Gigabyte X48-DQ6 Reviewccokeman -
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The Gigabyte GA-X48-DQ6 is an ATX form factor motherboard built upon the Intel X48 northbridge and ICH9R southbridge. The X48 DQ-6 offers up support for 1600MHz bus processors (think QX9770), DDR2 1200 memory support with a maximum capacity of eight gigabytes. This motherboard uses Dynamic Energy Saver technology to reduce the power consumption of the processor in low demand situations. Ultra Durable 2 construction using components designed to run cooler, offer increased reliability and accuracy as well as a longer life span. Prominently on the front side of the motherboard is the Ultra Cool heatpipe assembly to help cool the chipsets and power regulation circuits. The backside uses two heatsinks to increase the cooling capacity of the board.
The heatsinks on the back side of the board are called affectionately "Crazy Cool." The design is meant to more effectively deal with the heat generated from the CPU and northbridge socket of the motherboard. Gigabyte claims that this design enhances cooling performance by 50%. The one negative I saw with this design was installing aftermarket heatsinks or water blocks that use a backplate to strengthen the mount. But those fears were allayed when I took a closer look and realized what the small screws in the accessory pack were for. The southbridge uses the same additional cooling as the CPU socket and northbridge.
The I/O panel offers pretty much standard fare but a little more of it. PS/2 for the mouse and keyboard, Optical and Coaxial S/PDIF output, two IEEE 1394a ports, two RJ45 gigabit LAN ports that support teaming, eight, yes eight, USB 2.0 ports on the back panel and the eight channel audio connections.
The GA-X48-DQ6 comes with three PCI-E 1x slots, two 16x PCI-E 2.0 slots supporting Crossfire and Crossfire X at a full 16x X 16x and two PCI slots to fill your expansion needs. The CMOS battery and CMOS clear jumper are located right between the PCI-E 16x slots. This could make for some interesting problems clearing the CMOS with today's dual slot GPU cooling solutions. But where there's a will, there's a way.
Across the bottom of the board is where most of the peripherals will be connected. Starting from the left, there is the LPT port, S/PDIF input, TPM, COM port, 3-pin fan header, IEEE 1394, two USB 2.0 ports and the front panel swtch and LED connections. Last, but not least, across the bottom and lower right side are the eight SATA 3.0 GB/s and IDE connections.
Moving up the right hand side of the X48-DQ6 are the DDR2 memory slots that support eight gigabytes of DDR2 1200/1066/800/667MHz memory. Under the 24-pin ATX power connector is the floppy drive connection. Yes, some people still use them, they come in handy for flashing the BIOS. The X48-DQ6 uses only two power connections to supply power to the onboard components both a 24-pin ATX power connection and the auxiliary 8-pin 12 volts power connection.
The processor socket area is relatively clean. The X48-DQ6 uses a 12 phase power design that uses Low RDS (on) MOSFETs, Ferrite core chokes and solid SMD capacitors to provide a stable and efficient power supply to the CPU. So what does all that mean? Lower component temperatures, Increased lifetime and reduced power loss. All of these components are part of the Ultra Durable 2 design.
The cooling components of the Silentpipe cooling system are made from solid copper. The heat removal process starts at the southbridge and ends at the heatsink over the CPU power regulation circuits. By using this design Gigabyte claims a 50% improvement in cooling performance.
The one thing I found missing was something I have grown accustomed to using is a clear CMOS switch or button on the I/O panel. Not a big thing, but something that has become quite useful.