X58 Motherboard Roundup Review

tacohunter52 - 2009-07-07 22:36:01 in Motherboards
Category: Motherboards
Reviewed by: tacohunter52   
Reviewed on: August 31, 2009

Introduction

So you're finally ready to upgrade from your old Commodore 64, but what are you going to upgrade to? Obviously you're gonna want something powerful to make up for the antique you've been using for the past 26 years. Intel's Core i7 CPUs are the current cream of the crop, but a powerful processor isn't all that makes up a great computer. You'll need to find a motherboard that is worthy of your new beast of a CPU. Sure, you can go all out and spend $600 on the most expensive board you can find, but is it worth it? In this X58 motherboard roundup I'll help you find the best board for your money. If you're looking to get into the overclocking scene, a different type of board might suit you. For this reason, I'll also be looking at which board offers the best overclocking price for performance.

The motherboards will be judged in two different categories, so there will be two different winners. Unless, of course, one board kicks butt in both categories, in which case there will only be one winner. Each of the motherboards in this roundup have been put through OCC's benchmarking suite. However, the scores will be presented in a slightly different manner. For each benchmark there will be two graphs. One of these graphs will feature each motherboard's stock scores, while the second graph will represent the motherboards' overclocked scores. This will allow us to see which board is the best at overclocking, or at least the best at offering a performance boost after an overclock.

Enough talk already, lets find out which boards will be put to the test.

Closer Look:

We obviously cannot compare every X58 board that is currently available. Besides, if we did it would take a really long time for you to read this roundup. Instead, I'll be comparing X58 boards that have been tested here at OCC. Below are the boards that will be fighting for best price per performance. Paired with them are the links to their individual reviews. If any of these boards catch your eye, I must insist that you click the links and read up on them. Knowledge is power!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Asus P6T

 

 

ECS X58B-A

 

 

eVGA X58 3X SLI

 

 

Gigabyte EX58-UD4P

 

 

MSI Eclipse Plus

 

 

MSI X58 Platinum

Let's get to the benchmarks and see what board will beat the competition while going easy on your wallet.

Testing:

 

Testing Setup i7:

 

Comparison Motherboards:

 

Overclocking:

Asus P6T:

Overclocked settings:

The P6T is the lesser featured brother of the P6T Deluxe OC and as such the expectations for how well it will overclock were not really as high as the higher end boards. With the reduction from a 16+2 power design to the 8+2 design on the P6T it did not look good . As it turns out, that thought could not have been further from the truth. What I found was that the P6T has got some game. The 920 that I am using is a retail version and not the ES that I looked at back in November and really was an untested commodity. After checking the stepping against a few overclocking databases it looked like it may well be an average chip. Average chip, lower end board, things did not look good. However, both the 920 and P6T put on a little show and came up big. The maximum baseclock I could achieve with stability was 222MHz, but this was pretty much bench stable. 220 was stable enough to be Prime stable at 220x18, or 3.96GHz, pretty sweet thus far. To get there I needed just 1.38 volts on the CPU, a QPI voltage of 1.39v, IOH of 1.36v, CPU PLL voltage of 1.86 with the memory at 1.62 volts. Not a whole heckuva lot to do to bust out that kind of speed. Of course, 3.9GHz is not enough and I wanted to see if the little 920 was indeed a bona fide 4GHz chip without big volts. To push higher, I dropped the base clock down to 215MHz from 220MHz with a multiplier of 19 to get to 4.1GHz. I was expecting a fight to get there and was surprised at the fact that all it took to get this clock speed stable was an increase in the CPU voltage to 1.395 volts with no other changes to the previous voltage settings. Now the one thing I found that you have to do though is keep air flowing over the X58 chip to keep it cool to maintain stability at the high base clock levels I was playing at. Other than that, nothing really special was needed to push the clock speeds on the P6T. I have got to say that the board delivered the overclocking goods with an untested CPU.

