Articles: Mainboards

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Design and Functionality

We’ve already mentioned the characteristic color scheme of the TUF series. Its winged emblem might do quite well for some special troops whereas the combination of black, green and brown is not unlike military camouflage.

The heatsinks look unusual. They look coarse and are indeed so when you touch them. The manufacturer says that the ceramic coating of the heatsinks, called CeraM!X, dissipates heat better than ordinary metallic heatsinks, thanks to its larger surface area.

The mainboard’s functionality is largely determined by its Intel X58 Express chipset. It supports all modern LGA1366 processors and triple-channel memory. There are six memory slots for a maximum of 24 gigabytes. The two graphics card slots work in full-speed PCI Express 2.0 x16 mode and support CrossFireX and SLI configurations. The third PCIe slot works in x4 mode. The Intel ICH10R South Bridge offers six SATA 3 Gbps ports with the option of uniting the attached hard disks into RAID 0, 1, 5 or 10 arrays.

The capabilities of the flagship, yet already rather old, chipset are complemented by a number of onboard controllers: the Marvell 88SE9128 adds two SATA 6 Gbps ports, the VIA VT6308P is responsible for IEEE1394 (FireWire), the NEC D720200F1 supports the two USB 3.0 ports at the back panel, and the JMicron JMB362 is for the mainboard’s eSATA and Power eSATA ports. By the way, we have seen Power eSATA connectors on other mainboards but they were all combined ones. That is, the power for the external SATA device was provided via USB and you could use the combo eSATA/USB port not only for eSATA but also for USB devices. The Power eSATA connector of ASUS mainboards only supports external SATA devices.

Here is a full list of the mainboard’s back-panel connectors:

  • PS/2 keyboard or mouse connectors;
  • Eight USB ports, including two USB 3.0 ports (blue connectors) implemented via NEC D720200F1 controller; six more USBs are available as three onboard pin-connectors;
  • Optical S/PDIF and six analogue audio jacks provided by eight-channel Realtek ALC892 codec;
  • IEEE1394 (FireWire) port implemented via VIA VT6308P controller, the second port is available as an onboard pin-connector;
  • Power eSATA 3 Gbps ports (green connectors) and eSATA 3 Gbps implemented due to JMicron JMB362 controller;
  • Local network port (network adapter is built on Gigabit Realtek RTL8110SC controller).

We can note a few exclusive features of ASUS mainboards in general that are implemented in the Sabertooth X58: jumpers to expand the CPU and memory voltage range, a MemOK! button to solve memory-related problems that might prevent your system from starting up, and Q-LED indicators for diagnostic purposes. The following table lists the mainboard’s specifications:

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