|Intel DX58SO Smackover X58 Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by Miles Cheatham - Edited by Olin Coles|
|Monday, 22 December 2008|
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Intel DX58SO First Look
Motherboards haven't seen a lot of change in the past two years, so we guess it was due time for Intel to shake things up a bit with the DX58SO. We will discuss the significant layout changes to this motherboard just a little later in this review. The biggest difference with this X58-Express product is that it updates the socket from LGA775 to LGA1366 in order to support the Intel Core-i7 series of processors. Additionally, the Dual-Channel DDR support that reigned supreme since the Pentium 4 days has also been updated to include Triple-Channel DDR3.
Intel may have introduced DDR3 support on their mainboards almost two years ago, but high costs paired with low adoption by manufacturers led to a reprieve for DDR2. That all ends now, as X58 is built for DDR3 only and Intel has no plans to allow DDR2 back into the game. This might seem like a move which slams the door in the face of mainstream enthusiasts wanting more value from their hardware, but the truth is that P45 and X48 chipsets will continue in production for many more months to come. Moving to triple-channel DDR3 also adds momentum for 64-bit computing, but also optimizes current 32-bit systems. Windows XP for example, offers a 4GB maximum memory mapping space on the 32-bit variety of the O/S.
Our first look at the layout of the Intel DX58SO "Smackover" motherboard shows a nice looking black PCB which returns to 8 layers allowing for better rigidity of the board. A more detailed visual scan shows that Intel decided to make a few changes in the previous status quo. The biggest change, and probably the most recognizable is the location of the memory slots which were moved to the area where the processor socket had resided for many years. Intel explains their rationale for this change as a needed improvement in cooling the memory by subjecting it to better airflow.
While on the topic memory Intel opted to only include four memory slots in the DX58SO. In these boards the full memory performance potential is only achieved with the primary three slots filled. The forth slot allows you to add an additional 2GB of DRAM, but that module is only accessed at single-channel performance rate, decreasing performance of that module by 66.66%. Other motherboards such as the ASUS P6T Deluxe provide a full six memory slots that allow for a maximum capacity of 12 GB of DDR3 at full performance potential. With this board being an excellent candidate for a workstation, we certainly can't quite grasp the logic in this configuration.
Another layout issue that bothered us tremendously was the need of having to utilize either one of your SATA power connectors or a 4-pin Molex connector to provide "auxiliary power" to the board. The locations of the connectors are denoted by the red arrows in the image above. Intel currently is the only X58 based motherboard manufacturer that we are aware of that requires this additional power connection. We certainly can't understand why with both the 24-pin main power cable and the 12 Volt 8-pin power adapter connected why there is a need for additional "auxiliary power".
Alas, finally a layout change that makes sense! Looking a the rear I/O panel you can readily see that the parallel port, the 9-pin serial port(s), and both the PS2 mouse and keyboard connectors are missing. We say bravo to Intel for finally removing these useless connections from the rear I/O panel. We feel the vast majority of enthusiasts have been waiting for this change to take place for some time. While not shown in the image we also are ecstatic that Intel chose to also remove the floppy drive connector and the PATA drive connectors on the DX58SO. These connectors were totally useless on a board of this caliber and only took up excess space as far as we are concerned.