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EVGA X58 SLI LGA 1366 Motherboard Review

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3oh6

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System Benchmarks

SuperPi Mod v1.5<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>When running the 32M benchmark of SPi, we are calculating Pi to 32 million digits and timing the process. Obviously more CPU power helps in this intense calculation, but the memory sub-system also plays an important role, as does the operating system. SPi 32M has been a favorite amongst benchmarks for these very reasons and is admittedly the favorite benchmark of this reviewer.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/evga/x58sli/sys_bench-1.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">First out of the gate in the System Benchmarks section is a personal favorite, SuperPi 32M. SuperPi 32M is considered the finesse benchmark amongst enthusiasts because a competitive time takes raw power, but also extensive OS tweaking. Our time is without the OS tweaks so as to concentrate on how the power of the system affects the results. With our almost 22% processor overclock, we are able to shave just over 17% off our 32M time. This means that we aren't quite getting a 1:1 performance gain with 32M. The memory is also overclocked but as we saw in the Everest bandwidth results, that doesn't necessarily mean better as the Copy results were a bit better for the stock setup despite out thoughts that they shouldn't be. Perhaps there is some validity in the Everest Bandwidth results based on our loss of a 1:1 performance gain compared to CPU power increase.</p>

PCMark Vantage<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>The latest iteration of the popular system benchmark is PCMark Vantage from the Futuremark crew. The PCMark series has always been a great way to either test specific areas of a system or to get a general over view of how your system is performing. For our results, we simply run the basic benchmark suite which involves a wide range of tests on all of the sub-systems of the computer.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/evga/x58sli/sys_bench-2.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Unlike SuperPi, PCMark Vantage relies on every sub-system of the computer because it tests individual parts specifically then calculates a total score based on the results. Because of this, we don't always see a 1:1 payoff in performance compared to CPU overclock which is clearly the case here. We do, however, get another solid 17% increase in score going from our stock clocks to the overclocked settings. This is almost identical to the gains we saw with the SuperPi 32M calculation. Let's see if this percentage increase continues with a raw CPU benchmark, Cinebench.</p>

Cinebench R10<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>Another benchmarking community favorite, Cinebench renders an intense 2D scene relying on all the processing power it can. Cinebench R10 is another 64-bit capable application and is likely the most efficient program tested today at utilizing all cores of a processor. We will be running both the single threaded and multi-threaded benches here today.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/evga/x58sli/sys_bench-3.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">And there you have it, the single threaded benchmark of Cinebench saw an over 24% increase in score with the overclocked results while the multi-threaded benchmark saw just under a whopping 28% increase in performance with less than a 22% increase in CPU clocks. We were expecting the numbers to come in around the same percentage but apparently Cinebench doesn't scale perfectly with CPU clocks, it scales better. Synthetic benchmarks are nice, but real life results are better. Let's switch gears and have a look at something useful like encoding time of a DVD to DivX format.</p>

DivX Converter v6.8<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>Next up is a real life benchmark where we simply time a common task done on the computer. Encoding DVDs for viewing on the computer or other devices is an increasingly important task that the personal computer has taken on. We will take a VOB rip of the movie Office Space, and convert it into DivX using the default 720P setting of DivX converter v6.8.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/evga/x58sli/sys_bench-4.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">In the DivX conversion of the VOB files to a 720p DivX file, we see a drop in time required to encode the video of a hair under 18% or just under seven and a half minutes on a forty one minute conversion. This is very much in line with the previous benchmarks that we just looked at like SuperPi and PCMark Vantage and goes to show that overclocking just isn't for benchmarking.</p>

Lame Front End<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>Un-like the DivX conversion we just looked at, Lame Front End is not multi-threaded and only utilizes a single core of a processor. This will obviously limit performance but we should still recognize significant time savings going from the stock settings to the overclocked results. We will be encoding a WAV rip of the Blackalicious album, Blazing Arrow and converting it to MP3 using the VBR 0 quality preset.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/evga/x58sli/sys_bench-5.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The single threaded sister to our real life DivX encoding test, Lame Front End is simply a GUI for encoding WAV files to MP3. Audiophiles still consider Lame - single threaded - to be the best way to encode audio and that likely won't change. Needless to say, the results are exactly what we have come to expect from this round of benchmarks if not slightly lower with the overclocked settings coming in 17% quicker than our stock settings. This equates to about twenty six seconds on a two and a half minute task or a full album.</p>

