ASUS Sabertooth X58 Review

RHKCommander959 - 2010-09-15 15:17:41 in Motherboards
Category: Motherboards
Reviewed by: RHKCommander959   
Reviewed on: October 17, 2010
Price: $199.99

Introduction:

The Intel x58 chipset has been out for a while now and the market has been well served with motherboard choices carrying this chipset. Currently, designs are shifting towards improving upon the old and becoming more trendy. Basically, they're attempting to offer more than their prior counterparts. Some aim to lower power consumption through more efficient designs while others try to provide improved reliability or deliver lower operating temperatures. Another common ploy is adding SATA 6 Gb/s and USB 3.0 to make the boards more future proof. Promises of overclocking capabilities, longer life spans and more efficient operation are all strong reasons to choose a product. With that in mind, we are here to announce that ASUS has returned with their TUF line to bring forth the Sabertooth X58! The Sabertooth claims to do all of these and more with stringent quality testing and a five-year warranty. The color scheme looks similar to army camouflage colors. The green heat sinks are all coated in some sort of ceramic coating that appears related to the automobile industry and which supposedly helps temperatures (although the automotive coat usually holds in heat as in high temperature exhaust systems). The TUF line seems to have a strong following and this board looks good next to the Noctua fans and heat sink!

 

Closer Look:

The box in which the ASUS Sabertooth arrived has a dark blackish background that looks similar to brushed aluminum plate. The TUF (The Ultimate Force) badge hangs at the top left and also exposes an image to the right. The top right shows three Intel badges proclaiming it's six core 32nm CPU ready and offers X58 chipset and Core i7 compatibility. In bold bright yellow, the words Sabertooth X58 sit to the lower left portion with the word "motherboard" in a smaller white font. At the very bottom is another metallic design and the ASUS company logo. Flipping over to the back shows the same TUF and motherboard badges along with the ASUS logo at the bottom with contact information. The middle is dedicated to showing the primary specifications and features such as CeraMIX heat sink coating technology, TUF components and E.S.P. (Efficient Switching Power Design). Immediately below all of this are thirteen different languages briefly explaining the USB 3.0, SATA 6 Gb/s, and TUF Components.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The front cover is also a flap. Opening the flap shows several of the features in-depth with some pictures and icons. The first item is the CeraMix heat sink coating that is supposed to conduct heat from the system and keep the metal from oxidizing. The surface area has been increased by the rough coating allowing more room for heat transmission into the surrounding air (in theory). Next is E.S.P, (Efficient Switching Power Design). Electrical and heat efficiency are increased for the CPU, memory and chipset. Third, is the TUF Components (chokes, capacitors and MOSFETS) for great performance even in harsh conditions. Most of the electronics are shock, humidity and heat resistant (more so than standard components would be). Two SATA ports on the motherboard support SATA 6.0 Gb/s and RAID. The next side has another three features starting with USB 3.0 support which is backwards compatible with prior generations of USB devices. When using high-end memory or odd configurations, not all systems will boot happily. With the Sabertooth, a MemOK! Button has been added that forces the motherboard to load fail-safe memory settings which should allow the system to boot. This is a handy feature for anyone who has run into that problem and had to scrounge around for more memory just to get into the BIOS. Lastly, the ASUS Q-Design feature, built up from the Q-LED, Q-Slot, Q-Connector and Q-Shield devices make DIY assembly and diagnosis simpler. A few more features are shown with pictures at the bottom.

 

 

The side of the motherboard box continues the box art trend, nothing new is introduced but at least it isn’t empty. Opening the box, users are greeted by the accessories. SATA cables, back panel and Q-Connectors which make up the hardware accessories along with a user guide, five-year warranty notice booklet, certificate of reliability and case badge with the driver disk.

