Gigabyte GA-EX38-DQ6 Review
Reviewed by: Propane
Reviewed on: April 10, 2008
There are many components that are included in a complete computer system, all of which are required for proper operation. However, there is one component that allows all of the other parts to interface with one another. This component is, of course, the motherboard. Motherboards allow the RAM, CPU, video card, hard drive(s), and everything else to talk to each other. As time has gone along, certain improvements have been made to motherboards, such as using solid capacitors, including power saving features, and providing the ability to modify almost any setting that controls voltage, bus speeds, etc.
The Gigabyte GA EX38-DQ6 is one of Gigabyte's higher end motherboards that uses Intel's X38 chipset. The motherboard has many features, including Blu-Ray and HD DVD audio support (and 7.1 + 2 channel output), 2Gigabit LAN (via Teaming), Ultra Cool Silent Pipe technology, ultra durable capacitors, chokes, and MOSFETs, and dynamic energy saving. Specially designed for 45nm processors, the EX38-DQ6 can run any Core 2 processor and can push the FSB up to 1600MHz and will push DDR2 RAM to 1200 MHz. In this review I am going to go through and look at and test every part of this motherboard thoroughly so you can know if it is the motherboard for you.
First, I would like to take a look at the packaging that Gigabyte chose to use for the EX38-DQ6 motherboard. This case is somewhat new to me and can also be found on the X48-DQ6. As the pictures show, the box is larger than the old box and is gold in color. A handle is also on the top of the case which could be helpful, especially if you bought the motherboard in a retail store. The front of the box lists some of the motherboard's main features, such as some major power savings and the X38 chipset that this board is based on. The back lists a lot more information about the board, and provides pictures of the motherboard and some cool graphs.
People have been becoming familiar with the door flap style packaging that comes on video game boxes and Gigabyte took that idea and used it on the packaging for the DQ6. Inside the flap is a lot of useful information about the board, so much information that it could keep you busy reading for a while. Everything from the Dynamic Energy Saver to the ferrite core chokes are covered on this flap, so no matter what level of understanding you have, you will probably find something to interest you. Also, you may have noticed the small window in the bottom right of the case. This is the actual motherboard and not just a picture. It was pretty cool to actually see the motherboard like this before I even opened the case.
Pulling the gold outer case off shows that the motherboard is enclosed in two pieces of plastic that fit the DQ6 snugly and a box of goodies are included underneath. The plastic case for the motherboard just comes right off without much effort, which is very nice.
On the next page I open up the accessory case and take a look at everything it contains.
Gigabyte did a great job making sure that when you buy its EX38-DQ6, you will have plenty of accessories to help you accomplish whatever you need. Everything you could want is there, including stickers, a back plate, a quick start guide, a software CD, extra SATA and IDE cables, and an expansion port that I had not seen before which can be used to attach internal SATA drives outside your computer. Let's take a look at everything individually though.
The DQ6's manual is very similar to what Gigabyte has been using for a while now. It is pretty thick for a book of its size and describes pretty much anything you would want to know about the board in detail. It talks about how to flash the BIOS, jumper locations, and what each expansion slot is used for. With the help of this book, even someone who has never seen a motherboard before could feel confident about this.
Gigabyte included two SATA cables, an IDE cable and a floppy cable. Also, two brackets are included which plug into a SATA port on the motherboard and a molex connector from your PSU. This will let you connect internal hard drives to your computer without having to open it up. I have only been testing this board for two weeks and it has already come in handy by letting me diagnose a friend's drive quickly and easily. I'm sure you can come up with plenty of uses for this.
As can be seen in the picture bellow, the bracket part has ports for two SATA cables and one molex connector. Don't worry though, the power cable that is included is a molex to SATA power so you won't have to go hunting for a way to get power to your SATA drive. Also included with the DQ6 is a back plate that you can put into your case. This is standard with every motherboard and is included so that the I/O panel has a snug fit with the case. This one is color coded as most are these days, as well as labeled.
Let's take a look now at the motherboard itself.
The Gigabyte EX38-DQ6 is an ATX form factor motherboard, as most consumer models are. This means that it will fit pretty much any case you buy with your computer. It is a little larger than some other boards, but fit nicely into my mid tower case. The DQ6 has eight SATA ports, an IDE port and a floppy port in the lower left hand corner, room for four sticks of RAM (up to 8GB total), three PCI-E 1x slots, two PCI-E 16x slots, and two PCI slots. To round it all out, an LGA-775 socket is on the motherboard to accept any Core 2 series chip. An impressive system of heatpipes is laid out over the motherboard which helps cool the capacitors that control the Vcore (the voltage supply to your processor), the north bridge, and the south bridge. "Gigabyte" and "Silent Pipe" are shown in silver on the heatpipes and is a classy looking addition.
