Asus P6X58D Premium Review

Geekspeak411 - 2010-02-05 03:28:40 in Motherboards
Category: Motherboards
Reviewed by: Geekspeak411   
Reviewed on: March 17, 2010
Price: $309

Introduction:

Following right on the toes of the LGA 1156 boards OCC just reviewed from Asus, the P7P55D Premium and the P7P55D-E Pro, we now take a look at what seems to be yet another powerful contender from Asus on the socket 1366 front; the P6X58D Premium. This board bundles powerhouse features with proven hardware to create one of the most compelling boards for the price available. Some notable enthusiast-oriented features are the excellent Xtreme phase power system, the gigantic heatpipe-connected cooling, and the TurboV chip included standard.

The major feature here is one of the first TRUE integrations of both USB 3.0 technology and SATA Gb/s ports all based on the X58 chipset. What does that mean? It means that any device integrating the technology has just opened up an entire portal of bandwidth. USB 3.0 shatters even the old SATA speeds, clocking in at 4.8 Gb/s! Not to be outdone, of course, the new SATA standard has been raised to 6 GB/s speeds, properly accommodating the new breakneck SSD speeds. Sure, other boards have been released that have these ports as well, but that utilized an additional chip to do so, which equates to more latency. Whether or not we'll see an increase in performance using current-gen hardware remains to be seen, but with a full feature set accompanying this board, I think that we'll have a strong competitor either way. Without further ado, the Asus P6X58D Premium!

Closer Look:

The design of the P6X58D Premium's packaging unabashedly touts this board's true USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gb/s support. The design team did an outstanding job on the packaging overall, going with a rich blue base and white text. The front of the box flips up to reveal all the special features this board brings to the table, including its enthusiast design orientation, which I will go into detail on later. On the back, you have three distinct sections; one half is dominated by text, in multiple languages, saying that this board supports true USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gb/s, while the other half is divided in two, with a picture of the board in the top right corner and a huge area for various spec icons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you open up the box, the P6X58D Premium is front and center, protected by a durable plastic cover and enveloped by an anti-static bag. Once the motherboard and its packaging is removed, you come upon the accessories box, which is well stocked and secured.

 

 

Okay, the packaging looks good, so let's see how the accessory bundle looks!

Closer Look:

As expected, the P6X58D Premium comes with a premium bundle. Everything you need to get up and running with this board is included, and then some. First time builders will really appreciate the inclusions, and veteran builders will store the extras approvingly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am personally a huge fan of Asus' I/O shields. What sets them apart is the very finished and professional product that each customer ends up with. There are no screwy tabs to deal with here, no sharp edges, and on this shield, there is a high quality label on the external side of the shield, making the identity of each port that much easier to read. On the internal side, we find yet another quality feature in the form of EMI insulation, keeping everything outside out, and everything inside in. This is huge piece of mind considering the board-shorting potential offered in its absence.

 

 

To accompany its gauntlet of SATA expandability, the P6X58D Premium includes 3.0Gb/s and 6.0Gb/s cables. The cables come in the form of standard straight heads, as well as 90 degree heads for superior flexibility. Also included is a back panel bracket, expanding your options with two USB 2.0 ports, and an eSATA port.

 

 

I love ASUS' implementation of their Q-Connectors. They are cheap, elegant, and very user friendly. Remember those little scrapes and hand cramps you got from trying to wedge all the stupid front panel connectors to the motherboard headers? Keep that as a distant memory! With Q-Connectors, each pin is labeled, so no manual is necessary, and you can simply attach the cables outside of the case and slip the Q-Connector on with everything attached in one fell swoop. For the gamers out there, ASUS gives you both a standard SLI cable, as well as a Tri-SLI adapter to connect your system. Keep in mind that this board is Crossfire ready as well, but the Crossfire link cables are generally shipped with the cards.

 

 

As usual, ASUS pleases with its accessory bundle. Will the board itself follow suit?