 

 

ECS X58B-A:

 

Overclocked settings:

When overclocking, having a known commodity is helpful when working with a new piece of hardware. The Core i7 920 used in this review is capable of 4.1GHz Prime stable, so what better chip to use than one already capable of a 222 base clock in several other boards? Overclocking the ECS X58B-A started out pretty well with a boot at 200x20 but I could not gain any stability at 200, 195, 190MHz base clock speeds. Every board I have used has been capable of at least a 200MHz base clock. I went back and started from scratch and inched up 5MHz at a time to see just where the cut off point for stability was. I kept the memory divider low to eliminate that as a concern and concentrated strictly on the CPU to see just where the top base clock would be. After playing with the QPI and Vcore voltages I was able to reach 185MHz using a 20x multiplier. One more MHz resulted in Prime 95 failing in less than a minute; 186 = fail in one minute, 185 = 24 hour prime stability. One thing I noticed while trying for 4GHz with the ECS X58B-A was instability of the Vcore. While trying for a higher clock speed I could set the voltages to where they were required to get this chip to perform on other boards; 1.41 on the CPU and 1.4 on the uncore voltage and the voltage droop from the set voltage in BIOS versus the voltage read in Windows were under load were startlingly different. The CPU voltage would droop as low as 1.35 volts, causing the CPU to fail at speeds it has been proven to run at. If anything, I feel that this point alone causes the board to lose tremendous overclocking potential. My final clock speed on the ECS is 3.7GHz reached by running a combination of base clock and multiplier of 185x20. Not bad but not great either as there was 400MHz worth of lost potential left on the table. When you get down to it though, a 1.1GHz overclock is nothing to sneeze at.

 

 :

eVGA X58 3X SLI:

Overclocked settings:

The i7 runs at 2.66GHz and only needs around 1.10v to work at this frequency, a pretty impressive feat. Getting it up to 3GHz was simple enough, all it took was a bump to the base clock from 133 to 150MHz. Then things started to get a bit complicated and required quite a bit of tweaking. Since I am using a processor with a locked multiplier, I started by decreasing it in order to find the highest stable base clock. The highest I could hit with full stability is 215MHz, which required the QPI voltage to be set at 1.55V. The eVGA board had trouble dealing with failed overclocks, it would usually not even get to the BIOS and I had to clear the CMOS every time. The fact that the board takes at least ten seconds from power on to POST is quite annoying as well, especially when you are overclocking.

Now that I knew how high the board could clock and already knowing the limits of the RAM, I set off to find out how high the eVGA X58 could drive the i7 920. Properly tweaking voltages was an absolute requirement to make the overclock stable. After having worked on it for a while, I finally settled for a 206MHz BCLK with the processor's multiplier set at 18, which translates into 3.711GHz. The memory ran at 1648MHz 9-9-9-24 at 1.65V. With voltages above stock settings, it's important to make sure the voltage regulators have adequate airflow, otherwise the passive heatsink will let them heat up to 100 Celsius. Of course, you will also need proper cooling on the processor since i7s tend to get toasty.

For those of you who are wondering why I chose to go for a lower multiplier and a higher base clock instead of using the stock multiplier and lower BCLK, I have a simple explanation. Even though I could squeeze out another 50MHz out of the processor using 19 and 20 multipliers, memory was forced to run about 100MHz slower due to dividers, so it just wasn't worth it. Running a higher BCLK also made the QPI link faster, which helps a bit with performance. Finally, even though I settled for a measly 3.7GHz, it's possible to reach over 4GHz, but the i7 920 required far too high voltages to make it a realistic overclock that you would run every day.

 

 

Gigabyte EX58-UD4P:

Overclocked settings:

Overclocking the Gigabyte board to 200 BCLK was very easy. Leaving everything on auto except for CPU and Memory voltage allowed the system to operate stably. Using a custom cooler at the last minute, I was able to raise the CPU multiplier and bring it to 4GHz, but the CPU was not fully stable. 3.8GHz was however, and thus this board can take users far if the cooler and chip are up to par. A few minor tweaks and it was running smoothly. Anything further required a little more tweaking, but for 200 BCLK and passive northbridge cooling there is nothing to whine about here.

 

 

MSI Eclipse Plus:

Overclocked settings:

Overclocking to 200 base clock on the MSI Eclipse Plus was fairly easy, although it did take some tweaks in the BIOS. Anything over 200 got difficult but there is still headroom. A fan is definitely necessary to keep the temperatures down, although the new thermal paste included stock was better than the older purple stuff on the MSI X58 Platinum. Using the OC Dial I was able to get a suicide run up to around 4.6GHz, while the system was tested at 4GHz. In the BIOS the extra multiplier for Turbo Mode can be forced to be enabled and it worked fine for pushing the overclock to the maximum.

