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We visited Eric, Jarry and Jet at the DFI headquarters in Taipei today where they gave us an exclusive up-close look at a working sample of their forthcoming LANPARTY UT X58 motherboard.
We got a look at the first revision of the board and sadly the new heatpipe cooler was not quite ready for us to take photos of. This board will get a similar made by Thermalright cooler as seen on older boards, but this time around DFI has decided to make the coolers themselves to try and reduce costs. It was mentioned that while the cooler will be similar, it will be improved by allowing users to use their own after market or custom cooling equipment or "weapons" as Jarry put it, whereas with other brand motherboards that is not always that easy to do. That did allow us to get an unobstructed view of the no fuss high-end enthusiast performance motherboard. Jarry Chang, the head engineer and designer at DFI, had some interesting points to make about the LANPARTY UT X58 and much of it made perfect sense.
The first question of course had to be about the DDR3 voltage limitations on the X58 Express chipset with Core i7, which came to light online recently. DFI told us that they were not aware of any serious issues and that they've tested memory working around 1.8 - 1.9 volts without killing a CPU. DFI has no intention of limiting the amount of voltage to go to the memory on the LANPARTY UT X58 and stated that they will probably support up to 2.0 - 2.1 volts and are considering providing a warning to users depending on how further testing goes up until when the board goes on sale in November.
He mentioned that other motherboard brands often pack a lot of fancy features onto their high-end boards, but he noted that most of them were over the top and not used or not required. For instance, this X58 motherboard gets eight CPU power phases whereas some other brand boards have up to 12 phases and even more. Jarry noted from his own internal testing that no CPU, even quad-core, would need this many and the rest would just go wasted and unused.
DFI is purely focused on creating high-end performance and super overclocking motherboards without the extras that other brands include - as mentioned, you don't get the so called "GPS" and "airbags" with DFI boards, but you do get great performance - and we would agree with that statement. We all had a laugh when it was mentioned by DFI that folks like GIGABYTE and ASUS are creating boards with loads of power saving features but pack on a lot of unnecessary parts and materials that are not really needed and go against the whole notion of saving the planet.
Getting back to the motherboard itself, the LANPARTY UT X58 will support ATI CrossfireX and NVIDIA SLI. Jarry mentioned that the board we saw today was not the final shipping version (but very close) and the final version would be the same, but will have its three PCI-E 2.0 expansion slots running electronically at x16, x8 and x8 lanes. NVIDIA suggested rather persistently to DFI over a couple of meetings that this was the best setup for optimal performance and a requirement of three-way SLI. The board will get two PCI slots of legacy devices along with a single x4 PCI-E slot.
As far as power phases go, the Socket LGA-1366 CPU gets eight phases, two phases for the triple-channel DDR3 memory, two for the Northbridge and also two for the PWM. IDE is not forgotten with a single IDE port that supports two devices along with an FDD port, which could probably go now.
There are eight SATA-II ports but sadly no eSATA at the moment. Jarry mentioned that he was not happy with placing eSATA ports on the back of the board on the I/O panel, since it's not really "true" eSATA, because the user has to go to the back of the case and that's a hassle. Instead, DFI is working on a device, like a break-out box, which allows users to run a 10m cable from the back of the motherboard to a box, which could be placed on your desk for better ease of use - this is a great idea and we look forward to seeing it.
While it's not a new feature, it was the first we really took a lot of notice of it. We are talking about DFI's BIOS chip, which is setup to easily be able to be removed and replaced with a new one if it goes bad during overclocking. It also allows Jarry and other DFI engineers to send its BETA testers and overclockers new BIOS' to test out and see which works best. There is also a programmable pin header just above the BIOS area next to the blue jumper that allows power users to manually program the BIOS. You get a look at that part of the motherboard above.
As far as availability goes, the board should go on sale no later than the end of November after the launch of the first three Intel Core i7 processors and while the price hasn't been fully decided yet, it should go on sale for "at least" $300 USD - start saving your pennies, as no X58 motherboard is going to be cheap.
DFI alerted us just recently that they've been playing around with one of its LANPARTY JR P45-T2RS micro-ATX motherboards and has been able to FSB all the way up to an astonishing 685MHz with the CPU operating at around 4.1GHz.
This impressive overclock from a small motherboard managed to score a Super PI 1M result of 7.25 seconds - it's not as impressive as the DFI DK P45-T2RS Plus which broke a world record last month, but for a micro-ATX mobo, we're impressed.