Closer Look:

The P6X58D Premium is equipped with an Intel LGA 1366 socket manufactured by Lotes. It, of course, interfaces with an X58 chipset, as seen in the name. The board is covered in fairly beefy heatsinks that should perform well with adequate airflow, even under overclocking pressure. All of the board’s heatsinks are connected via heatpipe with the socket, and the heatsinks have backplates installed for additional cooling and support under the Stack Cool 3+ branding. The P6X58D Premium features a 16+2 phase power design made up of 100% Japanese-made solid capacitors, which should provide more stability and performance potential while overclocking. Overall, the board takes on a very pleasing blue-hued paint job that will feel right at home in any case, all the way from entry level to enthusiast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The I/O panel has all the connectivity you would expect on a board of this stature. Four USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, an IEEE 1394 port (a notable inclusion), dual PS/2 ports for legacy keyboards and mice, as well as all the sound outputs you need; six 3.5mm stereo ports, a coaxial port, and an optical port. In between the PS/2 ports and the USB 3.0 ports is the Clear CMOS button; a must have on any board. Down below, there is quite the complement of expansion ports to boot. Going in order, we have the following: a PCIe 1x slot, a PCIe 16x slot, a PCI slot, a second PCIe 16x slot, a second PCI slot, and finally, a third PCIe 16x slot, giving full Tri-SLI support for benchmark crushers. All the boxes are checked here, and things are shaping up like we have a heavy-hitter on our hands.

 

 

As I stated before, the P6X58D Premium touts an Express Gate SSD, allowing it to boot into its own Linux Distro within seconds of powering on. This allows you to browse the web, check email, and play online games, among other functions. The chip that lets all of this happen is wedged between the second PCI and PCIe slots.

 

As with most motherboards, the bottom strip of the board has a plethora of additional connectivity that include headers for front panel audio, direct CD audio, an additional IEEE 1394 port, four additional USB 2.0 ports (bringing the total count to eight 2.0 ports, and two 3.0 ports), two SATA ports, the standard front panel connections, and built-in power and reset buttons, which are really nice to have. The onboard buttons allow you to run a bench setup without having to connect the front panel headers to power the rig up. From here, you can see the TurboV chip wedged in next to the battery - more on that later.

 

 

 

The right edge of the board contains more goodies in the form of eight SATA connections - four 90 degree SATA 3.0Gb/s ports, two straight SATA 3.0Gb/s, and two SATA 6.0Gb/s ports in white. The board is fully RAID compatible, which puts some very exciting 6.0Gb/s SSD configurations in mind. Moving up, there’s a 24-pin ATX power connector, both a 3-pin, and a 4-pin fan header, as well as the MemOK button. A notable exclusion, however, is an IDE port; there is none to be found here, rendering your IDE disk drives and HDDs useless. The MemOK feature is a pretty cool feature in itself; to reduce memory incompatibility, all you have to do is press the button and let the motherboard try out different memory settings in an effort to boot. Once it finishes and sets correct and compatible settings, the system will boot up just like normal; no scary BIOS changes necessary! Finally, you can see the six RAM slots, supporting up to 24GB of DDR3 2000MHz RAM.

 

 

 

The socket area is well distributed, staying low and out of the way around the socket. As I mentioned before, it is a Lotes LGA 1366 socket, supporting not only the current i7 processors, but also the incoming ‘Gulftown’ hexacore processors. You will have no issues mounting coolers here. The MOSFET, PCH, and VRM areas are all covered by large, heatpipe-connected heatsinks holding the Xtreme Phase branding. Asus' Xtreme design puts this board above competitors in a few different manners; the additional power phases allow for higher overclocks, the big heatsinks keep everything cool under pressure, and the extra chips that Asus includes, such as the MemOK! chip, either increase compatibility or performance, or both! This makes it a lot easier to recommend to potential buyers who otherwise could have been left cold by a bad experince. This implementation allows the market segment to be broadened and for designers to increase budgets on future components.

 

 

Looks Good! On to the software.

Closer Look:

When you are ready to install the software, ASUS has you covered. Just insert the included disk into your SATA optical drive, or head over to its support site and download all the software and drivers you need for this board. If you can use the disk, your life will be a lot easier. One feature that ASUS has had for quite a while is their InstALL feature. All you have to do is run the disk’s GUI, click the button, and select what you want to install; the software takes care of the rest, restarting and installing to your system as necessary!

The GUI is split into tabs; Drivers, Utilities, Make Disk, Manual, Video, and Contact.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nothing new, EPU-6 is a program included with pretty much every ASUS board out there. This program allows you to control the efficiency of your computing and lets you go green when not doing anything too computer intensive. Unfortunately, you have to disable the program to overclock, so it doesn't quite fit in here at OCC. Turbo V is a basic program from ASUS, allowing people the opportunity to get their feet wet overclocking from within Windows. Although not for heavy overclockers, it still offers a pretty GUI and one of the better solutions I've seen offering overclocks outside of the BIOS.