Photoshop CS4<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>Adobe Photoshop CS4 is fully x64 compliant and ready and able to use every single CPU cycle our processor has available including the implementation of GPU support utilizing the GTX 280 in our test system. We have changed our Photoshop benchmark to more of a standardized test configured by DriverHeaven.net. Their Photoshop benchmark utilizes 12 filters and effects on an uncompressed 60MB .JPG image that will test not only the CPU but also the memory subsystem of our test bench. Each portion of the benchmark is timed and added together for a final time that is compared below.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/evga/x58sli/sys_bench-6.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The last of the benchmarks we are going to break down is a new one for us here at HWC. We have decided to go with a bit of an industry standard in Photoshop benchmarks for this review and used the DriverHeaven.net Photoshop benchmark script. This benchmark seems to be a rather accurate depiction of commonly used Photoshop filters and seems to be accepted amongst the review and consumer public as a good Photoshop test. The results appear to agree with these views as the time to complete the script of filters and effects comes in at 18.8% less for the overclocked system versus our stock setup. This, again, is perfectly in-line with what we have seen from almost every benchmark, synthetic or real life today.

Overall, we are quite impressed with what this setup offers in terms of performance in our favorite synthetic benchmarks as well as real life performance. We know that we haven't compared this setup to that of generations past and that is because we feel like we would be simply repeating history in doing so. Our resident comparison guru, Mac, has already put together an extensive collaboration of results comparing the new i7 platform to that of Intel and AMD past and if you were interested in seeing how the i7 platform stacks up, we again encourage you to view our Intel Core i7 "Nehalem" 920, 940 & 965 XE Processor Review. We still have one order of business to cover here though, and that is the 3D and gaming benchmarks including four of the most popular gaming titles out right now.</p>
 
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3oh6

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Gaming Benchmarks

Gaming Benchmarks



Futuremark 3DMark Vantage<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>We have forced ourselves to step up to 3DMark Vantage results for all reviews because the public demands it. 3DMark Vantage is the newest in a long line of 3D benchmarking software from Futuremark and is the most elaborate to date. Featuring multiple presets for various system configurations, Vantage is the culmination of all 3DMarks past relying on system and GPU power for its results. We will stick to the Performance preset as it seems to be the most popular at this point in time.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/evga/x58sli/3d_bench-1.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">We thought we would take a look at the synthetic benchmarks first. The indication at this point is that the overclocked setup is stronger, naturally, but in Vantage the gains aren't as pronounced as we thought there might be. Vantage shows less than a 3% gain while 3DMark 06 gives less than a 12% gain in score with the overclocked setup. This pales in comparison to what we saw in the previous sections with the benchmarks and with numbers this close together in synthetic benchmarks between the two setups, it really will be a stretch to find any gains in any of the four games we are about to look at.</p>

Crysis - Sphere benchmark<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>We all know what Crysis is and how much it beats up systems but we wanted to add it to the gaming benchmarks to see how system changes can improve performance on a mid-level system. Detail levels are all set to Very High with the resolution at 1680x1050 with 4xAA. We ran the benchmarks with a demo of the Sphere level in DX9 and 64-bit. The game looks great with this setup and plays just well enough to keep us happy.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/evga/x58sli/3d_bench-2.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Crysis is first and like we expected, there is very little difference between frame rates in the two setups. Despite that, this single GTX 280 does quite well with Crysis considering we are playing with Very High settings and 4xAA. This should be the toughest test for the setup as the last three games are a lot lighter on hardware than Crysis.</p>

FarCry 2<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>Another new fall release of this past silly season Far Cry 2 has some beautiful scenery but does lack that buttery smooth gameplay in places. A lot of moaning and groaning has occurred with Far Cry 2 but acceptable frame rates are much easier to achieve than Crysis and the gameplay is plenty smooth enough to enjoy. We were really able to crank up the settings with this benchmark on this setup.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/evga/x58sli/3d_bench-3.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">We again really pushed the detail levels in Far Cry 2, like we did Crysis, and the results speak for themselves. Clearly the GPU is the limiting factor because again we see absolutely no difference between the two setups. Average frame rates are excellent in Far Cry 2 and in DX10 with Ultra High details, the game is spectacular looking.</p>

