Gigabyte X48T-DQ6 Review
Reviewed by: ccokeman
Reviewed on: May 25, 2008
With the price on performance DDR3 modules starting to drop down into the realistic realm, the switch to motherboards using DDR3 is starting to look more attractive for a performance based build. The Intel X48 based motherboards have been out now for a few months and are showing promise in the enthusiast realm. Supporting both DDR2 and DDR3 system memory, there are several choices to make. DDR2 is just downright cheap at the moment, so picking up four or even eight gigabytes of memory will probably cost as much as a two gigabyte set of performance DDR3. That being said, the performance potential of DDR3 based systems is starting to show its worth. So with the opportunity to try out Gigabyte's DDR3 X48 chipset based motherboard, the GA-X48T-DQ6, what better way to see if the performance potential can be realized by comparing the two head-to-head just to see if going the DDR3 route is indeed worth the expense.
The Gigabyte GA-X48T-DQ6 is an almost carbon copy of the X48-DQ6. It features the same "Ultra Durable 2" construction, using 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" are coupled with Silent-Pipe cooling technology, which is said to offer up to a 50% cooling performance increase with this noiseless cooling solution, and DES (Dynamic Energy Savings) software is still used as a way to save on the energy consumed by the X48T-DQ6. While testing the DDR2 version of this board, the DES software was effective in reducing the energy consumed not just at idle, but under load as well. So just how will this comparison play out? Will the DDR2 version outperform it or will the X48T-DQ6 rise to the challenge?
Radically different from the previous Gigabyte packaging I have seen in the past, the X48T-DQ6 sports a new holographic look to the packaging. Nowhere to be seen is the standard white box with a splash of color. The front panel highlights the Ultra Durable 2 design of the X48T-DQ6 and features the use of LowerRDS (On) MOSFETs, ferrite core chokes and Lower ESR caps as part of the Ultra Durable 2 design. The Dynamic Enegy Saver touts a 70% power savings and 20% better power efficiency. Support for the latest 45nm products from Intel is supported on the X48T-DQ6. The rear panel displays additional information concerning the Ultra Durable 2 technology, as well as the Dynamic Energy Saving features. Graphs are used to show the savings that can be had from the use of the DES software and design.
Gigabyte uses a flip open design for the X48T-DQ6 box. Inside the flip up cover are the details on the DES and Ultra Durable 2 features, going into much greater detail. The heatpipe assembly and CPU socket are clearly visible through a clear opening in the box that allows for an up close inspection of the power circuitry and cooling components.
The inner box houses the X48T-DQ6. The board is packaged in a plastic clamshell instead of a static bag. This seems to be the way many higher end boards are now shipping. The additional box is what houses the documentation and accessory bundle.
Let's move on to see what the accessory bundle includes.
The list of items included in the bundle of accessories that is included with the X48T-DQ6 is not as expansive as some of the bundles I have seen, but it is enough to get you started. Most people will not have a need for anything more than what is shipped with the board. Included is the documentation, driver disc, Gigabyte branded floppy and IDE cables, four SATA cables, two eSATA expansion brackets that include the power and eSATA connections and last, but not least, the case badges.
The I/O shield is color coded just in case you need the colors to make sure your peripherals are installed correctly. Gigabyte has included a set of retention screws for the northbridge heatsink in the event you will be using a cooling solution that requires the use of a backplate. Why, you ask? The Crazy Cool heatsink on the back of the board covers the back of the CPU socket, so it needs to be removed to use a backplate. When this is removed, the screws to hold on the heatpipe assembly are too long and shorter screws are needed.
The expansion slot eSATA brackets include a power connection so that you can supply power to an non powered external drive enclosure. Both the eSATA and power cable are supplied in the bundle.
Next up, the GA X48T-DQ6!
The Gigabyte X48T-DQ6 is an ATX form factor board built around the Intel X48 northbridge and ICH9 southbridge chipset for use with Intel socket 775 processors. The X48T-DQ6 offers support for 1600MHz bus processors (ex. QX9770), DDR3 1900/1600/1333/1066/800/MHz, and XMP memory module 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 uses components designed to run cooler, which offers 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. In comparison to its DDR2 based brethren, the X48T-DQ6 is just slightly different. These items I will point out as I come upon them.
