The competition in the X58 market is finally heating up and that is good news for enthusiasts and buyers alike. The retail introduction of the Foxconn BloodRage and DFI LP X58-T3eHS at the $299.99 price range is significant in this market sector as both boards were expected to be priced near the $400 mark. This pricing strategy should drive down the cost of the current $300 boards shortly, provided their performance and stability are on par or better than current products. This is something we should find out shortly as Raja has been busy testing these boards against the EVGA X58 SLI with the sub-zero setup.
In the meantime, the lower end (not really considering the price point is $210~$250) of the X58 market is starting to heat up, finally. Gigabyte has introduced their GA-EX58-UD3R product at $210 that is a well rounded board but with CrossFire support only. Gigabyte just introduced their UD4P board with CrossFire and SLI support in the $270 range. The MSI X58 Platinum (CrossFire only) is available for $220 and after the latest BIOS, this board is really starting to look an excellent performer for the money. Biostar's TPower X58 is another mid-level X58 product selling for $270 that supports CrossFire and SLI. We just purchased this board and the Gigabyte UD4P for our retail customer experience program discussed in our X58 roundup and should have results shortly.
All that said, we had a very interesting delivery a couple of days ago. ASUS dropped off their new P6T board that offers CrossFire and SLI support along with a smorgasbord of features for $250. Our first experiences with this board have been excellent with both performance and stability matching that of the $300 boards. To be honest, we think it is probably a better upgrade option than the $300 boards for users looking to move to the i7 platform that are not interested in extreme overclocks or rarely utilized features. Is it better than the Gigabyte and Biostar $270 boards? We have not had enough test time with the other boards yet to make a decision, but it appears they are basically equal when overclocking with an air cooler while application performance is just slightly better on the P6T.
Those wondering what the differences between the P6T and P6T Deluxe can refer to this chart. The quick run down is a change from the 16+2 phase setup to an 8+2 setup that we find just as stable so far, a single Realtek Gigabit LAN controller instead of dual Marvell controllers, Marvell SAS support is dropped but the two additional SATA ports are retained via a JMicron JMB322, and on-board audio switches from the ADI AD2000B to the Realtek ALC 1200 chipset. The P6T features true dual-slot card three-way CrossFire or SLI support compared to the two-way dual-slot card support on the Deluxe board. Also, the P6T features both an LGA 775 and 1366 mounting hole pattern that allows current LGA 775 liquid cooling users to retain their setup. We still recommend that air cooler users utilize an LGA 1366 setup (native or mount kit update) although you could get by with a LGA 775 design in a pinch.
We will have a first look up shortly featuring the BIOS layout and initial overclock results against our other mid-range boards, but in the meantime we think ASUS has a potential winner here.