Gigabyte GA-X48-DQ6 Intel Socket 775 Motherboard

Posted by on Saturday, June 27, 2009 - 3:39pm

overviewGigabyte being a leader in motherboards is making it easy on us to have the best when new chipsets are released. They have being right there, first to market, when Intel believed it was time for change. This used to be a position held by Asus. Gigabyte is the first to bring us the new X48 chipset to our rigs. This honor belongs to the X48-DQ6 and X48T-DQ6, DDR2 and DDR3 versions respectively. The DQ6 being the high end model for Gigabyte, it has all the bells and whistles. From complex cooling systems to high-end capacitors you can’t ask for more in a motherboard except for excellent overclocking. Can the X48-DQ6 accomplish what we achieved with EX-38 just a few weeks ago?

Introduction

Every time we turn around there are companies introducing something new for us to buy. Bigger faster hard drives, faster processors, faster video cards and new chipsets are being released like there is no tomorrow. This is one expensive hobby for people that want to keep on top. This, mixed with my car modding and newly found photography hobby, has gotten me in bad with the old lady.

With the introduction of the X48 came a lot of speculations that it was just high binned X38 chips. This may be true. But regardless of what the X48 really is, it is the highest end Intel chipset and may be the death of the older sibling. And what was wrong with the X38? How about poor overclocking performance? Many say they saw better overclocking potential in the P35 than the X38. This is a claim I also saw when I compared my personal Abit IP35 to the Asus P5E, but soon contradicted when I tested the Gigabyte EX38-DS4.

Gigabyte being a leader in motherboards is making it easy on us to have the best when new chipsets are released. They have being right there, first to market, when Intel believed it was time for change. This used to be a position held by Asus. Gigabyte is the first to bring us the new X48 chipset to our rigs. This honor belongs to the X48-DQ6 and X48T-DQ6, DDR2 and DDR3 versions respectively. The DQ6 being the high end model for Gigabyte, it has all the bells and whistles. From complex cooling systems to high-end capacitors you can’t ask for more in a motherboard except for excellent overclocking. Can the X48-DQ6 accomplish what we achieved with EX-38 just a few weeks ago?

Gigabyte talks about the X48-DQ6

Designed for enthusiasts with extreme over-clocking and blistering gaming performance in mind, the GIGABYTE GA-X48-DQ6 is based on the killer combination of the newest Intel X48 chipset plus support for the latest multi-core processors up to FSB 1600 MHz, including the Intel 45 nm processors. The GA-X48-DQ6 is CrossFireX™ enabled with true dual PCI-E 2.0 x16 connectivity for the ultimate in extreme gaming performance. Built tough to provide maximum stability, durability and performance for even the most hard-core gamers, the GA-X48-DQ6 delivers several advanced GIGABYTE innovations including the Ultra Durable 2 design, featuring top quality electronic components which provide optimized power savings, ultra cooling and extended system durability.


Packaging

There is a little change when it comes to the box the X48 comes in. Missing is the white box with huge icons of the motherboard’s features. Replacing it is a large gold box with large icons of the features. It takes a big box to hold all the stuff that comes with these high-end boards. How often do you get a chance to see the motherboard before you open the box? Gigabyte gives you a tease view of the motherboard behind a front flap.

Specifications

CPU

  1. 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/ Intel® Celeron® processor in the LGA 775 package
    (Go to GIGABYTE's website for the latest CPU support list.)
  2. L2 cache varies with CPU
  3. 1600/1333/1066/800 MHz FSB

Chipset

  1. North Bridge: Intel® X48 Chipset
  2. South Bridge: Intel® ICH9R

Memory

  1. 4 x 1.8V DDR2 DIMM sockets supporting up to 8 GB of system memory
  2. Dual channel memory architecture
  3. Support for DDR2 1200/1066/800/667MHz, ECC, non ECC memory modules.

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

  1. Realtek ALC889A codec
  2. High Definition Audio
  3. 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
  4. Support for DTS (dts NEO:PC)
  5. Support for S/PDIF In/Out
  6. Support for CD In

LAN

  1. Realtek 8111C chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)

Expansion Slots

  1. 2 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots (The PCIE_16_1 slot supports x16; the PCIE_16_2 supports x16.)
  2. 3 x PCI Express x1 slots (share with the PCIE_16_2 slot)
  3. 2 x PCI slots

Storage Interface South Bridge:

  1. 6 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (SATAII0, SATAII1, SATAII2, SATAII3, SATAII4, SATAII5) supporting up to 6 SATA 3Gb/s devices
  2. Support for SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10

GIGABYTE SATA2 chip:

  1. 1 x IDE connector supporting ATA-133/100/66/33 and up to 2 IDE devices
  2. 2 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (GSATAIIA, GSATAIIB) supporting up to 2 SATA 3Gb/s devices
  3. Support for SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, and JBOD

iTE IT8718 chip:

