I believe last week was the most remarkable period of time for computer fans in the entire 2007. It is when AMD finally launched their so long awaited Phenom processors. Although they couldn’t really please their fans with this launch. What we have been seeing so far is that the CPUs didn’t make the best impression: working at the same frequency they lose to the competing Core 2 Quad solutions. Besides, their working frequencies are overall pretty low. Most of the previews available online these days showed that AMD engineers didn’t manage to push the micro-architecture to the desired level as well as failed to ensure acceptable yields for chips running at satisfactory frequencies.
All this means that computer enthusiasts will hardly have any questions about what a featured platforms should be these days. Intel processors will stay the fastest solutions in the first half of next year. Especially since we can expect a new promising Penryn processor family from Intel to launch in January and our tests have already shown that they will deliver even higher performance (for details see our article called Second Iteration of Core Micro-Architecture: Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 CPU Review).
As for the best contemporary LGA775 platform compatible with the today’s as well as upcoming processors, luckily there are quite a few alternatives available to computer users at this time. Numerous mainboards on Intel P35 and Intel X38 officially support Penryn processors. The first group of products on P35 has already been studied very carefully on our site and will hardly pose any questions. As for X38 based mainboards, they just start appearing in stores that is why they become extremely interesting. They cost more, but only mainboards like that can support faster PCI Express 2.0 x16 graphics card bus, which will be a very demanded features taking into account the upcoming arrival of the new graphics accelerator generation.
Therefore we decided to take a real close look at the mainboards based on this new chipset. Moreover, we decided to focus first on those solutions that work with DDR2 SDRAM, which is more promising these days not only in terms of broader availability but also from the performance prospective. We have already reviewed one mainboard like that from Asus (see our Asus P5E Mainboard Review), and today we would like to discuss a solution from another first-tier manufacturer – Gigabyte.
I have to point out right away that like many overclocking fans out there we have very mixed feelings about Gigabyte mainboards. Trying to catch up with the market leader, this manufacturer has been adding a lot of marketing “technologies” to its products, although some of them didn’t always make sense. Therefore, top Gigabyte mainboards based on P35 chipset have been criticized a lot for the excessive enhancements that made these solutions really difficult to work with (see our Gigabyte GA-965P-DQ6 (rev.2.0) Mainboard Review). Luckily, the company engineers took all the criticism into consideration and did a good job on the new X38 based series: almost all existing issues have been eliminated and new Gigabyte boards look more than worthy at first glance. In fact, our today’s review will try to answer the following question: have Gigabyte new mainboards acquired the same chance to become a good basis for an overclocked gaming platform as competing Asus solutions? So, we are going to discuss this matter in great detail today with the help of our main hero – Gigabyte GA-X38-DQ6 mainboard – the top mainboard on X38 from this vendor supporting DDR2 SDRAM.