Cooling and Features
The centerpiece of the X58 Classified is its custom cooling system which sits on top of the X58 Northbridge. EVGA custom designed this solution to provide excellent cooling for this component while at the same time, keeping noise levels to a minimum. The custom unit features three heatpipes and a tall series of aluminum thin fins. The top of the unit has a custom plastic cover, which houses a red LED light which pulses under an EVGA logo whenever the motherboard is actively receiving power, somewhat akin to a heartbeat. When the motherboard is powered on, the unit stays lit. The cooler is almost a work of art, as it provides excellent cooling performance while not interfering with other components and not adding noise and potential un-reliability from a cooling fan.
Multi-Heatpipe X58 Cooler
Low Profile ICH10R and NF200 Heatsinks
The other chipset level components, the Intel ICH10R Southbridge and an NVIDIA NF200 PCI Express bridge chip, are covered by their own heatsinks. The large, smooth heatsink which is "Classified" cools the Southbridge whereas the large heatsink to the north of it covers the NF200. These various heatsinks are short enough to fit underneath large PCI Express graphics cards installed above them, but have enough surface area to keep their respective chips operational under excessive heat loads.
The NVIDIA NF200 chip allows the EVGA X58 Classified to support massive amounts of PCI Express connectivity. The board is equipped with four PCI Express 2.0 x16 sized slots, marked in red. Not all support true x16 speeds, as the bottom slot only connects at x8 speeds. However, with three full PCI Express x16 slots, you can have full-speed three way-SLI connectivity and still have an extra PCI Express slot for a physics card or an additional graphics card. EVGA includes the proper bridges for both two-way and three-way SLI connectivity in their box. There is also a teeny-tiny PCI Express x1 slot near the Northbridge cooler, and a single 32-bit PCI slot for good measure.
Quad PCI Express 2.0 x16 Slots
Eight SATA-II/300 RAID Ports
To the right of all the expansion slots, we have a nice array of 90-degree mounted Serial ATA ports, eight of them in fact, all of which run at SATA-II/300 speeds. The ports in black run off the Intel ICH10R Southbridge and support RAID levels 0/1/0+1/5, whereas the ports in red run off a JMicron onboard controller and only support RAID levels 0 and 1. There are also an additional two more SATA-II ports controlled by an additional JMicron controller chip, one port is on the back panel for eSATA support and one port between the PCI Express x1 slot and primary PCI Express x16 slot. In the event that you wanted a SATA port located in quite possibly the most inaccessible spot on your motherboard, there you go.
Not surprisingly, the I/O panel of the motherboard is pretty stuffed, although in terms of features, it's surprisingly normal considering all the other high-end components on this motherboard. The I/O panel includes eight USB 2.0 ports, a Firewire 400 port, an eSATA/300 port, a single PS/2 port, dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, and onboard audio w/ 8-channel analog and optical/coaxial S/PDIF output. The onboard Ethernet ports are controlled by dual Realtek 811C PCI Express chips, whereas onboard audio is controlled by a Realtek ALC889 codec, which is one of Realtek's most modern codecs, and delivers excellent quality audio. The only interesting oddball here is the little red dot, which acts as an external Clear CMOS button, but that's only the first bit of overclocking-focused hardware on this board.