Fallout 3<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>The first of our FRAPS captured frame rate games, Fallout 3 is a little bit of everything. First person shooter meets landscape wanderer and adventure finder. Playing Fallout 3 can become quite addictive and the nature of the game can have hours disappear behind you without having a clue. For our benchmarking today we ran around the landscape just outside vault 101 up to Washington and then back towards Megaton for some fire ant battles. FRAPS was used to record the frame rates so keep this in mind when comparing results, gameplay was similar but without a time demo, it definitely varies.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/evga/x58sli/3d_bench-4.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Despite the seemingly low Minimum frame rates for both setups, the average frame rate in Fallout 3 throughout testing is more than acceptable and the game really didn't feel like it ever got choppy. Overall Fallout 3 plays pretty easy on hardware as we had details through the roof and this setup still handled it quite well. It is a very exciting when 1680x1050 can't even challenge modern games on a single card setup with detail levels maxed out. As for a difference between the stock and overclocked settings...forget it, there is none.</p>

Call of Duty: World at War<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>The latest installment of Call of Duty is not unlike the last with high frame rates easily achievable with settings maxed at 1680x1050. This is especially true with this setup and a single GTX 280. We have no problems running full tilt with every detail level set to the max and that is how we benchmarked. We again used FRAPS to record frame rates of the Little Resistance level from the time we leave the boat up to near the end of the level where we enter the hut. Total play time is 10 minutes with the same amount of time spent in the underground bunker for each run. Again, results will have slightly larger margins for error due to the nature of benchmarking actual gameplay versus a time demo.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/evga/x58sli/3d_bench-5.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Rounding out this round of benchmarks, which all but solidifies the fact that this setup outruns the single GTX 280 with ease making it the bottleneck, COD: World at War shows us more of the same. High frame rates with details maxed out but no real difference between the two setups. Again, 1680x1050 just isn't a high enough resolution to push this platform and a single GTX 280 is the obvious bottleneck, not that any more frames per second are needed.

So despite the fact that we didn't really see and differences between the stock and overclocked settings in games, we are able to confirm with almost certainty that a single GTX 280 bottlenecks this i7 setup at even stock settings. This bodes well for gamers as this combination of hardware really seems to be able to handle the newest games on the market. What we look at next is not just a typical SLI comparison, we will do a little investigating into the difference between 16X and 8X PCI-E 2.0 slots on the EVGA X58 SLI, or lack of difference if that is the case.</p>
 
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3oh6

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SLI Testing: 16X VS 8X

SLI Testing: 16X VS 8X


<p style="text-align: justify;">Instead of an SLI section, we decided we would tackle a question that has been coming up on the EVGA forums quite a bit lately. With the inherit limitations due to the lack of PCI-E lanes on the Intel X58 chipset, the question whether running video cards in 8X instead of 16X PCI-E slots would be detrimental to performance. This won't be the end all say all as our testing is going to be limited, but it should provide some insight and another set of numbers to discuss in this ongoing conversation.

<center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/evga/x58sli/16xvs8x-1.jpg" alt=""></center></p>

Testing Methodology

<p style="text-align: justify;">We used the setup that can be found in the Test Setup & Methodologies section with a couple minor changes. The detail settings are outlined for each benchmark below. They essentially follow the same benchmark guidelines as outlined for the benchmarks we just saw except all of the games were played at their highest settings at a resolution of 1680x1050 with the exception of Crysis which only utilized 4xAA. Here is a breakdown of the system settings that changed from the Test Setup & Methodologies:

<table border="0" bgcolor="#666666" cellpadding="5" cellspacing="1" width="90%"><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="25%"><b>Motherboard:</b></td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec" width="75%">EVGA X58 SLI @ 137*19</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="25%"><b>Processor:</b></td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec" width="75%">Intel i7 965 Extreme Edition @ 3743MHz</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="25%"><b>Memory:</b></td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec" width="75%">Corsair Dominator 3x2GB PC3-12800 @ 788MHz 7-7-7-24-1T</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="25%"><b>Video Card:</b></td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec" width="75%">SLI BFG GTX 280 OC/OCX @ 702MHz core / 1512MHz shaders / 1188MHz memory</td></tr></table>
These settings are a bit different from what any other benchmarks were ran at thus far in the review. Let's get started with the results.</p>