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 on the X48T-DQ6 offers a wealth of connectivity options. PS/2 connections are available for the mouse and keyboard, Optical and Coax S/PDIF out connections, two 1394a ports, two RJ45 Gigabit LAN jacks, eight, yes I said eight, USB2.0/1.1 ports and the six audio jacks for the realtek 7.1 HD sound.
Expansion capabilities include three x1 PCI-E slots, two standard PCI slots and two x16 PCI-E 2.0 slots that are Crossfire X capable and run in a true 16x X 16x configuration. Not having changed from the DDR2 version of the board is the location of the Clear CMOS jumper pins and the CMOS battery. Reaching these items with a dual GPU setup could be an issue. A plus is the fact that the board recovers from a failed overclock extremely well.
Most of the internal connections run across the bottom and right side of the board. From the left to right there are the parallel jack, the S/PDIF in connection, Ttrusted Platform Module connection and serial port connection. Further along there is a fan header, a single 1394 Firewire header, two USB headers and the color coded front panel connection header. The SATA connections all fall on the front right corner of the X48T-DQ6, and there are a total of eight 3Gb/s ports available. Six controlled by the ICH9 southbridge and two controlled by the Gigabyte SATA2 controller. The single IDE connection falls in between the SATA ports.
Moving on up to the top of the right hand side of the board are the floppy drive connection, the 24-pin ATX power plug and the four DDR3 DIMM slots supporting eight gigabytes of DDR3 1900/1600/1333/1066/800MHz memory, including XMP memory modules. Of course, the difference between the two boards is the memory support, DDR3 vs. DDR2. The DIMM slot colors are another point of difference, orange and yellow for the DDR2 version, pink and green for the DDR3 version. Right next to the DIMM slots are a series of LEDs. These LEDs are used in conjunction with the DES software to show real time energy savings and efficiencies during usage.
The CPU socket area is quite clear of the clutter surrounding many of the high performance motherboards on the market. This makes for an easy install of large CPU heatsinks. The X48T-DQ6 uses the same twelve phase power supply design that the DDR2 version uses. As part of the Ultra Durable 2 design, Low RDS (on) MOSFETs, ferrite core chokes and solid SMD capacitors are used to provide a stable and efficient power supply to the CPU. What does this mean for the end user? For a start, lower component temperatures, increased lifetime and reduced power loss.
The X48T-DQ6 uses basically the same SilentPipe cooling system as the X48-DQ6. By basically, I mean just that. The heatsink used on the PWM circuit and the southbridge are the same, but not the heatsink covering the X48 northbridge. Gigabyte has improved the cooling to this chipset by using a larger heatsink. The heatsink is just shy of being one inch wider and should provide an increase in the cooling capacity of the Silent Pipe system. The rest of the heatpipe assembly is the same as on the X48-DQ6. The blocks are solid copper and start at the southbridge, interconnected via heatpipes to the northbridge and PWM circuits to discharge the heat out the back of the I/O panel. By using this design, Gigabyte claims an increase of up to 50% in cooling performance.
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 do 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 on or off the integrated features of the DQ6, which include the onboard audio and LAN.
Power Management Setup:
In this tab, you can set up 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.
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 X48T-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 entirely by the processor you install in the X48T-DQ6. With an unlocked chip, the sky is the limit. With the Q9450 used for this review, the limits are a more realistic 6x and 8x. Fine CPU clock ratio is available when you use a processor that supports half multipliers, such as the Wolfdale and Yorkield Intel chips.
CPU Host Clock Control allows the CPU clockspeed to be adjusted from 100 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 at the touch of a button.
The XMP (Extreme Memory Profile) setting is similar to nVidia's EPP profile. It allows modules with the XMP profile to be run at settings that allow the modules to perform at their best with no additional tuning required. Of course, the performance can be improved upon with manually tweaking the memory settings. The System Memory Multiplier sets the memory frequency based on four different northbridge strap levels. The "A" setting corresponds to the 266MHz strap, "B" to the 333MHz, "C" is the 200MHz strap and of course, that leaves "D" at the 400MHz strap. Each has a different affect 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 for you. For the more adventurous, there are plenty of timings that can be adjusted to maximize the performance of the X48T-DQ6.