 

 

Underneath a layer of cardboard and accessories is the motherboard protected by a clear anti-static bag. This bag allows for a decent sneak peek at what the motherboard looks like and how it is configured. The earth tones remind me of military camouflage and although the color scheme isn’t too common (brown, green, and black), I think it would look good next to Noctua fans or other similarly colored products. The I/O plate has foam padding with a mesh backing to give it a tight seal with the motherboard I/O panel.

 

 

Time to get a closer look at those accessories!

Closer Look:

Two SATA cables come with a 90° connector on them for plugging into tight spaces and also to aid in wire management where clean wiring is desired. Another two standard SATA cables are also included, two are solid black and two are black with white ends and all have latches to keep them from accidentally getting unplugged. A single SLI cable is included to run two NVIDIA cards together in SLI. Two Q-Connectors are included, one for USB (Although it is uncommon, not all USB drives are wired for standard USB pin-outs ) and the other for the front panel buttons and LED indicators which are found on most cases. The I/O plate has a black sticker with device logos and names to help users easily identify which port does what. The user manual looks similar to the box that it came in. Tucked away inside of the manual is the driver disk along with a case badge to proudly display that the motherboard inside is an ASUS! Another booklet for the warranty notice is included as well as a solid piece of paper listing the testing performed on the TUF Components.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four SATA cables are included with the motherboard. One set is solid black while the other is black with some white on the ends. Each pair has a single 90° end on them to make it easier to reach either the drive or motherboard, while the other has the standard end. Editor's Note: Don't do what I did and install the 90° end on a hard drive in a cage - pulling out the hard drive caused the back end of the bend to catch the drive cage and bent the fingers on the HD PCB, luckily it didn't crack.  All of the cables use the latching system to ensure that the cords don’t accidentally come loose. The ASUS Q-Connectors make hooking up loose wires much easier, the gray block can be wired for the case LEDs and power/reset buttons and then installed. Since it only fits one way, it is a breeze to install. This saves users from having to look at the motherboard or the manual to find out where each plug goes and then trying to get them into the right pins. A keyed USB Q-Connector is also included in the event that a USB device doesn’t already have the standard nine-pinned connection. For hooking up video cards, a single SLI bridge is thrown in although Quad-SLI is supposedly supported even though there are only dual x16 lanes and a x16 length-x4 electrical lane, and a pair of x1 slots meaning, triple card configurations are much more plausible.

 

 

The I/O plate has a black sticker with white writing and icons to designate what each port is for - making it much more user friendly. The back side has a padded mesh cover to give it a tighter seal with the motherboard.

 

 

With everything unpacked, it is time to closely examine the Sabertooth X58!

Closer Look:

The ASUS Sabertooth X58 has three x16 length slots ready for triple-card configurations in either NVIDIA SLI or AMD CrossFireX. A fourth card can be added to the lower of the x1 slots although the lesser bandwidth would hurt performance. One of the x16 length slots is only wired for x4 speeds. These PCI Express slots are setup this way because the X58 design only provides 40 PCIe lanes to work with, 36 from the X58 chipset and another 4 from the southbridge. With this motherboard, 32 go to the dual x16 slots, four to the third x16-length slot (wired for x4) and two more for the x1 slots. Thus adding up to the 38 lanes available for the PCIe slots. Some manufacturers add NVIDIA NF200 chips to add extra lanes for more x16 slots, but most users don't usually need that many lanes and since this board can support three graphics cards easily - most consumers should be satiated.

