The structure of Intel’s core logic solutions available in the market has always been very transparent and clear for the users. Within each chipset generation the company offered a basic discrete core logic set for mainstream systems, its enhanced modifications for high-performance market and a number of integrated models for inexpensive and budget systems. For example, at this time Intel P35 is a basic product, Intel X38 is positioned for the high-end systems, while the whole line-up of integrated solutions, such as G35, G33 and G31, are being offered for the budget segment. However, this well-balanced system we are all so used to may fall apart very soon, because the stores started to offer mainboards on a new core logic set – Intel X48. This product is not intended to simply replace the top Intel X38 chipset, but is positioned at an even higher level than the latter. As a result, the Intel chipset lineup will include not just a solution for enthusiasts – Intel X38, but also a solution for super-extreme enthusiasts – Intel X48.
We first heard the name of the new Intel chipset – X48 Express – last fall. However, it was pretty hard to figure out what would be so different between the new chipset and the Intel X38 one. On the one hand, the formal side to the picture is absolutely transparent. Intel web-site offers a detailed description of the new chipset, which indicates that the only distinguishing feature of the new Intel X48 will be the support of 1600MHz bus and hence DDR3-1600 SDRAM.
But on the other hand, the already existing Intel X38 based mainboards work with processors supporting 1600MHz bus, at this time represented only by one single model - Core 2 Extreme QX9770, without any evident problems. That is why we get the impression that Intel X48 is pretty mach a marketing product that cannot boast any advantages over Intel X38. Besides, Intel X38 and X48 North Bridges are pin-compatible, which backs up this statement additionally. And it means that mainboard manufacturers do not have to develop new mainboard designs and simply install the new core logic set on their already existing products.
However, there is also a different opinion. Some overclockers believe that Intel X48 is an improved solution with higher stability in extreme working conditions. That is why we can often hear that mainboards on the new chipset are more suitable for serious overclocking experiments. They claim that default support of 400MHz front side bus and hence DDR3-1600 SDRAM should ensure better results when the FSB and memory frequencies get raised beyond their nominal values.
So, our today’s article will help figure out what points of view are closer to the truth. Are Intel X48 based mainboards a real overclocker’s dream or the new chipset is just the result of Intel’s marketing efforts? This is the main question we are going to answer today with the help of Gigabyte GA-X48T-DQ6 mainboard based on Intel X48 chipset, which Gigabyte was so kind to provide for our tests.