Clock Driving and Skew Control allow for adjusting the amplitude of the CPU and northbridge clocks.
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 DDR3 memory is 1.5 volts, so to reach the 1.9 volts specified for the memory used in this system, I would have to overvolt, or increase, the memory voltage by .45 volts. Knowing the starting point is the key to not damaging the installed hardware. With that said, the maximum increase on the DDR3 is 1.55 volts, giving a maximum possible voltage of 3.05 volts. More than enough for the LN2 crowd to play with. PCI-E voltage goes up by .75 volts, FSB volts by .35, MCH (Northbridge) volts can go up by .575 volts for a max of 1.85 volts. Loadline calibration helps minimize or eliminate the VCore droop noticed on many Intel chipset motherboards. CPU core voltage goes to a death zone high of 2.35 volts. The tools are there for you to get the most out of your hardware, you just need to know where to go to get it.
In this section there is one hidden menu that is accessed by hitting Ctrl+F1 in the main BIOS page. This allows the GTL reference clock settings to be seen and adjusted. These settings are quite coarse, but can be used to fine tune your overclock nonetheless.
Let's move on to the configuration.
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 chances are that the rig you just spent your hard earned dollars on will not perform at its best. To make finding the appropriate drivers simple, Gigabyte has included a disc that has drivers for Vista as well as other versions of the Windows operating system. Additionally, this disc contains some proprietary software applications for both monitoring and managing system performance and energy savings.
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 some of your valuable time. A manual installation is possible if so desired. The second tab is for installing additional software and some proprietary applications such as Easy Tune 5 Pro, DES (Dynamic Energy Savings) and @BIOS, an updating utility.
The next tab shows what applications and drivers are on the driver disc all in one place. The Hardware Information tab gives detailed information about the hardware installed or built into the X48-DQ6. Last, but not least, is the contact page that gives contact information across the globe.
One of the proprietary applications included is Easy Tune 5. 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!
Several other applications that are included are the @BIOS utility to help find, download and flash the BIOS, all in one application. Face Wizard is for making a customized boot screen. The DES utility is something we will look at later in this review.
Let's move on to testing the X48T-DQ6 out to see what it has to offer in terms of performance.
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
1. North Bridge: Intel® X48 Chipset
2. South Bridge: Intel® ICH9R
1. 4 x 1.5V DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 8 GB of system memory
2. Dual channel memory architecture
3. Support for DDR3 1900/1600/1333/1066/800/MHz, XMP memory modules.
Please refer "Memory Support List" for memory support information.
1. Realtek ALC889A codec
2. High Definition Audio
4. Support for DTS (dts NEO:PC)
5. Support for S/PDIF In/Out
6. Support for CD In
1. Realtek 8111C chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)
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
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
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)
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. 6 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)
1. iTE IT8718 chip
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
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.
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
1. ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 24.4cm
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.
- GIGABYTE Dynamic Energy Saver: 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:Ultra Cooling - Low RDS(on) MOSFET DesignLow RDS(on) MOSFETs specially designed to produce lower switching resistance for faster electric current charging and discharging.
Ultra CoolingLow Power Loss - Ferrite Core Choke Design Ferrite core chokes comprised of a compound of iron oxide and other metal elements whose properties hold energy much longer than common iron core at high frequency.
Low Power LossLonger Life - All-Solid Capacitor Design solid capacitors contain a solid organic polymer, while electrolytic capacitors use a common liquid electrolyte, hence, the terms solid capacitor versus electrolytic capacitors.
- Intel® Core™ 2 multi-core and 45nm processors: GA-X48T-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-X48T-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 DDR3 1900: Experience maximum system performance with advanced DDR3 1900 memory technology, featuring higher bandwidth and increasing performance with lower power consumption. * 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 Output
The 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-X48T-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-X48T-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 DDR3 Slots: Experience the boost in memory performance with new generation DDR3 technology featuring faster speeds and higher data bandwidth for memory intensive appliccations.