On the DQ6's backside, there are two copper plates that appear to be part of the Crazy Cool technology that Gigabyte takes advantage of. These can be taken off in the event you have a different cooler that you wish to use and should be enough out of the way for most smaller heatsinks. The larger plate that is underneath the CPU socket has small areas cut out of it so heatsinks can bolt into or snap onto the bottom of the motherboard.
The back I/O port has enough USB connectivity for almost everyone out there with eight ports. Also, two Firewire ports, two gigabit ethernet ports, a PS/2 keyboard and mouse port and a variety of audio ports, both analog and digital, reside in the back. It is packed, but provides a lot of capabilities. A closer look at the PCI area shows that the two PCI-Express 16x slots are far enough apart to put two high end cards with coolers into your computer, which is important if you plan on using Crossfire or SLI. You also should have access to at least one PCI-Express 1x and one PCI slot even if you have two huge video cards.
The four slots for RAM on the X38-DQ6 are color coded so you can tell which slots run in dual channel. You can put in up to 8GB of RAM, and can run the RAM at a clock rate of up to 1200MHz. If you look closely at the bottom right of the RAM slots, you can see a small strip of LEDs. These light up to show you how much power you are using which is a cool feature that I had never seen or heard of before. If you have a window in your case, it would be something cool to show off to your friends. The eight SATA ports that are on the motherboard reside in the lower left. You probably can notice that there are two different color blocks which might seem weird, however they have a purpose. The yellow blocks run using the main chipset, while the purple blocks have a separate SATA controller. You might be wondering which one you want to use, and the best bet is to go with the yellow ones first.
There are several headers on the motherboard which allow you to add support for devices. Most of these are legacy, but could prove to be useful if you have some old hardware you want to continue using. The most recognizable ones here are LPT and COM ports which are typically used for printers and game controllers, respectively. Also, you can find the headers for the the case I/O near by.
The CPU socket is just like every other LGA-775 on the market. It has a latch close design, so you will be sure that there won't be any movement of the CPU when it is installed. On the Gigabyte however, the socket is surrounded by the Silent Pipe cooling system, which should result in lower temperatures.
Finally, the aux power is located right next to the CPU socket. This can take either a 4-pin or 8-pin aux power, with the 8-pin being recommended.
Setting up the software that comes with the motherboard is as easy as inserting a CD. After installing your motherboard, just put the CD in the drive and you will be greeted with an auto run. This program will auto detect all of the packages that need to be installed for your computer to run properly.
The installer app has four tabs of interest. The first tab has the software that needs to be installed for the computer to run correctly. You can go down and install these one by one, or just click the express install button at the top. The second tab has some added utilities that Gigabyte packages with its boards. This is where you can install Easy Tune 5 if you want to do some overclocking from the OS.
The next two tabs just give you some detailed information on what exactly came on the driver CD and what exactly is in your computer. This can help you know what you want to install or help you figure out compatibility issues you might experience.
If you have owned a Gigabyte board in the past, you might recognize the Easy Tune software package. This is still included with Gigabyte's motherboards and allows you to do some slight overclocking and tweaking from inside your operating system. This can be nice, but is not as customizable as doing things straight from the BIOS.
One thing that can really make or break a board, no matter how good its specs are, is the BIOS. If you plan on overclocking your board much at all, you will be in and out of the BIOS all the time and you will want it to be easy to use and powerful. Gigabyte chose to use an Award BIOS and included a feature called M.I.T. which stands for Motherboard Intelligent Tweaker. The M.I.T. will allow you to do pretty much whatever you want to the voltages and clock speeds in your system and will be covered in depth soon. Very detailed instructions on this BIOS are included with the manual, but I will give a brief overview of all the features here. If you have further questions about the BIOS, you should consult the included booklet.
Standard CMOS Features:
The first option when you enter the BIOS is also one of the most basic. Here you can set the time, a few boot options, and hard drives. While drive detection is automatic, if you have a need to manually set up a hard drive, you have that option.
Advanced BIOS Features:
The advanced BIOS features allow you to set up boot disk priority, which is very useful when you want to reinstall your OS and need to boot up from your optical drive instead of your hard drive. Also, you can set up the S.M.A.R.T. settings for your hard drive and what is displayed when you first turn on your computer.