With the restriction of space, most of the microATX motherboards have to loss part of the configurations and performance, but the "small = low performance" myth has been completely broken by LANParty. Within the limited space, the best Bus speed of JR P45-T2RS is up to 685MHz, and the performance of Super Pi 1M is second to none; it surpasses not only the micorATX, but also most of the ATX-designed motherboard. It can be said without fear of exaggeration that JR P45-T2RS is the most powerful microATX in the history.
Why does LANParty JR P45-T2RS have such amazing performance under the restricted conditions? During the process of design, the majority of micorATX motherboards often suffer considerable signal interference because of the lack of space; therefore, the conservative wiring approach is often adopted to pursue stability at the expense of performance. However, the LANParty R & D team hold that "stability is merely a basic element", while the pursuit of stronger performance is the only objective. It's under such concept that the true overclocking microATX motherboard has been invented.
DFI is claiming its baby P45 mobo is king of Super PI and we'd have to agree.
We have seen X58 Core i7 boards from the usual suspects already, but one company that has only just joined the party is Biostar.
The folks over at Matbe were able to get a picture of the Biostar T-POWER X58 board and while it does not reveal anything overly exciting, it does go a long way in showing that Biostar is still fighting pretty hard when it comes to high-end performance motherboards.
This board looks to include a standard heatpipe that cools the PWM, Northbridge and Southbridge and it appears to be passively cooled with no fancy options to add water cooling or anything else. Of course being for the Core i7 Nehalem, it gets triple channel DDR3 support and it also includes three PCI-E 2.0 x16 slots running at full speed.
Interestingly Matbe claim the board supports CrossfireX and SLI but we'll need to wait and see when we get our hands on one in our labs probably late next month.
In all the excitement surrounding Intel's upcoming Nehalem microarchitecture and, the associated, X58 platform, we've not heard much about NVIDIA's chipset offerings recently.
NVIDIA-loyal EVGA, has released a refresh of its nForce 790 SLI FTW motherboard, known as the nForce 790 SLI FTW Digital PWM, seen above.
In addition to the feature set of its predecessor, including 8-phase power and a sideways exhaust cooling system, the new offering boasts digital power management which is claimed to improve stability, efficiency and allow for improved overclocking prospects.
Intel's Core 2 Duo, Quad and Extreme CPUs are supported by EVGA's latest offering and a $339.99 price point, is gracing current stock availability.
Tonight GIGABYTE is formerly taking the covers off its Ultra Durable 3 (UD3) motherboard technology here in Taipei at the famous Taipei 101 building, to a mass of international press and overclockers, who are in town for the 2008 GO OC overclocking event.
Yesterday TweakTown was exclusively invited to the GIGABYTE HQ to get a closer hands-on look at what UD3 is all about and well ahead of the rest of the media crowd who are gathered here.
Yesterday, after looking at the final revision of the GA-X58-Extreme motherboard, we got onto UD3. A couple years ago GIGABYTE introduced Ultra Durable and that included all solid capacitor designs with high quality parts from Japan. Ultra Durable 2 introduced lower RDS MOSFETs, ferrite core choke and lower ESR solid capacitors among other things, including improvements to the cooling setups.
Ultra Durable 3 goes one step further again on improving GIGABYTE's line of motherboards by further introducing the use of even better Japanese capacitors that are said to last for 50,000 hours (almost 6 years of continuous use) and the big deal of the day, two ounce copper layers to the PCB. All motherboard PCBs have at least one copper layer, but on the vast majority out there, they are usually only one ounce thick. GIGABYTE claim to be the industry's first consumer desktop motherboard designer to feature two ounces of copper for both power and ground layers.
What is so exciting about that, though? A few things actually - let's try and explain them one by one.
Probably most important of all is that GIGABYTE reckons UD3 is able to decrease motherboard temperature by up to 50 degrees Celsius in the hottest areas of the motherboard - i.e. MOSFETs around the CPU. The claim was that the temperature in this area dropped from 178c to 125c, using a heat detecting machine. The thicker copper allows for greater electrical current flow, which in turn allows the circuits to produce less resistance (or impedance) by two times. Not only is there a clear advantage in temperatures, but boards using UD3 should use less power and suffer less from vdroop and voltage loss leaks. Of course, because it operates cooler, it should also provide more overclocking headroom and stability.