The layout of the motherboard is standard for the i7 X58 motherboards on the market, although there are some key improvements such as around the CPU socket area. As only three capacitors come near the CPU socket, extreme cooling users will appreciate this aspect a lot as it is much harder to insulate a CPU socket from condensation for sub-ambient cooling when capacitors butt up against the socket. The power circuitry and northbridge have decent cooling judging by the height of the heat sinks. The southbridge also has a large flat heat sink although it hardly has any fins. Testing will reveal how well the CeraMIX coating performs. The primary color scheme consists of two tones of brown, two tones of green and since the colors don't match perfectly between heat sinks, black. The only backplate on the motherboard is the standard one that holds the CPU socket retention mechanism. The CPU cooling device is held in by spring-loaded screws and push-pins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The CPU socket has very little around it. With the retention mechanism removed, there is plenty of room for insulation against condensation for users attempting sub-ambient cooling such as phase change, dry ice, liquid nitrogen, or other extreme cooling devices. Combined with the TUF Components that are suited to harsher conditions, this board could probably see some high overclocks. The 8-pin power connection sits between the top heat sink and PS/2 port on the I/O panel. The memory slots use an uncommon method for holding the memory. Users open the top clamps only as the bottom clamps don't actually move. The memory is then slid into the slotted clamps and pivoted towards the clamps that can be latched until they are locked into place. Immediately to the right of the memory slots is the MemOK! Button and diagnostic DRAM_LED light to help diagnose problems and get the motherboard working with virtually any memory.

 

 

The I/O panel has eight different USB options between NEC USB 3.0 and Intel 2.0, eSATA, powered eSATA provided by JMicron's JMB362 chip, a single VIA IEEE 1394 FireWire port, a combination PS/2 keyboard/mouse port, a LAN port, SPDIF output and six audio ports. The motherboard comes with eight SATA ports, six of which are SATA 3 Gb/s ports provided by the ICH10 southbridge which also provides six USB 2.0 controllers. The other two SATA ports are SATA 6 Gb/s provided by the Marvell 9128 chip located right next to the ports.

 

 

The slot layout is pretty solid although, if the top two x16 slots are used by a double-wide graphics card or similarly large device, the PCI slot would be unusable. This is the perfect setup to be able to run triple video cards with the top slot for a LAN, sound card, or similar device. There is a chassis and a chipset fan header port on each side of the chipset heat sink. The front panel audio pins are at the very bottom corner of the motherboard and could be a hard reach for the wiring in some cases. Two more chassis fan headers are located immediately above the SATA ports.

 

 

The 24-pin main power connection sits next to another fan header at the center of the edge of the motherboard, close to the memory slots. The 8-pin secondary power cable is mounted at the top of the motherboard near the PS/2 port which can be a stretch for computer cases with a bottom mounted power supply. The CPU PWM fan header is located near the 8-pin plug and topmost heat sink.

 

 

In these pictures you can get a good view of the TUF components. These are high quality alloy capacitors, chokes and MOSFETs. The chokes are capable of supporting 40A of current and since they are designed as a single piece, they won't make those annoying high pitched buzzing vibration noises. The CeraMIX heat sink coatings improve heat dissipation due to the increased surface area caused by the uneven surfaces. All four heat sinks are coated in CeraM!X but none of the heat sinks have a back plate.  In this case the motherboard didn't flex so they weren't needed anyway.

 

 

With the motherboard examined, it is time to install it and setup the drivers!

Closer Look:

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!

Closer Look:

The BIOS will be covered over two pages with each group of settings being explained. The American Megatrends, Inc. (AMI) BIOS has been around for a long time. ASUS frequently uses it on their motherboards and usually includes plenty of overclock settings. The splash screen on post is similar to the front of the motherboard box art with four button options to choose from: DEL key for BIOS setup; TAB for showing the BIOS POST message; F8 for the boot menu and Alt+F2 for the EZ Flash 2 program. Once in the BIOS, a blue and gray interface guides users to the settings and changes available therein.

