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MSI X58 Pro review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £165
inc VAT


LGA1366, ATX, Intel X58 chipset, supports: Core i7, Core i7 Extreme Edition

Intel’s Core i7 processors are both powerful and expensive, but it’s not only the price of the processor that stings your wallet.

It requires DDR3 memory, which costs around 50 per cent more than DDR2 memory. Worse still, the only motherboard chipset to support Core i7 is Intel’s X58, and most X58 motherboards cost well over £200. Thankfully, MSI’s X58 Pro is available for a slightly more reasonable £162 including VAT.

The X58 Pro supports the full range of current Core i7 processors. There are plenty of options for overclocking. You can set the processor’s base clock speed and tweak the QuickPath Interconnect, which connects the processor to the memory and other system devices. There are also exhaustive menus for adjusting voltage and memory timings.

The board has six memory slots for DDR3 modules, so you can use triple-channel memory kits. It supports memory rated at up to only PC3-10600, although this isn’t a disaster as faster memory is expensive. Like other Core i7 boards, the X58 Pro supports up to 24GB of RAM.

We tested the board using a 2.66GHz Intel Core i7-920 processor with 3GB of RAM. The results were impressive, with the scores in every benchmark exceeding anything we’ve seen before. Its overall PCMark Vantage score of 5,805 is five per cent quicker than any board we’ve tested before.

As well as being fast, the X58 Pro is well equipped. It has three PCI-Express x16 slots, so you could run three compatible Radeon graphics cards in a CrossFireX configuration. However, in this case the third slot runs at just x4, which could limit the card’s capabilities. This motherboard has no SLI support for multiple Nvidia graphics cards, either. These problems shouldn’t worry people who are building a fast new PC, but those who already have multiple Nvidia cards may want to look elsewhere.

The board’s other slots include two PCI-Express x1 slots and two PCI slots. These are sensibly positioned so that even with two large graphics cards fitted in your PC, you’ll still be able to use one slot of each type. The six SATA ports on the edge of the board are easily accessible and won’t be blocked by large cards. You can use these to set up a RAID 0, 1, 5 or 10 array.

The rear of the X58 Pro has all the ports you’re likely to need. FireWire and eSATA ports sit alongside six USB ports. The six mini-jack audio outputs support 8-channel surround sound audio, and there’s also an optical S/PDIF output. The board lacks a coaxial S/PDIF, though, and has only a single Gigabit Ethernet port.

MSI’s X58 Pro slices around £50 off the cost of building a Core i7 PC, which is a significant saving. Despite this, it still has all the features that most users are likely to need and is quicker than any other X58-based board we’ve see. Core i7 still isn’t suitable for everyone, with Phenom II-based PCs providing plenty of performance for less money overall, but if you need to build a powerhouse of a computer, this is the motherboard for you.

Basic Specifications

Rating *****
Processor socket LGA1366
Form factor ATX
Size 305x244mm
Processor support Core i7, Core i7 Extreme Edition
Processor external bus 133MHz (3.2GHz QuickPath Interconnect)
Chipset north bridge Intel X58
Chipset south bridge Intel ICH10R
Passively-cooled north bridge yes
Integrated graphics No
Supported memory type DDR3 800/1066/1333
Maximum memory speed PC3-10600
Memory slots 6
Maximum memory 24GB
Dual-channel support yes

Buying Information

Price £165

Internal Ports

Power connectors 1x 24-pin ATX, 1x 8-pin ATX
PCI-E x16 slots 2
Dual graphics architecture CrossFireX
PCI-E x4 slots 1
PCI-E x1 slots 2
PCI slots 2
Fan headers 4
Floppy ports 0
IDE ports 1
Serial ATA ports 7
RAID chipset (max disks) Intel ICH10R (6x SATAII, RAID 0, 1, 5, 10)


Wired network ports 10/100/1000
Sound (ports) Realtek ALC888S (6x analogue out, optical S/PDIF)
USB2 ports / headers 6/3
Firewire ports / headers 1/1
Legacy ports 2x PS/2
Other ports 1x eSATA
Brackets included 1x FireWire

Setup and Overclocking

Voltage adjustment CPU/RAM/chipset
CPU clock max adjustment 1,000MHz

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