Days of the £200-plus X58 board are overX58 still has legs
Intel has a habit of transitioning between processor sockets at an alarming pace. In just over two years the silicon giant will have brought LGA1366 (Bloomfield, Core i7), LGA1156 (Lynnfield, Core i3/i5/i7) and LGA1155 (Sandy Bridge, Core i3/i5/i7) form factors for its mid-to-high-end chips. There are sound technical reasons why Intel moves sockets so frequently, compared to AMD at least, but choosing the correct form factor and motherboard is actually of greater importance than the chip itself.
Take the LGA1366 (X58) platform, which remains Intel's high-end performance desktop of choice. Debuted in November 2008 and therefore almost two years old, one might surmise that it's a complete dead-end, to be discarded in favour of the newer platforms. However, it now supports the very latest six-core, 12-threaded chips and, at worst, will be headlined by the impressive Core i7 980X CPU. Purchasing an X58 board and mid-range Core i7 CPU remains a solid option, especially given the intense competition that's currently raging in the sub-£150 X58 market.
Another sub-£150 X58 board
The time of premium X58 boards costing north of £200 is over. Big-name manufacturers are putting almost their entire focus on delivering value-orientated motherboards. Gigabyte does it well with the X58 USB3 and UD3R, while MSI's X58 Pro is worthy of consideration, priced at £132. ASUS has rolled into this division with the P6X58D-E, retailing at £149, and based on the premium P6X58D Premium.
Perhaps the first question we need to answer is how does ASUS strip almost £100 from the Premium's price yet still keep the P6X58D-E competitive amongst its peers?
Located on the edge of the board by the DIMM slots, users wanting to really stress their components can activate an onboard jumper that gives you access to component-burning voltages. See the following page for more details.
We have little to complain about the cuts that ASUS has made in the transition from the P6X58D Premium to the P6X58D-E. It has most of the features we'd look for in a quality motherboard, sweetened by a sub-£150 retail price. Perhaps only users who need to keep hold of legacy IDE drives will feel excluded.