Main:

First up for the BIOS options is the Main settings. Here, the six Intel SATA ports display what is hooked up, the date, time,and BIOS language can be changed here as well. Storage configuration opens a new page to change how SATA storage drives are treated and accessed. The system information page displays the BIOS version and release date, CPU type, default speed and current speed and system memory. To the right of the screen is a help panel that displays how to change settings, what the settings do, how to navigate the settings and which buttons to push to exit, save and exit, or get more general help along with other helpful tidbits. This pane will get much more useful to some in the overclocking section.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ai Tweaker:

Ai Tweaker is where all of the overclock settings are to be found. Settings can be left at auto or changed manually for seasoned users that want more direct control. Power saving options such as SpeedStep can also be toggled along with the TurboMode capability. Users can choose to enable the 21st turbo multiplier for extra clock speed. BCLK is the reference speed that the others are adjusted for. Memory speed and timings are handled at the top with a new page opening for the timings. Using an X.M.P. Memory profile is also possible here. The center area of the Ai Tweaker page is devoted to voltage settings for the CPU, QPI interconnect, motherboard components including the IOH and ICH (colloquially known as the northbridge and southbridge) and lastly memory voltage. Lastly Load-Line Calibration and different skew/spectrum settings can be adjusted for fine tuning a system. The memory page separates the timing into chunks, the first chunk deals with the primary settings, the second half starts with the command rate, and several more settings follow thereafter. More than enough settings for most users looking to tinker with their hardware for some extra performance.

 

 

 

Advanced:

Next is the Advanced page which actually links to five separate pages. The first is CPU Configuration where certain CPU features can be adjusted such as toggling Virtualization technology on or off (better off if not running virtual machines), C1E support, thermal management, Hyper-Threading and a few other settings are also adjustable and some cores can be disabled. The sizes of the three levels of CPU cache are displayed along with the minimum and maximum CPU multiplier, CPUID, current multiplier and CPU brand/type are also displayed. The chipset page has options to adjust the on-board audio and front panel output type (AC'97 or HD Audio) as well as enabling or disabling the LAN and IEEE 1394 ports. The JMicron and Marvel add-on settings are also adjustable here. USB settings can be adjusted in the USB Configuration page with changes including enabling or disabling certain USB controllers or changing how they interface.

 

 

 

 

Continue on for the rest of the BIOS!

Closer Look:

With the overclocking options on the prior page, all of these settings are mainly backup, diagnosis and some specialized settings such as boot options.

Power:

First up is the Power options. Different suspend/halt modes can be specified or left on auto. ACPI settings can also be toggled here. APM Configuration has settings for how to handle booting in certain scenarios. APM stands for Advanced Power Management and has settings to possibly boot the computer after power loss, using a modem signal, an alarm, a signal from a PCI or PCIe device, or even a signal from a PS/2 keyboard or mouse. Hardware monitor displays the operating temperatures of the CPU, motherboard and chipset, fan RPMs and the voltages for the CPU and power supply. Q-Fan control can be used to adjust fan settings as well with four different options: three are automated and consist of Standard (moderate fan speed); Silent (low fan speed); and Turbo (high fan speed) modes. Users can also manually set the minimum fan speed, maximum fan speed and upper temperature limit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boot:

The Boot settings page is simple. It has options for the booting process like the option to require a password upon booting, changing boot device priority, changing which hard drive has priority and another page for boot settings that have options including quick booting, showing or hiding the logo splash screen during the start of the booting process, having the Num-Lock button coming on at boot and making it so you have to hit F1 to continue booting when an error has been detected.

 

 

Tools:

The Tools page has a few different useful things. First is the EZ Flash 2 program that makes updating the BIOS simpler and ASUS O.C. Profile where different BIOS configuration/settings can be stored or loaded from the CMOS or a drive. Users can give each profile a name as well. Lastly are the Drive Xpert controls settings for the first two Marvell SATA 6.0Gb/s ports including RAID settings and drive detection.

 

 

 

Exit:

The last page is the Exit page where users can either choose to save or discard changes and/or exit, or to load default settings. Pressing F10 or ESC is the same as coming to this page for those options.

 

Specifications and features time!