Crysis - Sphere benchmark<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>Detail levels are all set to Very High with the resolution at 1680x1050. We ran the benchmarks with a demo of the Sphere level in DX10 and 64-bit.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/evga/x58sli/16xvs8x-2.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The first game we looked at is Crysis with the Sphere level time demo, which consists of water, snow, and plenty of underbrush. Aside from the frame rate being very strong, there appears to be no noticeable difference between the three different setups. The margin for error with any benchmark would easily explain any gaps in frame rate from top to bottom at both the minimum, maximum, and average frame rates. We weren't actually sure what to expect from this comparison and so far it is coming up equal. Let's move on to Far Cry 2.</p>
FarCry 2<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>We were able to absolutely max out the Far Cry 2 settings and still maintain very acceptable frame rates with this setup. Game play is smooth as silk, or at least as smooth as Far Cry 2 gets, and the game looks absolutely incredible. All settings were set to Ultra including 8xAA and ran in DirectX 10. The benchmark again utilized the in-game Long Ranch benchmark.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/evga/x58sli/16xvs8x-3.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Here we see perhaps a slight pattern to the results with the 16X/16X setup looking to be stronger than the other two setups with the 8X/8X setup being the weakest. The margin is on the absolute edge of not being due to the margin for error, but the gap seems to be consistent between the minimum, average, and maximum frame rates. Both setups running at least one card in an 8X slot seem to fall the smallest bit behind in average and maximum frame rates. Perhaps this is a sign of things to come or an anomaly with just Far Cry 2 and this particular time demo.</p>
Fallout 3<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>These last two titles were run in-game using FRAPS to record the frame rates. This method is a little hit and miss as it is difficult to run the exact same route every time but we stuck to a timed checkmark type route that lasted 10 minutes going from the Vault 101 entrance down to the river then back up to Megaton fighting two ants, and two fire ants along the way, just like in the benchmarks we just looked at. Like Far Cry 2, all settings were absolutely maxed out in game with no fiddling done to any .INI files.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/evga/x58sli/16xvs8x-4.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Fallout 3 is the first title that we looked at where we weren't able to run a time demo and had to rely on actual game play using Fraps to record frame rates. These results clearly show that fact with the absurdly high minimum frame rate in the 8X/8X setup. The average frame rate again shows a similar pattern to Far Cry 2 but taking into consideration the fact that we are recording actual game play frame rates, the margin for error easily covers the differences and judgment can't be made either way. The only real conclusion we can make is that there doesn't appear to be anything substantial in difference up to this point between the same setups.</p>
Call of Duty: World at War<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>The last gaming benchmark we look at is the latest Call of Duty which was again ran through a portion of a level using FRAPs as the recorder for frame rates. The level is the Little Resistance level recorded from the time we leave the boat until the time we are about to enter the bunker near the end. This means the frame rates see a little bit of cut-scene action, some 'indoors' action while we went through the right side bunker, and a whole lot of explosions and gun fire. In-game settings are all maxed out and the game ran at a resolution of 1680x1050. The frame rates are a little high because of the indoor time but like Fallout 3, we had a timed check point list setup that was stuck to for each run ensuring as close a replication as possible.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/evga/x58sli/16xvs8x-5.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">What we have here is just another set of inconclusive results. Well, we shouldn't say inconclusive because the results thus far have shown very little, if any at all, difference in frame rates between the three setups. Like Fallout 3, COD was actual game play using Fraps to record frame rates and this needs to be kept in mind when looking at the results. The most important set of numbers are the average frame rate results and those are all clustered closely together between the three setups.</p>
Futuremark 3DMark 06 & 3DMark Vantage<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>We decided to throw in some 3DMark results as well to see what synthetic benchmarks picked up for differences between these setups, if any. Vantage is run with the Performance preset like in the previous Vantage benchmarks.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/evga/x58sli/16xvs8x-6.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Like all of the results so far, 3DMark 06 and Vantage show no perceivable difference between the setups. All of the runs average out to just about the same with the margins in results falling under the variations from one run to the next. Even looking at the three individual runs for each setup, there is no single result that varies more than a couple hundred points from the rest.

Like we said at the beginning, this set of tests is by no means conclusive nor was it hoping to be. We did a very narrow set of tests with a single setup and a single set of clocks with the only variable being the PCI-E slot bandwidth that the cards were ran in. The results do however show that with this particular setup, with these particular video cards and system frequencies, and this particular resolution, we can find no repeatable or discernable difference between running GTX 280s in the 16X versus 8X PCI-E 2.0 slots. We would encourage tests of your own but we think it is safe to say that running a pair of cards in SLI, or even Crossfire for that matter, will not suffer much if at all by running them in the 8X slots or any combination thereof on the EVGA X58 SLI motherboard.</p>
 