 

ASUS Update is a program that can be used to automatically update drivers and the utilities on your system. BIOS updates can be downloaded and flashed in Windows. PC Probe is a tool that you can use to monitor voltages and temperatures that are easily configured for your tastes. The only downside is that there are three optional sensor headers that can be used on the board, but there were no sensors to attach them to in the bundle, whereas in the past the sensors were included. My Logo is a program you can use to customize your own boot screen. AI Suite is still included, but much of the functionality is linked to other programs.

 

 

 

One of the cool features that is being more widely implemented is the Express Gate SSD. This little chip allows for extremely quick boots, bypassing Windows into a Linux Distro that lets you look at and upload photos, browse the web, make Skype calls, Instant Message, and play online games. One issue I noted with the Distro is the lack of WiFi support; you'll have to be wired in to go online here. Overall, this is a big potential selling area.

 

 

 

 

On to the heart and soul of every enthusiast's motherboard, the BIOS.

Closer Look:

The BIOS is the heart of any motherboard in the eyes of a true enthusiast. Stored on a 16MB Flash ROM chip, this American Megatrends BIOS does not disappoint. To keep things organized, it is split into multiple sections, with the overclocking settings on the second tab, dubbed AI Tweaker, which I will go into further detail on the next page.

Main:

When you first go into the BIOS, you will open to the Main tab. Here you will find controls to adjust the system time, date, and language. You will also be able to see and tweak all the connected SATA connections here. You can change things such as SMART monitoring and storage modes. You can also Write Protect certain drives and view basic system information from this tab.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ai Tweaker:

Here is where you go to start messing with clock speeds and voltages. There is so much, in fact, that I am going to only give a brief glimpse of the section here and use the entire next page to go into detail about what this section looks like.

 

 

Advanced:

Moving on to the Advanced tab brings you to five sub-headers; CPU configuration, Chipset, Onboard Devices Configuration, USB Configuration, and PCIPnP controls. The CPU config link takes you to a page which allows you to adjust all of your CPU's features, which I will cover on the next page. Chipset settings include both Northbridge and VT-d settings. Onboard Device settings, lets you customize all the P6X58D Premium's peripheral goodies, which extends to the USB menu pertaining to all things USB. Finally, you've got the toggle for whether or not your Operating System is Plug and Play compatible.

 

 

 

 

Power:

The Power tab covers just that; power. Here you can monitor voltages, adjust fan speeds, and toggle suspend modes available to the OS.

 

 

Boot:

Here you can customize just how your system starts up. You can set primary boot devices, switch HDDs, and toggle the full screen logo. You may also change security settings.

 

 

 

Tools:

Under the Tools tab, you can control all the extra features that Asus includes with the board. You can toggle the Express Gate SSD from booting, which houses the Linux distro on it; quite useful in a pinch. Also found here is the EZ-Flash software, which allows you to safely and easily mount and flash a new BIOS update, which is usually pretty reliable. You've also got the AI NET options and the OC Profile page, which lets you save eight different profiles to go back to after changing settings.

 

 

Finally, you've got the Exit tab. Here you have all the options available to get out of the BIOS. Needless to say, this is pretty self-explanatory. On to an in-depth view at the AI Tweaker section!


 

Closer Look:

Ai Tweaker:

On this page, I'm going to give you the low-down on all the nitty-gritty features Asus gives you to overclock with. All these features are found within the AI Tweaker tab of the BIOS. Is it up to spec? Let's find out!

