Gigabyte GA-X38-DQ6 Socket 775 Motherboard

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Posted by on Tuesday, June 30, 2009 - 3:34pm

overviewIf Gigabyte being the respectable motherboard company it is gave the world one of the first motherboards built on this new socket. The X38-DQ6 gives all the bells and whistle needed to be a full featured motherboard. Blessed with firewire, USB 2.0, SATA II and PCIe 2.0, the X38-DQ6 is bound to be a board like no other. And if the features don't attract you the colorful layout will. The blue, red, orange and yellow are enough to brighten up any case. 

Introduction

It seems just like yesterday we laid our eyes on the P35 chipset from Intel. The P35 give us some pretty good overclocking ability. The type of ability that we had seen in the P965 chipset. It was able to take our good old DDR2 to some pretty high levels. And if you have the funds and went the DDR3 route you saw even more bandwidth. The P35 had quite a few people wandering if they should give up their trusty P965. But it seems as Intel never gets enough of giving us the best performance routes, so they have graced us with a new chipset. The X38 chipset was the main type of many forum posts. We were all looking forward to seeing the increases in performance with its release.

If Gigabyte being the respectable motherboard company it is gave the world one of the first motherboards built on this new socket. The X38-DQ6 gives all the bells and whistle needed to be a full featured motherboard. Blessed with firewire, USB 2.0, SATA II and PCIe 2.0, the X38-DQ6 is bound to be a board like no other. And if the features don't attract you the colorful layout will. The blue, red, orange and yellow are enough to brighten up any case.

Gigabyte on the X38-DQ6

The GA-X38-DQ6 is GIGABYTE next generation, high performance platform based on the killer combination of the new Intel X38 chipset plus support for the latest multi-core processors up to FSB 1600MHz, including the upcoming 45nm platform. In addition to setting new record for blistering performance, the GA-X38-DQ6 features an all-new copper Silent Pipe thermal solution for both the chipset and CPU power MOSFET, dramatically reducing the temperature around the CPU. The GA-X38-DQ6 is also part of the GIGABYTE Ultra Durable 2 Series of motherboards, featuring top quality electronic components which provide optimized power savings, ultra cooling and extended system durability.

 

Packaging and contents

The X38 comes in one of the thickest boxes I have ever seen come from Gigabyte. I guess this is needed as the board comes with tons of accessories. But getting back to the box, it displays all the need to know on the back side. The big box consist of two thinner boxes, one contains the motherboard alone and the second one for all the accessories.

The second box carries around all the normal items your get with a new board like SATA, IDE, I/O brackets and etc. but you all get SATA power adapters, audio bracket and SATA I/O bracket as well. You will be surprised to see all that is included.

Specifications

CPU

•  Support for an Intel ® Core™ 2 Extreme processor/ Intel ® Core™ 2 Quad processor/ Intel ® Core™ 2 Duo processor/ Intel ® Pentium processor Extreme Edition/ Intel ® Pentium D processor/ Intel ® Pentium 4 processor Extreme Edition/ Intel ® Pentium 4 processor in the LGA 775 package

•  Support for Intel ® Hyper-Threading Technology

•  Support 1600/1333/1066/800 MHz FSB

Chipset

•  Northbridge: Intel ® X38 Express Chipset

•  Southbridge: Intel ® ICH9R

•  T.I IEEE 1394 Controller

•  Gigabit Lan Controller

•  8 Channels ALC889A Audio controller

Memory

•  4 x 1.8V DDR2 DIMM sockets supporting up to 8 GB of system memory

•  Dual channel memory architecture

•  Support for DDR2 1066/800/667 MHz memory modules

* Please refer "Memory Support List" for memory support information.

