EVGA formally introduced their first motherboard based on an Intel chipset today, the EVGA X58 SLI. For a long time launch partner of NVIDIA based chipsets, this event was somewhat of a surprise when the rumors started spreading a few months ago about the possibility of EVGA utilizing other chipsets. Considering EVGA’s continuing in-house development of boards based on their FTW moniker and a quickened pace away from the cookie cutter reference designs, this development really did not surprise us.
What did surprise us is their ability to take a completely new chipset, proceed with a crash development program, and offer a motherboard on the official launch date that is rock solid and very polished for a first time effort. Of course it helps that several engineers from the former EPoX group are on staff and two of the top overclockers around are hand-tuning the product. However, it’s not perfect as we mentioned in our early preview blog today, but several of the problems we discussed with EVGA this weekend have already been addressed today with a new BIOS.
The Intel X58/ICH10R combination has been a known commodity for several months and Intel has been providing significant engineering resources to the motherboard suppliers in terms of information and technical support. Of course this helps to speed along a development program from a hardware viewpoint but with everyone utilizing the same chipset and basic hardware components the ability to differentiate a board in a crowded market comes down to hardware/software features, support, compatibility, and BIOS design. Does EVGA meet this differentiation criterion? We think so.
Our experiences to date with the EVGA X58 SLI board indicate to us that EVGA has developed a very solid hardware platform with a nice mix of features, a nifty tuning utility, and a board that after the latest BIOS has offered excellent compatibility with a wide range of peripherals and software. EVGA is recognized for its excellent customer support and the BIOS design/tuning is being headed up by Peter Tan, better known as Shamino in the overclocking circles. Add in a limited lifetime warranty for most locations and a step-up program for the next LGA1366 product and you can see why this board might grab some market share away from other players in the X58 market.
Of course, none of this really matters unless the board performs well for users looking to cough up $329.99 for this product. We are still running a variety of benchmarks for the upcoming X58 roundup, but at this point the EVGA X58 SLI is at or near the top of the class. However, while we tend to get carried away at times with a frame per second improvement or a half second difference in a benchmark, the real test for these über enthusiast boards generally center on overclocking and stability. Neither of which the EVGA board has failed in up to this point and to be honest, has excelled at for the most part.
Although you would never know it from the advertising, the board does support both CrossFire X and SLI operation. That said, let’s take a look around the board and review its features today.