When you first go to the tab, the current CPU clock speeds and DRAM frequencies are displayed. Directly below that are the clock speed adjustments. You can choose to either leave the AI Overclock Tuner on Auto, switch into one of the proprietary optimization states, or switch it into Manual for full control. Once you are in Manual, adjustments are present to change the CPU ratio all the way up to your CPU's 'Turbo' state; in the i7 920's case, 21. Next up is the SpeedStep toggle, which, when enabled, throttles your speeds based on your current usage to save power. For benchmark users and gamers, this feature will generally stay off. For everyone else though, the technology has matured and is easy to recommend in everyday use to save power. The Xtreme Phase Power toggle is next, allowing you to set the program controlling the power system to perma-full power, which is almost always enabled when overclocking. Below that are both the bclock and PCIE controls. The bclock can be cranked all the way to 500, which no current processors will even come close to, and the PCIE clock can be set up to 200. As with all other X58 boards, the DRAM clock is based on the bclock, so this list lets you choose which ratio you want to run your memory at. You can set the uncore clock after that and finally the QPI link speed. Separated from the group is the link to the DRAM timings page. Asus out does themselves here by offering so many timing adjustments beyond the standard x,x,x,xx,1N timings, that the entire list takes up two screens!

Back on the main AI Tweaker tab again, at the bottom this time, all the voltage adjustments are shown. Everything needed for system tweaking is availible. To begin, you set the CPU Voltage Control to Manual, then key in whatever voltages you would like to be served. Overall, there are eight primary adjustments available that you can see in the following pictures, on top of six additional DRAM voltage tuning options. Underneath the voltages, at the very bottom of the page, is where the sections for Load-Line Calibration, Differential Amplitude, and Clock Skewing options are found. Generally speaking, these are set once and then left alone until you get into some more extreme overclocking with the fun stuff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Specifications:

CPU
Intel® Socket 1366 Core™ i7 Processor Extreme Edition/Core™ i7 Processor Supports Intel® Turbo Boost Technology
Chipset
Intel® X58 / ICH10R
System Bus
Up to 6400 MT/s
Memory
6 x DIMM, Max. 24 GB, DDR3 2000(O.C.)*/1600/1333/1066 Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory
Triple channel memory architecture
Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
*Hyper DIMM support is subject to the physical characteristics of individual CPUs.
*Refer to www.asus.com or this user manual for the Memory QVL (Qualified Vendors Lidts).
Expansion Slots
3 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (at x16/x8/x8 or x16/x16/x1 mode)
1 x PCIe x1
2 x PCI
Multi-GPU Support
Supports NVIDIA® 3-Way SLI™ Technology*
Supports ATI® Quad-GPU CrossFireX™ Technology
Storage
Intel ICH10R controller
6 x SATA 3.0 Gb/s ports
Intel Matrix Storage Technology Support RAID 0,1,5,10
Marvell® PCIe SATA 6Gb/s controller
- 2 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports
LAN
Dual Gigabit LAN controllers 2*Marvell 88E8056® PCIe Gigabit LAN controller featuring AI NET2
Audio
Realtek® ALC889 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- DTS Surround Sensation UltraPC
- BD audio layer Content Protection
- Supports Jack-Detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-Retasking
- Coaxial / Optical S/PDIF out ports at back I/O
IEEE 1394
VIA® VT6308P controller supports 2 x 1394a port(s) (one at mid-board; one at back panel)
USB
NEC® USB 3.0 controller
- 2 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports (at back panel)
Intel® ICH10R Southbridge
- 8 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports (4 ports at midboard; 4 ports at back panel)
ASUS Unique Features
True USB 3.0 Support
True SATA 6Gb/s Support
ASUS Xtreme Design
ASUS Xtreme Phase
- ASUS 16+2 Phase Power Design
ASUS Exclusive Overclocking Features
- ASUS TurboV
ASUS Exclusive Features
- MemOK!
- ASUS EPU
- Express Gate SSD
ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution
- ASUS Fanless Design: Heat-pipe solution
- ASUS Fanless Design: Stack Cool 3+
- ASUS Fan Xpert
ASUS Crystal Sound
- ASUS Noise Filter
ASUS EZ DIY
- ASUS Q-Design: Q-Slot
- ASUS Q-Shield
- ASUS Q-Connector
- ASUS O.C. Profile
- ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
- ASUS EZ Flash 2
- ASUS MyLogo 2
- Multi-language BIOS
Overclocking Features
Intelligent overclocking tools
- ASUS TurboV
Precision Tweaker 2
- vCore: Adjustable CPU voltage at 0.00625V increment
- vChipset 31-step chipset voltage control
- vCPU PLL: 36-step reference voltage control
- vDRAM Bus: 49-step DRAM voltage control
- vNB-PCIe: 65-step chipset-PCIe voltage control
SFS (Stepless Frequency Selection)
- PCI Express frequency tuning from 100MHz up to 180MHz at 1MHz increment
Overclocking Protection
- ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
Back Panel I/O Ports
1 x IEEE 1394a
2 x LAN(RJ45) port
8 -Channel Audio I/O
1 x PS/2 Keyboard (Purple)
1 x PS/2 mouse port (Green)
1 x Clear CMOS button
1 x Coaxial S/PDIF Output
1 x Optical S/PDIF Output
2 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
4 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
Internal I/O Connectors
2 x USB connectors support additional 4 USB 2.0/1.1 ports
1 x IEEE 1394a connector
1 x CPU Fan connector
1 x Power Fan connector
System Panel (Q-Connector)
2 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s connectors (gray)
6 x SATA 3.0 Gb/s connectors (blue)
3 x Chassis Fan connectors (1 x 4-pin, 2 x 3-pin)
Front panel audio connector
1 x S/PDIF Out Header
CD audio in
24-pin ATX Power connector
8-pin ATX 12V Power connector
1 x MemOK! Button
1 x Power on switch
1 x Reset switch
BIOS
16 Mb Flash ROM , AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI 2.0, WfM 2.0, SM BIOS 2.3, ACPI 2.0a, Multi-language BIOS, ASUS EZ Flash 2, ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
Manageability
WfM 2.0,DMI 2.0,WOL by PME,WOR by PME,PXE
Accessories
User's manual
4 x Serial ATA 3.0Gb/s cables
2 x Serial ATA 6.0Gb/s cables
ASUS Q-Shield
2 in 1 Q-connector
1 x Optional Fan for water-cooling or passive-cooling only
1 x ASUS 3-Way SLI bridge connector
1 x ASUS SLI bridge connector
1 x 2-port USB 2.0/ eSATA module
Support Disc
Drivers
Anti-virus software (OEM version)
ASUS Update
ASUS Utilities
Form Factor
ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm )

