EVGA X58 3X SLI Motherboard
While we've spent a bunch of time lately reviewing ASRock boards, we've recently got a bunch of Core i7 stuff piling up on the review bench as well. Our first official Nehalem supporting motherboard is the EVGA X58 SLI (132-BL-E758-A1). This board is not cheap by any means, but it does offer a lot of features, overclocking support, support for three graphics cards and more. While EVGA markets this as a "3X SLI" motherboard, the truth is that it can handle three AMD cards as well for some CrossfireX loving. EVGA hasn't included any Crossfire bridges though - only SLI bridges. Keep on reading as we take this board for a spin and see how it holds up.
The EVGA X58 comes in a large box with a ton of goodies inside. Included in the box is the standard Rear I/O shield, manual, quick install guide, driver CD and Molex to SATA "Y" adapters. Also in the box are a big bundle of SATA cables, a rounded IDE cable, rear firewire bracket, rear USB bracket and even a rear 9-pin serial bracket. EVGA has also included the necessary triple-SLI bridge as well as a regular SLI bridge. As previously mentioned, they have skimped on the Crossfire bridges even though the board can support CrossfireX just as easily as SLI. The big thing is that EVGA doesn't market AMD/ATI cards so they are bragging about the cards they support.
First Look at the Board:
Even though X58 motherboards have been out for a while, this is the first X58 board that I've got to spend some quality time with. This is EVGA's first X58 board so hopefully they've done enough research to get things right and there isn't any major issues with the layout.
Like every other X58 board I've seen, it comes with six DDR3 slots that can handle up to 12GB of DDR3 memory running in Triple-Channel mode. There are a total of three PCIe 16x slots on board that can run at 16/8/8 in triple SLI mode or 16/16/8 in dual SLI mode. The crazy thing is that there is a total of 9 channels of SATA on-board thanks to some J-Micron controllers in addition to the Intel support SATA. Also on-board are power and resent buttons that include power and HDD activity LEDs. This makes the board perfect as a test-bench as you don't need to jump the power and reset switches in order to operate the board. Also on-board is a CMOS reset button. There is also a CMOS reset button located on the rear I/O.
The main 24-pin power connector is located along the right side of the motherboard - out of the way for the most part. This helps for cable management - especially on cases with bottom-mounted PSUs. The cooling solution is pretty decent on this board as there southbridge and northbridge chipsets are connected by a low-profile heatpipe. The main cooling takes place on the northbridge with a tall actively cooled heatsink. The fan is not too loud but it is audible over other system fans including the CoolIT Domino we used for testing. There are five available fan headers on this board and this give flexibility for cooling solutions and many systems will be able to plug in all of the fans and control them through SMARTFan options in the BIOS.
The SATA connectors are all located at the bottom corner of the board and remain out of the way for long graphics cards thanks to the 90° angle of the main SATA block. At the very bottom edge of the board are two more SATA connectors that run off the J-Micron controller. There is also an E-SATA connector on the rear I/O as well as one more SATA connector located just above the top PCIe slot. USB and Firewire headers are located in pretty obvious places, and they shouldn't interfere with large graphics cards - although you'll want to connect these cables before you drop in three GTX 285 cards.
On the next page we'll take a closer look at the board before we take a look at the specs and features.