Expansion Slots

•  2 PCI Express x16 slot (Support PCI Express 2.0)

•  3 PCI Express x1 slots

•  2 PCI slots

Form Factor

•  ATX form factor, 305 x 244mm

Internal I/O Connectors

•  1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector

•  1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector

•  1 x 4-pin PCIe 12V power connector

•  1 x floppy disk drive connector

•  1 x IDE connector

•  8 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors

•  1 x CPU fan header

•  2 x system fan headers

•  1 x power fan header

•  1 x North Bridge fan header

•  1 x front panel header

•  1 x front panel audio header

•  1 x CD In connector

•  1 x S/PDIF In header

•  1 x S/PDIF Out header

•  2 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers

•  1 x IEEE 1394a headers

•  1 x parallel port header

•  1 x Trusted Platform Module (TPM) header

•  1 x serial port header

•  1 x power LED header

•  1 x chassis intrusion header

Back Panel Connectors

•  1 x PS/2 keyboard port

•  1 x PS/2 mouse port

•  1 x coaxial S/PDIF Out connector

•  1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector

•  8 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports

•  2 x IEEE 1394a ports

•  2 x RJ-45 port

•  6 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out/Rear Speaker Out/Side Speaker Out/Line In/Line Out/Microphone)

BIOS

•  2 x 8 Mbit flash

•  Use of licensed AWARD BIOS

•  Support for Dual BIOSTM

•  PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.3, ACPI 1.0b

Other Features

•  Ultra Durable 2 Motherboard

•  All copper Silent Pipe and Crazy Cool

•  All Japanese manufactured solid capacitors with SMD (Surface Mount Device)

•  Over-clocking Enhanced

•  Support for @BIOS

•  Support for Download Center

•  Support for Q-Flash

•  Support for EasyTune

•  Support for Xpress Install

•  Support for Xpress Recovery2

Remark

•  Due to different Linux support condition provided by chipset vendors, please download Linux driver from chipset vendors' website or 3rd party website.

•  Due to most hardware/software vendors no longer offer support for Win9X/ME. If some vendors still has Win9X/ME drivers available, we will publish on website.

•  Duo to chipset limitation, Intel ICH9R RAID driver does not support Windows 2000 operating system.

 

 

Features

•  Supports Intel ® Core 2™ multi-core and upcoming 45nm processors

•  Support for 1600 MHz FSB.

•  Dual Channel DDR2 1066 memory support for outstanding system performance.

•  High quality CPU power module with Ferrite Core Chokes, Lower RDS (on) MOSFETs and Lower ESR Solid Capacitors.

•  Re-engineered Thermal Design featuring All Copper Silent-Pipe and Crazy Cool.

•  Japanese manufactured SMD All Solid Capacitor motherboard design.

•  Supports AMD CrossFire™ with Dual PCI-E 2.0 x16 graphics for extreme gaming performance.

•  Features SATA 3Gb/s with Quad eSATA 2 interface .

•  ALC889A with DTS Connect enables high quality Full Rate Lossless Audio and support for both Blu-ray and HD DVD.

•  Quad BIOS for an extended level of protection.

•  Quad-Triple Phase Power Design for ultimate system stability.

•  Dual Gigabit Ethernet LAN with Teaming functionality.

•  Certified for Microsoft VISTA™ systems.

About the X38 chipset

There are three main focuses of this latest chipset: the first is the introduction of DDR3 to mainstream computer systems. No matter what you currently think about the prices of DDR3 it is here to stay. DDR3 gives us the largest amount of bandwidth that we have ever seen. And this increase in bandwidth also matches the FSB of newer Core2Duo processors on a one to one level.

Next is the introduction to the new PCIe compliance which is simply called 2.0. This basically takes the old version's bandwidth and doubles it. So, are we no longer stuck at 8GB/s but 16. This doesn't only apply to the 16x slot but all the other PCIe slots which would be 1x, 2x and 4x.

But what we like the most is the fact that the new chipset has all the workings to satisfy the likes of Intel's soon to be released the Penryn. The Penryn will bring about processor FSB of 1333 and 1600. Don't fear all the current 800 and 1066MHz chips are supported.

We will allow Intel to get more technical for you:

 

Intel® X38 Express Chipset Features

1333/1066/800 MHz System Bus

Supports the Intel® Core™2 Duo and Intel® Core™2 Quad processors with Intel® Virtualization Technology (Intel® VT)¹, Dual-Core Intel® Pentium® processor, and Intel® Celeron® processor.

PCI Express * 2.0 Interface

PCI Express 2.0 delivers up to 16GB/s bandwidth per port, double that of PCIe* 1.0. It provides leading-edge graphics performance with dual X16 graphic card configuration.

