Round one of the high-priced enthusiast end of X58 went to EVGA last year, who set the pace with their Classified line of motherboards. While not perfect in every regard, the E759 and E760 broke and set more overclocking records than any other product, elevating the Classified series to must have status in the eyes of overclocking and gaming enthusiasts.

In light of this success, it was clear that ASUS, Gigabyte and MSI would have to go back to the drawing board and come up with new designs to captivate the audience. The launch of Intel’s i7-980X Gulftown together with the availability of SATA 6G and USB 3 controllers from Marvell and NEC provided the excuse for a revamp and here we are a couple of months down the road with everyone vying to capitalize on sales thanks to the longevity of the X58 platform. That’s where we pick up today, we’ve got the very best ASUS, Gigabyte, EVGA and MSI have to offer and have lined up a compare taking a look at basic functionality, overclocking and overall stability.

Meet the contenders:


Now grab a fresh pair of pants before you take a look at the asking prices:

Motherboard Chipsets SATA 6G USB 3 Price
ASUS Rampage III Extreme X58 Yes Yes $379
EVGA X58 4 way Classified X58, 2 x NF200 No No $429
Gigabyte X58A-UD9 X58, 2 x NF200 Yes Yes $699
MSI Big Bang-XPower X58 Yes Yes $299

Eek! $700 for a single socket motherboard? That’s waaay over the top. While we acknowledge there is a market for high-end products, we can’t think of a good reason for why a motherboard designed around a heavily integrated architecture should be priced this high. There nothing radical on or about the UD9 that justifies such expenditure ; like most of the other boards on test here today, the base design is very much de-facto for the platform and identical to lower priced motherboards( apart from the addition of two nVidia NF200 chips to provide four way SLI capabilities).  

In general, all these boards do over their $200~$250 counterparts is offer a more robust VRM for heavy overclocking, in some cases a better layout and lastly a more overclocking centric BIOS.  As such, these motherboards are worth looking at by those of us that have very specific overclocking needs beyond conventional cooling, or by those that have a mind-set that pays scant regard to cost versus performance ratios.  So yes, this is a minority audience article, but we’ll be getting back to our roots straight after – don’t despair!

ASUS Rampage III Extreme
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  • Etern205 - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    People who get this all they cared about is the amount of nonsense that's place on these board and the size of their e-penis without any thought as to whether spending this much will bring the same in return.
  • SniperWulf - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    It's official, Gigabyte is officially off their rocker!

    Now I get that they don't expect to sell these to everyone, but still for what you get, it's totally not worth it. I bet this board still has crappy fan controls too...
  • MGSsancho - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    Could you tell up what ACPI version these mobos use? I was able to find out the Gigabyte X58A-UD9 uses ACPI 1.0b but c'mon people version 4 is out. I have gone to every common mobo website and there is no board that supports anything higher than 2. Supermicro does sell version 3.0 and 4.0 on their latest offerings. ACPI is important to those of use who run other Operating systems and want to be able to use all those fancy power saving features with out drivers.

    Having many PCIE lanes is awesome for those of us into making file servers. But I suppose I am just better off with a server mobo, ECC ram and its better features
  • xetura - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    These I7 setups are great and all, but they're still way too expensive. My q6600@3.6ghz still does just fine. I can't justify spending $650 for a mobo, cpu and ram setup that doesn't perform that much better than my setup. Sure, if I had SLI or XFIRE it will be a big jump, but I don't have either.
  • Finally - Saturday, July 17, 2010 - link

    ...when was the last time, AT reviewed an AMD chipset board?
    4 (!) months ago. Just click on the big "motherboard" button above.
    Check out the ratio Intel:AMD...

    Funnily enough the last AMD board had its price right in the title: $140!

    ...seriously, guys. If you have to admit to yourselves, that you are running out of Intel board to review, MAYBE test something I'm actually interested in.
  • tercathian - Sunday, July 18, 2010 - link

    Yeah, 19 of 20 reviews on Intel, some as multiple boards (just on the first/latest directory page). 1 AMD board review????
    Balance, AT, Balance!
    What are the good, the bad, the great, and the ugly of AMD boards out there currently?
  • ggathagan - Sunday, July 18, 2010 - link

    What was your translation of the first paragraph of the article?

    You know, where Raja stated:
    "Thus far, we’ve spent most of 2010 focusing on mainstream segments for our motherboards reviews, there’s more of that to come over the next few months starting off with a long overdue focus on AMD"
  • MaxMax - Saturday, July 17, 2010 - link

    WTF !!

    $700 for a motherboard ?!

    What so special about it even $200 - $250 motherboards bypass it !!

    It is not even fit in my Coolermaster HAF 932 case !!

    They got mad !!
  • MacGyverSG1 - Monday, July 19, 2010 - link

    I have read a few reviews and I think the memory problem might only affect the early production boards. I noticed in your pictures, and you stated, that the SATA 6GB/s ports are facing up. Other reviews have pictures that show the SATA 6GB/s ports at a 90 degree angle like the rest. I also was able to see that that board was v1.1. Maybe you have a v1.0 board that had problems that were fixed with v1.1?
  • Rajinder Gill - Monday, July 19, 2010 - link


    The rev 1.0 change is an input inductor change (to support the OCP increase), a default OCP for VCC increase to 360 amps. plus a small change for PSU startup. These modifications were performed by MSI (by hand) to our second board before they shipped it out to us. Further, there are retail consumers with rev 1.1 boards reporting memory issues like ours.

    Hope this helps.

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