Various DDR3 memory kits are often marketed for setting some kind of MHz record. Even video cards carry the overclock (OC) moniker, yet most users don't really do that with them. But every motherboard seems to advertise overclocking, yet only GIGABYTE hasn't shied away from this extremely niche market. That's why they've stepped it up by introducing the X58A-OC. It's a board that is marketed straight to extreme overclockers and excels whether using air, water, or liquid nitrogen for cooling. The goal with this board is to help you overclock the living juice out of your Intel Core i7 LGA1366 processor.
Features and Specifications
The features that power the X58A-OC are what give the board its heart and soul. It uses one of the most efficient VRM component designs in the industry. The board's orange and black theme are just the crazy icing on a highly overclockable cake, chosen by GIGABYTE's own in house overclocking champion, Hi Cookie. Yes, that is indeed the man's name.
In order to give you a close look at this very extreme board, we've got another one of our excellent video overviews for you to check out. Grab a Red Bull and tune in below...
While it might seem like the board is a little light on rear IO ports, it wasn't created to provide a full-on everyday desktop computing solution. This is a race car, not a daily driver. That is something to really keep in mind when if you intend to pick this board up to use for high end gaming or if you simply want to have something that the pros use. You'll definitely want to find a worthy audio card at the minimum if you intend to put this to use as your main rig. On that note, you'll also need to cough up $359 US to play, which puts it into GIGABYTE's G1-Killer Assassin territory, which includes your high end audio, network and other gaming specific bells and whistles.
The goal of our review will be quite simple: Overclock the X58A-OC and see where it takes our Intel Core i7-980XE processor as well as the DDR3 memory. Let's get down to the configuration system brass tax.
Test System Configuration
The X58A-OC is meant to handle any kind of LGA 1366 Intel processor including the hex-cores with all their pimped out Hyper Threading. While it would no doubt easily take four physical cores to the limit, it just seems more of a statement if we use to use a hexa-core instead. Here's what has been assembled.
- Processor: Intel Core i7-990XE Gulftown
- Motherboard 1: GIGABYTE X58A-OC (as tested)
- Motherboard 2: GIGABYTE X58A-UD5
- Memory 1: Kingston HyperX 6GB 2250MHz DDR3
- Memory 2: Patriot Memory Division 2 6GB 2000MHz DDR3
- Graphics: ZOTAC Geforce NVIDIA GTX 580
- Storage 1: Seagate Barracuda 500GB SATAII
- Storage 2: Patriot Memory Inferno 120GB SSD
- CPU Cooling 1: Noctua NH-D14 CPU Cooler (Air)
- CPU Cooling 2: Koolance Exos 2.5 w/CPU-360 Cooling Block (Water)
- Power Supply: Antec Tough Power Quattro 1200 Watt
- OS: Windows 7 Pro 64-bit
Since the CPU needs to stay the coolest at all times, the beast of a Noctua CPU air cooler and Koolance water cooling were chosen. The Koolance also happens to be a higher flow system which does well for carrying away heat that will undoubtedly be produced by the CPU. The only thing we have not touched on is Liquid Nitrogen or LN2 for short, which is typically not a method available to users at home. One of the purposes of this review is to make sure we give home users a good idea of what they get when they do step up to something of this calibre with methods that they can get a hold of.