Gigabyte X48-DQ6 Review
Reviewed by: ccokeman
Reviewed on: February 19, 2008
If you have read any of the number of computer hardware enthusiast websites and visited the forums, the same question is repeated over and over. What motherboard should I get? If the person is asking for an Intel based system, at least someone will start the ball rolling and invariably you will get the "just wait for the X48 boards." Well wait no more, that time has come. Gigabyte has just released its motherboard with the X48 chipset, the GA-X48-DQ6. The DQ6 series of boards from Gigabyte are at the top of the the food chain in its lineup. This one includes features such as "Ultra Durable 2" construction, which uses lower ESR solid SMD capacitors for a longer useful life span, Lower RDS (on) MOSFETs for reduced temperature through lower switching resistance, and Ferrite core chokes for reduced power loss and EMI interference. "Ultra Cool" and "Crazy Cool" coupled with Silent-Pipe cooling technology offer up to a 50% performance increase with this noiseless cooling solution. Will the "Green" features of the X48-DQ6's DES Technology offer an energy savings over the Intel solutions, or will it work in conjunction with them to really drop power consumption? I don't know, but I aim find out.
Is the X48 chipset something new and exciting or just a well binned X38 with support for 1600MHz frontside bus processors and DDR3 support? Will the performance be on par with the X38 and P35 chipsets or will the latest chipset have that extra something special? Does the GA-X48-DQ6 have that something special? Follow along as I find out!
Gigabyte has radically changed the look of the product packaging for this series of motherboards. Gone is the traditional white background with a single color highlighted around the product name. The front panel highlights many of the desirable features of the GA-X48-DQ6. These include the Dynamic Energy Saving features which promote a 70% power savings and 20% greater efficiency when enabled. Ultra Durable 2 technology with Lower RDS (on) MOSFETs, Ferrite core chokes and Lower ESR solid capacitors. Supporting the latest 45nm processors from Intel should allow the new Wolfdales and Yorkfield chips to be run right off the bat. The rear panel again highlights the energy saving features using a chart to map out the savings as well as a specifications table.
The front panel has a flip open cover that features additional documentation on the features of the GA-X48-DQ6. Some of those not mentioned earlier: Crazy Cool, Ultra Cool, Dual gigabit LAN and full Blu-Ray - HD-DVD audio support. A quick glimpse of the cooling system is shown through the window in the packaging.
The inner box that contains the GA-X48-DQ6 has a large window to get a better view of the product. The X48-DQ6 is housed in a clamshell that seems to be the latest rage in packaging of the latest high end boards. Under the clamshell is the box that contains the bundled accessories as well as the product documentation.
The list of accessories is short but it includes enough connectivity for most users. Included with the GA-X48-DQ6 are the documentation, IDE and floppy cables, four SATA cables, two SATA expansion brackets with power connections and a Gigabyte case badge.
The documentation includes the manual, a quick installation guide, Intel specific documentation as well as the driver disk. The I/O shield is color coded to make the connection of peripherals such as the mouse, keyboard and speakers a simple plug and play affair.
Drive connectivity options that are included are the usual floppy ,IDE and SATA device cables. Additionally, there are two expansion slota, add in eSATA connections that include a 4-pin Molex power connection to power the external enclosure.
The external drive capabilities are attached to the expansion slots and connect to the onboard SATA and power connections.
Last, but certainly not least, is the set of screws you will need to use to hold the northbridge heatsink into place if you decide to use a large heatsink that requires a backplate.
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.
The first thing to do once the O/S has been installed would be to install all of the drivers and software needed by the board to operate as intended. If this isn't done then all bets are off when it comes time to operate the new pride and joy you just spent your hard earned dollars on. Fortunately, Gigabyte makes this a painless process by having all of the latest drivers on one disk. Pop in the disk and let the auto-run feature bring up the installation GUI to make your selections.
The first tab is install chipset drivers. By choosing the Xpress install, the software will install all of the needed drivers in one session saving a little of your valuable time. The second tab is for installing additional software and some proprietary applications such as Easy Tune 5 Pro and @Bios an updating utility.
The next tab shows what applications and drivers are on the driver disk all in one place. The Hardware Information tab gives detailed information about the hardware installed or built onto the X48-DQ6. Last, but not least, is the contact page that gives contact information across the globe.
One of the proprietary applications that is included is the Easy Tune 5 software. This application can be both a monitoring tool as well an overclocking tool. Many of the adjustments that can be made in the BIOS are available in this tool. One thing that surprised me was the video card overclocking tab. Something that was not there the last time I used Easy Tune. Cool!