Intel® Fast Memory Access

Updated Memory Controller Hub (MCH) backbone architecture that improves system performance by optimizing the use of available memory bandwidth and reducing the latency of the memory accesses.

Dual-Channel DDR3 memory support

Delivers up to 21.2 GB/s (DDR3 1333 dual 10.6 Gb/s) of bandwidth and 8 GB memory addressability for faster system responsiveness and support of 64-bit computing.

Dual-Channel DDR2 memory support

Delivers up to 12.8 GB/s (DDR2 800 dual 6.4 GB/s) of bandwidth and 8 GB memory addressability for faster system responsiveness and support of 64-bit computing.

Intel® Flex Memory Technology

Facilitates easier upgrades by allowing different memory sizes to be populated and remain in dual-channel mode.

Intel® High Definition Audio²

Integrated audio support enables premium digital sound and delivers advanced features such as multiple audio streams and jack re-tasking.

Intel® Matrix Storage Technology³

With a second hard drive added, provides quicker access to digital photo, video and data files with RAID 0, 5, and 10, and greater data protection against a hard disk drive failure with RAID 1, 5, and 10. Support for external SATA* (eSATA*) enables the full SATA interface speed outside the chassis, up to 3 Gb/s.

Intel® Rapid Recover Technology

Intel's latest data protection technology provides a recovery point that can be used to quickly recover a system should a hard drive fail or if there is massive data corruption. The clone can also be mounted as a read-only volume to allow a user to recover individual files.

Serial ATA * (SATA) 3 Gb/s

High-speed storage interface supports faster transfer rate for improved data access.

eSATA/Port Multiplier

SATA interface designed for use with external SATA devices. Provides a link for 3 Gb/s data speeds to eliminate bottlenecks found with current external storage solutions. Intel also supports natively port multipliers. Combining port multipliers, eSATA, and Intel Matrix Storage Technology provides great flexibility and expandability for external storage solutions.

SATA* Port Disable

Enables individual SATA ports to be enabled or disabled as needed. This feature provides added protection of data by preventing malicious removal or insertion of data through SATA ports. Especially targeted for eSATA ports available on the outside of the system.

USB* Port Disable

Enables individual USB ports to be enabled or disabled as needed. This feature provides added protection of data by preventing malicious removal or insertion of data through USB ports.

 

 

Closer look

Let's begin by saying Gigabyte knows how to make a colorful motherboard. Gigabyte still bases their boards on the traditional bright blue PCB. And atop the blue PCB is a show room of slots with full of colors. Each connection on the board has its own color scheme. This makes things so much easier to deal with when building of a new rig. The overall layout of the board is not a bad one by any means. And plugs are located on the outer perimeter of board making cable management an easy one with the right case.

Getting with the different areas of the board we begin with the CPU area. The socket is clear of all obstructions. The caps around the socket are short and the heatsink that cools the PWM is also short in stature to not interfere with the mounting of any heatsinks.

The X38 consist of a total of five PCIe slots, two 16x and the 1x. Each of them is based on the new PCIe 2.0 pact. And to recall the colorful statements above the slot are light blue for the 16x slots and black for the 1x ones.

The SATA ports are based on two different chipsets. The first one is the JMicron each is responsible for two of the port as well as the single IDE controllers. The other six are controlled via the ICH9 chip. These ports are colored orange and purple for the hard of seeing.

The rear of the board or I/O area as some will call it is comprised of so many plugs that one would not need to buy any add-in cards. I was really surprised to still see PS/2 ports, but they are still there. Alone with eight USB 2.0 ports Gigabyte gives the user two firewire ports as well, a 6 pin and a 4 pin. If you need dual Ethernet ports they are there also. Have a 7.1 speaker system? Plug it in.

The four yellow and red DIMM slots are capable of supporting 8 gigs of DDR2 at any speed variations. And for those are still in need of floppy support it lays to the right of the DIMM slots alone with the ATX power connector.

The X38 has a very good cooling system implemented. The three copper based heatsinks are collect to one another via a copper heat pipe. The back of the board shows that Gigabyte did not skip out on the back as it houses a copper back plate. The whole cooling system can be removed if one intends to water-cool.

