 180.60 CUDA
Operating System: Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate x64 SP1
 
During the testing of the setup above, special care was taken to ensure that the BIOS settings used matched whenever possible. A fresh install of Windows Vista was also used before the benchmarking began, with a full defrag of the hard drive once all the drivers and software were installed, preventing any possible performance issues due to leftover drivers from the previous motherboard installations. For the 3DMark and gaming tests a single card configuration was used.
 
The initial setup of the Classified presented no problems with sufficient clearance of the memory modules. However, using a wide heatsink such as the Thermalright Ultra in a horizontal position will block at least the first memory slot, if not the second. In a vertical position there should be no such issues. The only issue I could envisage is a conflict with the massive QPI heatsink. This heatsink may also become restrictive should anyone use a sandwich type cooler on a GPU. That said though, thanks to the ingenious PCIe jumpers, the PCIe slots can be changed top suit your setup. Our test GTX280 had no such clearance issues during testing.
 
One point worthy of special mention is the glowing, pulsating 'e' emblem on the heatsink. This insignia looks very attractive when illuminated and is sure to attract attention in any case with a window or indeed as it glows through the mist given off dry ice!
 
E clearance
 
To guarantee a broad range of results to best evaluate the motherboards performance, the following benchmark utilities were used:
 
Synthetic CPU Test
• Sisoft Sandra 2009
• PassMark CPU test
• SuperPI 1m, 8m, 32m

Memory Test
• Sisoft Sandra 2009
• Everest 4.60

File Compression & Encoding
• Sisoft Sandra 2009
• 7-Zip File Compression
• River Past ViMark

Disk I/O Performance
• HDTach 3.0.4.0
• Sisoft Sandra 2009

3D / Rendering Benchmarks
• Cinebench 10
• 3DMark 05
• 3DMark 06
• 3DMark Vantage

3D Games

• Crysis
• Far Cry 2
• Call of Duty 4
Overall System Performance
• PCMark Vantage
 
 
Power Consumption

Power consumption is an aspect often forgotten when it comes to enthusiast motherboards but in today's climate, with rising utility bills special consideration needs to be taken when choosing you components as over a period of time, one components can prove to be much more expensive than another over its lifetime. Power consumption was measured at the socket using a plug-in mains power and energy monitor. Idle readings were taken after 5 minutes in Windows. Load readings were taken during a run of 3DMark Vantage.
 
 
 
 
As the two graphs above show, the EVGA Classified is by far the most power hungry motherboard on test. This I'm sure, will not deter any potential buyers of the motherboard as the target market are more likely to be interested in it's performance rather than power efficiency. That said, every manufacturer has a responsibility to ensure they are doing everything they can to reduce our carbon footprints.
 
OK, thats enough of the environmental stuff, let's take a look at what the board is designed for, overclocking and performance...
 
Overclocking

At this point in the review I would normally show you the obligatory CPU-Z screenshots at stock, however EVGA have a neat little utility which for the most part is an expansion on CPU-Z in that it allows basic overclocking within the windows environment. However before we get to overclocking here's the setup in it's stock format:
 
stock memory
 
I was initially very happy with the temperature and voltage monitoring section of  the small E-Leet program however, when compared to utilities such as Coretemp and RealTemp it was obvious that the E-Leet utility was under reporting temperatures by a fair margin, this was also mirrored by the on-board LED, which is a real shame but most likely because socket temperatures were taken and not core temps which we all know is the most important temperature to consider when overclocking. The voltage adjustment section was precise and all adjustments were instantaneous thus not requiring a reboot which was great and added to the ease of finding the maximum overclock.
 
voltages voltages
 
As with the voltage adjustments, the QPI and PCIe overclocking department was also instantaneous in its application. The benefits of this are that on the one hand you can achieve a higher overclock in windows due to the setup not having to go through the strenuous POST process where most motherboards will fall down when pushed too far. Maximum overclocks can also be achieved for those looking to show off those all important suicide benchmark runs. On the other hand, a quick and dirty overclock can be achieved before deciding a a permanent overclock via BIOS tweaking That said, as long as the settings you dial in are accepted without a BSOD, the BIOS setting will be automatically set to reflect your changes in windows, even better!
 
overclocking overclock final
 
Using the utility I managed a blistering 4.252 GHz Overclock on our sample Core i7 C0 stepping which is just below the best overclock we have achieved with this CPU. I did try setting the overclock higher and managed a base clock of 205 which resulted in an amazing 4.3GHz! However this was totally unstable and crashed while running SuperPI so couldn't be relied upon. However, with better cooling and higher voltage which this motherboard was designed for, I am certain this could be stabilised and even pushed higher, such is the prowess of the EVGA Classified.
 
After returning the motherboard to it's stock settings I then ran OC3D's suite of motherboard benchmarks. Let's see how it got on.... 