Having a good mature BIOS is something that gets taken for granted nowadays. There are so many boards released that have a marginal BIOS that leaves the end user (enthusiast) as part of the product development team fighting for a solution that may or may not come down the Pike. This can make or break a nice high performance motherboard.
The Gigabyte GA-X48-DQ6 uses an Award BIOS and includes the M.I.T. (Motherboard Intelligent Tweaker) section that contains the adjustments of most interest to the enthusiast. I will take a quick overview of the main sections of the BIOS and dig a bit deeper into this section.
Standard Cmos Features:
This tab is where the basic hardware setup is shown. Hard drive detection and manual setup can be done here, as well as setting the system time and date.
Advanced BIOS Features:
Boot priority for all system disks is accomplished under this section. The boot screen can be set to display the Gigabyte logo or the standard POST screen by enabling this option.
This section allows the user to turn off or on the integrated features of the DQ6. These features include the onboard audio and LAN.
Power Management Setup:
In this tab you can setup some of the energy saving features of the X48-DQ6.
This section allows for the ability to configure the interrupt requests for the two PCI slots.
PC Health Status:
This tab is where the monitoring of voltages and temperatures can be done. In this section the fan speed setup for any fans attached to the motherboard can be managed.
Load Fail Safe Defaults and Load Optimized Defaults:
These two functions are for getting the motherboard setup with the basics needed to get up and going. Load Optimized should be done before a BIOS flash to prevents any issues during this process.
This utility is accessed by pressing F8 from the BIOS main menu. It is used to flash the BIOS from a non-Windows environment and eliminates the apprehension about flashing the BIOS.
The last section is the Motherboard Intelligent Tweaker. This we will cover in greater detail.
The Motherboard Intelligent Tweaker section is where enthusiasts will spend the majority of their time on the X48-DQ6. Follow along as I look at this section in more detail.
Motherboard Intelligent Tweaker:
The main page of this section has many of the settings on Auto or normal as the baseline adjustments. We all know that this just won't do to get the most from our hardware.
Robust Graphics booster can be set to Auto, Fast or Turbo depending on the performance characteristics of your GPU. The CPU clock ratio settings are dictated by the processor you install. With an unlocked chip, the sky is the limit. With the Q6600 used for this review, the limits are a little mundane at between 6 and 9.
CPU Host Clock Control allows the CPU clock speed to be adjusted up to 700MHz. There are few, if any, CPUs out that can even come close to this speed, but it would be fun to try and reach it.
The PCI-E frequency can be adjusted up to 150MHz. Not as high as some performance motherboards, but a level that is more realistic. CIA2 is a built in Dynamic overclocking tool to allow preset levels of performance to be selected and implemented.
The System Memory Multiplier sets the memory frequency based on four different northbridge strap levels. The "A" setting corresponds to the 266MHz strap, "B" the 333MHz, "C"is the 200MHz strap and of course that leaves "D" at the 400MHz strap. Each has a different effect on performance and will be up to you to find out what works best for your combination of parts. Of course, Auto will choose the setting based on the SPD values for your memory.
The DRAM Timing Selectable tab can be left on Auto to set the parameters of your memory or you can choose the manual option to tweak the timings to gain the most performance from the memory that is installed.
The Gigabyte BIOS voltage settings are managed in a way that is a little different from most other manufacturer's BIOSes. To set a voltage, the options are shown as an increase above the spec voltages for the device. For instance, JEDEC spec for DDR2 memory is 1.8 volts, to reach 2.2 volts I would have to overvolt, or increase, the memory voltage by .40 volts. Knowing the starting point is the key to not damaging the installed hardware. With that said, the maximum increase on the DDR2 is 1.55 volts to give a maximum possible voltage of 3.35 volts. More than enough for the LN2 crowd to play with. PCI-E voltage goes up by .75 volts, FSB volts by .35, MCH or Northbridge volts can go up by .775 volts for a little bit over 2.0 volts. Loadline calibration helps minimize or eliminate the VCore droop noticed on many Intel chipset motherboards.
Please refer "Memory Support List" for memory support information.