Another thing to keep in mind and this is purely for hardcore overclockers, due to the employment of the extra copper, UD3 boards will be less flexible and that's a good thing. Some overclockers use big and heavy copper LN2 cup pots and sometimes they do create an amount of flex on the boards - UD3 while not designed intentionally for this purpose, manages to solve much of this type of buckling and bending in those situations.
UD3 will be featured on a whole range of upcoming motherboards including GA-EP45-UD3P, GA-EP43-UD3, GA-EP43C-UD3, GA-EP45-UD3R, GA-EP43-UD3R, GA-EP45T-UD3P, GA-EP45-UD3, GA-EP45C-UD3R, GA-EP45T-UD3R, GA-EP43-UD3P, GA-EP45C-UD3 and GA-EP45T-UD3LR - yeah, all of those! We have one on the way already for review and we'll get it out just as soon as we can.
Luckily for us, GIGABYTE had a fancy USB microscope camera on hand for us (thanks Charles!) to compare the thickness of one ounce and two ounce copper layer PCBs on a couple magnified glass demos of the new cut out PCBs - that is them above. From the following pictures below, you can clearly see the difference in thickness.
We also got an exclusive look at an upcoming P45 motherboard that will begin selling in 2 - 3 weeks that uses UD3 technology. Not only does it get the thicker copper PCB treatment, but also a new cooling setup that looks great and matches perfectly with the PCB color scheme. Why has it taken you so long to add a blue cooler, GIGABYTE? Anyway... more of it please!
Below you can see a comparison between the typical one ounce copper PCB layer on top and two ounce PCB layer on the bottom:
Of course we'll need to test one of these UD3 motherboards soon before we can make any final judgments but one thing is for sure, you can bet our temperature gun will be getting a good work out in that review.
We'll see what else we can dig up at the GIGABYTE 2008 GO OC overclocking event tomorrow.
GIGABYTE invited us down to its offices today in Taipei to get a close-up look at the final revision of its upcoming X58 motherboard that will begin shipping sometime next month, once Intel begins shipping its range of Core i7 processors.
GIGABYTE's Extreme new line of motherboards are designed purely for overclockers and the Taiwanese company is hoping its X58 Extreme will power as many Nehalem processors as possible against its main competitors such as ASUS and MSI. We already showed you an early version of this board about a month ago, but that was non-final, and actually based on a DS4 design.
Today we got a close up look at the final design that will ship to customers, besides the heatsink cooling setup, which GIGABYTE is still keeping under wraps for the moment - and this one is an actual working live sample. Besides the physical changes to the board layout, on this board and others, GIGABYTE will be introducing "Ultra Durable 3". GIGABYTE has already tweaked their boards to what we thought was the max and we really thought there wasn't much more left to improve, but we were wrong.
UD3 adds two 2 ounce copper layers to the 12-layer PCB motherboard - one is a ground layer and the other is a power layer. We got a chance to see the actual copper layers that slot into the regular PCB compared to normal one ounce copper layers, but we are not allowed to show you until the actual launch tomorrow. These thicker copper layers create less resistance (impedance) by up to two times, creating better electrical current flow according to GIGABYTE. In their labs, engineers measured a 50 degree Celsius drop in temperature in the hottest parts of the motherboard (mosfets around the CPU).
UPDATE - UD3 press release can now be found here.
On to the layout changes, you can see that from the first revision we saw, GIGABYTE has angled ALL SATA ports at 90 degrees - this is of big importance due to the monster graphics cards on the market.
X58 Extreme will get a total of 12 power phases for the CPU and two each for RAM and the Northbridge. The original board you saw only had six CPU power phases.
The expansion slots have also been tweaked - instead of having four PCI-E x16 slots bunched so closely to each other, one has been removed and they've been spaced out. This was done to allow for three dual slot cooled graphics cards to fit onto the motherboard. The top two blue slots are electronically 16 lanes and the last orange one is 8 lanes electronically. The top black slot is x1 and the small orange one is x4. You also get two PCI slots for legacy devices. Nothing was mentioned about SLI on this visit.
GIGABYTE acknowledged that overclockers want as many power pin headers on their motherboards as possible because these users will plug in as many fans as possible. Previous motherboards from GIGABYTE only had four pin headers, but the X58 Extreme gets a grand total of six.
The onboard power and reset buttons have had their location changed to the north of the motherboard, since where they were located was a little too "busy". Additionally, now every major component has debugging LEDs - there are stacks of them on the board, making it easy for you to work out which part of the motherboard is playing up. The rear I/O panel goes unchanged.
