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

    Anyone notice the dual 8-pin on the Asus? Reply
  • EVM - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    You guys make me laugh when you rip the makers of these boards! Reply
  • mobutu - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    You have to be really crazy to spend $700 on a motherboard, video card or cpu.
    Or, for that matter, on any single pc component.
    Reply
  • Acanthus - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    This just in, 2 year old chipset performs identically to launch, give or take 1%.

    Intel needs to stop revoking the licenses of their competitors.

    But then they couldn't have the best quarter ever during the worst economy in 70 years.
    Reply
  • jonup - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    Actually economy is doing just fine. If it wasn't for cheating sovereign government in Europe and the resulting debt crisis we would have been doing even better. Reply
  • kallogan - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    I don't see the point really. They're just for geeky fanboys or benchmarks junky. Getting cheap computer parts and push them to their limits is a lot more fun ;-). Buying a celeron dual core E3200 and make it score more than a E8600, that is fun.

    It's like these memory kits :
    Corsair Dominator GT 8-8-8-24 2200MHz 4GB kit
    G.Skill Perfect Storm 8-8-8-24 2200MHz 4GB kit
    .....
    Dominator, perfect storm, extreme my a.... Everybody knows high-end memory kits are marketing jokes and brings absolutely nothing but 0,1 %.
    Reply
  • Voldenuit - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    Honestly, I think reviewing these things is a waste of time.

    I'd rather see reviews of real products that real enthusiasts would buy. Don't they have sites dedicated to LN2/cascade cooling overclocking and hardware?

    I'd never spend more than $200 on a motherboard, and something closer to $120 would be more like it. I'd also rather find out how the options in that price space would suit my needs rather than read about expensive, impractical halo products on a platform that is going to be obsoleted in a few months by Sandy Bridge anyway.
    Reply
  • jonup - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    Man, this is like porn. It's what can't don't want to have, but like watching it anyways. Reply
  • Voldenuit - Saturday, July 17, 2010 - link

    Nah, reading a $700 Thermaltake Level 10 case review is geekpr0n. A $700 motherboard based on a 2-year old chipset with no real performance or innovation gains is more like goatse. :p Reply
  • shin0bi272 - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    If they dont really do anything new/better performance wise (save for sata6g, and usb3) and intel is changing sockets with the sandy bridge later this year then what's the point of reviewing these now? Reply

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