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3oh6

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Voltage Regulation

Voltage Regulation


<p style="text-align: justify;">The Voltage Regulation section is where we have a look at the motherboard from a voltage stand point. We don't always get what we set in the BIOS when it comes to voltage controls. This is a common misconception but one that needs to be investigated with every motherboard. It really isn't a fault if a motherboard doesn't supply what is selected, it is just a little bit of a hassle. We'll find out right now whether or not the EVGA X58 SLI tends to provide exactly what we set, or whether it is off by a small margin. To measure the actual readings with a digital multi-meter, we will be using the test points EVGA has provided in the photo below. The multi-meter used will be a calibrated UEI DM393. The numbers under load were obtained using Prime 95 on Blend with 8 threads utilizing all four cores and Hyper-Threading of the i7 processor. Let's get take a look at the results.</p><center>
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">As mentioned and shown above, EVGA has provided onboard test points that can be easily accessed for measuring actual voltage of specific components. We have the ability to measure the vCORE, vTT, vNB, and vDIMM. We found that getting at these test points was a bit of a challenge and there was no way to continuously measure the voltages without using a set of hands. We are working on a method for mounting test probe holders but an easier option would be to simply solder leads to the test points for easier access. This is a nice first step for easy access to voltage without having to probe the motherboard but could be developed a little better on future models. Here is how the voltages break down from the BIOS through to Windows at idle and under load.</p><center><table border="0" bgcolor="#666666" cellpadding="5" cellspacing="1" width="697px"><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="99px"></td><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="99px"><b>BIOS Set</b></td><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="99px"><b>BIOS Report</b></td><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="99px"><b>E-LEET<br />Idle</b></td><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="99px"><b>E-LEET<br />Load</b></td><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="99px"><b>DMM<br />Idle</b></td><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="99px"><b>DMM<br />Load</b></td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">vCORE</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.32500v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.33v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.34v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.38v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.329v4</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.341v</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">DIMM Voltage</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.600v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.64v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.65v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.62v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.602v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.577v</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">QPI PLL VCore</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.300v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">x</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">x</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">x</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">x</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">x</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">CPU PLL VCore</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.300v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">x</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">x</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">x</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">x</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">x</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">IOH VCore</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.300v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.30v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.30v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.30v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.271v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.263v</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">CPU VTT</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">+300mV (1.400v)</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.48v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.48v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.48v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.368v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.338v</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">IOH/ICH I/O Voltage</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.600v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">x</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">x</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">x</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">x</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">x</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">ICH VCore</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.200v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">x</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">x</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">x</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">x</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">x</td></tr></table></center><p style="text-align: justify;">First off, we are fairly limited in what we can monitor because the BIOS only reports the four voltages we see above. This means we only have access to these four voltage readings in Windows using E-LEET. These happen to be the same four voltages that are available for direct reading from the monitoring pads shown above. The first voltage measured is vCORE and from the chart we can see that under load, vCORE actually increases. This is due to the fact that we had vDROOP disabled from within the BIOS. We will discuss this more in a little while. vDIMM in the chart above, unlike vCORE, shows a substantial drop in voltage going from idle to load. We also see that the actual voltage reading from the motherboard is substantially lower that what is being reported in Windows. The actual voltage reading for vDIMM is actually pretty much identical to what is set in the BIOS, except under load.

IOH vCORE or the NB voltage is similar to vDIMM in that it droops under load but reports exactly what is set in the BIOS. The actual reading is slightly lower that what is selected in the BIOS like the other voltages discussed thus far. The final voltage we are going to talk about is vTT and like the rest, the actual voltage supplied is less than chosen in the BIOS and the voltage drops from idle to load. vTT shows the largest discrepancy between what is reported in the BIOS/Windows and what is actually being supplied. This is rather important to know because vTT is responsible for a lot of the overclocking we are able to do with this motherboard in regards to uncore frequency and memory clocking. We will now take a quick look at the difference between vCORE with vDROOP enabled and disabled followed by a few charts of the other voltages to show their regulation.</p><center><table cellpadding="2px" cellspacing="0"><tr><td width="50%"><b><center>Chart from OCCT - vDROOP Enabled</b>
</center></td><td width="50%"><b><center>Chart from OCCT - vDROOP Disabled</b>
</center></td></tr></table></center><p style="text-align: justify;">In the chart above, we saw that with vDROOP disabled in the BIOS, the vCORE reading under load actually increased from idle. The charts above this clearly support those readings. Disabling vDROOP definitely works on the EVGA X58 SLI and will help you keep a lower vCORE at idle then provide the necessary boost in vCORE when the system enters a load state. The small spikes in the voltage charts are likely software anomalies and nothing to be concerned about. Now let's take a look at the voltage charts under the same conditions for vTT, vDIMM, and the IOH vCORE or vNB.</p><center>
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">The charts above again support the table of results we looked at first and show a pattern that isn't exactly what we wanted to see. In all of the OCCT charts above we can see a very rippled voltage reading throughout the entire one hour test period. We can't be certain this is actually what is occurring because software voltage readings are limited by accuracy of their readings. None-the-less, a flat line would have been more comforting but at the same time, we can't hold a lot of stock in what we see above. The one thing we can hang our hat on is that VTT and vDIMM seem to droop a good margin under load. We would really have liked to see a more steady voltage from idle to load on these two voltages.</p>
 