It was interesting to note that the non-final heatsinks you see on this board were plenty enough to keep the chipsets cool whilst in load operation. We asked one of the engineers about the temperature and thinking that the chips would probably get rather hot, the engineer said not really. Whack on a whopping big heatpipe cooler on and we think it will definitely run super cool - perfect for overclocking.
We can't wait to see what their motherboard is capable of in the overclocking department but we'll all have to wait another month or so yet to find out. We should see the final cooling setup for the X58 Xtreme either tomorrow night at the UD3 launch or on Thursday at the GIGABYTE GO OC overclocking event.
We recently reported on rumoured DDR3 overclocking woes with the upcoming Intel Nehalem platform, yet according to this article from Fudzilla, motherboard manufacturers have engineered a way around the situation.
It transpires that it will be possible to separate CPU and memory voltages, equating to users being able to set individual voltages for the CPU and memory, rather than them being synchronised. DDR3 memory modules will therefore be able to power their way to higher speeds and voltages, without have a detrimental effect on the CPU itself.
We can expect to see upcoming solutions from the likes of ASUS, Gigabyte and MSI adopting such methods to make overclocking the Nehalem platform, that little bit easier.
Gingle sent out a press release this morning claiming that its 2000MHz DDR3 4GB memory kit is one of the fastest out there.
In their internal testing and working with the folks over at DFI, they managed to clock one of their 4GB DDR3 memory kits all the way up to 2100MHz on a DFI LANParty X48 motherboard.
Gingle claim that their memory is faster since most other memory makers set the CAS latency to 10 whereas Gingle were able to run their memory at a CAS latency of 9.
Gingle also claimed a couple other memory performance feats, as you can see below.
2100MHz CL9: not like most 2100/ 2133MHz module running at CL10, Gingle can runs with a voltage of 1.94v and CAS latency of 9, it achieved an overall breaking performance speed of 2100MHz in 2GB single channel mode.
8GB (4pcs) 1800MHz CL9: the biggest challenge of high speed memory is the limitation of capacity. Occupying all the 4 DIMM slots of Intel X48 up to 8GB with a low timing of 9-9-9-22 the memory frequency speed was able to run at an amazing top speed of 1800MHz.
1800MHz 4GB 1T: Very few modules can run 1T command rate. Even Gingle's official spec define on 1800MHz CL8 at 2T command, but certain percentage of Gingle's kit still can runs 1800MHz CL8 at 1T on DFI LANParty X48!
You can find out more information over at the press release, which we uploaded here.
GIGABYTE has issued out a press release earlier today which lets us all know they have bumped up the native memory support of all their Intel P45 and P43 motherboards to 1333MHz and 1200MHz respectively; this via the means of a new readily available BIOS update.
The announcement also makes mention of some of the exclusive features of their P45/P43 range, including Dynamic Energy Saver Advanced, DualBIOS, Dolby Home Theater and more.
You can find all the details here.
Taipei, Taiwan, August 25, 2008 - GIGABYTE UNITED INC., a leading manufacturer of motherboards and graphics cards is proud to announce their entire lineup of Intel P45 and P43 chipset based motherboards have just received a DDR2 memory performance upgrade. By upgrading to the latest BIOS, GIGABYTE P45 motherboards are able to support native 1333MHz DDR2 memory, while the GIGABYTE P43 motherboards are able to support 1200MHz DDR2 memory natively.
We are pretty certain we saw a prototype of this motherboard at the MSI booth during Computex but we can't be certain - it may have been using a different chipset, though.
Nevertheless, MSI has just taken the covers off its P45-8D "Memory Lover" motherboard based on Intel's P45 Express chipset. It supports a mammoth 16GB of DDR2 (using 4 x 4GB modules) or 8GB of DDR3 (using 4 x 2GB modules).
P45-8D Memory Lover comes with the cooling heat-pipe design with high thermal efficiency to rule out the heat of the North Bridge and South Bridge quickly, ensuring better stability than other same level products. In addition, P45-8D Memory Lover also comes with the "Memory Identifier" and "Memory Runner" design.
The Memory Identifier is function for digital switch, which provide the best memory transmission signals also upgrade the memory compatibility and performance. The Memory Runner is function for memory voltage switch. It enhances the ease of overclocking process and ensures the memory can boot successfully on overclocking and over-voltage.
You can find out more over at the press release, which we just uploaded, over here.