We were speaking with MSI a few weeks ago about their upcoming product plans and one item stood out in the conversation. No, it was not the excellent 790FX-GD70 motherboard that has earned our admiration and soon our praise, nor was it the new N260GTX-Lightning Black Edition GTX 260 video card or their updates to the Wind Netbook line. Now, all of these and some we cannot discuss are actually very interesting products for their market segments. However, when we heard X58 and $150 in the same sentence, our ear lobes tweaked and sly smiles developed on our faces. We were told that MSI was hard at work on delivering an X58 motherboard as close to the $150 mark as possible.

We thought this idea was really interesting and certainly made sense when looking at the current Intel product lineup - a lineup that currently means either going Socket 775 and buying into the P45 chipset in the $85~$130 range or smartly bypassing the now defunct X38/X48 lineup for the X58 product along with its processor and RAM upgrade requirements. The mere mention of X58 typically means a $300 ringtone goes off in our minds. Lately, that ringtone has become softer as several boards are available in the sub $200 range including MSI’s X58 Pro and various models from ECS, Foxconn, DFI, and Gigabyte.



Well, MSI tried their best to hit the $150 mark and might still make it if rumored price cuts on the X58 hold true in the near future. The board MSI is targeting into the entry level X58 market is the X58M and it arrives in a uATX form factor with an MSRP of $169.99. It's close to the eventual $150 price point but this motherboard is anything but entry level in many ways. The board features the X58 IOH, ICH10R with six 3Gb/s SATA ports, JMicron JMB363 for an additional 3GB/s SATA port, IDE support, and an eSATA port. Also included from the land of Crabs is the Realtek ALC 889 HD audio codec and RTL8111C Gigabyte LAN. MSI even tossed in IEEE 1394a support along with a great layout and overclocking friendly BIOS backed up by some excellent electrical components.

We are starting to see significant interest in the uATX form factor again in the higher end SFF market. In fact, the Core i7 runs cool enough and draws low enough voltage that a user can design a top performing multi-use system around this combination. We expect to see several new uATX designs when P55 hits the market later this year, if not mini-ITX designs based around it. As such, the MSI X58M joins the DFI LANParty JR X58-T3H6 and ASUS Rampage II GENE in the current X58 uATX market, with others set to join shortly.

We are providing a first look at the X58M today, with the goal of providing enough information on the board to make an informed purchasing decision before we complete our next X58 roundup. So, let’s look at the board and initial performance results and see if we have a Mighty Mouse or Mallrat on our hands.

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  • aeternitas - Sunday, June 07, 2009 - link

    Whats even more strange is thinking a SLi/CF motherboard regardless of size should have on-board video.

    Not to mention this is an i7 board. You're in the wrong place!
    Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Sunday, May 24, 2009 - link

    "We expect to see several new uATX designs when P55 hits the market later this year, if not mini-ITX designs based around it."

    If that's true, then let us know anything you find. While uATX is interesting, gameable M-ITX are unbelievably rare and/or expensive. On a standard ATX board, I use exactly one slot; the x16 PCIe. Needless to say, a M-ITX i5 or i7 board with one of those would be great to play with.
    Reply
  • wicko - Sunday, May 24, 2009 - link

    Too bad its lowest price is $220 here.. economy+markup = not fun! Reply
  • mmntech - Sunday, May 24, 2009 - link

    Business as usual. It's worth noting that $220 CAD translates to $196 US; so we're paying $30 too much. Might still be worth it if it makes a good Hackintosh rig. Be nice to have something that powerful for running Final Cut.
    Reply
  • Staples - Sunday, May 24, 2009 - link

    I am a fan of uATX. I don't desire 5 optical drives nor do I care for more than 2 hard drives. I have bought a few uATX boards in the past but the people who make Intel boards always put G31 or another subpar integrated chipset inside of them. There is no reason that the top of the line chipset can not fit inside a uATX board and work just as well as the crap they put in them today. I definitely welcome someone finally making a desirable motherboard in a uATX board. Reply
  • Per Hansson - Sunday, May 24, 2009 - link

    Are we sure these boards support SLI?
    Crossfire is readily mentioned for these series of boards on MSI's homepage.
    But SLI is not mentioned...
    Only in the manual but there it looks very generic...

    http://eu.msi.com/index.php?func=proddesc&main...">http://eu.msi.com/index.php?func=prodde...cat2_no=...
    http://www.msi.com/index.php?func=proddesc&mai...">http://www.msi.com/index.php?func=prodd...2_no=170...
    http://global.msi.eu/index.php?func=proddesc&m...">http://global.msi.eu/index.php?func=pro...cat2_no=...
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Monday, May 25, 2009 - link

    SLI is fully supported with the upcoming Version 3 BIOS, which should be released this week. My FarCry 2 tests were run with SLI enabled. ;) Reply
  • Googer - Sunday, May 24, 2009 - link

    Nice price on a motherboard, but the lack of legacy PCI (32) is a deal killer for me. I have an X-Fi that I would like to carry over to my new system.

    I could buy an Asus XONAR but at $200, I'd rather put that money towards something better and buy a $365 Asus with PCI and more features than buy a new sound card for an MSI board with only 4 expansion slots.
    Reply
  • Kibbles - Sunday, May 24, 2009 - link

    It has a regular PCI slot. It's the bottom one. Reply
  • plonk420 - Sunday, May 24, 2009 - link

    i'm still a bit twirked off by my first negative MSI experience with my X58 Pro... i have a review on The Egg... it all boils down to the shoddy northbridge cooler. google "hot IOH" and you'll see how many people had issues...

    this LOOKS ok, but i gotta wonder since i've never had an issue with a NB ever before in my life...
    Reply

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