EVGA X58 x3 Classified Motherboard Page: 5
 
SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility capable of benchmarking the performance of individual components inside a PC. Each of the benchmarks below were run a total of five times with the highest and lowest scores being discarded and an average being calculated from the remaining three.
 
 
 
 


SuperPI is the benchmark of choice for many overclockers. It's lightweight to download and can give a quick indication on how good a system is at number crunching. Once again, testing was performed a total of 5 times, with an average being calculated from the middle three results.
 
 
 

 


PassMark is a popular benchmarking suite which test all aspect of PC hardware.The CPU test examines Mathematical operations, compression, encryption, SSE, 3DNow! instructions and more. Each CPU test was performed a total of 5 times, with an average being calculated from the middle three results.
 
 
 
Results Analysis
 
As with all the X58 motherboards on test, there is very little to choose between them in the CPU tests. Perhaps the only differences arise when each manufacturer sets the default clockspeed ever so slightly above or indeed below the advertised specifiaction from Intel.
 
Let's see if the Classified can distinguish itself in our memory benchmarks... 


EVGA X58 x3 Classified Motherboard Page: 6


SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility capable of benchmarking the performance of individual components inside a PC. Each of the benchmarks below were run a total of five times with the highest and lowest scores being discarded and an average being calculated from the remaining three.

 
 
 
 
 


Everest is in many ways similar to Sisoft Sandra. Focusing mainly on software and hardware information reporting, Everest also comes with a benchmark utility suitable for testing the read, write and latency performance of the memory subsystem. Each of these benchmarks were performed a total of 5 times with the highest and lowest scores being discarded and an average calculated from the remaining three.
 
 
 
 
Results Analysis
 
Both Sisfot Sandra and Everest placed the EVGA Classified motherboard in the top quarter of the motherboards on test today. Everest Read Speed even placed the Classified head and shoulders above the rest over the 5 runs.
 
Let's see how the boards perform in our Hard Drive benchmarks... 


EVGA X58 x3 Classified Motherboard Page: 7
 
HDTach is a free hard disk benchmarking program from SimpliSoftware. This benchmark is not only capable of producing results on hard disk access times but also CPU usage required during disk access. The "Long bench" was run a total of 5 times with the highest and lowest results being omitted and an average calculated from the remaining 3 results.
 
 
 
 
 
 
SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility capable of benchmarking the performance of individual components inside a PC. Each of the benchmarks below were run a total of five times with the highest and lowest scores being discarded and an average being calculated from the remaining three.
 
 
 
 
Results Analysis
 
Both HDTach and Sisoft Sandra agree that the EVGA Classified is the board of choice for read speed, finishing top in both benchmarks. While the margin is small, due to the fact all motherboards on test are using the ICH10R controller, it would become more significant the faster the hard drive/SSD.

Let's see how the motherboard performs with our multimedia benchmark suite...


EVGA X58 x3 Classified Motherboard Page: 8


SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility capable of benchmarking the performance of individual components inside a PC. Each of the benchmarks below were run a total of five times with the highest and lowest scores being discarded and an average being calculated from the remaining three.
 
 
 
 
 
ViMark is the latest addition to the OC3D motherboard testing process and a relatively new benchmarking application in general. Designed to take the inaccuracies and guesswork out of measuring the time taken to encode video files, ViMark produces easily comparable and consistent results for encoding raw video into Windows Media, Quicktime and Gif formats. As always, a total of 5 benchmark runs were performed with the highest and lowest scores removed and an average calculated from the remaining 3 scores.
 
 
 
 
 
7-Zip is an open source Winzip-style file compression utility that has the ability to compress and decompress many file formats including its own .7z compression scheme. 7-Zip also comes complete with its own benchmarking utility for gauging the compression and decompression speed of the system that it is installed on.
  
 
  
Results Observations
 
Again we see that the EVGA Classified has a very slight edge of the competition in the majority of multimedia and encoding tests. Thus far, the EVGA could well dethrone our current motherboard of choice, the Gigabyte UD5.

Let's move on to our 3D Benchmarks...


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Cinebench 10 is a benchmarking tool based on the powerful 3D software Cinema 4D. The suite uses complex renders to gauge the performance of the entire PC system in both single-core and multi-core modes. Testing was performed a total of 5 times with the highest and lowest results being omitted and an average created from the remaining 3 results.
 
 
 

 
 
3DMark is a popular synthetic gaming benchmark used by many gamers and overclockers to gauge the performance of their PC's. All 3DMark runs were performed a total of 5 times with the highest and lowest results being removed and an average calculated from the remaining 3 results. Also included are the CrossfireX results to give an indication of how 8x PCIe lanes perform.
 
 
 
 
  
Results Analysis

The Classified performed extrememly well in the synthetic 3D benchmark testing. Particulary with the Futuremark run of tests where the EVGA made a clean sweep, beating all the competition in all 3 benchmarks. I can only imagine what the scores would be like with all four PCIe slots populated!
 
Let's find out...