Realtek 8111C chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)
GIGABYTE SATA2 chip:
iTE IT8718 chip:
Internal I/O Connectors
Back Panel Connectors
iTE IT8718 chip
ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 24.4cm
Voltage adjustments in BIOS Setup (CPU/DDR2/PCIe/FSB/(G)MCH) Allow you to:
Frequency adjustments in BIOS Setup (CPU/DDR2/PCIe) allow you to:
- GIGABYTE Dynamic Energy Saver: is a revolutionary technology that delivers unparalleled power savings with the simple click of a button. Featuring an advanced proprietary hardware and software design, GIGABYTE Dynamic Energy Saver is able to provide exceptional power savings of up to 70% and up to 20% improved power efficiency without sacrificing computing performance.
- Ultra Durable 2 -Designed with Top Quality Highly Efficient Components
- Intel® Core™ 2 multi-core and 45nm processors: GA-X48-DQ6 supports Intel latest high performance CPU delivers the most energy-efficient performance available today. Based on Intel's Micro Architecture, the Intel multi-core processors with 4 cores and two shared L2 caches provide the best capability-per-watt solutions and are an ideal choice for multi-media enthusiasts and intensive multi-tasking environments. This cutting-edge processor offers significant performance boosts and provides an overall more energy efficient platform.
- Intel® X48 Express Chipset: The Intel® X48 Express Chipsets support the latest multi-core processors with FSB 1600MHz, including the upcoming 45nm processors, with its record breaking performance and greater energy efficiency. Intel® X48 chipset, with optimized system memory capabilities, chipset over-speed protection removed for maximum overclocking, providing faster boot and application load times and additional power savings. Intel® X48 chipset also offer options for both DDR2 and DDR3 memory support, providing scalable options for users wanting to take advantage of higher memory performance with less power consumption to run next generation applications such as high-definition video and 3D visualization.
- Smaller, Faster and More Efficient: GA-X48-DQ6 motherboards paired with Intel 45nm CPUs deliver the very best platform for multitasking, multimedia and high performance gaming. Not only do GIGABYTE's latest motherboards based on Intel Bearlake chipsets all support Intel's new generation, 45nm multi-core processors.
- Dual Channel DDR2 1200: Experience the advanced technology of DDR2 1200 memory, featuring faster speeds and higher data bandwidth, which delivers superior performance for the most demanding applications. * Please refer "Memory Support List" for memory support information.
- Windows Vista Premium Logo Certified: Windows Vista Premium promises to deliver a streamlined computing experience designed to fundamentally change how users view, find and organize their digital information.
- PCI-E 2.0 Interface: PCI-E 2.0 doubles the bus standard's bandwidth from 2.5 Gbit/s to 5 Gbit/s, meaning a x32 connector can transfer data at up to 16 GB/s in each direction. PCIe 2.0 also features improvements to the point-to-point data transfer protocol and its software architecture.
- SATA 3Gb/s storage interface: The SATA specification doubles bus bandwidth from 1.5Gb/s to 3Gb/s. Native Command Queuing is a new specification that enables out-of-order execution of commands for efficient retrieval of data. Hot Plug support allows users to insert and remove hard disk drives without shutting off power to the system.
- IEEE1394 motherboard: This motherboard with IEEE1394 FireWire interface from Texas Instruments (TI). With the transfer speed up to 400Mb/s, the new generation IEEE1394 interface further enhances PC connectivity with consumer electronics audio/video (A/V) appliances, and storage peripherals.
- ALC889A with DTS Connect Enables a Superior Audio Experience: Excellent Audio Performance High-performance DAC (Digital-Analog Converter) with 106 dB Signal-to-Noise ratio playback quality, designed especially for Windows Vista Premium PCs.
Blu-ray/HD DVD Full Rate Audio Support The ALC889A enables high quality Full Rate Lossless Audio for content protected media and support for both Blu-ray and HD DVD formats for an exhilarating home theater entertainment experience.
7.1+2 Channel High Definition OutputThe ALC889A provides support for 7.1 sound playback, plus 2 channels of independent stereo output (multiple streaming) through the front panel stereo outputs.
- Intel® Matrix Storage Technology: Intel® Matrix Storage Technology, can deliver up to 80% faster storage performance with PCs equipped with two hard drives using RAID 0 data striping. Using RAID 1 data mirroring can protect against a hard drive failure by mirroring all data among two hard drives. In addition RAID 5 offers the fault-tolerant capability to automatically back up your most important files, while also providing faster disk access and adding storage capacity.