All information gathered from the Gigabyte GA X48T-DQ6 produvct page @ http://www.gigabyte.com.tw/Products/Motherboard/Products_Overview.aspx?ClassValue=Motherboard&ProductID=2765&ProductName=GA-X48T-DQ6
The Gigabyte X48T-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 X48T-DQ6 against its DDR2 cousin, the X48-DQ6. The tests will compare performance against the two to see if DDR3 does indeed offer a performance improvement. 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 Q9450 Core 2 Quad 333x8
- Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-X48T-DQ6
- Memory: Patriot Viper Fin PC3 12800 2 x 1 GB (1333MHz 6-5-5-15)
- Video Card(s): Asus EN8800GT TOP
- Power Supply: Mushkin 800watt Modular Power supply
- Hard Drive: 1 x Seagate 1TB 7200.11 SATA
- Opticals: NEC DV5700
- O/S: Windows Vista Ultimate Edition
- Comparison Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-X48-DQ6 w 2x2GB Mushkin XP28000 Redline 5-5-5-12
- Processor: Intel Q9450 470 x 8
- Sytem Memory: Patriot Viper Fin 12800 8-8-8-24 940
Overclocking the X48T-DQ6 was in all respects just the same as the X48-DQ6. The Q9450 I use in my reviews ran up on the same 470FSB limit that it did on the DDR2 version of the board. This limited my memory overclock to only 940MHz at 8-8-8-24 1t. Tweaking the voltages and timings did not allow me to progress any further. Reaching the limits of my chip may seem like a bad thing, but it's not really when you look at it. Some never get that far, while some people can eclipse the results I have achieved. It all comes down to how good your individual hardware is and the time it takes to pull the most from the X48T-DQ6. There are enough options in the BIOS to allow for fine tuning the voltages, clockspeeds and memory dividers. I found that the B (333) dividers were the most stable for the hardware I used on this board. Of course, your mileage may vary. Overclocking a quad core processor presents some unique challenges, making the stabilization of an overclock that much harder. Many of the upper end enthusiast boards on the market can do 500FSB+ speeds with dual core processors and while I could have shown dual core CPU results, I wanted to know how well it does with a quad core CPU. Finding that limitation is the fun part of this hobby.
- 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 Juarez
- 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 on the best quality setting. Al three files will be compressed into both Zip and Rar files, Time will be measured in seconds. Less time to complete the compression is better.
The results of the WinRar testing show that the two gigabytes of DDR3 on the X48T-DQ6 performs better than, or equal to, the four gigabytes of DDR2 on the X48-DQ6. In the Apophysis testing, the DDR2 board showed a substantial lead over the DDR3 board. While run at a faster speed, the benefits of the DDR3 at reasonably tight timings seems to show some merit.
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.
In the Specview testing, the DDR3 board outperformed the DDR2 board. In the Vantage testing, the four gigabytes of memory pulls the DDR2 version of the X48T-DQ6 ahead.
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
The memory tests in particular favor the X48T-DQ6 over the DDR2 version by a wide margin.
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
In Cinebench, the X48T-DQ6 is outperformed by the DDR2 version. The drive testing shows no difference because the boards are just about identical, in that both are using the ICH9 managed SATA ports to run the hard drives. In the system based benchmarks, the X48T-DQ6 came out on top or equal to the performance of the DDR2 version of the board in 27 out of 35 tests that were run. Kind of surprising when you look at all the negative feedback on DDR3 vs DDR2 performance comparisons. This takes it a step farther. If run with four gigabytes of DDR3, what would the results be? Let's see if the X48T-DQ6 can keep up its winning ways in the gaming benchmarks.
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 gaming community. The Crysis single player demo includes both a CPU and GPU benchmark to test the performance of the processor and video card installed in the system.
- 2x Anti-Aliasing
- Advanced settings to medium
The DDR3 DQ6 fell behind in the 1680 x 1050 resolution and the performance was equal at 1280x1024 and 1920x1200. At 1024x768, where the system specs actually make a difference, the DDR3 DQ6 pulled ahead by four frames per second. Point DDR3!
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
- DirectX Version: 10
- All resolutions 60HZ
In three out of four resolutions the performance of the DDR3 board met or exceeded the performance of the DDR2 version.
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
Performance in Bioshock is pretty much a horse race until the 1920x1200 resolution. Here, the performance gap is seven frames per second, a substantial margin.
Call of Duty 4 : Modern Warfare is the latest successor in the Call of Duty series. 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.
The settings used are listed below:
- Anti-Aliasing: x4
- Anistropic Filtering : Max
- Texture Quality: Extra
- All settings Max
Again, the higher resolutions present some problems for the DDR3 board.
