Gigabyte X38-DQ6 Review
It has been nearly five months since Intel officially launched their next-generation 3-series platform, or as many have referred to it by its codename of “Bearlake”. The 3-series consists of a top-to-bottom family of chipsets ranging from the G31/G33 chipsets with integrated graphics for the low end of the market, all the way up to the P35 chipset for the mainstream segment. The G3x chipsets essentially replaced Intel’s G965 chipset from 2006, while P35 replaced the P965 chipset that was so popular with enthusiasts when Core 2 launched last year. P965 motherboards like Gigabyte’s P965-DS3 were adored because they provided stellar overclocking potential with performance that was better than or equal to more expensive motherboards in their class. Many of the motherboards in our CPU overclocking database
are based on the P965 chipset.
From a strategic perspective, the 3-series launch was important for Intel as it laid the groundwork for a range of new technologies. The 3-series platform supports up-and-coming tech like DDR3 memory, 1333MHz front-side bus (FSB) speeds, and Intel’s new fast memory access technology, which features an updated memory controller that has been tweaked to offer lower latency when accessing memory as well as providing more efficient use of available memory bandwidth.
The most notable new addition to the 3-series line though is support for Intel’s upcoming 45-nm Penryn processors. Intel has incorporated a number of improvements into Penryn
besides the smaller, more energy-efficient manufacturing process. When it launches next month, Penryn should offer clock-for-clock performance improvements over today’s Core 2 CPUs, as well as supporting Intel’s latest instruction set, SSE4.
Intel’s 3-series launch in May missed one important segment of the market though: high-end. Officially up to this point, Intel’s chipset for the high-end segment has remained the same, 975X. Considering that the 975X chipset was originally launched with the Pentium Extreme Edition 955 back in 2005, and is in fact largely based on the 955X chipset, it goes without saying that the 975X chipset is in need of replacement. (Over the years Intel has steadily improved the 975X chipset so much they’ve gone through three different revs of their own 975XBX motherboard, but none of these changes have really impacted the feature set of the chipset.)
Today that replacement is finally here in the form of the X38 chipset. We use the word “finally” because the launch of X38 has repeatedly been pushed back from July to September, and now finally October. Has the wait been worth it? To help answer that question we got our hands on one of the first X38 motherboards to hit the market, Gigabyte’s X38-DQ6. First we’ll provide a quick refresher on what’s new with the X38 chipset.