- 2 Gigabit LAN through Teaming: The GA-X48-DQ6 with Teaming functionality enabled allows 2 single connections to act as 1 single connection for twice the bandwidth, improving overall throughput with lower CPU utilization.Prevents network downtime by transferring the workload from a failed port to a working port. Receive Side Scaling balances the network traffic load evenly between 2 CPU cores in order to improve performance. Adjusts power consumption automatically according to your LAN cable lengths, up to 10% power savings.
- ATI CrossFireX: With support for ATI CrossFireX, GIGABYTE pushes the envelope once again by delivering highly optimized performance and flexibility demanded by power users and extreme gaming enthusiasts. Designed to provide unmatched multi-GPU support with dual PCI Express connectivity, the GA-X48-DQ6 allows users to take advantage of the ultra smooth 3D rendering, blazing-fast frame rates and enhanced visual quality possible with a dual graphics card solution. Attention: When attempting to enable ATI CrossfireX Technology on this board. In case of unable to get Crossfire Technology working normally, please make sure to use ATI graphic cards that have hardware Crossfire bridge. (Please refer to ATI official website for more Crossfire Technology supporting details: ( http://ati.amd.com/technology/crossfire/charts.html)
- Quad BIOS: Quad BIOS is a feature unique to GIGABYTE that includes DualBIOS™ and Express BIOS Rescue Technology. This combination delivers a safety assurance mechanism that sports a total of 4 copies of BIOS distributed between the Flash ROM, hard-disk and driver CD. This feature helps to reduce the affects of virus attacks or firmware damage and provides multi-layer BIOS protection that assures greater PC platform stability. How does Quad BIOS work?
- Quad Cooling: This revolutionary cooling design combines Crazy Cool and Silent-Pipe technology that includes heat sinks covering MOSFET modules, the north bridge and the south bridge. Additionally, the Crazy Cool enhances heat dissipation of the rear side of CPU and north bridge of the motherboard. Quad Cooling allows users to enjoy longer component lifetime through lower temperatures and absolute silence combined with the ultimate thermal performance on chipsets, CPU power components and the PCB.
- Quad e-SATA2: Four sets of external SATA ports based on the Serial ATA 3Gb/s storage specification allow effortless sharing and transfer of entertainment content and digital media on external devices. Designed for external SATA devices, Quad eSATA 2 delivers enhanced scalability and double the bus bandwidth for high-speed data retrieval and saving On-The-Go.
- Quad Triple Phase: An exclusive feature found only on GIGABYTE motherboards, this unique design incorporates Virtual 12 Power Phases to deliver steadier power and immediate current support for the CPU during heavy work loads or over-clocking. Additionally, Quad-Triple Phase helps to improve component lifespan system stability by delivering lower component temperature.
- Quad-Core Optimized: GIGABYTE has implemented optimized Quad-Core FSB routing and a Quad-Triple phase power design to ensure the highest levels of performance and stability from Quad-Core processors. With 4 cores and 2 shared L2 caches, Quad-Core processors provide the industry's best capability-per-watt solutions, delivering significant performance boosts and extended energy efficiency, making them the ideal choice for multi-media enthusiasts and intensive multi-tasking environments.
- Quad DDR2 Slots: Experience the boost in memory performance with advanced DDR2 technology. With Quad DDR2 slots, users can experience system performance featuring faster speeds and higher data bandwidth for memory intensive applications.
- All information gathered at http://www.gigabyte.com.tw/Products/Motherboard/Products_Overview.aspx?ClassValue=Motherboard&ProductID=2763&ProductName=GA-X48-DQ6
The Gigabyte X48-DQ6 will be put through our benchmarking suite to see what kind of performance the motherboard delivers. The OverclockersClub series of benchmarks include both system tests and gaming benchmarks to verify the performance of this product. I will be comparing the performance of the X48-DQ6 against both the Abit IX38 Quad GT, the Asus Maximus Formula and the Foxconn MARS. The tests will compare performance against one P35 and two X38 chipsets to see whether the X48 is just a better binned X38 after all. Testing will be a direct comparison of our stock speed benchmarking; all clock speeds and memory timings will be as close as possible to offer a fair comparison on each of the boards. All motherboard and video card settings were left at setup defaults, again to eliminate any variables.
