Things tend to get a little messy in roundups, so we’ve created a comparison chart for your convenience. We’ve also thrown in the Asus P6T Deluxe and Asus Rampage II Extreme into the mix. Of course there are other X58 boards out there, but we’ll leave those for another time.

Specifications Table

Asus P6T DeluxeAsus Rampage II ExtremeBiostar TPower X58DFI LanParty UT X58-T3He8Foxconn Blood RageIntel DX58S0XFX  X58i
Memory Controller HubIntel X58
I/O HubIntel ICH10R
DDR3 DIMM Slots6666346
PCI Express Slots1 x4* (1.0a)
3 x16 (2.0)
2 x1* (2.0)
3 x16 (2.0)
1 x1 (1.0a)
3 x16 (2.0)
1 x4
3 x16 (2.0)
1 x1
4 x16 (2.0)
2 x1 (1.1)
1 x4* (2.0)
2 x16 (2.0)
1 x1
3 x16 (2.0)
PCI Express Lane Configurationsx4x1/x1x1x4x1 x1/x1/x4x1
x16/x16/x1
or
x16/x8/x8
x16/x16/x1
or
x16/x8/x8
x16/x16/x4x16/x16
or
x16/x8/x8
x16/x16
or x16/x8/x8 or x8/x8/x8/x8
x16/x16x16/x16
or
x16/x8/x8
PCI Slots2122112
 CrossfireXYes
SLiYesYesYesYesYesNoYes
NetworkDual Gigabit Ethernet by 2 Marvell 88E8056 (PCIe)Dual Gigabit Ethernet by 2 Marvell
88E8056
(PCIe)
Dual Gigabit Ethernet by 2 Realtek RTL8111C (PCIe)Dual Gigabit Ethernet by Marvell 88E8052 (PCIe) and Marvell 88E8053 (PCIe)Dual Gigabit Ethernet by 2 Realtek RTL8111C (PCIe)Single Gigabit Ethernet by Intel 82567LF (PCIe)

Dual Gigabit Ethernet by 2 Marvell 88E8056 (PCIe)
AudioAnalog Devices ADI AD2000B 7.1 HDAAnalog Devices ADI AD2000B 7.1 HDA (on separate card**, supports Creative X-Fi MB)Realtek ALC888S 7.1 HDARealtek ALC889 7.1 HDA (on separate card)Realtek ALC889 7.1 HDA (on separate card**, supports Creative X-Fi MB)Realtek ALC889 7.1 HDA

 Realtek ALC888 7.1 HDA
StorageChipset6 Internal SATA 3Gbps by ICH10R (RAID 0,1,5,10)
Extras1 External SATA 3Gbps by Marvell 88SE61111 Internal + 1 External SATA 3Gbps by JMicron JMB363 (RAID 0,1)2 External SATA 3Gbps by JMicron JMB363 (RAID 0,1)2 Internal SATA 3Gbps by JMicron JMB363 (RAID 0,1)2 External SATA 3Gbps by JMicron JMB363 (RAID 0,1)2 External SATA 3Gbps by Marvell 88SE6121 (RAID 0,1)2 External SATA 3Gbps by JMicron JMB363 (RAID 0,1)
1 IDE by Marvell 88SE61111 IDE by JMicron JMB3631 IDE by JMicron JMB3631 IDE by JMicron JMB3631 IDE by JMicron JMB363-1 IDE by JMicron JMB363
2 SAS***
by Marvell 88SE6320 (RAID 0,1)
---2 SAS***
by Marvell 88SE6320 (RAID 0,1)
--
 Total (SATA/ eSATA/ SAS/IDE)6/1/2/17/1/0/16/2/0/18/0/0/16/2/2/16/2/0/0 6/2/0/1
USB (rear panel/ headers)12 (6/6)14 (8/6)12 (8/4)12 (6/6)12 (8/4)12 (8/4)12 (6/6)
Firewire (rear panel/headers)2 (1/1), by VIA VT6308P2 (1/1), by VIA VT6308P2 (1/1), by TI TSB43AB22A2 (1/1), by VIA VT63072 (1/1), by VIA VT6308P2 (1/1), by TI TSB43AB22A2 (1/1), by JMicron JMB381
PS/2 port 1, keyboard or mouse1, keyboard1, keyboard2, keyboard & mouse1, keyboard-1, keyboard
FloppyYesYesYesYesYesNoYes
 Fan headers
(including CPU fan)
58365 55
 CPU power phases1616128 (digital)1466
Clock GeneratorICS 9LPRS918JKLFICS 9LPRS918JKLFRealtek RTM885N-914ICS 9LPRS918JKLFICS 9LPRS139AKLFSilego SLG505YC264BTIDT CV183-2APAG
BIOSSingleDualSingleSingleDualSingleDual
 BIOS Profile Banks2810481None
Onboard buttons Power, Reset, Clear CMOSPower, Reset, Clear CMOS, 4 ExtremeOC butonsPower, ResetPower, Reset, Clear CMOS (by pressing Power + Reset)Power, Reset, Clear CMOS, Force ResetPowerPower, Reset, Clear CMOS
Est. Retail Price (SGD)560 (without OC Palm)690410530540410540
 Remarks*Open-ended, but cards longer than x4 cannot be inserted due to obstruction by chipset heatsink

***SAS also compatible with SATA drives

*Full length cards cannot be inserted in the top x1 slot due to obstruction by chipset heatsink

**Uses up top x1 PCIe slot.

  ***SAS also compatible with SATA drives *Open-ended, up to x16 cards can be inserted 

Trends & Observations…

Core i7, as you probably know by now, supports triple-channel operation. Hence the majority of the boards here have six DDR3 slots for a maximum of 24GB (6x4GB). Bucking the trend are Foxconn and Intel, which have three and four slots respectively. Foxconn claims that having fewer slots helps memory overclocking, while Intel claims that fewer slots allows a layout that minimizes memory latency. We’ll find out soon whether these claims hold true.

Having three PCIe x16 slots has also become the norm, since the X58 northbridge supports up to 36 PCIe lanes. The exceptions are the Intel DX58S0 with two x16 slots (which is not SLi-certified anyway) and the Foxconn Blood Rage with a grand total of four x16 slots.

Note however that lane configurations and layouts vary from board to board. In certain boards (such as the Asus P6T Deluxe) the layout is such that, even though there are three x16 slots, only two of these are usable when dual-slot graphics cards are used.

Another trend, one which has been going on for some time now, is the ever increasing number of power phases. Asus appears to take the cake with 16 power phases on the Rampage II Extreme; Also notable is DFI with its 8-phase digital PWM design, a departure from the usual analog setup. However, we should caution that more power phases does not necessarily translate into cleaner power. Board design, layout and component quality play equally important roles.

For storage freaks the Asus P6T Deluxe and Foxconn Blood Rage offer the most options – they come with two SAS ports, which are also backward compatible with SATA. The JMicron JMB363, notorious for performance and compatibility issues, is unfortunately still the controller of choice for cramming in additional (e)SATA ports at minimum cost.

And the Intel DX58S0, as expected, is still the only legacy-free motherboard. So you can hang on to your IDE drives, floppies, and PS/2 keyboards unless you want the Intel board. (Not likely the case, as you’ll soon see.)