 

MSI X58 Platinum:

Overclocked settings:

The i7 runs at 2.66GHz and only needs around 1v to work at this frequency, a pretty impressive feat. Getting it up to 3GHz was simple enough, all it took was to bump the base clock up from 133 to 150MHz. Then things started to get a bit complicated and required some, actually a lot, of trial and error. Since I am using a processor with a locked multiplier I started by decreasing it and finding the highest stable BCLK. The highest I could hit was 215MHz, although it was only stable up to 204MHz. The MSI board dealt reasonably well with failed overclocks, it would turn on for about ten seconds and then shutdown and so on until I manually shut it down and turned it back on myself. Never did I have to make use of that nifty clear CMOS button on the back.

Now that I knew how high the board could clock and already knowing the limits of the RAM, I set off to find out how high the MSI X58 Platinum could drive the i7 920. Tweaking core and QPI voltage properly was absolutely necessary to make the overclock stable. I needed +0.18V on the processor and another +0.15 on the QPI link, any more than that and temperatures got out of control, but it was enough to get a not too shabby 3.646GHz overclock. The memory modules were kept at 1212MHz 7-7-7-20 and the other voltages were left on the Auto setting.

 

 

Now that we've seen how well each board overclocks, let's take a look at how they perform.

Apophysis:

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

Win RAR:

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:

 

 

 

Let's start off with the stock scores. In Apophysis, every single board is dead even, so there really isn't a winner. However, in WinRAR the MSI Eclipse Plus wins hands down in four out of six benchmarks.

The overclocked scores give us a better idea of how each board performs. In Apophysis, MSI's X58 Platinum takes first place by one. The top performer in WinRAR is another MSI board. In just about every benchmark the MSI Eclipse Plus outperforms the competition. For this round I'd say the MSI Eclipse takes the cake, hands down, for both the stock and overclocked scores.

SpecView 10:

Specview 10 is a benchmark designed to test OpenGL performance. I will be using the multi-threaded tests to measure the performance when run in this mode. The tests used for comparison are listed below. The default multi-threaded tests were chosen to be able to compare across platforms. In these tests, higher scores equate to better performance. Since the E8400 is a Dual core CPU results will only be shown in the 2 thread test.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher is Better

 

Higher is Better

 

Higher is Better

PCMark Vantage:

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

 

Once again, with stock scores, it's a little hard to tell which board is the top performer. In SpecView, the ECS X58B-A outperforms the other boards in two of the benchmarks. This doesn't seem like much, but the other boards either tied or only won once. In PCmark Vantage the MSI Eclipse Plus once again outperformed the competition, but only by five 3DMarks.

I'd love to say that the overclocked scores made it easier to determine a winner, but they really didn't. Asus's P6T won the most benches in SpecView, so I guess that means something. Then again, it only won two. So really, it doesn't say all that much. In 3Dmark Vantage however, the P6T outperforms the competition by an amazing 500 points!

SiSoft Sandra 2009:

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

 

 

File System

 

 

Physical Disks

 

 

Power Management Efficiency

 

This is another benchmark where all of the boards perform extremely close together at stock settings. There were a few times where one board would do considerably worse than the others, but this was never the same board. For these reasons, it's quite hard to declare a stock settings winner.

The Asus P6T did win the most benchmarks with overclocked settings.

Sciencemark 2.0:

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 20:

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 2.55:

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

Higher is Better

Lower is Better

 

It's hard to choose a winner at stock settings. It appears as though each board excelled at different things.

However, in the overclocked settings it is easy to see the winner. The Asus P6T outperforms every board in all but one of the overclocked benchmarks.

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 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 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:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the stock settings, the top performer seems to be the Gigabyte EX58-UD4P. Although it only outperformed the other boards by a few FPS, in the higher resolutions it tied the eVGA x58 3X SLI.

The overclocked scores, as always, are a bit more interesting. The Asus P6T appears to be the best performer, but who cares? Why do I say that? Because the MSI X58 Platinum saw the biggest increase in performance when overclocked. It wasn't enough to bring it to the top of the charts, but it was enough to keep the board only a few points under the competitors.

Crysis Warhead:

Crysis Warhead is a standalone expansion pack situated in time with the story line 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's hard to determine the top performer at stock settings for Crysis Warhead. Both the Gigabyte board and the MSI Eclipse manage to boost ahead one FPS at the middle resolution. Other than that, the boards are pretty much evenly matched.

The overclocked motherboards didn't see much of a performance increase. In fact, the ECS bored actually decreased in performance at the lower resolution. eVGA's X58 3X SLI board did give a 5FPS increase at the middle resolution, which looking at the other boards, is pretty big.