- Processor: Intel Q6600 Core 2 Quad 266x9
- Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-X48-DQ6
- Memory: Mushkin HP2 6400 2x2GB 5-4-4-12
- Video Card(s): Asus 8800 GT 512
- Power Supply: Mushkin 650watt Modular Power supply
- Hard Drive: 1 x Seagate 320GB SATA
- Opticals: NEC DV5700
- O/S: Windows Vista Ultimate Edition
- Comparison Motherboard 1: Asus Maximus Formula
- Comparison Motherboard 2: Abit IX38 Quad GT
- Comparison Motherboard 2: Foxconn MARS
- Processor: Intel Q6600 475 x 8
- Sytem Memory: Mushkin HP2 6400 5-5-4-12
After getting used to the intricacies of the Gigabyte BIOS again, I was able to start clocking up the test CPU. 400 frontside bus came easily. 450 needed some work on the memory subtimings and additional voltage to the northbridge. Above 460 the X48 got a little picky on which timings were adjusted. The final numbers I was able to achieve with the Q6600 were 485 x 7 as the highest frontside bus speed with 475 x 8 as the top clock speed at 3.8 GHz
- Scientific & Data:
- 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 part of our testing regimen will be the system specific benchmarks.
Let's get started with Apophysis. This program is used primarily to render and generate fractal flame images. We will run this benchmark with the following settings:
- Resolution: 2750x2048
- Quality: 500
- Limit Memory use: 512MB
The measurement used is time to render, in minutes, to complete.
Lower is Better
WinRAR is a tool to archive and compress large files to a manageable size. We will use 10MB, 100MB and 500MB files and test the time needed to compress these files. Time will be measured in seconds.
At stock CPU speeds, the results are similar in this series of benchmarks..
Specview 10 is a benchmark designed to test OpenGL performance. I will be using the multi-threaded tests to measure the performance when run in this mode. The tests used for comparison are listed below. The default multi-threaded tests were chosen to be able to compare across platforms. In these tests, higher scores equate to better performance.
Higher is Better
Higher is Better
Higher is Better
PcMark Vantage is used to measure complete system performance. We will be running a series of tests to gauge performance of each individual board to see which board, if any, rises above the others.
THe X48-DQ6 wins 50% of the testing with Specview and Vantage.
Sisoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful. For this benchmark, I will be running a broad spectrum of tests to gauge the performance of key areas of the motherboards.
Cache and Memory
Power Management Efficiency
While the margins are not that great, the X48 does finish first or second in each category measured.
Sciencemark tests real world performance instead of using synthetic benchmarks. For this test, we ran the benchmark suite and will use the overall score for comparison.
Higher is Better!
Cinebench is useful for testing your system, CPU and OpenGL capabilities using the software program CINEMA 4D. We will be using the default tests for this benchmark.
Higher is Better
HD Tune measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers.
Higher is Better
Lower is Better
The X48-DQ6 had a decent showing in the scientific benchmarks. In 17 out of 27 benchmarks it was the top performer and was a strong second in many more, losing only by a small margin.
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
The benchmark scores in Crysis are within +/- 1 frame per second on each benchmark with the exception of the 1920 testing. The demands that Crysis puts on a system makes small increases a measurable difference.
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.
The settings we will use are below:
- AA: x0
- Image Quality: High
- Direct X Version: 10
- All resolutions 60HZ
At stock speed the X48-DQ6 is on top in all the categories but the 1024x768, there falling only by one frame per second.
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
The X48-DQ6 has a decisive lead in all four resolutions.
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.
The settings used are listed below:
- Anti-aliasing: x4
- Anistropic Filtering : Max
- Texture Quality: Extra
- All settings Max
At the lower resolutions where system speed and efficiency are more important than GPU power, the X48 just blows away the competition by almost 20 FPS.
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.
The settings we will use are listed below:
- 0 X AA
- 16X AF
- Graphic Detail :Very High
Performance is dead even across the board at the higher resolutions, while at the lowest resolution the X48 outpaces the MARS. The trend continues up to the highest resolution.
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.
The settings we will use are listed below.
- Details: High
- Shadowmap size 2048x2048
- Shadow Quality: Normal
- Anti Aliasing: MSAA 4X
Testing between the boards showed that the X48 outperformed the competition at the lower end of the spectrum. In the end, at the 1920x1200 resolution, the performance difference was only 2 FPS in favor of the Maximus.
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 other settings to maximum
As evidenced by the measured frames per second, this iteration of the game is more graphically demanding than its predecessor. The X48 edged out the competition in all of the resolutions. The difference being 4 FPS at 1024x768, down to 1 FPS at 1920x1200.
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.