In this section, you can control a lot of the board's hardware functionality. You can turn on and off things like USB, onboard LAN, Firewire, and set up LAN boot. This can be done for several reasons, such as to free up some system resources (although small amounts) and can allow older hardware work with your DQ6.
Power Management Setup:
In this area of the BIOS, you can do some pretty cool things. For instance, you can make your computer turn on every day at a certain time, make it so all you have to do is press a key on the keyboard to turn on your computer, or a multitude of other things. You might think that this is where all that power saving comes into play that was so heavily advertised on the box; however, all that is done in software which we will look at later.
Now for the tab that is probably the most uninteresting. Here there are just two settings that control how the PCI hardware interacts with the motherboard. You really won't be needing to poke around in here unless you have some specific situation involving compatibility.
PC Health Status:
In here you can find a lot of information about how your computer is running in regard to heat. When you go into this set of settings, you are presented with actual voltages for the different rails and operating temperatures. Also, if your fans have an RPM reporting feature, this will let you know their speed. You can set up warnings here to let you know if your CPU passes a certain temperature or if any of your fans start to fail. As a bonus, the alarm system can be exploited if you want to bug your friends.
Load Fail-Safe Defaults & Load Optimized Defaults:
These two features are a nice thing to have included with any BIOS. If you happen to mess up something and can't remember where you went wrong, loading the fail safe defaults will likely get you back up and running, even though some of the features might not be available. The optimized defaults are there so when you flash your BIOS you can be confident that nothing will go wrong.
Also included is a Q-Flash utility which allows you to flash the BIOS without using a Windows program to eliminate as many failure points as possible. This is just in place so that you don't mess up your computer.
One of the coolest parts of the BIOS that comes with Gigabyte's EX38-DQ6 motherboard is the M.I.T., or Motherboard Intelligent Tweaker. There is a lot to cover here and if you are planing on overclocking, something you will want to learn well. You can do everything here from change the FSB to change memory timings that you have never even heard of before.
Motherboard Intelligent Tweaker:
The first time you journey into the M.I.T. settings, you will find pretty much every setting set to AUTO, or automatically set for you. However, this is OverclockersClub and letting the DQ6 decide what is best for us isn't in our nature. We just have to get in there and squeeze out as much performance as we can and this is the place we can do it. The first feature that M.I.T. supports is the Robust Graphics Booster, a feature which controls your GPU and can help increase performance of your GPU.
The next two options are the used to control the CPU multiplier and CPU clock frequency. The multiplier can be changed according to what your CPU can handle. For the E6600, this value can range from 6 to 9, but for other processors, this can change. Refer to your processor documentation to find out what your processor supports. As for clock speed, the DQ6 can support outrageously fast speeds, up to 700MHz. While it is probably not practical to think you will hit this high of a FSB, at least you can feel confident that this board will be future proof, and it could prove to be a fun goal to try to reach if you want to go extreme. To be able to change the CPU clock speed, however, you have to enable the CPU Host Clock Control option.
The next setting is the PCI-Express frequency. This will modify the clock speed of the PCI-Express bus and small changes can throw your hardware out of proper running specs. Then again, that is what overclocking is all about. Also, a feature called C.I.A.2 is included that can automatically modify some of your processor's running specifications. I turned it off because I wanted to be in full control of what my hardware was doing.
Next up is a couple of settings that control your RAM. The first one is the memory multiplier, which makes the memory's clock speed run at some fraction of the front side bus speed. By doing this you can run your RAM faster than you otherwise might be able to, or run your CPU faster than your RAM would normally allow. The next setting, when enabled, allows you to control each separate memory timing specification. This is pretty advanced and is best used when you want to really tweak your computer to get every last drop of performance. You can see all the individual settings you can change in the picture below.
Another feature that the DQ6's BIOS has is the ability to change the voltage of almost any component. For the most part, the voltages are measured in deviation from nominal and some of them are even color coded so you know when you are getting into the dangerous area. Also, a Loadline Calibration feature is present that can help keep the VCore more stable.
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.) L2 cache varies with CPU
1600/1333/1066/800 MHz FSB
North Bridge: Intel® X38 Chipset
South Bridge: Intel® ICH9R
4 x 1.8V DDR2 DIMM sockets supporting up to 8 GB of system memory
Dual channel memory architecture
Support for DDR2 1200/1066/800/667MHz, ECC, non ECC memory modules.