BioShock:

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 story line will wrap you up for hours on end.

 

Video Settings:

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

Once again, the stock scores are extremely similar between each board. The Gigabyte X58-UD4P manages to stay a few FPS ahead of the other boards in the two lower resolutions. At the highest resolution, eVGA's board managed to pull ahead by 1FPS.

Each board got a pretty decent improvement with the overclock. At the lowest resolution, MSI's Eclipse managed to outperform the other boards. It also appears to have the biggest increase in performance with the overclock. The second resolution, however, goes to eVGA's X58 3X SLI board. It had an 8FPS increase in performance and outperformed the other boards. Both the Eclipse and eVGA's board saw an increase of 5FPS at the highest resolution, but eVGA's board was the top performer. Looks like eVGA gets the win in Bioshock.

Call Of Duty World at War:

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 stock scores for COD:WAW are once again very similar between all of the boards. At the lowest resolution, MSI's X58 Platinum board manages to take the lead by a few FPS. No board dominates at the 1680x1050 resolution. They all score more or less the same. Except, of course, for the Platinum, which trails by 4FPS. At the highest resolution, MSI's Eclipse Plus steals the glory.

The overclocked settings didn't provide much of an increase in scores for any of the boards. Every benchmark showed similar results except for at the 1280x1024 resolution, where the ECS board beat the Platinum by one FPS! The boards gained 1-3 FPS per resolution, except for the ECS X58B-A at the 1280x1024 resolution. At those settings, the ECS board managed to give a 7FPS increase.

Dead Space:

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 as starting with the crash landing and 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:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the past batch of benchmarks, all of the motherboards performed very close together at stock settings. Dead Space was determined to break this trend. Gigabyte's EX58-UD4P managed to stay 38FPS ahead of the pack, and that's just at the lowest resolution. At the second highest resolution, the Gigabyte board was 25FPS ahead. At the highest resolution, the performance gap wasn't as large. Still, Gigabyte's EX58-UD4P managed to stay 18FPS in the lead.

Undoubtedly, the Gigabyte board still came out on top with the overclocked scores. However, it was not the biggest overclocker. Instead, that prize once again goes to MSI's X58 Platinum, which overclocks the most in the 1280x1024 resolution and the 1680x1050 resolution. It increased by 14 and 12FPS, respectively. At the highest resolution eVGA's X58 3X SLI saw a slightly larger FPS increase than the Platinum, but the Platinum still takes the overclocking cake in this round.

Fallout 3:

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.

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don't have much to say about the stock scores other than the Gigabyte EX58-UD4P is the top performer. I also don't have much to say about the overclocked scores. The boards performed so close together, there isn't a real winner. However, that does not mean there isn't a loser! While Gigabyte's board rocked the charts at stock settings, it performed horribly at the overclocked settings. So badly that the scores actually decreased.

Left 4 Dead:

Left 4 Dead is a new release 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. You goal is to make it to a rescue point, all the 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 zombie. These zombies are quick and work with the pack mentality. Your job: survival! Below are several screenshots to show some in-game action.

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At stock settings, the top performer was none other than MSI's Eclipse Plus. However, the ECS board came a close second, losing to the Eclipse by only 1FPS in every resolution.

The L4D overclock champ is, without a doubt, the ECS X58B-A. It may have lost to the Eclipse at stock settings, but once overclocked, the ECS board blows it away...by three or four FPS.

3DMark 06 Professional:

Testing:

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We once again have a clear winner at stock settings. The Gigabyte EX58-UD4P comes out on top of every board by a fair margin.

The MSI Eclipse Plus however, is the top overclocker for this benchmark. At stock settings it performed by far the worst, but once the overclock set in, well, let's just say this board didn't lose anymore.

3DMark Vantage:

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.

 Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once again, there isn't a clear winner at stock settings. The Asus P6T is the top performer, but only by a few points at the two lower resolutions. At the highest resolution, the ECS X58B-A pulls slightly ahead of the Asus P6T.

If the stock settings can be considered unclear, then the overclocked scores are down right confusing. Once again, the P6T is the top performer at the two lower resolutions, but we see the biggest score increase from MSI's Eclipse Plus. The P6T does come out on top and get the best score increase on the highest resolution though. That must count for something.

Price for Performance:

The following motherboards are listed in order of their performance with their prices. I determined their performance based on how many benchmarks they won out of the 62 total. Any benchmarks that had tied scores were omitted.

