Overclocking and Final Thoughts
Unfortunately, when it came time to overclock the M59SLI-S5 things did not go as planned. While the ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe managed a 340MHz FSB, getting the Gigabyte board stable at even 300MHz just seemed like going too far.
Using the latest F3 BIOS revision I was only able to achieve a stable 266MHz FSB, which is not really even worth reporting. Therefore, I did not even bother to include the overclocked performance results in the review, as we have seen what an Athlon64 3800+ can do when operating on a 340MHz FSB.
While I could go on about my disappointment with this boards overclocking abilities, I will move on and look at all the other good things that the M59SLI-S5 has to offer.
After all, punishing a good motherboard for poor overclocking performance may not be the most justified approach. There could have been some other kind of hardware issue restricting the overclocking performance. Whatever the case may be, at this stage I cannot report the M59SLI-S5 as an overclocking monster. Rather, what I can confirm is that for $200 there are few AM2 motherboards that offer such a vast range of high-quality features. From the board design and layout to the embedded features, this Gigabyte motherboard is first rate.
The silent-pipe cooling setup featured on the M59SLI-S5 is the best of its kind and it did an exceptional job of keeping the board and all its critical components cool. Unfortunately, while this cooling setup was very effective it was unable to show its true colors when operating at high frequencies. The temperatures never got high-end to show any signs of weakness, so I can only assume the silent-pipe cooling setup works perfectly. The Crazy Cool back plate is a great idea, though it is one I would look into revising as it makes the installation of most after market coolers impossible.
As I had mentioned before it was the boards' feature set that impressed me the most, the motherboard supports Dual-Channel DDR2 memory, Serial ATAII RAID, 8-Channel Audio, a silent cooling setup, Dual Gigabit LAN, SLI-ready PCI Express 16x. The M59SLI-S5 does not just support Serial ATA II RAID, it features a total of eight ports on board. This means right out of the box the M59SLI-S5 supports up to eight SATA hard drives.
AMD was well aware of the performance, or should I say lack of performance the new AM2 platform offered gamers. That being the case, there is very obvious reasoning on why these premium-priced nForce 590 SLI boards offer such a vast range of features. Without so many of them there would be very little incentive for current Athlon64 owners to take the plunge and make the upgrade to the new AM2 socket. Users with high-end 939-pin processors will most likely wait for a bigger leap in performance before they need to upgrade anyway.
Both NVIDIA and motherboard makers knew it would be hard to justify a $200+ investment for a motherboard and then expect users to put down a similar amount for a decent processor when the performance of this new platform is not any better than that of the older Socket 939. With the fully featured nForce 590 SLI chipset NVIDIA tried catering to the enthusiast delivering the ultimate AMD experience and it does just that. Although there are only a handful of nForce 590 SLI boards on offer, those available are exceptionally good. The Gigabyte M59SLI-S5 is certainly one of the best nForce 590 SLI options out there despite the average overclocking performance. If it wasn't for the close pricing with the exceptional ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe, we wouldn't hesitate in recommending this Gigabyte board.