Realtek ALC889A codec
o High Definition Audio
o Support for DTS (dts NEO:PC)
o Support for S/PDIF In/Out
o Support for CD In
Realtek 8111C chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)
2 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots (The PCIE_16_1 slot supports x16; the PCIE_16_2 supports x16.)
3 x PCI Express x1 slots (share with the PCIE_16_2 slot)
2 x PCI slots
+ 6 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (SATAII0, SATAII1, SATAII2, SATAII3, SATAII4, SATAII5) supporting up to 6 SATA 3Gb/s devices
+ Support for SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10
o GIGABYTE SATA2 chip:
+ 1 x IDE connector supporting ATA-133/100/66/33 and up to 2 IDE devices
+ 2 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (GSATAIIA, GSATAIIB) supporting up to 2 SATA 3Gb/s devices
+ Support for SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, and JBOD
o iTE IT8718 chip:
+ 1 x floppy disk drive connector supporting up to 1 floppy disk drive
T.I. TSB43AB23 chip
Up to 3 IEEE 1394a ports (2 on the back panel, 1 via the IEEE 1394 bracket connected to the internal IEEE 1394 header)
Integrated in the South Bridge
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 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 header
1 x parallel port header
1 x serial port header
1 x power LED header
1 x chassis intrusion header
Rear Panel I/O
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)
iTE IT8718 chip
System voltage detection
CPU/System temperature detection
CPU/System/Power fan speed detection
CPU overheating warning
CPU/System/Power fan fail warning
CPU fan speed control
2 x 8 Mbit flash ROM
Use of licensed AWARD BIOS
PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.3, ACPI 1.0b.
Support for Dynamic Energy Saver
Support for @BIOS
Support for Download Center
Support for Q-Flash
Support for EasyTune
Support for Xpress Install
Support for Xpress Recovery2
ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 24.4cm
- Revolution energy saving design with DES technology
- Supports Intel® Core 2™ multi-core and 45nm processors.
- 1600 MHz FSB (Front Side Bus) support.
- DDR2 1200 memory with Intel® ECC technology featuring faster speeds and higher data bandwidth
- High quality CPU power module with Ferrite Core Chokes, Lower RDS (on) MOSFETs and Lower ESR Solid Capacitors.
- Supports ATI CrossFireX™ with Dual PCI-E 2.0 x16 graphics for extreme gaming performance.
- High speed Gigabit Ethernet with Green design for power consumption
- ALC889A with DTS Connect enables high quality Full Rate Lossless Audio and support for both Blu-ray and HD DVD.
- Features SATA 3Gb/s with Quad eSATA 2 interface.
- Quad BIOS for an extended level of protection.
- Quad-Triple Phase Power Design for ultimate system stability.
- 2 Gigabit Ethernet LAN through Teaming.
To test Gigabyte's X38-DQ6, I will run a set of benchmarks that the OverclockersClub team feels can represent the real world performance of the motherboard. We will run some benchmarks that will stress the CPU, and some that will stress the GPU. Together, these should provide you with a rather realistic idea of what performance you will see. I will test the EX38-DQ6 against one other motherboard, the Gigabyte 956P-DS3. Additionally, I will overclock the EX38-DQ6 as far as my components will let me and compare those results with the results from the aforementioned motherboard and the DQ6 at stock settings.
- Intel Core2Duo E6600 Processor
- Gigabyte GA EX38-DQ6 Motherboard
- 2048MB G.Skill HZ RAM
- eVGA 8800GTS 640MB Video Card
- GameXtreme 700w Power Supply
- Western Digital 74GB Raptor
- Western Digital 500GB Caviar
- Sony Optical Drive
- Antec Sonata II Mid-tower Case
- Windows Vista Home Premium
- Saitek GM3200 Laser Mouse
- Gigabyte 965P-DS3
- Processor: Intel E6600 @ 350MHz x 9
- RAM: G.Skill HZ @ 525MHz
The overclock here came pretty easy and left me with a large performance boost on air cooling. I only had to increase the voltages slightly to make this configuration stable but it took me a while to figure it all out. When it was all said and done, I had raised the RAM voltage by two steps, the VCore by three steps, and the main FSB voltage by one step. This kept my temperatures low and give me a nice OC to boot.