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Crysis is without doubt one of the most visually stunning and hardware-challenging games to date. By using CrysisBench - a tool developed independently of Crysis - we performed a total of 5 timedemo benchmarks using a GPU-intensive pre-recorded demo. To ensure the most accurate results, the highest and lowest benchmark scores were then removed and an average calculated from the remaining three.
 


 
Call of Duty 4 is a stunning DirectX 9.0c based game that really looks awesome and has a very full feature set. With lots of advanced lighting, smoke and water effects, the game has excellent explosions along with fast game play. Using the in-built Call Of Duty features, a 10-minute long game play demo was recorded and replayed on each of the GPU's using the /timedemo command a total of 5 times. The highest and lowest FPS results were then removed, with an average being calculated from the remaining 3 results.
 
 
 


Ubisoft has developed a new engine specifically for Far Cry 2, called Dunia, meaning "world", "earth" or "living" in Parsi. The engine takes advantage of multi-core processors as well as multiple processors and supports DirectX 9 as well as DirectX 10. Running the Far Cry 2 benchmark tool the test was run 5 times with the highest and lowest scores being omitted and the average calculated from the remaining 3.
 
 
Results Analysis
 
The real world gaming tests again placed the EVGA motherboard high up on the list in both Crysis and Call of Duty IV. The motherboard triumphed in Far Cry 2 as well, further underlining its performance credentials.
 
Let's take a look at it's overall performance with a run of PCMark Vantage 64bit... 


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PCMark Vantage is the latest benchmarking suite from Futuremark. Differing significantly from their 3DMark suites, PCMark performs a series of benchmarks designed to recreate and benchmark scenarios of a PC being used for everyday tasks. Vantage has a Vista only requirement as it actually relies on several different components from the OS in order to run correctly.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Results Analysis
 
Although the Classified started out well, confirming what we had seen already with the gaming and hard drive performance results, the EVGA motheboard began to suffer at the hands of the music and productivity test. Not this was a bad performance but I fully expected the motherboard to do a clean sweep once more, or at least be the best board on average.
 
Let's head over to the conclusion where I attempt to put today's testing into perspective...  


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Conclusion
 
 The EVGA 3X Classified is one of the best overclocking enthusiast boards out there - end of review? Well not quite.
 
As I have shown, the motherboard on test is also one of the highest performing boards out of the most popular ones around at the moment. It breezed through all of the benchmarks and while it did not blow the competition away and as most X58 boards perform almost equally, the Classified came out just a micron above the majority. Performance it seems is the EVGA X58 3x SLI's forte.
 
The good news does not stop there either. The EVGA classified is a cut above the rest with regard to aesthetics. The Black and Red theme is very striking and would look amazing with a matching kit of Dominator GT coupled with EVGA's two 'Red edition' GTX295's. It's not just the aesthetics that are appealing either as it's clear a lot of thought went into designing the motherboard by both the positioning of the various slots to the diagnostic LED and on board buttons. From the ground up it appears that EVGA have made the ultimate platform for enthusiasts to take advantage of.
 
The packing was sublime and I cannot find fault with it. Everything was solidly packed and very well presented. The only real letdown was the motherboard manual which was basic and really needed more definitions regarding BIOS setup. I expect more from a £300+ package. It was however refreshing not to have to wade through reams of meaningless 'Chinglish'. The mass of black cabling was very welcome but I was a little disappointed to find this version did not include the ECP, not a big issue but something buyers should be aware of as only the serial number will discern the difference between the 3 versions. With the 759 now as rare as hens teeth and I have yet to see the 761 available (but I'm sure it's out there), your choice will be the 760 which I have reviewed today - not that it's a bad thing you understand, that is until you see the price.
 
Costing a little over £300 makes the Classified the most expensive board we have tested to date. Is it worth £300? I would say no, not unless you require the absolute pinnacle in latest hardware. Even then to get the most out of the Classified you are going to need 3+ GPU's and perhaps an endless supply of LN2/Dry ice, in which case paying £300 for a motherboard will be a drop in the ocean. What the £300 does give you is bragging rights over us mere mortals. People who buy the Classified put performance above everything else, however little the gain, cost matters not. More and more we are seeing hardware snobbery creep into the enthusiast market and for people who place Armani over Levis, La Coste over Le Shark; this motherboard is certainly for you. For the rest of us, we can only scoff at the price while secretly drooling about owning one ourselves.
 
The Good
- Great motherboard design
- Stunning aesthetics
- Blistering performance
- Quality accessories
- E-LEET software
- 10 Year Warranty
 
The Mediocre
- QPI heatsink will need a  fan for extreme clocking
- BIOS Update requires writing a CD or USB boot software
- LED Temp readout not very accurate ( it could do with calibration software).
 
The Bad
- The time you will serve after robbing a bank to pay for it.
- The 'joys' you will receive in the prison shower for owning it.
 
 
Thanks to EVGA for providing the X58 3x Classified for todays review. Discuss in our forums.