Sapphire Pure Black X58 LGA1366 Motherboard Review

Author: MAC
Date: March 8, 2011
Product Name: Sapphire Pure Black X58
Part Number: PB-CI7S41X58
Warranty: 2 Years
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As a necessary companion to the Core i7 processors, Intel released the X58 Tylersburg northbridge, now known as the IO Hub (IOH). This reclassification has occurred because of the fact that the memory controller has been integrated into the processor itself. As a result, the IO Hub is now solely responsible for implementing PCI Express lanes and linking to the I/O Controller Hub (ICH) southbridge. Since the front side bus is no more, the X58 communicates with the processor via the new high-speed QuickPath Interface (QPI), and it is connected to the southbridge (ICH) via the traditional Direct Media Interface (DMI). The southbridge is the venerable ICH10R found on all P45 Express motherboards, and it supports six SATA II ports, AHCI, and Matrix RAID technology.

The X58 features 36 PCI-Express 2.0 lanes, which signifies that it supports two proper PCI-E x16 slots. However, Sapphire has shockingly decided to forgo this most basic of X58 features, and instead the Pure Black X58 does x16/x8 when two graphics card are installed. A triple card configuration can run at x16/x8/x8, which is the standard for X58 motherboards. As we have come to expect, all X58 motherboards have CrossFireX support, but some models have been certified for NVIDIA SLI as well. Regrettably, Sapphire have decided not to opt for SLI on the X58 Pure Black...possibly because they couldn't get it certified due to the unusual PCI-E speeds.

Officially, Intel's specifications list DDR3-1066 as the highest supported memory speed on the Bloomfield/X58 platform. However, all motherboard manufacturers have marketed their models as DDR3-1600 capable, with many models supporting up to DDR3-2200. Sapphire have been very conservative and have listed this new model as merely DDR3-1600+ capable.

That is about all there is to know about the chipset itself, so let's move on to the motherboard itself. With its $270-280 price tag, the X58 Pure Black is priced as an upper-level X58 motherboard, but can specs sheet back that up, especially considering the aforementioned limitations.

As we said in the intro, this motherboard does have very good connectivity, and some interesting ‘Special Features’, so let’s find out whether it is a good enough product to make us overlook its multi-GPU shortcomings.

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