 

Features:

CPU, Chipset and Graphics features

Future Transfer Technology

Memory Feature


ASUS Xtreme Phase

ASUS Exclusive Overclocking Feature

ASUS Exclusive Features

ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution


ASUS Crystal Sound

ASUS EZ DIY

S/PDIF-out on Back I/O Port

RohS

 


All information courtesy of ASUS @ http://usa.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=wurRaDZ8lo4Ckukj&templete=2

Testing:

Ok, we have a good competitor so far, but looks and gizmos only go so far. I'm ready to put the P6X58D Premium through its paces and see how it performs on a real world scale! Using the OverclockersClub benchmark suite, I will test for all the weaknesses this board might have and put it right up next to all the other boards in its class. Then, I'll overclock as far as the board will support P95 stable and do it again!

 

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Motherboards:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

After only two trips to the BIOS, I had my chip up to its limit, running P95 stable, as I have come to expect from Asus' excellent implementation on its TurboV and MemOK! technologies. When the first attempt failed, the board restarted once at the same settings to try again, then moved back to temporary defaults to boot into the BIOS. Even when the OC fails, the board saves and loads your previous settings for you to tweak directly rather than having you tweak the defaults again. It helps keep a control on the settings without having to fill a notebook with previous settings. I didn't ever have to use the Clear CMOS botton on the I/O panel, but it simply reset the board the same way it resets automatically, albeit via button press. All the overclocked benchmarks will be run at 3.99GHz, which should provide a nice boost in frame rates. All the board needed was three slight voltage tweaks to run the overclock, it was a breeze!

 

Benchmarks:

  1. Apophysis
  2. WinRAR
  3. PCMark Vantage Professional
  4. Sandra XII
  5. ScienceMark 2.02
  6. Cinebench 10
  7. HD Tune 2.55
  1. Far Cry 2
  2. Crysis Warhead
  3. BioShock
  4. Call of Duty: World At War
  5. Dead Space 
  6. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II
  7. Left 4 Dead
  8. 3DMark 06 Professional
  9. 3DMark Vantage

Testing:

The first part of our testing regimen will be the system specific benchmarks.

 

Let's get started with Apophysis. This program is used primarily to render and generate fractal flame images. We will run this benchmark with the following settings:

 

The measurement used is time to render, in minutes, to complete.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower is Better

 

WinRAR is a tool to archive and compress large files to a manageable size. We will use 10MB, 100MB and 500MB files and test the time needed to compress these files. Time will be measured in seconds.

