Some time ago we posted an article devoted to the possible use of dual-core mobile Core Duo processors (aka Yonah) in desktop platforms. Intel made it possible through active promotion of their Viiv platform. According to this concept the notebook processor models can officially be used in multimedia platforms. Note that the mobile Core Duo processor that has inherited its microarchitecture from the Pentium M solution proved pretty competitive in our test session. Its performance turned out up to the level of desktop processors from the same price group, however, unlike competitors, Core Duo could boast relatively low heat dissipation. All these factors summed up gave us a clear idea that Core Duo could turn into a great choice for your home system.
However there is one very unpleasant obstacle on Core Duo’s way to desktop platforms: there are very few Socket 479 mainboards out there and besides, they can hardly be called enthusiast-friendly. The Viiv mainboard from ASUS we have reviewed recently (for details see our article called Meet the Viiv Platform: Intel Core Duo for Desktops) has pretty typical features for a solution of its class: microATX form-factor, integrated graphics core and very scarce overclocking-friendly options. We believe that other mainboards designed for Viiv platforms may also suffer from this discouraging peculiarities.
Here I have to stress that since the mainboard we used for our previous Core Duo test session didn’t offer much of overclocking flexibility, we didn’t manage to really investigate the overclocking potential of this CPU, although we expected it to be quite impressive. Of course, Core Duo processors based on the Yonah core are manufactured with 65nm technological process and boast low heat dissipation thanks to their micro-architectural peculiarities. Moreover, they belong to mobile processor family and it means that their clock frequency is kept at a lower rate for the sake of lower heat dissipation and not for micro-architectural or technological reasons, because notebooks have very strict requirements when it comes to thermal characteristics. In other words, if we are not worried about the heat dissipation of Core Duo processor exceeding 31W, which is a funny number for desktop platforms, then we might be able to increase the core clock speed of our processor far beyond 2.16GHz. And this frequency is currently the maximum clock speed for the CPUs of this processor family.
Luckily, not all the mainboard manufacturers blindly follow Intel’s recommendations when it comes to designing “proper” mainboards meeting all the official requirements. Some vendors are not afraid to fall into microprocessor giant’s disgrace and offer solutions with all the enthusiast-friendly features. In our previous review we have already mentioned AOpen Company and their Socket 479 i975Xa-YDG mainboard targeted for hardcore users and based on i975X chipset. This mainboard has nothing to do with Viiv platform, but it is also designed for desktop systems built around Core Duo and Core Solo processors on Yonah core. AOpen didn’t position this platform as a solution for multimedia systems. i975Xa-YDG is a fully-fledged solution for gamers and overclockers. The only problem about AOpen i975Xa-YDG is that it is extremely difficult to find. They manufacture this solution in very small quantities, they even don’t have enough samples to give out to reviewers. So, we don’t expect this product to start selling freely any time soon, no matter how sad that is.
However, we were the lucky ones. After three long months of hopeless waiting we have finally managed to get our hands on this interesting product for a few days. As a result we are happy to offer you this second article that is dedicated to Core Duo in the desktop segment. However today we are going to pay special attention to the part of our testing that we had to disregard last time. Namely, we are going to se what the Core Duo processor has to offer overclocking fans. At the same time we will also discuss in greatest detail the remarkable AOpen i975Xa-YDG mainboard that some lucky ones may still manage to find in stores one day.