- SM2.0 Graphics Tests: GT1- Return to Proxycon, GT2- Firefly Forest
- CPU Tests: Cpu1- Red Valley, CPU2- Red Valley
- HDR/SM3.0 Graphics Tests: HDR1- Canyon Flight, HDR2- Deep Freeze
Wow! the X48-DQ6 came out on top in all four resolutions. This was a surprise considering the only hardware change across the board is the motherboard. The difference in scores is amazing, with thie DQ6 never falling below the 10,000 mark threshold at 1920x1200. In the gaming benchmarks, the Gigabyte finished number one in 27 out of 32 gaming benchmarks, a dominating performance.
Dynamic Energy Saving: To validate or disprove the energy saving features of the GA-X48-DQ6, I installed the Dynamic Energy Saving software to get started. After the install I was prompted to return the memory speeds and voltages to stock so that the DES software could do its job. The software works in conjunction with the energy saving features of the X38/38/P35 chipsets. Namely the C1E and EIST features, which dynamically lower the core speed and voltage to the processor at off load times. The DES expands on this functionality to further reduce energy consumption. To test the software I will make a comparison of the wattage measured with a KillaWatt meter to test actual wattage consumed at idle and load with the software on and off. I will also show the savings generated by the software at both idle and under load.
In the views of the software in action below, the the effectiveness of the software is painfully obvious to the energy conscious of the world. At Idle, with the software disabled, the CPU alone was pulling 19+ watts from the PSU, and under load this balloons to almost 52 watts. CPU-Z is used to show the power saving and processor throttling.
Now I will run through the same scenario with the DES software enabled. At idle, the processor pulled a whopping 7.9 watts. Under load, the power consumption blossoms up considerably, but at this point the savings is 16 watts! These are pretty substantial numbers from just enabling the software.
The DES software allowed the X48-DQ6 to reduce power consumption at both idle and while under load. The savings at idle amounted to 25 watts measured and 24 watts under load with the meter. This over the long term amounts to considerable savings. The savings measured by the software are pretty incredible. At idle, the difference between with the software on and off was 12 watts, or well over a 100% savings. Under load, the savings were only about 30%. So if the two are averaged, one comes pretty close to the 70% efficiency savings stated in the Gigabyte literature.
Oh my god, I've gone "Green." What can I say about the GA-X48-DQ6? Well, performance-wise, it stacks up quite well against many of the motherboards out on the market now. In the gaming benchmarks the X48-DQ6 was just dominating. In the scientific benchmarking phase of the testing, it came out on top in well over half the tests and was a close second in most of the others. If the X48 chipset is just a better binned X38, than I am sold on the binning process. The performance gained during most of the testing was a nice plus to a chipset that I was not expecting much more than the capability to overclock a bit better than the last gen chipset. Support is there for the latest 1600 FSB processors, so picking up that QX9770 and putting it into the DQ6 should prove fruitful during the next benchmarking session.
If you need USB connectivity, the GA-X48-DQ6 has it. This board has more USB ports than any other board I have ever used. While overclocking the DQ6, as with all "new" chipsets, there are things that work and things that don't. When they don't, a good board will get you out of the mess without the "pull the case apart and do the jumper shuffle to clear the CMOS" just to be able to boot back up. With the Quad BIOS backup, this is a thing of the past. Not once did I have to do the jumper shuffle to get back to the basics and get the board back up. One time it was close, but the BIOS recovery took over and after a reboot things were hunky dory. Speaking of the CMOS jumper shuffle, I would have liked to see an onboard jumper button on the I/O panel to make this a non-traumatic experience. Most, if not all, of the boards I have reviewed in the past ten months have this feature. Another item of concern was the need to remove the "Crazy Cool" heatsink on the rear of the board in order to use a large air cooled heatsink that uses a backplate for support. It is easy enough to remove, though just time consuming, more than anything else.
The "Green" features of the X48-DQ6 actually worked. The Dynamic Energy Saver software increased the efficiency and dropped the power consumption even while under load. The 70% energy savings is actually realized when the load and idle savings are averaged out. I think Gigabyte has a winner with this chipset "revision" as an update to the DQ6 series of boards. It has performance, it has great cooling, enough connectivity that the average user should not have to use a USB hub, as well as the ability to go "Green." I think it needs that little bit of polite golf applause!
- Highest overclock yet on my Q6600
- Peformance gains over the X38 and P35 chipsets
- Twelve USB 2.0 ports
- Dynamic Energy Saving Technology that works
- Excellent overclocking recovery
- Quad BIOS backup (this comes in handy)
- Crazy Cool backplate has to be removed to use heatsinks with a backplate
- No onboard On/Off or Clear CMOS switches