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:
- 0x AA
- 16x AF
- Graphics Detail: Very High
In all four resolutions, the maximum difference between the two boards is two frames per second. In this test, DDR3 did not provide a big gain in performance but did exhibit an increase in two of the tested resolutions.
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
1680x1050 is once again the trouble spot in this comparison, otherwise the DDR3 versions performance is even with or better than the DDR2 version of the board.
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
In Company of Heros Opposing Fronts, the DDR3 version of the DQ6 performs equal to or better than the DDR2 version by as much as four frames per second.
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
In this benchmark, the DDR3 X48T-DQ6 pulled ahead in all four resolutions. In 23 out of 32 gaming benchmarks, the performance of the DDR3 based X48T-DQ6 was equal to or better than the DDR2 based version in my testing.
Dynamic Energy Saving: To validate or disprove the energy saving features of the GA-X48T-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 X48/38/P35 chipsets and Intel CPUs. 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 CPU pulled just over 7 watts when cycled down into the idle state using the Intel tools in the BIOS. When ramped up, the voltage consumption increased to 49.6 watts.
Now I will run through the same scenario with the DES software enabled. At idle, the processor pulled a whopping 5.0 watts. Under load, the power consumption increases considerably, in this case up to 42watts .
The DES software allowed the X48T-DQ6 to reduce power consumption at both idle and while under load. While the results are not as dramatic as the results from the X48-DQ6, there are still savings to be had. Long term, this can have a positive effect in the way we consume power. The total savings can add up!
Many of the pluses from the GA-X48-DQ6 are evident with the GA-X48T-DQ6. Performance-wise, it stacks up nicely next to the DDR2 version, something it should do considering they are basically the same board. In 27 out of 35 system benchmarks and 23 out of 32 gaming benchmarks, the performance of the X48T-DQ6 was equal to or better that the X48-DQ6. The potential is realized with the DDR3 version of Gigabyte's flagship X48 board. It overclocks just as well, with the added bonus of being able to run the system memory upwards of 1900MHz. While pushing the limits of this board I never had to use the clear CMOS jumper. Why, you ask ? Well, let me tell you. The X48T-DQ6 recovers from a failed overclock very well. If the settings are a bit too aggressive, the board will shut down and reboot with the default clock speeds on the system memory and CPU. I have grown accustomed to the fact that it will always recover no matter how hard I push. No more need to pull the side panel to do the jumper shuffle to get the board back in the game. It's a good thing considering the location of the jumper, right between the 16x PCI-E slots. While many manufacturers advertise 45nm support, Gigabyte has delivered. I have tried installing a QX9770 in all of the boards I have tested lately and surprisingly, many need additional BIOS updates or operate with reduced capabilities such as a locked multiplier, no half multiplier support or just plain not booting. Gigabyte's X48 boards both booted with no problems and even ran at the specified speeds with no problems.
So is migrating to a DDR3 based board worth the price of admission yet? In reality, it is getting much closer to prime time. The prices are dropping and the performance is increasing with each new set of memory released. Motherboard manufactuers such as Gigabyte are making the hardware to use the modules, so why not migrate? Four gigabytes is still prohibitively expensive, but a good 2 x 1 GB set will set you back between two and three bills, much the same way DDR2 did when it first arrived. If you always play with the latest technology, there is a price to pay, but as I said, that price is becoming more palatable.
Like the X48-DQ6, the X48T-DQ6 has the "Silent Pipe" and "Crazy Cool" silent cooling solutions. The benefits from additional cooling are usually increased clockspeeds and longer life. The larger northbridge heatsink did get warm to the touch, which means it is doing its job pulling the heat from the chipsets. Being energy conscious is becoming a way of life with the ever increasing costs associated with energy consumption. Gigabyte has you covered with its DES software and motherboard design. The software does indeed provide the ability to reduce the energy consumed, therefore reducing your energy liability. If you need a board that offers great performance, stability DDR3 support and "green" features, the Gigabyte X48T-DQ6 has you covered on all counts.
- Dynamic Energy Savings works
- Overclocking ability
- Better Northbridge cooling
- Memory overclocking
- Overclocking recovery
- 45nm support
- "Crazy Cool" backplate