Intel's Core 2 platform has become the gamer's choice. Finally we have seen the death of the Intel Netburst architecture as the king of the hill, or at least as Intel saw it. AMD's reign as the CPU of choice came to a crashing end when Core 2 finally made its debut to the retail market. Based around the Pentium-M's architecture with a few tweaks to the multimedia capabilities saw a cool running CPU that was able to clearly beat AMD on a clock-for-clock basis.
However, having a good CPU is only half the battle if you don't have a good platform for it to run on. AMD know this all too well; when Slot A was just coming in AMD's Athlon processor was the pits, but the AMD 750 Irongate chipset was the most slap stick chipset ever. Its AGP system was hardly working and it had many compatibility issues with the GeForce DDR graphics cards. A great CPU was going to waste here.
Intel has also felt this problem, Pentium 3 Coppermine was to be Intel's finest CPU but its I820 RDRAM supporting chipset was simply a joke, and the I815 couldn't support more than 512MB of SDRAM either, not to mention DDR was out of the question because of Intel's deals with Rambus, making the Coppermine a lost cause.
Core 2 has been the lucky one, not only has the CPU shown it can break records, but it has also been given a platform for it to build on. P965 was the first chipset designed to take advantage of the Core 2, and while Intel's so called flagship 975X was also Core 2 compatible it lacked the support for native DDR2-800 memory as well as the inclusion of the ICH8R chipset which would have given us six SATA ports rather than the four provided on the ICH7R. P965 was the crown of the desktop market until its replacement, the mighty P35 chipset. P35 was built on the P965s already popular design, however its memory controller was tweaked for DDR2 as well as adding the first DDR3 memory controller for the desktop. The ICH9R was also given to the P35 chipset.
While this was good, the enthusiasts still needed a higher grade chipset. Enter today's contender, the X38. The new X38 chipset is designed to take over where the aging 975X chipset leaves off. Its abilities have been tweaked as well as some extra goodies. So let's have a look at our first retail sample board, Gigabyte X38-DQ6.