At A Glance
Tri-SLI capable, six DIMM slots, and no X-Fi activation required.
Questionable placement of third x16 slot; flaky USB support.
An eclipse occurs when one celestial body obscures another. When MSI stuck its X58 motherboard with that moniker, we wondered just what it wanted to hide. Our guess is it’s the fact that the board supports ATI’s CrossFire X. Despite the Eclipse’s support for CrossFire X, MSI chose to change the name of the board at the last minute from simply Eclipse to Eclipse SLI. Regardless, the Eclipse SLI is jam-packed with features that would make any geek weep, including cross-platform GPU support, Core i7, six-slot DDR3, and onboard soft X-Fi audio.
We’ve now tested three X58 boards, and the Eclipse SLI has an edge over its closest competitor, the Asus P6T Deluxe, which we reviewed in January, as well as the stock Intel DX58SO board that we used for most of our Core i7 testing. The Eclipse SLI is technically able to run tri-SLI. We say technically because though you might be able to jam a GTX 280 into the third slot, you’ll probably have to saw off the end of the card to make it fit in your case—the card has to be seated in the bottom slot and hangs over the mobo by about an inch. We tested the Eclipse with a pair of EVGA GTX 280 cards but were unable to test it in tri, as our early board shipped without a bridge. MSI will include bridges with retail boards.
Right now, it’s difficult to compare the performance of the three X58-based boards we’ve tested, as it’s challenging to make sure the boards are all set to the same specs. We attribute most of the performance differences we’ve seen to how each vendor sets up the CPU, not to the performance differences with each board. One thing in the Eclipse’s favor: There’s no need to activate the X-Fi drivers on the board, which is necessary on the Asus boards that feature host-based X-Fi drivers.
So what board would we stick our Core i7 in? It’s hard to say at this point, but if we were forced to choose, the Eclipse SLI would just edge out the Asus P6T Deluxe. But to be honest, with BIOS updates coming out in near real time for the new CPU and new chipset, the answer to that question might be different next month. –gordon mah ung