Temperatures loiter around the 55-60 degree mark in regular use and rose to 75 degrees when we ran a pair of GeForce GTX 280 graphics cards in SLI. That’s right, SLI. We’ll come to that shortly. The point is that we strongly feel that the X58 Pro needs a case fan to keep the chipset cool and it is quite possible that you won’t have a fan header available for the task.
Once the X58 Pro was running we installed the MSI software and found that the installer has been given a makeover and looks far slicker than in the past. The utilities are the Windows-based BIOS update tool, Live Update. The two other pieces of software are Overclocking Centre and Green Power Centre II which are very similar with one utility putting the emphasis on overclocking and the other on power saving. Unfortunately Overclocking Centre allows you to adjust voltage and Base Clock settings but not the clock multiplier so it wasn’t much use for overclocking our unlocked Core i7 965 Extreme.
We headed into the BIOS and found that the CPU voltage is set as a relative value rather than as an absolute while all of the other voltages are set as absolutes, which was all a little confusing. Our CPU required +0.23V to achieve the 1.45V that we have found produces results and then things got interesting. With the X58 Platinum we found the options for overclocking were rather limited and we could only run our 965 Extreme at 28 x 140MHz = 3.92GHz. With the Pro we could pick and choose any permutation of base clock speed and clock multiplier to achieve a clock speed of circa 4GHz and the system was remarkably tolerant of our abuse.
We had to clear the CMOS a couple of times when we took things too far but that was also easy with the on-board micro button, which incidentally only cleared the overclocking settings and retaining date and time settings.
Once we had finished overclocking we followed a hint from MSI and installed the BIOS from the X58 Pro SLI motherboard. We downloaded BIOS version 8.0, booted with a USB key and installed the BIOS without any trouble. The result was that our X58 Pro suddenly gained the ability to run SLI as well as CrossFire so we plugged in a pair of GeForce GTX 280 graphics cards and ran a quick set of benchmarks which delivered impressive results.
Clearly the X58 Pro and X58 Pro SLI are identical pieces of hardware and it is the BIOS that enables SLI in the Nvidia drivers so if you want to run dual Nvidia graphics cards on the cheap, you know what to do.
There’s no denying the X58 Pro is a remarkable good value Core i7 motherboard but we feel that a grave error has been made with regard to the chipset cooling.