The Intel Core i7 platform has reigned the high-end performance sector since launch, however most recently due to cuts in DDR3 memory pricing it has also become a viable option for system builders on a tighter budget.
Besides the very substantial drop in DDR3 memory prices, a variety of supporting motherboards priced at or below the $200 mark have arrived to market. Processor pricing has not changed, nevertheless the Core i7 920 was always reasonably priced at $280, especially for the kind of performance throughput you get in exchange.
Those looking to build a Core i7 system on a budget will no doubt choose the Core i7 920 as the next step up costs $570, and at more than twice the price the Core i7 950 only offers a slight performance advantage. The Core i7 920 can also overclock just as well and we have had numerous processors reach a stable frequency of 3.60GHz using standard cooling.
The motherboard choice is not as obvious, even though a single chipset is being used across the board. The Intel X58 is what drives all Core i7 motherboards today and for the most part you will have to pay dearly for it. Recently we reviewed the MSI X58 Pro-E which is priced at just $190, making it one of the cheapest Core i7 motherboards available. This well designed motherboard offers excellent tuning potential, though it lacks many features found in more expensive X58 products.
Today we will be checking out the DFI LANParty UT X58-T3eH8 and the LANParty JR X58-T3H6 motherboards.
The LANParty UT X58-T3eH8 is DFI's flagship X58 motherboard (or as DFI likes to call it "overclocking motherboard") which at $270 offers all the bells and whistles you could ask from an enthusiast-level motherboard. The LANParty JR X58-T3H6 is a bit cheaper at $230, with its biggest feature being the Micro ATX form factor used, similar to the Asus Rampage II GENE we tested back in March.
On the next few pages we will take a closer look to each motherboard's features and board designs. Then our mandatory performance test suite and overclocking results.