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Digital-Daily : Motherboard Reviews : intel_p35_x38

Intel P35 / X38 Motherboards Roundup

Intel P35 / X38 Motherboards Roundup
Author: Aleksandr Mitrofanov
Date: 21.02.2008

A few weeks before, we published our roundup tests of motherboards based on the Intel P35 chipset. Today, we are complementing it by adding eight more motherboards based on the Intel X38, with one of them (abit IX38 QuadGT) being tested for the very first time and the remaining ones reviewed formerly.

A few words on the X38 chipset. Release of Intel's new high-end chipset has not proved users' expectations. Yes, it does support sufficient number of PCI Express bus lanes (of the new v2.0 specifications) to make it possible for the developers to install two PCI Express x16 slots with 16 lanes allocated to each. Therefore, two AMD video cards in the Crossfire mode will run at the best performance. Besides, some motherboards based on X38 offer the third PCI Express x16 slot as well to which there are four PCI-E bus lanes allocated. You can install a third video card or a physics accelerator (although the fashion for such devices has already passed).


x38_theme.jpg

There are no other advantages in X38. Support for the PCI Express v2.0 bus does not give a real speed gain, and the expansion options remained at a level similar to that on P35-based motherboards . The latter is no wonder, because both the motherboards use the same south bridge ICH9 (R). Finally, Intel has deferred introduction of the 400 MHz (1600 QPB) system bus to 2008, and officially the bus is not supported by X38. Officially, this bus will be supported by the latest Intel X48 chipset which is a slightly improved version of X38. Until it has been announced, we can't make any conclusions regarding its superiority, but we dare assume that support for the 400 MHz is there in the X38 as well (albeit unofficially). As an evidence in favor of that, there is its high overclocking capability: all the motherboards based on X38 that we tested were running successfully at this frequency, as well as the fact that many motherboard manufacturers guarantee operability of their products based on X38 with the not yet released 400-MHz processors.

In fact, the release of X48 was planned early in the year, but under the pressure of motherboard manufacturers Intel deferred that event at least for two months. The thing is that the hasty release of X48 could bring harm to the sales of motherboards based on X38: because of the similarity of specifications the users would have ignored the "outdated" X38. Therefore, there may be several outcomes of further events. The most probable outcome is that X48-based motherboards will arrive in wide sales in a few weeks after Cebit to be held in March. This will result in the drop of prices for X38-based motherboards and their gradual disappearance from the retail shelves. Therefore, those users who find specifications and not the high rating of the chipset more important will get a good chance to buy a X38-based motherboard at quite a reasonable amount.

Another outcome - X48-based motherboards appear in sales much later, late in spring or early in summer. Therefore, the lifespan of products based on X38 will be more than expected, which makes them more topical. On the one hand, the probability of such an outcome is not high (a couple of X48-based boards is already there at our laboratory, and a review of one of them has already been published). On the other hand, there is no reason for Intel to force the release of X48 in combination with 400-MHz processors. Somehow or other, at Cebit we'll get the answer as to when and how many X48-based motherboards will appear.

This review has proved to be rather voluminous, so we'd better give our recommendations as which should be noted first. If you read the previous roundup review of P35-based motherboards, you don't have to read the introduction. We also displayed the names of X38-based motherboards in the table of specifications in bold so that to draw attention on them. There are no changes to the specifications of P35-based motherboards. There are two or three changes to the description of some P35-based motherboards, but they are so insignificant that we decided not to dwell on them.

Although the P35 chipset in combination with the south bridge ICH9(R) is a little bit better than the previous generation (P965 + ICH8(R)), by the end of 2007 it has taken a firm position in the middle-end and partly in the high-end sector. Intrusion into the high-end sector was quite short-lived, up to the release of the top-end Intel X38 chipset. That is a logical and consistent process, and we can expect its repetition in the new generation of Intel chipsets P45 and X48 which are to be released in the second quarter of 2008.

But until the summer of 2008, P35 and X38/X48 will be the major products. We note it straight off that, because of the novelty and the high price of X38, motherboards on its base seriously lose to products based on P35 in terms of attraction to users. The exception is only those users who need top-end compromise-free systems with two AMD video cards in the Crossfire mode, with a 4-core CPU and DDR3 memory. Therefore, we leave a review of X38-based motherboard for a later time and focus on P35-based products.

Chipsets

Let's talk about Intel P35 and X38 chipsets in a bit more detail. To start with, look at the comparative specifications table.

NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI NVIDIA nForce 590 SLI IE NVIDIA nForce 650i SLI NVIDIA nForce 650i Ultra Intel 975X Intel P965 Intel P35 Intel X38
Market sector high-end + SLI high-end + SLI middle-end + SLI middle-end high-end + Crossfire high-end/ middle-end + Crossfire high-end/ middle-end + Crossfire high-end + Crossfire
Socket Intel Socket 775 Intel Socket 775 Intel Socket 775 Intel Socket 775 Intel Socket 775 Intel Socket 775 Intel Socket 775 Intel Socket 775
Supported processors
Core 2 Extreme (dual and quad core)
Core 2 Quad
Core 2 Duo
Celeron D
Pentium 4
Pentium D 9XX
Pentium D 8XX
the same + support for Yorkfield, Wolfdale the same + support for Yorkfield, Wolfdale
FSB speed (MHz) 1333 MHz 1066 MHz 1333 MHz 1066 MHz 1066/1333* MHz 1066/1333* MHz 1333 MHz 1333/1600* MHz
Overclocking capability (3dnews.ru) Good Poor n/a n/a Good Very Good Excellent Excellent*
Support for NVIDIA SLI™ / AMD-ATI Crossfire SLI (2 x16) SLI (2 x16) SLI (2 x 8) - Crossfire (2 x 8) Crossfire (16 + 4) Crossfire (16 + 4) Crossfire (16 + 16)
Support for the third PCI Express x16 slot + (8 lanes) + (8 lanes) - - + (2/4 lanes) - - + (4 lanes)
Support for SLI-Ready Memory (MHz) with EPP 1200 MHz n/a - - - - - -
Support for Intel XMP (Extended Memory Profiles) - - - - - - - +
Support for DDR2 memory (MHz) 800 MHz 667 MHz 800 MHz 800 MHz 667 MHz 800 MHz 1066 MHz 1066/1200* MHz
Support for DDR3 memory (MHz) - - - - - - 1333 MHz 1333/1600* MHz
Support for PCI Express
No. of lanes
46 48 18 18 20 20 20 40
Q-ty of links
9 11 4 3 n/a n/a n/a n/a
PCI Express configuration
16, 16, 8, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1 16, 16, 8, 1, 1, 1,1, 1, 1, 1, 1 8, 8, 1, 1
or
16, 1, 1
16, 1, 1 8,8,1,1,1,1 16,1,1,1,1 16,1,1,1,1 16,16,4,1,1,1,1
Q-ty of SATA/PATA links 6/1 6/1 4/2 4/2 4/1 6/0 6/0 6/0
Support for RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5 0, 1, 0+1, 5 0, 1, 0+1, 5 0, 1, 0+1, 5 0, 1, 0+1, MatrixRAID 0, 1, 0+1, MatrixRAID 0, 1, 0+1, MatrixRAID 0, 1, 0+1, MatrixRAID
Integrated support for Gigabit Ethernet 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1
Support for USB 10 10 8 8 8 10 12 12
PCI 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5
Sound HDA (Azalia) HDA (Azalia) HDA (Azalia) HDA (Azalia) HDA HDA HDA HDA

Content:

  • Стр.1 - Introduction
  • Стр.2 - Roundup Specifications Table
  • Стр.3 - abit IX38 QuadGT (Intel X38; DDR2)
  • Стр.4 - abit IP35 Pro (Intel P35; DDR2)
  • Стр.5 - ASUS Maximus Extreme (Intel X38; DDR3)
  • Стр.6 - ASUS Maximus Formula (Intel X38; DDR2)
  • Стр.7 - ASUS P5E3 Deluxe (Intel X38; DDR3)
  • Стр.8 - ASUS P5E3 (Intel X38; DDR3)
  • Стр.9 - ASUS Blitz Extreme (Intel P35; DDR3) and Formula (Intel P35; DDR2)
  • Стр.10 - ASUS P5K3 Premium/Deluxe (Intel P35; DDR3)
  • Стр.11 - ASUS P5K Premium, P5K Deluxe, P5K-E/WiFi (Intel P35; DDR2)
  • Стр.12 - ECS P35T-A (Intel P35; DDR2)
  • Стр.13 - Foxconn X38A (Intel X38; DDR2+DDR3)
  • Стр.14 - Foxconn MARS (Intel P35; DDR2)
  • Стр.15 - Foxconn P35A (Intel P35; DDR2)
  • Стр.16 - Gigabyte X38-DQ6 (Intel X38; DDR2)
  • Стр.17 - Gigabyte P35-DQ6 (Intel P35; DDR2)
  • Стр.18 - MSI X38 Platinum (Intel X38; DDR3)
  • Стр.19 - MSI P35 Platinum (Intel P35; DDR2)
  • Стр.20 - MSI P35 Neo (P35; DDR2) and P35 Neo Combo (P35; DDR2+DDR3)
  • Стр.21- Performance tests
  • Стр.22- Final Words




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