EVGA, a traditional NVIDIA partner, decided to manufacture a motherboard based on Intel X58 chipset with ICH10R south bridge chip, simply called EVGA X58 SLI. This is a high-end motherboard for Core i7 processors, featuring three x16 PCI Express slots, support for SLI (finally), a good 10-phase voltage regulator circuit with ferrite chokes and solid caps, six memory sockets and more. Let’s take a look at this motherboard and what you should expect from it.
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Figure 1: EVGA X58 SLI motherboard.
The first thing that caught our eye on this motherboard was the use of only solid aluminum capacitors.
EVGA X58 SLI has three PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots, one x1 slot and two regular PCI slots. The third x16 slot runs at x8 speed all the time, as Intel X58 chipset only offers support for two x16 lanes. The second x16 slot can run at x16 (when two video cards are installed) or at x8 (when three video cards are installed). The first slot will always work at x16.
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Figure 2: Slots.
Motherboards with more than one x16 PCI Express slot based on Intel chipsets have always supported CrossFire configuration, but never supported NVIDIA’s SLI, being the major drawback in having an Intel-based motherboard with more than one x16 slot. The only exception was Intel’s very high-end DX5400XS “Skulltrail” motherboard, which has a couple of small NVIDIA bridge chips to make this happen. This board, however, isn’t targeted to regular users, as it has two LGA771 sockets and supports only FB-DIMM memories.
EVGA X58 SLI and some other motherboards based on Intel X58, however, support SLI. SLI support with Intel X58 chipset is possible if the motherboard manufacturer pays a royalty fee to NVIDIA and passes the NVIDIA certification program, which is the case with the present motherboard. So you will see on the market motherboards based on Intel X58 with and without SLI support. By the way, in theory SLI support increases the motherboard manufacturing cost – since the manufacturer needs to pay royalties and go through a certification process – and will surely reflect on the product’s price.
SLI support is enabled at driver level, so no bridge chip from NVIDIA was required on the motherboard.
EVGA says that this motherboard can run SLI with three video cards (three-way SLI), while other X58 motherboards do not claim this capability.