 

ZIP:

 

 

RAR:

 

 

Everything looks good here; the P6X58D Premium fits right in among the other X58 boards.

Testing:

Office 2007 Excel Big Number Crunch: This test takes a 6.2MB Microsoft Excel speadsheet and performs about 28,000 sets of calculations, representative of commonly used numerical operations in Excel. The measure of this test is how long it takes to refresh the sheet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower Is Better

 

PCMark Vantage x64 is used to measure complete system performance. We will be running a series of tests to gauge performance of each individual CPU to see which CPU, if any, rises above the others.

 

In the Office 2007 Excel Big Number Crunch testing, the P6P58D competed quite well against its LGA 1156 counterparts. Back against the LGA 1366, the board performs right up there with the top of the line boards.

Testing:

SiSoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful. For this benchmark, I will be running a broad spectrum of tests to gauge the performance of key areas of the motherboards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Processor Arithmetic

 

Multi-Core Efficiency

 

Memory Bandwidth

 

Memory Latency

 

Cache and Memory

 

Physical Disks

 

Power Management Efficiency

 

Flexing its muscles, the P6X58D Premium easily keeps up with the heavy hitters on this stage.

Testing:

Sciencemark tests real world performance instead of using synthetic benchmarks. For this test, we ran the benchmark suite and will use the overall score for comparison.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher is Better!

 

Cinebench is useful for testing your system, CPU and OpenGL capabilities using the software program CINEMA 4D. We will be using the default tests for this benchmark.

Higher is Better

 

HD Tune measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers.

Higher is Better

 

Lower is Better

 

The performance of the P6X58D Premium is right where it should be.

Testing:

Far Cry 2:

Featuring a new game engine named Dunia, this game looks to be another one to stress your video card. Built specially for Far Cry 2, this engine allows for real-time effects and damage. This next generation first-person shooter comes to us from Ubisoft, surprisingly - not from Crytek. The game is set in a war-torn region of Africa where there is a non-existent central government and the chaos that surrounds this type of social environment. If you have seen the movie Blood Diamond, you know the setting. Ubisoft puts the main storyline of the game into focus with these statements: "Caught between two rival factions in war-torn Africa, you are sent to take out "The Jackal," a mysterious character who has rekindled the conflict between the warlords, jeopardizing thousands of lives. In order to fulfill your mission you will have to play the factions against each other, identify and exploit their weaknesses, and neutralize their superior numbers and firepower with surprise, subversion, cunning and, of course, brute force." In this Far Cry game, you don't have the beautiful water, but instead the beauty and harshness of the African continent to contend with. Most games give you a set area that can be played through, while Ubisoft has given the gamer the equivalent of 50km2 of the vast African continent to explore while in pursuit of your goals. The settings used are just a few steps below the maximum in-game settings and offer a good blend of performance vs. visual quality.

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At everything other than 1280x1024, the benchmark is pretty graphics limited. The overclock still adds a few frames to the count though.

Testing:

Crysis Warhead is a standalone expansion pack situated in time with the storyline of the original Crysis. As Sergeant "Psycho" Sykes, you have a secret mission to accomplish on the far side of the island. Along the way there are EMP blasts and Aliens to contend with, as you hunt down the KPA chief. This game uses an enhanced version of the CryEngine 2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even at the lowest resolution, the benchmark is graphics limited - nothing to see here.

Testing:

BioShock is one of the creepier games you can play. The building of a perfect Utopian society undersea gone horribly wrong. Its inhabitants driven mad with the introduction of tonics and genetic modifications. Now Rapture is just a shadow of its former glory with little girls looting the dead of what little they have left while being shadowed by guardians known as "Big Daddys". It is a demanding game that will make your hardware scream for mercy. This first-person shooter allows for an infinite number of weapons and modifications to provide a unique experience each time it is played. The environment, as well as the storyline, will wrap you up for hours on end.

 

Video Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, we are very similar across the board.