Gigabyte EX58-UD4P:

Gigabyte's X58 board was by far the top performer at stock settings. It won 19 out of the 62 stock benchmarks. So how much does it cost? According to Newegg this board is worth $259.99. This price makes it the third most expensive board of the bunch. All things considered, that's really not a bad price. The EX58-UD4P costs about $50 more than the cheapest boards and offers the best performance at stock.

MSI Eclipse Plus:

The Eclipse priced at $379.99 is the most expensive board in this roundup. Thankfully, at least you get some performance for your coinage. The Eclipse was the top performer in 12 of 62 benchmarks, however the high price makes this not sound all that great, especially when a less expensive board was able to perform better.

ECS X58B-A:

I find it very interesting that the third place board is the most affordable. Yes, you read that correctly. Newegg prices this board at an extremely affordable $209.99. Remember, at stock settings these motherboards all perform extremely close together, and when one outperforms another it isn't by that large of a margin. The ECS board manages to pull ahead in 7 of the 62 benchmarks.

Asus P6T:

The P6T is $10 less than the Gigabyte EX58-UD4P but appears to offer far more than $10 lesser performance. The P6T pulled ahead in only five benchmarks. At least it didn't get last place.

MSI Platinum:

At $218.99, the MSI Platinum is the second least expensive board. For this reason I assumed it would perform second worst. It did exactly that. The Platinum won only three benchmarks, but for the price it really isn't that bad of a deal.

eVGA X58 3X SLI:

I was very disappointed in how eVGA's board performed. Newegg prices this board at $299.99. Yeah, for almost $300 you can get the lowest performing board out of the pack. You'd think for that kind of money that you'd get a board that is at least in second or third place.

Overclocking Price for Performance:

Again, the following boards are listed in order of their performance in 62 benchmarks. The only difference here is that these boards have been overclocked. Tied scores will be omitted.

Asus P6T:

I was not expecting the board that got fourth would be the best overclocker! Wow! I was also not expecting that it would cost only $249.99. In 19 benchmarks the P6T came out ahead of all other boards. Remember that the boards perform more or less the same, but a win is still a win, especially when it's a cheaper board that's doing the winning!

MSI Eclipse:

It appears as though this board likes getting second place. The Eclipse only won in ten benchmarks, but at least you get something for the $380 you'll be spending on it. If you buy this board, you'll know you'll get great performance in both stock and overclocked settings.

ECS X58B-A:

It's always heart warming when the cheaper boards perform great. For a good $170 less than the Eclipse, you can get a board that overclocks almost as well. Instead of winning in ten benchmarks, the ECS board was the top performer in nine.

Gigabyte EX58-UD4P:

Here's the top performer in the stock settings. Yep, when overclocked the Gigabyte board drops down to fourth place. Go figure. Technically it tied with the eVGA X58 3X SLI, however it costs almost $50 less. Both boards won in five benchmarks.

eVGA X58 3X SLI:

Again, I'm disappointed in this board. Why does it have such a high price tag when it can't compete with the less expensive competitors?

MSI X58 Platinum:

I wasn't all that disappointed with the Platinum's performance. As the second lowest priced board, I wasn't expecting much. Still, it was good to see that in won in two benchmarks.

 

So which board will I choose as the board to get? Read on...

Conclusion:

Before I announce a winner, I would like to make two things very clear. All of these boards performed close together, which made choosing a winner quite hard.

For instance, in many of the benchmarks the MSI X58 Platinum saw the biggest increase in performance when overclocked. However, having the biggest increase doesn't make up for its lack in performance, especially when a more economical board such as the ECS X58B-A can outperform it by so much. If you want to go for a board different from the one I choose because of certain features, you can be assured you're not making a bad choice. I mean just look at the numbers, there isn't that much of a difference.

The next thing I'd like to say is that two boards were tied for first. I am choosing the winner because of how much bang you get for your buck.

The Asus P6T was the runner up. For just one penny under $250, you can get a board that overclocks like nobody's business. The only reason that I didn't choose this board as the winner is because not everybody will be using it to overclock. If you will be overclocking your system, then I'd recommend going with this board. If not, then I'd recommend the.......................................

ECS X58B-A!!! I know, ECS isn't the most popular brand, but come on. For $210 you can get a motherboard that performs on par with the much higher priced boards. Not only that, but in many cases it outperforms them. Sure, you could spend $370 on the MSI Eclipse, but to me that seems like a waste. Instead, save that extra coin and put it toward a nice video card.