I find myself legitimately surprised with what Sapphire are offering us here today. It's not the first time we've seen a motherboard from the company, but it's the first time we've seen one that we would really want to own with previous ones being based around the slower AMD CPU.
AMD make good CPUs and their chipsets aren't too bad, but the problem is any performance user is going to avoid them as if you have the need, the need for speed, you're going to find yourself with an Intel based platform.
Sapphire have not only put a board together that looks great, offers some great features with little extras like Bluetooth 2.1 being included, but they've managed to create a legitimately fast board that performance users will probably be interested in, too.
For some, though, the biggest problem with the board will probably be what's not there, and that's support for SLI. We understand that Sapphire of course wants to promote CrossFire and CrossFireX, but anyone buying an X58 board will think that SLI will be supported.
The decision to release X58 boards now seems a little weird, but Sapphire aren't the only company to release new X58 boards around CES time with other manufacturers also doing the same over the last week. We only say weird because Sandy Bridge has just launched and it offers amazing performance at an aggressive price tag. The good news is that Sapphire have said that their next board will be based on the Sandy Bridge platform and hopefully we'll see it next month; quite possibly sometime after Chinese New Year.
Some details manage to elude us at the launch of the board, which are pricing and availability, but we're sure that will show up in the coming weeks. What the board ultimately tells us, though, is that with the launch of the P67, the successor of the X58, that won't be far away and the flood of AMD Fusion based boards that will arrive this year, Sapphire could well be a major contender in the motherboard market.
The bottom line is that Sapphire have cemented themselves as a company that offers good quality products through their video cards. We can't see how that won't transition to their motherboards.