ASUS Sabertooth X58 ReviewRHKCommander959 - October 17, 2010
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After successfully installing the motherboard, users will need to install the operating system and drivers. They may also want some of the nifty motherboard specific programs that are usually added to the driver disk. ASUS has made a simple to use auto-run installation program to aid users when they look to install the drivers and programs. This program separates everything into tabs at the top starting with Drivers, then Utilities, Make Disk (for making RAID driver disks), Manuals and Contact (to get a hold of ASUS). To the right are three icons: MB, a disk and a pencil and paper. Clicking on MB opens a webpage that the program generates with information about the motherboard, processor and memory installed or left out of all six slots. The disk image loads a window showing the disk contents so that the contents could be sifted through. Clicking the paper icon loads a notepad document listing all of the files included on the disk and what they are for. The first tab (Drivers) has Norton Internet Security 2010. ASUS included this on the drivers so that users would be more likely to use it for their own protection although, it's only a 90-day subscription. Above the group of drivers is a button called ASUS InstALL which can be used on the drivers or utilities page to express install the applications. The drivers are the Intel Chipset, Realtek Audio, Marvell 9128 AHCI, JMicron JMB36X Controller, Realtek RTL8110SC LAN and NEC USB 3.0 drivers.
The second tab called Utilities is where the rest of the add-on applications can be found. The applications are as follows: Marvell MRU Utility, ASUS Update for BIOS updates, ASUS Fan Xpert for ultimate fan control while in the operating system, ASUS PC Probe II for statistics and diagnostic information, ASUS AI Charger for charging cell phones and other USB gadgets, Intel Extreme Tuning Utility with a plethora of options similar to those in the BIOS and Adobe Reader 9 for the manuals later on. ASUS InstALL makes a return here to make it easy to pick and choose which applications to express install. The Make Disk tab has options for both the Intel and Marvell SATA RAID drivers, the Intel ICH10 provides six SATA 3.0 Gb/s ports while Marvell provides the two SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports. The Manual tab has five different available manuals to peruse. Two are provided directly by ASUS while the Realtek HD Audio, Intel Matrix Storage Manager and Norton NIS 2010 guides are each provided by their respective companies. These are PDF files so the Adobe Reader 9.0 would come in handy for looking at these manuals. The last tab shows contact information including phone numbers, website address and e-mail.
The ASUS InstALL system is simple to use, clicking either the one for the drivers or utilities brings up a small window asking how users want to install the files: install all; custom choose which ones; or motherboard drivers/programs only. Next comes the actual installation interface with check boxes to include or skip certain features, the status, available version, current version and whether a reboot is required or not to use the program is shown to the side. Clicking "Go" begins the installation process.
The Make Disk programs for Intel and Marvell look the same, each has a 32bit and 64bit option and only require a destination to complete their objectives. This can come in handy when looking to run RAID configurations.
ASUS Update allows the BIOS to be updated with files from the internet or from the computer. The current BIOS can also be saved and BIOS information can be viewed. This method seems a lot more convenient than the older cumbersome or clunky methods of flashing the BIOS with commands, floppy disks and so forth.
ASUS Fan Xpert is a small but handy program that allows users to choose how they want certain fans to run using either predefined settings or making their own custom settings to target temperature or noise qualities. The profiles are disable, standard, silent, turbo, intelligent and user defined variables. Users can define their own speed to temperature curves to better target lower sounding fans or lower operating temperatures for either the CPU or Chassis fans. Clicking calibrate will test the fan at different speeds to see what RPM range the fan operates in at certain speed percentages.
ASUS PC Probe II can display temperatures, voltages, fan RPMs and many other diagnostic details. The windows can be clumped together or separated by clicking a magnet icon near them. The main body can be minimized and has options to keep the information on top of all the other windows, what scheme to use for the diagnostic windows: top; left; right; and bottom and other program options. Going to Config opens a pane to name the sensors, enable them and set their thresholds. The preference tab can change the temperature scale, alter alarm types and volume and change the sensor polling interval between 1 to120 seconds.
The Intel Extreme Tuning Utility takes the place of the TurboV application used on other ASUS motherboards. This program lists the system information in high detail while displaying CPU and memory usage, cores in use and frequency. Users can choose between auto and manual tuning although in good hands the best performance can be achieved with manual tuning while novices may choose auto. The settings can be seen all clumped together or viewed in four different pages. All of the settings remain the same and are just separated. The processor can be overclocked using BCLK frequency and CPU multipliers. SpeedStep and Turbo Boost can be enabled or disabled as well. The main memory timing settings are adjustable with the XMS settings displayed above. The memory and Uncore multipliers can also be adjusted, quite handy when pushing the BCLK higher for processor overclocking on non-Extreme Edition processors. A ton of voltage options are also available for the CPU, memory and motherboard components such as the ICH and IOH (these can be likened to the olden days of north/south bridges). The two Bus options are PCIe bus speed and Intel QuickPath Interconnect multiplier. Some find minimal gains on video cards with a higher PCIe frequency but this is usually left best at stock 100 MHz since not all systems run stable with an increase and often show little to no gains. The application also has its own built-in CPU and Memory stress tests to aid in finding how stable and hot the system can run under load. Settings are displayed to the right while load is displayed at the bottom. The application can test until the user manually stops the testing. There are also slots for the days, hours and minutes the test can be run. Settings can be saved as profiles in the last tab. The values can be viewed on prior entries. The prior entries also can be renamed or deleted and the date of last modification is shown next to each. This application could be very useful and contains virtually all the tuning settings of the BIOS!
With all those drivers and programs set up, time to take a look at the BIOS used to run the board!