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3oh6

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Edmonton, AB
Heat & Acoustical Testing

Heat & Acoustical Testing


<p style="text-align: justify;">The heat and acoustical testing normally concentrates on the north bridge and its cooling solutions. With the north bridge playing a smaller role in the X58 game, we decided to us this section to really look at the PWM cooling of the EVGA X58 SLI. We also found out that the NB temperature sensor does not actually report the NB temperature in Windows, only the BIOS. This means there is no accurate way for measuring temperatures of the NB right now, EVGA is working on a BIOS option to enable NB temp reading in Windows, which made the PWM focus a no brainer for us.

With heafty power hungry i7 quad core CPUs populating the LGA1366 socket, the PWM area of the motherboard is put under great stress. Because of this there is a substantial amount of heat being generated and despite the large heat sink EVGA has gone with on these components, the PWM temperatures are still rather high. Let's first look at exactly what we are dealing with.</p><center>
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">The PWM MOSFET heat sink is a fairly simple design that looks a lot more elaborate than it is. There is a single long heat pipe that runs the length of the MOSFETs and then angles up on each end to connect with the cooling fins that dissipate the heat generated by the components it sits on. Again, this is very simple but seemingly effective. The best part of this design is that it is seperate from the NB/SB heat sink and swapping it out for water cooling or another air cooling solution only requires it to be removed. This is what we are looking at with the heat sink removed:</p><center>
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">The MOSFETs used by EVGA on this X58 SLI are not your standard D-Pack surface mount MOSFETs. Instead, EVGA has used a high efficiency Renesas R2J20602 56-pin leadless QFN package MOSFET. These integrated driver-MOSFETs provide low voltage stability and switching frequencies up to 2MHz. The one specification we were unable to locate on these particular parts are their rated temperature. So we still don't know what a safe operating temperature might be for them. This brings us to the subject of cooling the PWM.

As of right now, there are no alternative cooling solutions so we had to come up with some options our selves. The only thing we could ascertain is using the tried and tested Swiftech MC-14 solution. We have been using MC-14s on PWM MOSFETs for a long time and always had great success. Unfortunately, this didn't work out so well because the MC-14s didn't fit. Shame on EVGA for not allowing us to use our favorite Swiftech heat sink. Instead, we had to resort to Enzotech MOS-C1s. These are quite a bit smaller and we weren't sure if they would even be able to handle the heat from the PWM MOSFETs. Here are a couple photos of the setup with the Enzotech MOS-C1s and the problem with the MC-14s.</p><center>
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">We can now look at the results of the load testing of each setup. We also threw in the results of simply changing out the thermal pad on the existing cooler with that of Sekisui #5760 thermal tape. The load testing was done with one hour of OCCT Mix using Everest Ultimate to chart the PWM temperatures throughout testing. Ambient temperature of the room was a controlled 23C~24C as measured directly above the setup with an Extech TM200 digital thermometer. Here is how the three different PWM cooling solutions shook out:</p><center>
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">We honestly can't say this is what we were expecting. It isn't often that a stock PWM cooling solution is going to perform as well as one that is slightly tweaked by an end user, but that is definitely the case here. We have to admit that the competition, Enzotech MOS-C1s, weren't really the toughest of competition seeing as they only covered a portion of the large MOSFET ICs. We really would have liked to get Swiftech MC-14s or Enzotech BMR-C1 heat sinks on there but the space just wouldn't provide that luxury. We also thought that changing out the thermal pad for high quality thermal tape may have done some good but that clearly hindered performance. This is likely due to the base of the heat sink not being completely flat and contact not being perfect on the ICs.