 

BIOS

Gigabyte uses the Award BIO that I have always being fund of. With the press of the CTRL-F1 keys would lead to the major overclocking options.


System Health

MB Intelligent Tweaker
CPU Ratio and CPU Frequency

PCI Express Frequency and CIA 2

Performance Enhance and System Memeory Multiplier

DDR2 Voltage and PCI-E Voltage

FSB Voltage and MCH Voltage

CPU Voltage

 

Testing

I will try and be more persistent on the reviewing of motherboards from this point forward. With companies backing us like Asrock and Gigabyte, you will begin to see more motherboard reviews here on the pages of Pro-C. All testing will be done in one lab.

Our testing will be done using this core product listed here:

 

Testing Experiment

Intel Core2Duo E6600

Super Talent PC2 8500

Stock Intel cooling

Leadtek 6800GT

Maxtor DiamondMax 10 100GB

HP DVD740 drive

Ultra ProX 800 power supply

Noctua cooling fan

 

Testing is broken down in the following categories to give the reader the ability to do directly to the section he/she wants.

 

CPU results

Futuremark PCmark05 Build 1.1.0

PCMark®05 is everything you need to reliably and easily measure the performance of your PC and determine its strengths and weaknesses. With PCMark05, you will be able to select the optimal upgrades for your existing PC, or choose the right new PC that fits your specific needs. This easy-to-use product gives you the same tools and knowledge that virtually every professional tester in the industry uses.

 

Motherboard
PCMark05 (CPU)
Gigabyte P35-DS3R
6145
Gigabyte X38-DQ6
6009

 

Super PI Modded 1.5

In August 1995, the calculation of pi up to 4,294,960,000 decimal digits was succeeded by using a supercomputer at the University of Tokyo. The program was written by D.Takahashi and he collaborated with Dr. Y.Kanada at the computer center, the University of Tokyo. This record should be the current world record. (Details are shown in the windows help.) This record-breaking program was ported to personal computer environment such as Windows NT and Windows 95. In order to calculate 33.55 million digits, it takes within 3 days with Pentium 90MHz, 40MB main memory and 340MB available storage.

 

Motherboard
SuperPI
Gigabyte P35-DS3R
21.406
Gigabyte X38-DQ6
21.766

 

 

Ram results

Futuremark PCmark05 Build 1.1.0

PCMark®05 is everything you need to reliably and easily measure the performance of your PC and determine its strengths and weaknesses. With PCMark05, you will be able to select the optimal upgrades for your existing PC, or choose the right new PC that fits your specific needs. This easy-to-use product gives you the same tools and knowledge that virtually every professional tester in the industry uses.

 

Motherboard
PCMark05 (Ram)
Gigabyte P35-DS3R
4856
Gigabyte X38-DQ6
4767

 

SiSoftware Sandra Lite 2007 SP1

SiSoftware has announced the availability of Service Release 2 (SR2) for SiSoftware Sandra 2005, the latest version of its award-winning utility. The focus of this service release has been improved support, compatibility and reliability rather than new features. We have been working closely with more hardware vendors than before to be able to bring greater direct support of an increased market share of commodity and server technologies.

 

Motherboard
Sandra Int
Gigabyte P35-DS3R
4676
Gigabyte X38-DQ6
4698
Motherboard
Sandra Float
Gigabyte P35-DS3R
4680
Gigabyte X38-DQ6
4702

 

Lavalys Everest

Lavalys EVEREST Home Edition is freeware system information, system diagnostics and benchmarking solution for home PC users, based on the award-winning EVEREST Technology. It offers the world's most accurate system information and diagnostics capabilities, including online features, memory benchmarks, hardware monitoring, and low-level hardware information. EVEREST Home Edition is uniquely available for home users without any charges, based on the freeware license.

 

Motherboard
Everest Read
Gigabyte P35-DS3R
4987
Gigabyte X38-DQ6
5004
Motherboard
Everest Write
Gigabyte P35-DS3R
1806
Gigabyte X38-DQ6
2059

 

 

HDD results

Futuremark PCmark05 Build 1.1.0

PCMark®05 is everything you need to reliably and easily measure the performance of your PC and determine its strengths and weaknesses. With PCMark05, you will be able to select the optimal upgrades for your existing PC, or choose the right new PC that fits your specific needs. This easy-to-use product gives you the same tools and knowledge that virtually every professional tester in the industry uses.

