P55 or X58


I’m planning my next build, and I’m having a hard time deciding between a motherboard with the X58 chipset or one with P55. Is triple-channel RAM worth paying extra for? I plan to keep this PC for three years (until the motherboard warranty expires) and I’m worried that in three years there’ll be 9x-channel RAM or something crazy like that. I’m a heavy gamer but I don’t do anything else that requires a ton of memory—I don’t use AutoDesk or Maya.

—Damien Marsh

Damien, although the memory bandwidth on X58 contributes to some performance advantages over a P55, the Doctor doesn’t think that that in itself warrants the extra coinage. What may be of more value to you, however, is X58’s ability to run dual x16 PCI-Express at full x16 PCI-E 2.0 data rates. The P55 platform inherently limits dual x16 physical slots to running at x8 PCI-E 2.0 speeds. Keep in mind, that’s still plenty of bandwidth, but the X58 will likely have some advantage at ultra-high-resolutions in games that need the bandwidth in multi-GPU scenarios. X58’s other ace in the hole is its ability to support the upcoming six-core Core i9 CPUs due early next year. P55 isn’t supposed to support those procs. Those processors, however, are likely to be very expensive, so if you don’t plan on spending $900 for a CPU, then you don’t have to worry about that, either.

SUBMIT YOUR QUESTION Are flames shooting out of the back of your rig? First, grab a fire extinguisher and douse the flames. Once the pyrotechnic display has fizzled, email the doctor at doctor@maximumpc.com for advice on how to solve your technological woes.

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