The Intel Core i7 platform has dominated the high-end performance sector since its inception. Recently, however, due to price cuts for DDR3 memories, it has also become a viable option for system manufacturers on a tight budget.
In addition to the very sharp drop in DDR3 memory prices, a number of supporting motherboards have come onto the market that are priced below or below $ 200. The processor prices have not changed, but the Core i7 920 has always been offered at a reasonable price of $ 280, especially for the type of performance throughput that you receive in exchange.
If you want to build a Core i7 system on a budget, you will no doubt choose the Core i7 920, as the next step will cost $ 570 and the Core i7 950 will only offer a small performance advantage at more than double the price. The Core i7 920 can overclock just as well, and we have had numerous processors with standard cooling achieve a stable frequency of 3.60 GHz.
The choice of motherboard is not so obvious, although a single chipset is used across the board. The Intel X58 is what drives all Core i7 motherboards today, and for the most part, you have to pay dearly for it. We recently tested the MSI X58 Pro-E, which costs just $ 190 and makes it one of the cheapest Core i7 motherboards available. This well-designed motherboard offers excellent optimization potential, although it does not offer many functions in more expensive X58 products.
Today we're going to test the DFI LANParty UT X58-T3eH8 and LANParty JR X58-T3H6 motherboards.
The LANParty UT X58-T3eH8 is DFI's flagship X58 motherboard (or, as DFI likes to call it an "overclocking motherboard"), for $ 270 everything you could expect from an enthusiast-level motherboard. The LANParty JR X58-T3H6 is a little cheaper at $ 230. The biggest feature is the Micro ATX form factor used, similar to the Asus Rampage II GENE, which we tested in March.
On the next few pages we will take a closer look at the functions and board designs of the individual motherboards. Then our mandatory performance test suite and overclocking results.