 

Motherboard
PCMark05 (HDD)
Gigabyte P35-DS3R
4796
Gigabyte X38-DQ6
5041

 

Simpli Software HD Tach 3

HD Tach will test the sequential read, random access and interface burst speeds of your attached storage device (hard drive, flash drive, removable drive, etc). All drive technologies such as SCSI, IDE/ATA, 1394, USB, SATA and RAID are supported. Test results from HD Tach can be used to confirm manufacturer specs, analyze your system for proper performance, and compare your performance with others. HD Tach is very easy to use, quick, and presents data in easy to read graphs, including the ability to compare two storage devices on screen at the same time for easy analysis.

 

Motherboard
HD Tach
Gigabyte P35-DS3R
133
Gigabyte X38-DQ6
137.1

 

 

Video and Gaming results

Futuremark 3DMark06 Build 1.0.2

3DMark®06 is the worldwide standard in advanced 3D game performance benchmarking. A fundamental tool for every company in the PC industry as well as PC users and gamers, 3DMark06 uses advanced real-time 3D game workloads to measure PC performance using a suite of DirectX 9 3D graphics tests, CPU tests, and 3D feature tests. 3DMark06 tests include all new HDR/SM3.0 graphics tests, SM2.0 graphics tests, AI and physics driven single and multiple cores or processor CPU tests and a collection of comprehensive feature tests to reliably measure next generation gaming performance today. Futuremark's exclusive Online ResultBrowser web service tracks and compares 3DMark06 scores.

 

Motherboard
3DMark06
Gigabyte P35-DS3R
2625
Gigabyte X38-DQ6
2570

 

Sierra F.E.A.R. Update 1.08

F.E.A.R. ™ (First Encounter Assault Recon) is an intense combat experience with rich atmosphere and a deeply intense paranormal storyline presented entirely in first person. Be the hero in your own spine-tingling epic of action, tension, and terror… and discover the true meaning of F.E.A.R.

 

Motherboard
Sierra F.E.A.R. Avg
Gigabyte P35-DS3R
42
Gigabyte X38-DQ6
41

 

3drealms Prey

PREY takes full advantage of the Sound Blaster® X-Fi™ sound card. PREY supports OpenAL hardware acceleration, EAX® ADVANCED HD™ 5.0 features of 4 reverberation effects at once, and uses Sound Blaster® X-Fi™ XRAM feature to load audio samples on the cards with 64 megs of RAM.

 

Motherboard
PREY
Gigabyte P35-DS3R
45.1
Gigabyte X38-DQ6
44.1

 

 

Overclocking

When it comes to overclocking the X38, there is little different when compared to the likes of the P35 chipset. When entering the BIOS, your first step should to hit CTRL-F1 to open up all available options.

We kept all the specs in range of those from the manufactures of the components we used to see how high we could get the processor. With a combination of higher voltage and lower ram timing we were able to get an decent 450 MHz. We tried everything to get more out of a maximum FSB on behalf of the ram to no avail. The wall was hit.

Conclusion

We are seeing our first review of an X38 chipset motherboard on the pages of Pro-Clockers. And it's a good thing that it is a good one. Gigabyte offers a really rich full motherboard for the gaming and overclocking enthusiast. It offers everything in the form of ports and expandable. And it performed as well as can be wanted from a brand new chipset. The one thing that I am looking forward to in the future is more BIOS upgrades to unleash the power which we all know the X38 has underneath.

The layout of the board is pretty clean and neatly arranged. This is something that has become a big concern with me because I really hate a messy install and the X38 from Gigabyte eliminates that. The colors used can take a little time to get use to but the performance is where this board stands out. If you are a big fan of Gigabyte motherboards you will be quite use their choice of colors.

And for those that are in new things Gigabyte does have an all DDR3 version of the board. We will see if we can get our greedy little hands on one to bring you some performance numbers. We would like to thank Gigabyte for supplying the board to us.

 

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