Intel's recent launch of the Core i7 processor and its accompanying chipset platform, was met with plenty of buzz and splash, due not only to the product's architectural enhancements but also its performance gains. However, the new serially enabled Core i7 also brought fairly significant platform changes as well. Though some folks may be resistant to it, most times, change is good. And Intel's new, more scalable QPI serial interface was long overdue. In fact, the Core i7 marks what could be considered one of the most significant changes in Intel's desktop processor architecture in many years. Though the new CPU requires a new processor socket and the new X58 Express chipset, end user migration to the new Core i7 desktop chip will be gradual at first but will build momentum as the platform matures into 2009.
Of course, all of these changes mean lots of new product releases from Intel's "ecosystem partners", as they like to call them. Since our launch article took flight in November, a steady stream of Intel X58 chipset-based motherboards have been filing into our labs here at HotHardware and we're queueing them up for testing and evaluation. One of the first boards we got in was an offering from EVGA, aptly branded the X58 3X SLI. Though the board's part number is a bit cryptic (we tested an EVGA p/n: 132-BL-E758-A1 board), the model naming should tip you off that this motherboard not only supports AMD ATI multi-GPU CrossFireX graphics configurations but also NVIDIA SLI graphics setups including 3-way SLI.
The EVGA X58 3X SLI motherboard also supports all of the latest features inherent to Intel's X58 Express chipset, including triple channel DDR3 system memory. Here's a quick look at the X58 Express chipset block diagram, as a refresher. Noteably, 3-way SLI configurations are supported in this motherboard via a x16,x8,x8 lane configuration, in each of the board's three full length x16 slots. You can reference this diagram here from our recent overview of the technology for further details. However, with each of these lane configurations supporting full Gen2 PCI Express links, there is more than enough bandwidth to support the required graphics processing throughput.
Noteably, 3-way SLI configurations are supported in this motherboard via a x16,x8,x8 lane configuration, in each of the board's three full length x16 slots. You can reference this diagram here from our recent overview of the technology for further details. However, with each of these lane configurations supporting full Gen2 PCI Express links, there is more than enough bandwidth to support the required graphics processing throughput.
|Processor and Chipset
Based on Intel X58/ICH10R chipset
Supports Intel Core i7 Processors
133 MHz QPI
6 x 240-pin DIMM sockets
Triple Channel DDR3
Maximum of 12GB of DDR3 1066/1333 MHz
1 x PCIe x16, 1 x PCIe x8/x16, 1 x PCIe x8, 1 x PCIe x1, 2 x PCI
2 x 32-bit PCI, support for PCI 2.1
1 x UltraDMA133
9 x Serial ATA 300MB/sec with support for RAID 0, RAID1, RAID 0+1, RAID5, JBOD
1 x Floppy disk drive connector
8 Channel High Definition
2 x 10/100/1000 Ethernet LAN
1 x PS2 Keyboard
1 x Serial Ports
12 x USB2.0 ports (4 external + 8 internal headers)
Audio connector (Line-in, Line-out, MIC)
FireWire 1394A (1 external, 1 header)
ATX Form Factor
Length: 12.0in - 304.8mm
Width: 9.6in - 243.6mm
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.
Offers a longer lifespan, better stability when at high frequencies, can operate at higher temperatures, and no longer runs the risk of exploding.
Consists of a fan and metal heatsink.
8 - Phase Power Design
For excellent power-stability, an 8 – Phase Power Design is used.
On-Board 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.
AMD ATI CrossFire Support
AMD ATI CrossFireX Support
2-Way NVIDIA SLI Support
3-Way NVIDIA SLI Support
EVGA bundles the X58 3X SLI with a healthy offering of connectors, cables and related hardware to support all of the salient features of this motherboard. In the kit you get an I/O backplane faceplate and three slot connectors for USB, Firewire and even RS232 serial connectivity (though we can't imagine anyone actually using this).
You also get three 4-pin molex to SATA converter cables, six SATA cables, a single EIDE ribbon cable and both two-way and three-way SLI bridge connectors. EVGA also includes both a full manual and a quick install guide for reference and of course the standard drivers and utility CD is in there as well. On the CD is EVGA's ELEET tuning software for overclocking, which we'll cover in more detail later but it's safe to say the bundle is both cost-efficient and well put together, all told.