Testing:

Activision's Call of Duty: World at War goes right back to the bread and butter of the franchise - WWII FPS action. In this rendition, you start off in the South Pacific and move through a series of missions that flip back and forth between the Russian front and the island hopping advance toward the Imperial Japanese homeland. Included is a mission on Peliliu Island, arguably one of the more difficult and costly battles in the Pacific theater. The gameplay in the single player mode is rather short, but the game makes up for this shortcoming in online gameplay. If you thought COD4 looked nice, this game is amazing with the graphics maxed out playing at a large resolution. This game just may be my reason to move to a 30-inch monitor. I will use Fraps to measure a section of gameplay in the Semper Fi map on Makin Island to compare performance of these video cards.

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The deadlock continues with the Rampage II Extreme near the top of the pack.

Testing:

In Dead Space, as part of the crew of the USG Kellion you are headed on a repair mission to repair a ship in distress. Things go from bad to worse, starting with the crash landing of the seemingly silent and "dead" ship, the USG Ishimuru. Offering a non-traditional, over-the-shoulder viewing angle, the game gets right into the action as soon as the ventilation systems are activated. From there things get worse with the appearance of the Necromorphs. Survival now becomes a primary concern for the primary character Isaac Clarke. Survive and you may find the loved one that was aboard the Ishimuru.

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally we see some deviation - the P6X58D Premium competes quite well, especially after the overclock.

Testing:

Fallout 3 takes place after the nuclear holocaust that nearly wipes out civilization and leaves the world an irradiated mess. The vault, or fallout shelter, you are born in is Vault 101, situated in the Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia area. The premise of the game is that the Vault has been sealed for 200 years and now your father has opened the vault and escaped without a trace. The Overseer believes you are involved, so you must escape as well into the wasteland that was once our nation's capital. I find myself looking for landmarks since I am familiar with the streets of Washington DC.

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Another strong showing, sitting right up there with the Republic of Gamers boards.

Testing:

Left 4 Dead is a first-person shooter from Valve that leaves you as part of a group of survivors in a world where an infection has rapidly turned the populace into a zombie horde. Your goal is to make it to a rescue point, all while fighting what seems like overwhelming odds. Along the way there are safe houses where you can replenish your weapons and health. The movie "I Am Legend" comes to mind to set the stage for this game. But unlike the movie, there are four characters and not just a lone gun and his faithful companion. The horde is not at all like the typical slow walking, foot shuffling zombies. These zombies are quick and work with pack mentality. You have but one job; survival!

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Not even an overclock could dent the scores here.

Testing:

3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest begins. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how this setup fares. The settings we will use are listed below.

 

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The overclock sees a very nice boost here, while standard results are, well, standard.

Testing:

Featuring all-new game tests, this benchmark is for use with Vista-based systems. "There are two all-new CPU tests that have been designed around a new 'Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computation.' CPU test two offers support for physics related hardware." There are four preset levels that correspond to specific resolutions. "Entry" is 1024x768 progressing to "Extreme" at 1920x1200. Of course, each preset can be modified to arrange any number of user designed testing. For our testing, I will use the four presets at all default settings.

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The P6X58D Premium stays right up with the Rampage II Extreme in the 3DMark Vantage tests.

Conclusion:

I am very impressed with the Asus P6X58D Premium. This board was able to keep up with the big players on the market while even adding new features and keeping a lower price. With the upsides of the implementation of USB 3.0 and SATA 6.0Gb/s, Asus does a nice job future proofing this board. The overclocking was extremely easy; I was able to get my processor to its max speed with two tries. The heatsinks on all the chips worked quite well and kept everything nice and chilly. I never once had to worry about temperatures thanks to the dedicated implementation of Asus' Xtreme components, allowing higher performance and extended value. On top of that, this board is certified to work with the upcoming i7 hexacore 'Gulftown' processors, leaving your upgrade path unhindered. The only negative I can even see is the fact that this board is only slightly behind the Rampage II Extreme, but that's to be expected considering the class difference. The performance was right on par with the ROG board and with the additional features, the P6X58D is a bargain. But again, these two boards are targeted at different segments.

The board includes a nice accessory bundle and looks very good in its blue paint job. With Tri-SLI capabilities, this board would be an excellent choice of gamers. The value of this board is evident while using it and the Express Gate features just top the cake. However, I would like to see a much larger realization of potential happen on that topic. I am very pleased with the P6X58D Premium because it combines high quality components with high quality engineering and future proofing. As such, I have no hesitation recommending this board to every power user looking to upgrade. The P6X58D is here in all its Xtreme goodness.

 

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