Scientific & Data Benchmarks:
- SpecviewPerf 10
- PCMark Vantage Professional
- Sandra XII
- ScienceMark 2.02 Final
- Cinebench 10
- HD Tune 2.54
- Knights of the Sea
- Call of Duty 4
- World in Conflict
- Call of Jaurez
- 3DMark 06 Professional
The first two benchmarks that I will take a look at are Apophysis and WinRar.
Apophysis is a program that is used to render fractal flame images. Computing fractals is something that takes a lot of time, and finding out how fast the fractal completes will give us a good idea of how high the performance of the X38-DQ6 is. The settings that will be used are as follows:
- Resolution: 2750x2048
- Quality: 500
- Limit Memory use: 512MB
The results are reported in time to render in minutes.
A lot of people are familiar with the utility WinRAR which allows users to extract a lot of different types of archives such as tarballs, zip files, and rar files. Performing these actions can take a lot of processing power and time. We will uncompress a 10Mb, 100Mb, and 500Mb zip files and see how long that process takes, then we will compress the same files to RAR and record the time that takes. All compression settings are set to their defaults.
It struck me as strange that the time for the stock DQ6 was so high in Apophysis, and I'm not sure what might have caused this. I did run it twice to make sure that it was not a fluke and got similar results. The only thing I can think of is the hardware side power saver maybe having something to do with it. The results in WinRar show the DQ6 outperforming the DS3 by a small margin; however, as the compressed files continue getting larger, this ΔT would get larger and larger also. All of the boards went faster than one second of time in compressing the 10MB file.
The next two benchmarks that I will take a look at are Specview 10 and PCMark Vantage.
Specview is a program that is designed to test out OpenGL performance. The tests are multi-threaded to take advantage of multi core processors like my E6600. Since the E6600 is a dual core processor, I will only run the 2X multi threaded tests. The tests that I used for these results are:
The results are reported as a number from the program and higher numbers are better.
The PCMark Vantage suite provides many tests that evaluate performance in a wide gamut of areas including web browsing and document surfing. Again, results are just the number that PCMark will give me and higher numbers are better.
Again, like the Apophysis results, the stock value for the DQ6 seemed low. Again I ran this test again and got similar results which left me as the power saving features as the only possible reason for this happening.
The fifth benchmark that I will take a look at is SiSoft's Sandra XII.
Sandra XXI has a lot of benchmarks that can all be run to determine the performance of a specific area of your computer. For this test, I will run the following benchmarks out of the Sandra Suite
- Processor Arithmetic
- Multi-Core Efficiency
- Memory Bandwidth
- Memory Latency
- Cache and Memory
- File System
- Physical Disks
- Power Management Efficiency
Multi Core Efficiency
Cache and Memory
Power Management Efficiency
The next set of benchmarks will test the computers ability to run scientific applications, its ability to render complex images, and the performance of the hard drive.
In case you couldn't tell by the name, Sciencemark is the application I am going to use to test the computers ability to run science heavy programs. These are probably programs used mostly in research or education but the performance here carries over to other areas of computing as well.
CineBench 10 will test the computers graphics rendering ability. Also, it will indirectly test the efficiency of the multi core setup, as both a 1-thread and 2-thread test will be run.
The final test on this page is HDTune. This program will see how well the hard drives work and how well the communicate with the motherboard (and, ultimately, the OS).
Crysis is a new addition to the gaming benchmark suite used at OverclockersClub.com. This game is one of the most anticipated and system intensive games to be released to the market right now. The Crysis single player demo includes a GPU benchmark to test the performance of the video card installed in the system.
- 2x Anti-Aliasing
- Advanced settings to medium
As the graphs show above, all of the values were very close to each other and overclocking didn't seem to have a very large positive effect on any of the resolutions. This probably indicates that the real bottleneck here is the GPU, not the board or the CPU, although those obviously do still play a factor.
PT Boats: Knights of the Sea is a new DX10 title that features its own proprietary graphics engine currently in development. The game is a combination of real time strategy and simulation. You have the ability to control the entire crew or just a single member. Play as the German, Russian or Allied navies and prove your mettle on the open seas.
- AA: x0
- Image Quality: High
- Direct X Version: 10
- All resolutions 60HZ
Again, the board did not make a large difference in the average frame rate.
BioShock is one of the newest games on the market. It is a demanding game that will make your hardware scream for mercy. This first-person shooter allows for an infinite number of weapons and modifications to provide a unique experience each time it is played.
- All settings to Maximum
- V-Sync off
And finally, with Bioshock, the scores begin to become differentiable, even if it is only with the overclocked scores.
