Core i7 performance with the reliability of an Intel motherboard
Newsflash: Intel still doesn't know how to place SATA ports.
Rifling through the box that the Intel DX58SO “Smackover” board came in, we were surprised not to find “love” and “hate” brass knuckles, because the motherboard definitely conjures feelings of both extremes.
If you think we’re being disrespectful, just take one look at the board’s SATA ports. That will tell you that somebody at Intel still doesn’t know that today’s graphics cards are big, huge, honking affairs. Since Intel oriented all the SATA ports vertically, you’ll have a hell of a time accessing the ports with a dual-slot GPU parked overhead.
And if that doesn’t make you bust out the hate knuckles, the memory slots might. We’ve seen four previous boards for the Core i7—two from Asus, one from DFI, and an MSI mobo—and all have had six DIMM slots so you could run up to 12GB of RAM and maintain tri-channel mode. Not Intel’s.
Intel opted to put four DIMM slots on the board. Just how the hell do you run tri-channel mode with four sticks of RAM? You can’t. The fourth slot shares bandwidth with one of the other DIMMs. As you can imagine, this will impact your performance. Intel even recommends that you use only three slots. If you absolutely must have additional capacity, the company says, you can fill the fourth slot, but at a cost to memory bandwidth.
Also odd is Intel’s decision to support CrossFireX but not SLI for months on end. It was only as we were finishing this review that Intel decided to add SLI in a future BIOS. A little late in the game, but better than a slap in the face.
You’re probably wondering where the love is because it’s all been hate thus far. Unlike most other Intel chipset rollouts, the X58 has been less than smooth. Every other X58 board we’ve tested has gone through multiple BIOS revisions to get things right. The DX58SO, however, has been utterly trouble-free. No weird USB issues, no problems with Turbo Mode. Hell, the DX58SO is even a pretty decent overclocker. We used the DX58SO to push a Core i7 920 to 3.8GHz and it was rock solid. As boring as it is, the board never gave us a hiccup.
Would we build an uber-bling-bling machine around this board? No. Would we build a machine that our significant other or parents would use? You betcha.
Do the Right Thing
Good performance with the safe embrace of the Intel name.
Four DIMM slots and funky SATA ports make us mad. Very mad.
DFI LAN Party UT X58
PC Mark Vantage x64
3DMark Vantage CPU
HD Tach (MB/s)
Valve Particle Test (fps)
Quake 4 (fps)
UE Mem Copy (MB/s)
UE Mem Latency (ns)
Sisoft Sandra Bandwidth (GB/s)
Best scores are bolded. Our test bed consists of a Core i7-965 Extreme Edition CPU, 6GB of Corsair DDR3/1600, an EVGA GeForce 280 GTX videocard, a PC Power and Cooling TurboCool 1200 power supply, a WD Raptor 150GB drive, and Vista Home Premium 64-bit. HD Tach scores were achieved using an Intel X25-M SSD.