Specifications:

CPU
Intel® Socket 1366 Core™ i7 Processor Extreme Edition/Core™ i7 Processor
Support Intel® Turbo Boost Technology
Chipset
Intel® X58 / ICH10R
System Bus
Up to 6400 MT/s with QuickPath Interconnection
Memory
6 x DIMM, Max. 24 GB, DDR3 1866/1800/1600/1333/1066 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. Some hyper DIMMs only support one DIMM per channel. Refer to Memory QVL (Qualified Vendors Lists) for details.
Expansion Slots
2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (dual at x16/x16 mode)
1 x PCIe x16 (at x4 mode)
2 x PCIe x1
1 x PCI
Multi-GPU Support
Supports NVIDIA® Quad-GPU SLI™ Technology
Supports ATI® Quad-GPU CrossFireX™ Technology
Storage
Intel ICH10R controller
6x SATA 3.0 Gb/s ports (black)
Intel Matrix Storage Technology Support RAID 0,1,5,10
Marvell® 9128 PCIe SATA6Gb/s controller
2x SATA 6Gb/s ports (gray)
Supports EZ Backup and SuperSpeed functions
JMicron® JMB362 SATA controller:
1x Power eSATA 3Gb/s port (SATA On-the-Go)
1x eSATA 3Gb/s port (SATA On-the-Go)
LAN
Realtek® 8110SC Gigabit LAN controller featuring AI NET2
Audio
Realtek® ALC892 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
ASUS Noise Filter
Supports 192khz/24bit BD Lossless Sound
Supports Jack-Detection, Multi-Streaming, Front Panel Jack-Retasking
Optical S/PDIF Out port at back I/O
IEEE 1394
VIA® VT6308P controller supports 2 x 1394a port(s) (one at midboard; one at back panel)
USB
NEC® USB 3.0 controller
- 2 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports (blue, at back panel)
Intel® ICH10R Southbridge
- 12 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports (6 ports at midboard, 6 ports at back panel)
ASUS Unique Features
"TUF ENGINE!" Power Design
- 8-phase CPU Power
- 2-phase Memory Power
- 2-phase VTT_CPU Power
- E.S.P. : Efficient Switching Power Design
- TUF Components (Alloy Choke, Cap. & MOSFET; certified by military-standard)
"Ultimate COOL!" Thermal Solutions
- CeraM!X Heatsink Coating Tech.
- ASUS Fan Xpert
"Safe & Stable!" Guardian Angel
- MemOK!
Special Features
Multi-language BIOS
ASUS MyLogo 2
ASUS EZ Flash 2
ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
ASUS Q-Connector
ASUS O.C. Profile
ASUS Q-DIMM
ASUS Q-Slot
ASUS Q-LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, Boot Device LED)
ASUS Q-Shield
True USB 3.0 support
True SATA 6Gb/s RAID support
Back Panel I/O Ports
1 x PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse Combo port
1 x S/PDIF Out (Optical)
1 x IEEE 1394a
1 x LAN(RJ45) port
6 x USB 2.0/1.1
8 -Channel Audio I/O
2 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports (blue)
1 x Power eSATA 3Gb/s port (green)
1 x eSATA 3Gb/s port (red)
Internal I/O Connectors
3 x USB connectors support additional 6 USB 2.0/1.1 ports
1 x IEEE 1394a connector
1 x Power Fan connector
1 x S/PDIF Out connector
Front panel audio connector
COM connector
System Panel (Q-Connector)
2 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors (gray)
6 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (black)
1 x CPU Fan connector (4-pin)
1 x NB Fan connector
3 x Chassis Fan connectors (1 x 4-pin, 2 x 3-pin)
24-pin ATX Power connector
8-pin ATX 12V Power connector
1 x MemOK! button
BIOS
16 Mb Flash ROM , AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.5, ACPI 2.0a, Multi-Language BIOS
Manageability
WfM 2.0,DMI 2.0,WOL by PME,WOR by PME,PXE
Accessories
User's manual
SLI bridge
2 in 1 Q-connector
2 x SATA 6Gb/s cables
2 x SATA 3Gb/s cables
ASUS Q-Shield
Support Disc
Drivers
ASUS PC Probe
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