With the thermal pad used, the contact on all ICs is even and complete as is the contact on the base of the heat sink. We still think there are better cooling solutions for this PWM but as of right now, stock is where it is at for the EVGA X58 SLI.</p>
 
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3oh6

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Extreme Overclocking & Benching

Extreme Overclocking & Benching


<center>
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">As has been customary with previous motherboard reviews as of late, we decided to take the EVGA X58 SLI for a little spin with some sub-ambient cooling. Liquid nitrogen was the substance of choice and with -196C worth of cooling on tap, we were sure to tame the heat output of the i7 965 Extreme Edition...or were we. First some photos of the preparation before the fun began.</p><center>
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">The first step in prepping for sub-zero temps is to remove the retention setup from the EVGA X58 SLI. A big shout out to Intel for finally hearing our pleas and providing us with a removable retention module. That much metal around that much cold just caused headaches in the past and aside from cutting the old 775 retention module off, we were stuck to deal with it. Not anymore with i7 because about ten seconds with a 3mm allen wrench takes care of that problem all together. We then have to prepare a new bottom insulation layer fight off condensation from forming when the temps come down. Despite how tight the socket is on these new LGA1366 boards, insulating is rather simple and turned out quite well for our six hour session. The last photo above is of the soldered leads to the voltage test points, this is done to make voltage monitoring much easier as we don't want to probe back behind the motherboard while running. We simply setup alligator clamps on the ends of these test leads for constant monitoring of voltages throughout the night. With the board all prepped and ready to roll, let's go over the setup with a couple small changes from our previous testing.</p><center><table border="0" bgcolor="#666666" cellpadding="5" cellspacing="1" width="90%"><tr><td colspan="2"><b>Test Platform:</b></td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="25%"><b>Motherboard:</b></td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec" width="75%">EVGA X58 SLI</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="25%"><b>Processor:</b></td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec" width="75%">Intel Core i7 965 Extreme Edition (3836A287)</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="25%"><b>Processor Cooling:</b></td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec" width="75%">MMouse Rev 3 CU LN2/Dry Ice Pot<br>w/Liquid Nitrogen</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="25%"><b>North Bridge Cooling:</b></td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec" width="75%">Stock</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="25%"><b>South Bridge Cooling:</b></td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec" width="75%">Stock</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="25%"><b>PWM Cooling:</b></td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec" width="75%">Stock</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="25%"><b>Memory:</b></td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec" width="75%">Corsair Dominator 3x2GB PC3-12800 8-8-8 (TR3X6G1600C8D)</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="25%"><b>Power Supply:</b></td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec" width="75%">Ultra X-Pro 750W / Thermaltake Toughpower 700W</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="25%"><b>Video Card:</b></td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec" width="75%">BFG GTX 280 OCX / 2 x BFG GTX 280 OC<br>GeForce Release 180.48 WHQL</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="25%"><b>Additional Fans:</b></td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec" width="75%">120mm AD1212MS-A73GL 2050RPM/80.5CFM</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="25%"><b>Hard Drives:</b></td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec" width="75%">Seagate 7200.9 80GB SATAII 8MB cache</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="25%"><b>OS:</b></td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec" width="75%">vLight'd Windows Vista SP1 / nLight'd Windows XP Pro SP3</td></tr></table></center><p style="text-align: justify;">There are just a couple changes for the sub-zero benchmarking setup from the rest of the review, most notably the big copper pot slapped on the CPU and the addition of a third GTX 280. The operating systems have also been setup strictly for benching. Before we get started with the few results we managed, here are a couple photos of the two setups used for the benching, the first for 2D benchmarks and the second for 3DMark Vantage testing.</p><center>
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">With all the pleasantries out of the way, let's have a look at some of the results.</p><table align="center" bgcolor="#666666" cellpadding="10" cellspacing="1" width="90%"><tr><td align="center" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%">Super Pi 1M
click for full size...

HWBot.org - Compare</td><td align="center" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%">Super Pi 32M
click for full size...

HWBot.org - Compare</td></tr><tr><td align="center" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%">WPrime - 32M
click for full size...

HWBot.org - Compare</td><td align="center" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%">WPrime - 1024M
click for full size...

HWBot.org - Compare</td></tr><tr><td align="center" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%">3DMark Vantage - Performance w/o PhysX
click for full size...

HWBot.org - Compare
Futuremark ORB</td><td align="center" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%">CPU-Z Validation
click for full size...