Call of Duty 4 : Modern Warfare is the successor to the Call of Duty crown. This iteration of the game is fought in many of the world's hot spots with modern armaments and firepower. You can play as either a U.S. Marine or British S.A.S. trooper. SInce this game does not feature an in-game test, I will run through a section of the game and measure average FPS using Fraps 2.9.3.
- Anti-aliasing: x4
- Anistropic Filtering : Max
- Texture Quality: Extra
- All settings Max
These results were all over the place, but you should remember that I was playing this game, not using a time demo. This introduces the element of some random error being produced from the runs not being the same every single time.
World In Conflict is a newly released DX10 real time strategy game that simulated the all out war that the world hopes never comes. The difference in this RTS game is that it is not the typical generate wealth and build type of game. You advance by conquering your foe.
- 0X AA
- 16X AF
- Graphic Detail: Very High
Again, the results seem somewhat weird, with the X38 getting beaten, but results are results.
Call of Juarez is a DirectX10 First Person Shooter set in the Wild West of the late 1800s. The game is inspired in part by the movies of the Wild West genre of the seventies and eighties. The game can be played as both single player and multiplayer. The game focuses on realistic graphics and gameplay designed to take advantage of the latest video cards on the market.
- Details: High
- Shadowmap size 2048x2048
- Shadow Quality: Normal
- Anti Aliasing: MSAA 4X
With my setup, Call of Juarez was a lot to handle; however, the results are pretty typical with the other games.
Benchmark: Company of Heroes (Opposing Fronts)
Company of Heroes (Opposing Fronts) is the latest chapter in the Company of Heroes series. The scene is WWII. The mission is Operation Market Garden, the first Allied attempt to break into the Third Reich. Play as the British or Germans. This real time strategy game is brought to us by Relic Entertainment.
- 8x AA
- All others: max
Again, the X38 board didn't do quite as well as the P965, even when it was overclocked.
3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest is begun. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how this setup fares. The settings we will use are listed below.
As is the common theme here, the X38 didn't perform quite as well as the P965 board.
One of the things that is made readily apparent on the EX38-DQ6 packaging is the power saving feature. To test the power saving feature, I will run the computer at idle and at load with the power saving program running. I will then see how many watts the CPU is consuming at that point in time. To use the Dynamic Energy Saver program, the hardware must be running at stock settings, so if you want to overclock, this feature isn't for you. However, if you are paying a bill every month for every single watt you use, the performance hit you take just might be worth it.
At idle, the Dynamic Energy Saver produced the results shown in the pictures bellow. In the next two pictures, the first image shows when the DES is off, and the second image shows when the DES is on.
And at load, the following results were had. Again, the first image shows DES off and the second one shoes DES on.
As the Dynamic Energy Saver shows, it can provide a significant reduction in power usage. Running this whenever your computer is on day after day would start to add up to a reduction in the energy consumed in your household.
The Gigabyte GA EX38-DQ6 performed pretty well overall. While the performance it put out in the benchmarks were very comparable to the P965 board it was tested against, it still had a lot more room ahead if it had been paired with a better CPU and GPU. It also allows the user to have a second video card in Crossfire, which would boost performance up a lot. Some of the the best features on this board don't come from its performance, but from its other features, like the power saver. If you are in a pinch with high electricity bills coming in every month, just enable the power saver and, day after day, you can save a pretty decent amount.
Also, there should be no issues of connectivity on this motherboard. With eight USB 2.0 ports on the main I/O panel, along with a 6-pin and 4-pin Firewire connection; if you fill all of them up I would be very impressed. Also, there are four external SATA ports that you can connect, so there should be no issues there.
Finally, one feature I really liked was how the motherboard realized when the BIOS should be reset. When I messed up the overclock, all I had to do was wait, and things would get returned to default. This kept me from opening the case and setting the jumper. All in all, this motherboard is pretty good, and while it doesn't provide a huge performance increase, that is more because of the chipset and not what Gigabyte did. Also, all of the other features, like two 16x PCI-E slots and so many I/O ports make up for it and give this board a lot more potential than what was seen here.
- Two 16x PCI-E Slots
- Eight USB 2.0 Ports on Rear I/O Panel
- Dynamic Energy Saver
- Overclocking Recovery (Priceless When You Are Figuring Out That OC)
- Almost No Benefit in Performance With Testing Hardware
- Cooling Backplate Needs to be Removed to Use Some Aftermarket Heatsinks