  1. 1 x floppy disk drive connector supporting up to 1 floppy disk drive

IEEE 1394

  1. T.I. TSB43AB23 chip
  2. Up to 3 IEEE 1394a ports (2 on the back panel, 1 via the IEEE 1394 bracket connected to the internal IEEE 1394 header)

USB

  1. Integrated in the South Bridge
  2. Up to 12 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (8 on the back panel, 4 via the USB brackets connected to the internal USB headers)

Internal I/O Connectors

  1. 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
  2. 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
  3. 1 x 4-pin PCIe 12V power connector
  4. 1 x floppy disk drive connector
  5. 1 x IDE connector
  6. 8 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors
  7. 1 x CPU fan header
  8. 2 x system fan headers
  9. 1 x power fan header
  10. 1 x North Bridge fan header
  11. 1 x front panel header
  12. 1 x front panel audio header
  13. 1 x CD In connector
  14. 1 x S/PDIF In header
  15. 1 x S/PDIF Out header
  16. 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
  17. 1 x IEEE 1394a header
  18. 1 x parallel port header
  19. 1 x serial port header
  20. 1 x power LED header
  21. 1 x chassis intrusion header

Back Panel Connectors

  1. 1 x PS/2 keyboard port
  2. 1 x PS/2 mouse port
  3. 1 x coaxial S/PDIF Out connector
  4. 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
  5. 8 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
  6. 2 x IEEE 1394a ports
  7. 2 x RJ-45 port
  8. 6 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out/Rear Speaker Out/Side Speaker Out/Line In/Line Out/Microphone)

I/O Controller

  1. iTE IT8718 chip

H/W Monitoring

  1. System voltage detection
  2. CPU/System temperature detection
  3. CPU/System/Power fan speed detection
  4. CPU overheating warning
  5. CPU/System/Power fan fail warning
  6. CPU fan speed control

BIOS

  1. Supports QuadBIOS
  2. 2 x 8 Mbit flash ROM
  3. Use of licensed AWARD BIOS
  4. PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.4, ACPI 1.0b.

Unique Features

  1. Support for Dynamic Energy Saver
  2. Support for @BIOS
  3. Support for Download Center
  4. Support for Q-Flash
  5. Support for EasyTune
  6. Support for Xpress Install
  7. Support for Xpress Recovery2

Form Factor

  1. ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 24.4cm

Remark

  1. Due to different Linux support condition provided by chipset vendors, please download Linux driver from chipset vendors' website or 3rd party website.
  2. 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.
  3. Duo to chipset limitation, Intel ICH9R RAID driver does not support Windows 2000 operating system.

Features

  1. Revolution energy saving design with DES technology
  2. Supports Intel® Core 2™ multi-core and 45nm processors.
  3. 1600 MHz FSB (Front Side Bus) support.
  4. DDR2 1200 memory with Intel® ECC technology featuring faster speeds and higher data bandwidth
  5. High quality CPU power module with Ferrite Core Chokes, Lower RDS (on) MOSFETs and Lower ESR Solid Capacitors.
  6. Supports ATI CrossFireX™ with Dual PCI-E 2.0 x16 graphics for extreme gaming performance.
  7. High speed Gigabit Ethernet with Green design for power consumption
  8. ALC889A with DTS Connect enables high quality Full Rate Lossless Audio and support for both Blu-ray and HD DVD.
  9. Features SATA 3Gb/s with Quad eSATA 2 interface.
  10. Quad BIOS for an extended level of protection.
  11. Quad-Triple Phase Power Design for ultimate system stability.
  12. 2 Gigabit Ethernet LAN through Teaming.


Closer look at the X48

If you are looking for a motherboard that will have a good upgrade path, look no further than the X48 chipset and the Gigabyte X48-DQ6 motherboard. One main attribute of the X48 chipset is the fact it has full support for 1600 MHz FSB processors which there is only one right now, the QX9770. Besides having a nice front side bus upgrade path there is more the latest Gigabyte board has to offer and that is upgrade capacitors and MOSFETs.  We, as overclockers and enthusiasts, are looking at more than how high a motherboard can get our new quads but how long it is going to last. And companies like Gigabyte, Abit and ASUS know what makes a strong board and this is the start.

The overall layout of the X48-DQ6 is pretty decent but not great. The obstacles start at the bottom right corner of the board. There’s a lot going on in such a little area. Six SATA connections, front panel pins, two USB headers and a single IDE connector, all reside in this small area. This makes for a huge cluster of cables, plugs and connectors. But depending on your case and cable management skills these may not be an issue.