CPU-Z - Validation</td></tr></table><p style="text-align: justify;">It is sort of a mixed bag of results. On one hand, we have some decent scores and times. On the other hand, we don't really have anything too exciting. Sure at the time of posting, the 32M SPi time is #9 overall on HWBot.org and the 3DMark Vantage result is in the top 20 HOF at Futuremark for the Vantage Performance preset, but we are still hoping for more out of our setup. We definitely have some work to do and will admit our session was a bit last minute and rushed so OS optimization wasn't the best. The lack of results from a wider range of benchmarks is an indication of weak preparation as well. Keep an eye peeled for results from this setup on HWBot.org, Futuremark ORB, and in our forums...because we aren't done with it just yet.</p><center>
</center>
 
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3oh6

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Messages
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Location
Edmonton, AB
Conclusion

Conclusion


<p style="text-align: justify;">This early in a hardware cycle it is tough to really know how happy you are with a product, especially a motherboard. There is no list in the back of your head of things that annoyed you about past motherboards tested that you continually check during an evaluation, because that list hasn't formulated yet. Making this task even harder is the fact that the Intel X58 chipset is impressively full of features and trying to keep track of them all is a handful. One thing is certain, EVGA has done quite well in taking advantage of all that the X58 chipset offers. They have also provided additional features to the platform that really give it the strength to wrestle with the known bullies on the playground. The PWM cooling, rear venting north bridge heat sink fan, well spaced PCI-E 16X slots, onboard buttons, E-LEET software package and onboard voltage test points are all features that impressed us with the X58 SLI. On top of this, the board was easily able to overclock within the narrow range all X58 motherboards should be able to and it handled our 2x3GB Corsair kit just fine.</p><center>
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">In addition to its fine physical attributes, the EVGA X58 SLI is backed by arguably the best service and support in the industry. The EVGA technical support crew are highly regarded in the industry and rightfully so. Despite being a small team, they really do their jobs well and EVGA on a whole, has done an amazing job creating a community with their customers. One really impressive aspect of this small support team that we relied on during the review process was the BIOS development team. Shortly before publishing this review, we were receiving BIOS updates daily at times. This is positive and negative. The full part of the glass indicates a willingness to work out the BIOS bugs while the empty portion of the glass asks the question, 'why are there so many bugs to work out'?

If we had one major concern with this motherboard it would be the seemingly immature state that the hardware came to market in. Of course this isn't just isolated to the EVGA X58 SLI as other motherboard manufacturers are feeling the growing pains of a new chipset, but when a premium product is released - and the Intel X58 chipset is the Rolls Royce of chipsets right now - users should be able to fully utilize it without having to deal with hassles. This is confirmed in the price we pay for these products. At over $350, the X58 SLI from EVGA is actually priced relatively well with the competition in this segment. The whole segment is simply on the upper end of the pricing spectrum.

The market for this platform knows what they want, where to get it, and are willing to pay for it so the price isn't that large of a shadow being cast over the landscape. Instead, the stability, compatibility, and strength of features is what customers are looking for from an X58 platform and the EVGA X58 SLI is quite strong in all three categories. We have spent a lot of time in the EVGA forums as of late and the rash of memory incompatibility threads that seem to plague motherboards these days just aren't present with the X58 SLI. The amount of users posting about fully stable and happy setups are plentiful and our sample has been nothing but a treat to work with. It has been crunching WCG on all eight threads of the processor as well as [email protected] on two GTX 280s for the last few weeks when not benchmarking and stability has been excellent, even with a rather hefty overclock. The feature set of the X58 SLI we looked at today speaks for itself with the biggest feature being the EVGA support that comes with the hardware. It would be hard not to put the EVGA X58 SLI on a list of potential motherboards when setting up your i7 system, whether you simply need a daily driver, 1/4 mile benchmarking dragster, or a nice combination of both.</p>

<b>Pros:</b>
  • Best possible PCI-E 16X layout for Tri-SLI of available motherboards...SLI or Crossfire goodness
  • Rock solid daily performance with proper cooling where it needs to be
  • Capable and easy overclocker for the enthusiast looking to squeeze a little more value from their money
  • Ready for the big time benchmarking arena as proved by us and many others in the scene already
  • E-LEET software package is solid already, and future development looks very promising
  • EVGA...service, support, and community; one of the best manufacturers in the industry

<b>Cons:</b>
  • The Intel X58 SLI chipset is new, there are some issues...but BIOS development is top priority for EVGA
  • CPU socket is tight and some two-stepping is required for large CPU/RAM coolers
  • Premium chipset, premium hardware required, premium prices

<center><table><tr><td><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/dam_good.jpg" alt=" " /></td></tr></table></center>

<center><b><i>We would like to thank EVGA for making this review possible, especially Jake, Joe, Peter, and Jacob...top notch support for customers and reviewers alike.</i></b></center>
 
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