"Ultimate COOL!" Thermal Solution

"TUF ENGINE!" Power Design

"Safe & Stable!" Guardian Angel

Future Transfer Technology Enjoyment

ASUS Special Features

All information courtesy of ASUS @ http://usa.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=AM2RChl84MZrKh6J&templete=2

Testing:

Testing the ASUS Sabertooth X58 motherboard is done using the traditional Overclockers Club methodology consisting of tests that include real gaming scenarios and scientific/benchmark testing. The games consist of Far Cry 2, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 and Batman Arkham Asylum. The synthetic gaming benchmarks include 3DMark 06 and 3DMark Vantage, while programs like PCMark Vantage test various components to see how well they perform for things like data processing. A complete list of benchmarks is at the bottom of the page. All tests are conducted first with the i7 920 processor clocked at 150 x 20, and then tested again with a high overclock to display the capabilities of the motherboard. The results are then compared to similar motherboards on each following page up to the conclusion.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Boards:

 

 

Overclocking:

The ASUS Sabertooth X58 overclocked very easily to the 150 x 20 settings, and was also easy to get stable running at 200 x 20. If the CPU temperatures weren't so high, the processor speed could have likely gone up further. Although, some minor tweaking was needed to get reliable stability. All threads would run stable but an occasional blue screen of death would sneak its way in until I raised the voltage and adjusted some settings. Getting to those speeds was extremely easy. Nearly amounting to just setting the BCLK/CPU multiplier and system voltages for 4 GHz. To ensure that everything was stable, I made sure to use more than enough voltage to get the system 4 GHz stable. I think with more time to fine tune it, more headroom could have been achieved. The motherboard/chipset temperatures were outstanding with low 40°C to mid 50°C for both during testing. Not bad at all for passive cooling.

 

Maximum Clock Speeds:

Each CPU has been tested for its maximum stable clock speeds using Prime95. To gauge the maximum stability level, each processor had to be able to perform at least a one hour torture test without any errors.

 

 

Benchmarks:

  1. Apophysis
  2. WinRAR
  3. Geekbench
  4. Office 2007 Excel Number Crunch
  5. POV Ray 3.7
  6. Sandra XII
  7. PCMark Vantage
  8. ScienceMark 2.02
  9. Cinebench 10 & 11.5
  10. HD Tune 3.50
  1. Far Cry 2
  2. Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2
  3. Batman Arkham Asylum
  4. 3DMark 06
  5. 3DMark Vantage

Testing:

The first part of our testing 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 100MB and 500MB files to test the time needed to compress these files. Time will be measured in seconds. Additionally, I will use the built-in benchmark as a comparison.

 

ZIP:

Lower is Better

 

RAR:

Lower is Better

 

Geekbench:

 

Apophysis test results are all similar at stock while the Sabertooth board took the lead in the overclocked testing. The WinRAR benchmark doesn't seem to be completely stable although performance was good and Geekbench has the Sabertooth taking the lead again.

Testing:

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower Is Better

 

POV Ray 3.7: This program features a built-in benchmark that renders an image using Ray Tracing. The latest versions offer support for SMP (Symmetric Multiprocessing) enabling the workload to be spread across the cores for a quicker completion.

 

Higher 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.

 

 

The Excel benchmark results are very similar at stock but overclocking brings the ASUS motherboard to the lead, the CPU speed makes the biggest difference. POV Ray paints a similar picture with the benchmark results in comparison to the Excel testing. The PCMark Vantage chart shows similar results between all of the motherboards.

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 functions of the CPUs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Processor Arithmetic

 

 

 

Multi-Core Efficiency

   

   

 

Memory Bandwidth

 

 

 

Memory Latency

 

 

Cache and Memory

 

 

 

Physical Disks

   

   

 

Power Management Efficiency

 

 

The Sandra scores don't vary much although the ASUS Sabertooth does occasionally pull ahead by a small margin.

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 10 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

 

CineBench 11.5 is the latest iteration of this popular benchmark that features a new look to the interface. This test now has a simple GPU and CPU test built in.