The space between the two 16x PCIe slots is plentiful. For those that are fortunate enough to have two ATI video accelerators, no matter single slot or dual, there is plenty of room for air circulation. The only drawbacks are you will lose access to the two 1x PCIe slots and the closest PCI slot underneath the second 16x PCIe slot.

The area surrounding the CPU socket is ½ engulfed by rather large heat sinks, but Gigabyte leave enough area to mount the biggest of coolers. Gigabyte labels the whole cooling system Crazy Cool. Turning it over on its back, the Crazy Cool sinks are mounted here as well. Gigabyte provides accessories for those that wish to opt for another type of cooling solution.

And like the earlier models like the EP35 and EX38, the X48 uses a set of LEDs to indicate power consumption. These LEDs are another visual aid to the DES software that gives the same status but in a Windows environment. Ideally, no matter what OS you choose to use, you will give some type of indication there is a load and to what level.

On the I/O portion of the motherboard, Gigabyte chose not to include an eSATA connector here. It is provided via a bracket that is part of the accessory package. We won’t fault them too much since there are plenty of USB parts to go around. There is even a four pin firewire port as well.

Ports include:
Mice and keyboard PS/2
RCA digital
Optical digital
6 pin firewire
4 pin firewire
eight USB
two LAN
six audio ports

BIOS

CPU Frequency: 100-700MHz
PCI Frequency: 90-150MHz
CPU ratio: 6 to CPU default
CPU voltage: 0.70-2.35V
DRAM voltage: default- +1.55
MCH voltage: default- +0.375
System Memory Multiplier: 2, 2.4, 3.2, 3.33, 4.0, 2.5, 3, 4


Testing

Testing Hardware:
Intel Core2Duo E8400
DDR2 Crucial Ballistix PC6400 (4-4-4-12)
Maxtor 100GB SATAI
Leadtek 6800GT
Thermalright Ultra 120
Thermaltake TP1000

Testing Software:
Futuremark PCMark05
Futuremark 3DMark06
SiSoftware Sandra
Everest Ultimate
SuperPi 1.5 mod
Prey
F.E.A.R.

Competition:
Asrock 4Core1600P35-WiFi+ (DDR2)
Asrock 4Core1600P35-WiFi+ (DDR3)
Gigabyte GA-EP35-DS4
Gigabyte GA-EX38-DS4

Results

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.

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 in collaboration with Dr. Y.Kanada at the computer center. 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 90 MHz, 40 MB main memory and 340 MB available storage.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


Overclocking

Now I know what it means when sites state that the newer X48 chipset is higher binning X38, as we were able to get more out of our test processor than the little brother. I was very impressed by the overclocking abilities of the Gigabyte EX38 but this new board topped it. If only by a small margin, I was still excited by the overclocking abilities. And this is because I achieved a new high with this processor on the older board and if we can exceed that then it is all worth it.

This first image is us meeting the same levels as we did with the EX38. Not too bad but this is the newer chipset so we expected more and we got it as you can see in the second image. We topped out at 490 MHz with just setting main memory timings and voltages.

Power Consumption

Here we see that the D.E.S. feature does work. As we seen power consumption drop from 10-25 watts during idle and load useage.


Conclusion

The Gigabyte X48-DQ6 has met and exceeded all our expectations. First of all, it performed better that the EX38 from Gigabyte we reviewed a month ago. In every test we put the board through, it came out on top. So, I guess the “better binned chips” does live up to the hype in some way. And in another way it was even better and that was when it came to overclocking. Yes, we did manage a 483 MHz overclock with the EX38 which is not bad at all when the CPU multiplier was never changed. But the X48 one upped it doing 490 MHz stable with the same settings. That may not seem like a lot but 63 MHz is 63 MHz extra. Just like in my other hobby, car modding, every ounce of horsepower matters and the case is the same for overclocking, ask any extremist!

The layout and the color arrangement of the X48 are very subtle. The heatsinks are modest compared to ones we have seen from the likes of Foxconn, Abit and Asus. Don’t get me wrong these coolers can be seen from above but not as big as some of the competitors. And Gigabyte even supplies you with accessories if you decide to go another route with the cooling of the North Bridge.

Gigabyte offers a lot of connectivity when it comes to the I/O panel of the motherboard, mostly in the form of USB ports. Eight of the twelve ports are located right here. With the number of USB devices I have attached to my PC, this is great. But what the I/O lacks are eSATA connections. Gigabyte does supply you with an eSATA bracket which is great but sacrificing maybe one USB port for an eSATA would have been better.

We enjoyed working with the X48 motherboard but the experience could have been better if Gigabyte was to start putting a power, CMOS reset and reset button directly on the board. Granted not many board manufacturers do this but we would like Gigabyte to start.
We would like to thank Gigabyte for sending over the X48-DQ6 for our testing pleasure.

 

 

 

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