Choosing the correct name for a product appears to be a lost art in the tech industry. It sometimes seems as though companies think they can’t get their products to market without adding an ‘extreme’, ‘pro’ or ‘i-’ to the name of their latest and greatest creation. As such, it was a nice surprise when the brilliantly named Sabertooth X58 landed in our lab.
The Sabertooth is part of Asus’ new The Ultimate Force series of motherboards, which has the dubious distinction of being Asus’ first retail range of motherboards to use military-grade hardware. There’s even a certificate included in the box to prove that the capacitors, chokes and MOSFETs on the motherboard were tested at an independent lab to military specifications.
Obviously, this doesn’t mean that you can strap the Sabertooth to the back of your tank and head into battle – not all of the components are built to military specs and none of the parts that you connect to the board will be. We certainly can’t see your delicate CPU standing up to the same Solder Bath Test (MIL-STD-202G-210F Test method) the capacitors on the Sabertooth have been through, for example. At least Asus has put its money where its mouth is, though, as the Sabertooth is covered by a five-year warranty, as opposed to the normal three years of its other boards.
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Another noticeable feature of the Sabertooth is its distinctive heatsinks, which are rough to the touch. This is due to Asus covering the traditional aluminium heatsinks with its new and hideously titled CeraM!X ceramic technology, which apparently significantly increases their surface area, aiding heat dissipation. As the Sabertooth proved such a brilliant overclocker, this new heatsink design clearly works well.
We also liked the unusual camouflage colour scheme the board sports. It won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but its muted hues of green and tan are a refreshing change to the bright, LED-illuminated colours of most high-end motherboards.
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The Sabertooth isn’t all bling and no bite, though, as it’s also a remarkably well specced board for the price. The X58 chipset on which the board is based provides enough PCI-E lanes to supply the two tan-coloured 16x PCI-E slots with their full complement of 16 PCI-E lanes. This means that you could have hours of fun wrestling with dual-GPU driver issues should you be a glutton for punishment. The third 16x PCI-E slot on the other hand only receives a paltry four PCI-E lanes and would therefore be more useful for a sound card or other low-bandwidth device.
The board also plays host to two SATA 6Gbps ports that are primed and ready to receive the new generation of SATA 6Gbps SSD drives. Also present on the board are the now almost ubiquitous two blue USB 3 ports.
Chipset Intel X58
CPU support LGA1366 Core i7, Core i7 Extreme Edition
Memory support 6 slots: max 24GB DDR3 (2,200MHz)
Expansion slots Three 16x PCI-E 2.0 slots (two 16x and one 4x), one PCI, two 1x PCI-E
Sound Intel HD Audio via Realtek ALC892 with 8-channel support
Networking Realtek 8110SC Gigabit Ethernet
Overclocking CPU Clock 100 – 500MHz; max voltages, CPU 2.1, CPU PLL 2.5V, QPI/DRAM 1.9V IOH 1.7V, ICH 1.4V, RAM 2.46V
Ports 6 x SATA 3Gbps, 2 x SATA 6Gbps, PS/2, 6 x USB 2, 2 x USB 3, FireWire, LAN, 4 x surround audio out, line in, mic, optical out