 

Higher is Better

 

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

 

 

Higher is Better

 

 

 

Lower is Better

 

Sciencemark motherboard scores are all fairly close to each other and both Cinebench versions have close results as well. The HDTune scores are also similar with only small differences between the boards.

Testing:

Far Cry 2:

Featuring a new game engine named Dunia, this game looks to be another one to stress your video card. Built especially 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 version of the 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 50km squared 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:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Far Cry 2 benchmark results are all within a couple frames of each other, this shows that the different motherboard choices don't particularly affect gaming performance like video cards or CPUs do.

Testing:

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is the latest iteration of the venerable first-person shooter series, Call of Duty. Despite its long, successful pedigree, the game is not without substantial criticism and controversy, especially on the PC. Aside from the extremely short campaign and lack of innovation, the PC version's reception was also marred by its lack of support for user-run dedicated servers, which means no user-created maps, no mods, and no customized game modes. You're also limited to 18-player matches instead of the 64-player matches that were possible in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Despite all this, the game has been well received and the in-house IW 4.0 engine renders the maps in gorgeous detail, making it a perfect candidate for OCC benchmarking. You start off the single player missions playing as Private Allen and jump right into a serious firefight. This is the point where testing will begin. Testing will be done using actual game play with FPS measured by Fraps.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The motherboard scores are again very similar to each other with Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2.

Testing:

Batman: Arkham Asylum is a new game that brings together two bitter foes, The Joker and Batman. The Joker Has taken over Arkham Asylum, Gotham's home for the criminally insane. Your task is to rein the Joker back in and restore order. This game makes use of PhysX technology to create a rich environment for you to ply your trade.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Batman: Arkham Asylum motherboard results are neck and neck with hardly any difference between each of the motherboards.

Testing:

3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest is started. 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.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overclocking the motherboards yielded huge gains in 3DMark 06, the ASUS Sabertooth was able to score past 24K without trouble when overclocked.

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 1024 x 768 progressing to 'Extreme' at 1920 x 1200. 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.

 Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3DMark Vantage scores also climbed from overclocking with performance-tier scores nearly breaking 20K for the Sabertooth!

Conclusion:

The Sabertooth X58 provided stable stock and high speed operation without fault. The design of the motherboard is well laid out and the quality of the components used is high. The CPU socket area is very open and free of clutter which should entice some extreme overclockers into trying the motherboard out and its array of more resilient electronics. The color scheme looks good and is uncommon among the PC community. That can be both good and bad as being unique is always special but it also means that to have perfectly matching components to the motherboard, it may require DIY modding and some intensive searching. But, it can be said that not too many people care about how the insides of a computer look as long as the components are of good quality.

A single LAN port does not detract from the allure of this motherboard as most will never use a second LAN port since most LAN-parties these days use routers/switches rather than daisy-chaining towers together. The USB 3.0 and SATA 6 Gb/s hardware included is definitely a nice touch for future proofing a system as these technologies are just now emerging into the consumer world. Although, time will tell how well the NEC and Marvell chips handle the throughput as the technologies continue to develop. The E.Z. OC Profile and BIOS updating programs are extremely convenient. If the BIOS is reloaded, your settings aren't necessarily lost for good as they can now be stored on the CMOS or a storage device! The days of using a floppy or rigging a flash drive to update the BIOS are no longer necessary for this motherboard. Thanks to the EZ Flash 2 program, you can now install the updated copy off of various storage mediums.

The only two real cons that are readily apparent are the hard to match out-of-the box color scheme. Well, maybe this green look isn't really a con as much as a note since the motherboard looks great. Secondly, the lack of a tri-SLI bridge or long CrossFireX cable limits setup possibilities. Otherwise everything came together and worked perfectly.

A good looking motherboard with a five-year warranty and high quality, rigorously tested components that is capable of high overclocks and coming in at a fair price, what else could you want?!

 

Pros:

Cons: