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The X58A-OC from Gigabyte hits our Lab for some OC time Featured

by on19 June 2011 10104 times

 

 

01Overclocking is a big deal these days. I can remember when it was just a bunch of crazed guys with too much money and free time on their hands. We used to do things like solder new resistors onto CPUs (the Slot A Athlons), swap out caps and resistors on motherboards to get more voltage through the boards and to the CPU.  I vividly remember building water cooling kits with pool pumps and tubing bought from Home Depot. Once I even pulled a radiator from a Coke vending machine (old and broken) for a rig I was building. Well thankfully those days are over (but it would still be fun to do some of this). Motherboard makers are now designing and building motherboards with top of the line components voltage regulation systems and tracing that is laid out for business. Many have world class overclockers that work for them to get the most performance out of each and every motherboard. Every now and then they get to build something special from the ground up. We are taking a look at one of these boards that has been built for speed. The one we have in-house was designed by HiCookie; the resident overclocker at Gigabyte. This is the X58A-OC (the OC is for Overclocking as if you could not guess).


 

The Box and Goodies -
Ever since the introduction of the P6x line up Gigabyte has been changing up their box designs. The X58A-OC comes in a glossy black box with an image that reminds me of a car engine. You will get to see this image a little later on when we take a look at the actual board itself. Gigabyte has left the box front very clean. There are a couple of logos telling you what this board supports (i.e. the X58 chipset and the Core i7 CPU). Other than that things are, well… clean. The back of the box, while more cluttered is still very clean for a high performance product. Still what we find is enough product information and images to get you to get interested in this product (That is if you are not already interested before you get the box).  

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The loot inside the box is extensive. It is certainly not what you would find in a more pedestrian offering. You do get the typical things like user manual, driver and utilities DVD, cables and a few stickers. On top of that you also get a pair of SLI/Crossfire bridges and also a Three-way SLI bridge. A very handy feature for those of you that are planning to really push the X58A-OC is a bag of voltage ready cables. These plug into a spot on the board (which we will show you in the next section) and allow you to directly read the voltage running through the various components on the X58A-OC.

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The Layout -
The layout of any motherboard is important. Even simple mistakes in component placement or the signal traces can cause major issued in performance and stability. With the ATX form factor we find that this is even truer; the devices we drop onto them demand more and cleaner power while the signal speeds push faster and faster.  If you have read any of my reviews you know that I am big on the board design and layout. With each new product I like to take a look at the general build and then try and identify the design choices and why they were made. With a product like the X58A-OC there even more questions on design and layout. As you can probably guess the X58A-OC is based on the standard ATX layout. I was a little surprised to see this as I would have thought that HiCookie might have wanted to give some extra room for GPUs, tracing and other items. My thought is that the smaller (relatively) layout allows for shorter traces. Shorter traces usually equal better performance and less tuning required to make sure everything works.

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Tracing and PCB size decisions aside let’s take a look around at the X58A-OC and see what we can find. Looking at the upper right hand corner at of the X58A-OC we find the controls and the memory slots. Looking here there is something that should stand out right away. Do you see it? There are no round capacitors. These have been replaced with POSCaps. No, POS does not stand for that! POSCaps are solid electrolytic capacitors that are intended for high frequency, high heat applications. These are perfect for a motherboard that is meant to be pushed like the X58A-OC is.  Other than the lack of the typical capacitor we find a bank of controls. You have the usual Power and Reset (the reset is the small blue button) along with buttons for increasing or reducing the BCLK and Ratio. Behind this row is a one-step 4GHz overclock button (the one labeled 4G). The last button is labeled Gear and switches your BCLK adjustment between 1MHz and .5MHz.

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Oh yeah,… remember those voltage read cables? Well they connect right here. To round out our coverage of this small area we will point out the Dual LED diagnostic display, 24-pin power port and of course the six memory slots. Moving along we take a look at the CPU area. Notice how clean this area is? Well the reason for this is to help with airflow and cooling but it also makes things easy to insulate when you are preparing the board for sub-zero overclocking.  Let’s face it when you are stuffing putty into the area around a CPU would you rather have POSCaps or some Japanese Solid Caps like you might find on other boards?

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Moving on we get a good look at part of the voltage regulation cooling and also the dual 8-pin Aux power connectors. Under the large heatsink there are Driver MOSFETs and also low temp single chokes that are capable of handling up to 50A. The whole setup here combines to allow for a total estimated power output to the CPU of 1200Watts. To give you an idea of efficiency the max input is 1500 Watts so you are getting 80% efficiency from this design. This is the reason for the beefy cooling which warps around to cover the X58 chipset as well. Gigabyte added some lights to this just to keep things interesting. The cooling also helps segment the board, you might not think about this but with the sloped design of the cooling (sloped away from the primary GPU slot) you get a deflection of heat from the GPU away from the CPU area.  It really is a nice design.

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Moving on (reminds me of a movie studio tour…) well really moving down towards the bottom of the board you get a gander at the peripheral slots. You get four x16 mechanical slots but only two are fully x16 electrical (and stay that way when populated) these are slots one and three. The other two are x8 but are still good enough for three-way SLI or for quad crossfire. Speaking of multiple GPUs (and power along the way) HiCookie made sure there would be plenty of power for your setup not matter the number of GPUs you throw at it. There are two SATA style power connectors along the front edge of the motherboard. These are on either side of the SATA ports and with their low profile also help keep airflow going. Just behind this we find a nice looking heatsink for the IHC10R chipset. This one also has a light in it; you know just for style.

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Flipping the board around we take a look at the very light I/O ports.  You get the basics really. Well the USB 3.0 ports are not needed but are nice to have. The X58A-OC has some interesting design choices; HiCookie has (for the most part) made the best choice for performance and stability. At least that is what we are seeing on the surface; of course we will have to see what we get when we power it up.

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Features -
In the current market motherboard (and indeed almost all component) performance is very close. The days of a large performance advantage between boards using the same chipset are long gone. That is unless someone makes a HUGE mistake (like runs traces completely wrong). Now, the thing that differentiates different products is the features. These are things like power management, extra slots, better audio CODECs etc. It is these items that R&D teams work so hard to drop into what are really identical pieces of hardware at their most basic level.

There are times when you find unexpected features in a product. These are items that are not always advertised, but jump out at you when you really think about them. We will drop a couple of these in with the regular features that Gigabyte lists.

Excellent -
POSCaps
Driver MOSFETs
1200 Watt Max CPU power available
Dual SATA power connectors for PCIe power
One Touch OC Controls
Excellent Cooling design

These items are design choices that help the board perform well. They are also out of the norm even for most boards that are designed for overclocking.

In the middle (sort of good) -
Dual BIOS
Voltage Monitor Points
Multiple 4-pin Fan headers
Three-Way SLI
CrossfireX

These are nice extras but are not items that are going to push things over the edge for a buying decision. The Dual BIOS is on almost every board in this class on the market.

Floor Mats -
LEDs on the Cooling
USB 3.0
On/Off Charge

These are the types of things that are filler; again they are nice, but they do not make the board what it is as they are pretty much on all Gigabyte motherboards and some (like USB 3.0) are on just about every board out. The list looks pretty slim. However, when you think about it you are getting a combination of great items and after all this is meant as an overclocking board.  The only reason there is an audio CODEC on here is because 3DMark requires it now…

We will cover some of these features more in their proper places but for now you can see the listing of what we see as real and what is filler or brand wide.


BIOS -
BIOS is an acronym that stands for Basic Input/Output System. It is meant to control your product at a very low level.  As of right now there are three regularly used BIOS formats (there are actually more than that but there are three common ones). These are the AMI (American Megatrends Incorporated), Award, and Phoenix.


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Gigabyte has always leaded towards the Award BIOS layout and the X58A-OC is no different. We can see the typical Gigabyte layout in the image above. The place that we want to kick things off in is the M.I.T (MB Intelligent Tweaker) page. Once inside you find that Gigabyte has broken things down into smaller one page sections. There is a current status page, an Advanced Frequency Settings page, and more. Each one breaks the overclocking settings into easy to read pages. One thing that I have always been frustrated with is having to arrow up and down through long pages to check all my settings (to make sure I didn’t forget one). There are still some sub menus to go through; especially in the Advanced Memory Settings page.

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Of course there are other places in the BIOS that are important; but let’s be honest you are not going to spend much time there. They are ancillary to why you are going into the BIOS in the first place.

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Overclocking -
The X58A-OC, as we have said more than once, is an overclocking motherboard. It was designed by HiCookie and stripped down to the bare minimum (with the exception of USB 3.0 and SATA 3.0) to keep things uncomplicated. With that said, we were not able to get as high of an overclock as we expected.  We were hoping to break our old record of just over 4.5GHz stable but hit the stability wall at 175MHz BCLK and a 25x Ratio. This got us just under 4.4GHz. If I were to make a guess I would say that I BIOS update with some tweaks to the memory subsystem will fix this. We also want to reproach the overclocking on the X58A-OC when we get our hands on some more advanced cooling.  4.375GHz is not all that bad, but really we wanted more.

CPUz
Of course overclocking is a picky subject. I can buy to identical CPUs from the store and they will not always perform the same way under stress. This is the same with motherboards, RAM and GPUs.  So again it is important to keep in mind that our results represent a specific hardware configuration. Yours may be similar but will rarely be identical.

Overclocking Tools -
Gigabyte’s tools of choice is EasyTune6. This is a suite of tools that are combined in a single UI. I have to say that in my opinion the UI is a little boring and there are pages that get in the way of what it is intended to do.  However, this does not take away from the functionality or the performance; this is just a personal thing. The first two pages get you the same information as you find get from CPUz.  It is not until the third page (well really the first page when you open the application) that you get into the real workings of EasyTune6.

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The third page in is the Tuner Page. You start off on the Quick Boost page. Here you have three options for a one stop overclock. The first two are probably places that you won’t want to go if you bought this board and the third; well that is just a pit stop on the way to higher speeds.

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For the people that really bought this board for what it is intended you will want to skip over the “easy” button and head right on into the advanced settings pages. Here you can really do some damage. You have access to the BCLK, Memory, and PCIe frequencies.  You also get to play with the Ratios, and a ton of voltage options. Like I said you can do some damage here. Just a note, if you change the memory speed you will need to reboot.

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The next three tabs let you OC the GPU (well most of them), setup and work with the Smart Fan settings, and monitor the temperatures and voltages. I have honestly never used the GPU overclocking function but I have tinkered with the smart fans and the H/W monitor.


The Test System and Comments -
Our test system is built on an open bench. This has two effects on testing. First it allows us to see everything and also to setup and disassemble the test rigs quickly. Second it means that we cannot gauge the potential air flow found in a normal case. The air is pretty stagnant; some may say this is a great neutral testing method and it can be. However, it does mean that the temperature reading taken off of the components are not accurate to what an average consumer would see. This means that your thermal performance will vary from what we see here.

systemThe setup of the X58A-OC went very well, that is until we found an issue with trying to install Windows 7 on to an SSD while we had AHCI enabled. Whenever the system went to reboot it would fail. The failure was at the POST stage which was odd. However if I put the system into Legacy IDE mode things went without issue. We tried this multiple times but always ran into the same issue. Once we got past this (by leaving the HDD mode as Legacy IDE) we had no issues at all. The installation went smoothly; we have a suspicion that this choice will hurt us in the long run though.


Performance testing overview -
Our testing is a little different than most. We combine both synthetic and real-world applications to simulate the types of performance common to the individual products. For motherboards this means that we run roughly six synthetic tests and two real-world. We will be expanding the real-world testing in the near future.  But there is more to performance than just the raw numbers. As there are multiple components and sub-components on a motherboard there each item can have a distinct impact on the way the product will perform once you get it in your system. It is important to note not only the actual results but what they mean to you as a potential consumer. We will try to give this information to you. But we do not just cover the performance aspects that are measurable. We also talk about the components that might not have a direct benchmark. These are items like Audio Quality, ease of use and installation.  

Section 1 Subsystems -
Memory -
Memory performance is very important on a motherboard, especially when you have a CPU with multiple cores and threads. If you have slow memory your cores and threads can become starved for data to execute. To test memory performance we run both Sisoft’s SANDRA and AIDA64. These two combine to not only give us accurate numbers but to validate each other. For testing at stock speeds the memory is hard set to 1333MHz while overclocking testing is done at the highest stable speed for the voltage of 1.65v this is due to the different memory dividers for each CPU. As such, the memory speeds will vary greatly. This means that the overclocked numbers are a little misleading and while they can show a trend are really only included to show if a board has a problem with memory performance at high clockspeeds.

mem
This is an interesting chart here. It reminds me of the days when Gigabyte was far too conservative with their memory timings and skews. The result was the default skews were too loose and they resulted in lower than normal memory speeds. That is sort of what we are seeing here. With the X58A-OC there is the possibility that these speeds represent an error in coding the stock performance metrics.  Thankfully this is an issue that can be corrected with future updates.

mem-oc
Looking at the overclocked speeds we find some additional evidence to support our theory that the BIOS needs some tweaking to correct a slight memory performance issue. You can see that the UD9 is way up in the chart but then again the UD9 has a clean and tweaked BIOS; we are certain the X58A-OC will get there too.

Stock Speeds Overclocked
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Our AIDA64 results give us a closer look at the issue. Take a look at the Latency between the two; the stock numbers show 57.2ns that is a lifetime when you are talking about a system with an IMC. The overclocked numbers drop down to 48.1ns almost 10ns difference.

Drive performance -
Drive performance is also one of the major subsystems that goes to make up the performance of a motherboard.  For our testing we use Sandra and AIDA64 again.  We only test with single drives for each type of controller present on the motherboard (unless it is a professional product where we will use RIAD 5 and/or 10). We have also begun using a Seagate PS-110 USB 3 external HDD for our USB 3.0 performance.  As a side note, we include the overclocked numbers here to make sure  (again) that you are not going to see a major drop in performance due to minor instabilities at high clock speeds.

hdd
Remember that little note about not being able to use AHCI? Well… here is the result of that. We find a serious performance gap between the X58A-OC and the next board in the group. This can hurt us later in some of our HDD dependent tests.

hdd-oc
AIDA64 gives us the details for what SANDRA summarizes. Under the IDE Legacy mode the system gets great read speeds at the beginning of the drive but anything toward the middle and the end of the drive drops off significantly. This would seem to be a potential issue with the way the legacy IDE mode deals with the trim firmware in the SSD.  Again, this is something that can be corrected with a BIOS update.

HDD Stock Tests HDD Overclocked Tests
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Stock USB 3.0 Performance Overclocked USB 3.0 Performance
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Power -
Power efficiency is another of those misnomers that we get caught up in. We hear about idle states and power gates. But what does that mean to you and I?  On the surface having power management that reduces idle power sounds great and can be a benefit to someone that leaves their system on for long periods of time (and inactive) but how a system handles power under load and the delta between the two states is often more important than the idle power usage numbers. We use only P3 Kill A Watt instruments for measuring power.

power
Under our stock usage the Gigabyte X58A-OC looks like it is about average for power draw. At least it looks average until you realize that I had all of the available power connectors connected. When you take all of that into consideration the stock power draw numbers are a little more impressive.

power-oc
The overclocked numbers are even more impressive when you think about what we have going into the board (remember the 1200Watt max to the CPU?).

Cooling (Board Level) -
Board level cooling is an important factor in product performance and longevity. Components like the chipset, VRM modules and even capacitors need to be kept relatively cool to prevent failure. As these parts are made of silicon, they have a thermal breakdown threshold; or melting point. At that temperature the actual transistors built into chip will begin to deform and break down. Granted, the threshold is often very high, but you still need to make sure that components stay away from this level of heat for longer product life.  

heat
Remember how we told you about the design of the board level cooling? Well, the proof is in the pudding. We see great stock numbers (granted only .4 degrees cooler). This is not just the size of the cooling surface but the way it is designed. The overclocked scores are also very good, they are not at the very top, but they are still good.  

heat-oc
Audio -
Audio is highly subjective. What we find pleasing may sound “off” to you. That is always going to the problem with testing audio; results will vary too widely depending on the tastes of the listener. However, there are ways of measuring the audio output with an objective ear. There is also the issue of audio causing performance issues in gaming and video playback. The reason this is a potential source of concern is that all onboard audio CODECs (Compression/Decompression) are CPU controlled. This means that while the audio chip controls the audio levels and effects of the audio the actual work is done on the CPU. Usually this will not be a problem with today’s powerful CPUs. Even the lower and consumer level products can handle high-end audio these days. But again there is the chance that a bad design or software will hinder your system and performance. On the other side the limits of board space, cost, etc will also prevent the level of audio quality you can get from an add-in board.  We test all audio parts with three media types, Movie (DVD), MP3 Music, and Gaming. These are pushed to our Tec On model 55 Tube Amp to see if we can detect any signal issues in the reproduction.

The audio on the X58A-OC is rudimentary, it is there because Futuremark’s 3DMark 11 and PCMark Vantage actually require it. If this was not true, I have a feeling that it would not even be here. Still even with its ancillary status the audio is not bad. If you are looking at this board for normal use it will suffice, but you might want to get a better audio card if you are looking for gaming or anything else.

Networking -
This one is something that is a requirement anymore. If you have a computer, the chances are good (like 99%) that you are also connected to high-speed internet.  With this you need a good and solid LAN chip to make sure that your data flows properly out and back.

The network chip on the X58A-OC is also something of an ancillary product. It is needed for more than one reason; you need it to submit scores and there are also some benchmarks and tests that look for the network card. If this was not the case or you could submit scores to Futuremark in other ways I am fairly certain that even this would have been left off.  On the other side this, like the audio is more than acceptable for 99% of users in the market the X58A-OC is being sold to.

 


Section II - Performance Tests, Synthetic
In this section of testing we cover the synthetics. These are tests that run a scripted sequence of internal APIs or that use another installed application to perform a series of scripted events. They are great in that they can provide reproducible results across various platforms. On the down side, synthetic tests can be fooled with driver tweaks and optimizations. In some cases it is necessary to rename the .exe file to something generic to discover if this is the case. In any event when this is needed (when a test shows a drastic difference in performance over the renamed exe) we will note this and show both results for comparison.  

PCMark Vantage -
PCMark Vantage is a suite of tests designed to test the power of your computer. It runs task that range from productivity to gaming (DX9 only). It is a great test to identify potential problem areas with general performance on a system. It can also show how well a single component can increase or decrease system-wide performance. We run both the x86 and x64 PCMark Suites for testing.

pcmv
Here we see a direct result of the Legacy IDE setting. PCMark Vantage is HDD intensive. There is really not much more to say about this. We really hope that Gigabyte releases a fix for this soon.

pcmv-oc

3DMark 11 -
3DMark 11 is the other Futuremark test that we run on our motherboards. This test simulates the typical tasks that a GPU (and system) would have to perform to provide you with a good gaming experience. It is based on the DX9, DX10 and DX11 engines but can only be installed on Windows Vista or later. The suite of tests covers DX9, DX10, and of course DX11 rendering; it also covers AI computations and physics. That’s right I said Physics the latest version of 3DMark uses a Havok physics engine. This removes the advantage that nVidia had with 3DMark Vantage.

3dm11
Now let’s take a look at what we have here; the X58A-OC appears to be made for this benchmark. It is not quite at the top of the group here. I do have to point out that the difference in 3DMarks is very small. When we overclock the X58A-OC we get back to the top and this time by a larger margin.

3dm11-oc

HyperPi 0.99b -
HyperPi is a front end application that allows you to easily run multiple instances of the SuperPi application. SuperPi, for those that are not familiar with it, is an application that measures the time it takes to calculate the number Pi out to as many as 32 million places. This calculation is then checked and run multiple times (up to 24 for a 32M run).  This test stresses the CPU, Memory and HDD as data is handed off between the three. If there is a weak link, HyperPi will show it. For our testing we run the 32M test on as many cores (and threads) as the CPU has available.  The slowest CPU time is then recorded.

Hpi
The HyperPi testing gives us good results which is something of a surprise given the slower than expected memory and HDD speed. The results here are a good sign for other tests like Lightwave 3D and Cinebench R11.5.

Hpi-oc

Cinebench R11.5 -
Cinebench R11.5 is the 11th release of Maxon’s rendering test. This test is based off of the Cinema 4D engine, which is one of the industry standard tools for digital animation. It is a powerful product with many different modules that can be “plugged” into it to increase its effectiveness. With Cinebench you get to see how your computer would do using this application. There are two tests; one tests the CPU’s ability to render an image across multiple cores or threads. The other tests your systems ability to handle OpenGL based rendering.

CBr11
The render points here are very close, but when you consider that most projects are a lot more than a single frame. Because of this even a small difference in render time can make a big difference. The stock speeds are close to the top while the overclocked scores are a single .01 point off.

CBr11-oc

 


Section III - Performance Tests, Real-World
Here we have two tests that are designed to put the performance of the motherboard and its subsystems to the test. Both require good CPU, Memory, HDD and even to a lesser extent audio and network performance. The two tests we chose were Lightwave 3D 9.6 and AutoGK 2.55. We will be adding at least one more real-world test to this battery in the near future, but for now these two cover quite a bit.

Lightwave 3D 9.6 x64 -
Lightwave is another industry standard application for 3D animation and rendering. It has a large tool base and the rendering engine is highly threaded (when using the right render model). This application is also capable of expanding to 4k resolutions as well as ray tracing for rending the light sources. For our testing we use frame 470 of the Pinball scene found in the LW 9 Content folder.  This uses the newer perspective camera that is better suited to a multi-CPU/Core environment. This camera style also uses ray tracing and a much improved anti-aliasing method. Settings are shown below in the attached screen shot.  Of course these are single frame renders and they are not a complete picture; for that you have to take into account the number of frames an average project would have. In a typical 30 second commercial you will have around 840 to 960 frames (at 28 – 32 FPS) this means that you have to multiply the time of a single frame by that number just to get a vague idea of how long that 30 seconds would take. This is because each frame will have a different render time based on complexity.

lw
Our single frame renders for the X58A-OC are in the middle with a delta from the X58A-OC to the leader being only four seconds. The overclocked scores are very different with the X58A-OC taking the lead by three seconds.

lw-oclwproj
The estimated project times show how much those seconds matter. Here you can see that even a difference of one second turns into 16 minutes and a four second gap ends up being over an hour.

lwproj-oc

AutoGK 2.55 Transcoding -
AutoGK is a transcoding software that is really multiple parts combined to make an easy to use whole. It combines, items like FDD Show, Xvid encoder, Virtual Dub and others for use in converting one media format to another (usually Xvid AVI). It will not transcode copy protected DVDs or Bluray discs yet (you still need a decrypter for that). But it does an excellent job on everything else.  For our testing we use a 2 hour movie that has been placed onto a standard definition DVD for playback; we then transcode this DVD to a 100% quality AVI with the original audio intact.  This puts a strain on the CPU, Memory, HDD and the attached DVD ROM drive.

agk
Our AutoGK times look pretty good for the X58A-OC They are not the fastest we have seen but they are quite good considering the test system was running in Legacy IDE mode.

agk-oc

Section IV Performance – Gaming
Gaming as a test of motherboard performance is sort of a joke these days. The big player in the gaming arena is the GPU. Everyone but a few hardcore PR teams know this. However, it is important to run at least a few (one from each current DX version) to see if there are any issues with the combination of components on a motherboard. These are items like Audio lag, memory lag and of course problems with the PCIe lanes and signal traces. If there are issues in design, drivers or BIOS then you can have odd gaming performance. So without much more preamble let’s dive into the three games we currently use; Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 for DX9 FarCry 2 for DX10 and Battlefield Bad Company 2 for DX11.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 DX9 -
This is an excellent but short game that put you right into the action from the beginning and does not let up the pressure until the very end. The graphics are a little better; most notably the night and thermal imaging have been improved. The AI is still the typical COD “bar fight” style AI, with maybe a tad more finesse. All in all it is not a bad game to play and a decent one to use for testing. Our testing run starts at the bridge and ends after you clear the school in the first level of the game. Settings are shown below as are the performance numbers.

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mw2
The X58A-OC is at the bottom of the pile, but with a minimum frame rate of 76FPS we are fairly certain that you would not know the difference.

mw2-oc

FarCry2 DX10 -
Although not one of my favorite games this tedious game does have some good graphics. The large sandbox style of the game lends to mission based play. The only problem is that the AI is rather low grade. Still the more CPU power the more the bad guys try to do. Over all the game was a little bit of a disappointment to play, but still not a bad DX10 representation. Our testing run starts right after you get your first mission to clean out the safe-house and ends after the hostage rescue. Settings and performance numbers are shown below.

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fc2
Ok, ok, it is time to retire this test. Look for something to replace FarCry2 in the very near future. Even the lower end of the scale is more than playable.

fc2-oc

Battlefield Bad Company2 DX11 –
I have liked many of the Battlefield games. They usually tend to be fast paced and fun. With Battlefield Bad Company 2 you do get some of that, but there is something about the graphics and the movement that just does not sit right. The AI is a less sophisticated form of the bar fight AI, but it gets the job done. Still, the game is good for testing as it can put a strain on the components of the board. Out testing run is the entire first level, from beginning to end. Settings are shown below along with the raw numbers.

84bc2

The X58A-OC did not do well with Bad Company2. This could be due to the audio CODEC, the HDD performance or the slower memory performance. It could also be a combination of all three. Whatever the cause the X58A-OC just could not pull it out for this game.

bc2-oc
Gaming wrap-up -
The X58A-OC is not a gaming motherboard, it is an overclocking motherboard. We can see this from the way it handles tests like our real-world gaming its performance is average when compared to the others in the grouping. I do have to remind everyone that even the slowest system in our grouping would give you a more than adequate gaming experience.

 


Value -
Value is another very subjective topic. What is expensive to some might be a deal to others. You can look at this topic in multiple ways. One is raw price and the other is what you get for the money. Each is accurate and both are correct ways to look at price/value. We tend to look at features, performance and real-property when we discuss value. However, we also take into account the raw cash cost of the item.

The X58A-OC will set you back about $380 this puts it in the same price range as most top-end gaming or overclocking boards (and much less than the older X58A-UD9). Now, for most this will seem like a lot of money and well, it is. However, this price is only ridiculous to someone that does not need the features that the X58A-OC has to offer. It is nothing that I have not said before; if you are interested in browsing the web or some simple productivity work then this is not the board for you and the price will not make sense.  For those of you that are looking to break out the LN (Liquid Nitrogen) and your copper pots then this the X58A-OC will make sense and the price won’t be that big of a deal. In fact it is something of a bargain.

Conclusion -
The X58A-OC looks like a great board on paper. There are some great design choices and excellent workmanship. The only issues we see right now are with the shipping BIOS; we have a feeling that many of the issues that we saw will be ironed out very quickly. Still even with the SSD and ACHI mode problem we had we have a feeling that with the right cooling (ours is still simple liquid), memory and of course CPU and you will get some simply amazing clocks on this. Right now our roadblock is our cooling for certain. We could not get anywhere near the 1200 Watts to the CPU as we would have liked. Our cooling would just not keep up. We are actively looking into better cooling for this board so that we can show off what it can really do when pushed. We are also planning on re-visiting the X58A-OC with the next BIOS version released to see if Gigabyte has fixed the one issue we ran into.

To wrap things up, we can and will recommend the X58A-OC for any overclocker looking for their next board. The reasons are pretty simple, even with the SSD issue you can get some good clocks with the right gear, and you are really not going to find an overclocking board that is this stripped down from anyone else on the market (at least not yet).

Last modified on 19 June 2011
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