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.
Asus’s P6T Deluxe isn’t the most over-the-top Core i7 board we’ve tested, but it certainly has a leg up on Intel’s bare-bones DX58SO. For one thing, it finally brings us graphics reunification by supporting both two-card SLI and CrossFire X configurations.
And instead of the gimpy four-slot DIMM setup of Intel’s DX58SO, the P6T Deluxe features six DDR3 DIMM slots. The board, of course, supports all Core i7 CPUs. Since Intel is the sole chipset provider for X58 and the memory controller is in the CPU itself, most performance differences will be the result of BIOS tweaks each manufacturer implements. We found Asus’s BIOS to be far friendlier than the Intel board’s, which at first glance seems designed for engineers. Truth be told, though, the Asus BIOS can be just as daunting if you tread into the Advanced section.