Since the arrival of the Intel Core i7 processor we have come across a number of impressive X58 motherboards. Not too long ago we checked in detail the Asus P6T Deluxe and Gigabyte EX58-UD4P motherboards, both of which we found to be excellent products.
Perhaps the biggest problem we saw with these motherboards was their price, both situated above $250, they were far from affordable. Add to that the serious price premium for DDR3 memory, and you ended up with a relatively affordable and fast Core i7 920 processor that nevertheless needed to run on an expensive platform.
Today DDR3 prices have dropped dramatically. It is now possible to purchase a 3GB triple-channel kit for as little as $50, or a 6GB kit that start at around $80. The recent drop in DDR3 pricing got us thinking about the affordability of the Core i7 platform, and we began to wonder just how cheap users could build one of these systems.
The Core i7 920 still remains the only sensible option, and at $280 it can overclock to speeds that far surpass those of the $1000 975 Extreme Edition version. Now all we need is an affordable LGA1366 motherboard that will allow us to squeeze a few more MHz out of the Core i7 processor.
MSI has quietly been preparing an army of Core i7 motherboards, now with five unique models on offer, we feel they may have what we're after. The X58 Pro-E is an interesting looking motherboard, priced at around $200 which is almost as low as X58-based motherboards will go.
The X58 Pro-E sits in the middle of the standard X58 Pro motherboard which is about $20 cheaper and the slightly more expensive X58 Platinum. Then there's the MSI X58 Eclipse which is priced more aggressively at $320 and is thus reserved for extreme users.
From where we sit, MSI doesn't seem to have skimped on any essential features with the X58 Pro-E, so let's take a closer look and see what this motherboard is all about.