Articles: Mainboards

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Intel DX58SO2 mainboard, which we have recently reviewed on our web-site made an unforgettable impression on us. It is a truly revolutionary model, because it is nothing what Intel mainboards used to be (except for the BIOS). In terms of layout and functionality it can successfully compete against flagship solutions from the leading mainboard makers, and is even seriously better than the competition in certain aspects. Of course, we were extremely excited about such success and decided to check out more of the company’s products, only this time we wanted to see what they’ve got for the latest LGA1155 processors. I have to say that there are new mainboard models almost in all series of products: Classic, Executive, Media and Extreme, but even though there are a lot of different models available, the choice was fairly simple. The majority of mainboards is designed in microATX or mini-ITX form-factors and is based on Intel H61, B65, Q67 or H67 chipsets, which use the graphics core, integrated into the processor and are not intended for overclocking. DP67BA mainboard is based on Intel P67 Express, however, it is designed as a microATX mainboard with a bit of extra textolite on the side to make it fix the ATX form-factor dimensions. As a result, it has all the drawbacks of the small form-factor products but doesn’t have their advantages featuring only two additional PCI slots as compensation. So, it turns out that there is only one mainboard model that could be of interest to us out of fifteen Sandy Bridge products available – Intel DP67BG. This is the only LGA1155 mainboard from the Extreme series, i.e. it contains all the latest features and functions that can possibly be onboard of an Intel platform today. So, let’s see if the mainboard functionality meets contemporary requirements and our expectations.

PCB Design and Functionality

Intel DX58SO2 mainboard, which we have just mentioned in the beginning of this review, is so unlike any other Intel mainboards, so it is really interesting to know who has actually developed it and who is manufacturing it for Intel. As for our today’s hero - Intel DP67BG – everything is crystal clear here: the logo on the back of the board indicates clearly that the product is manufactured by a popular contractor – Foxconn Company.

The board supports Intel Core i7, i5 and i3 processors in LGA1155 form-factor, dual-channel DDR3 memory. It features two PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots that allow building two-way ATI Crossfire and Nvidia SLI configurations. Intel P67 Express chipset delivers four Serial ATA 3 Gbps and two 6 Gbps ports supporting RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10 arrays. The additional Marvell 88SE6111 controller provides an eSATA 3 Gbps ports on the back panel, and IEEE1394 (FireWire) is implemented via Texas Instruments TSB43AB22A controller. Among the optional features we should point out the heatsinks over the processor voltage regulator components, glowing Power On and Reset buttons, POST-code indicator and a row of Diagnostic LEDs showing the mainboard initialization status on boot-up, as well as a signature feature of the Extreme series – a skull. You may turn off its glow, if you like, and the blinking eyes serve as HDD activity status indicators.

The mainboard back panel has the following ports and connectors on it:

  • eSATA 3 Gbps port implemented via Marvell 88SE6111 controller;
  • Ten USB ports, including a pair of USB 3.0 ports (blue connectors) implemented via NEC D720200F1 controller; six more USBs are available as three onboard pin-connectors;
  • “Back to BIOS” button (same as Clear CMOS);
  • IEEE1394 (FireWire) port implemented via Texas Instruments TSB43AB22A controller, the second port is available as an onboard pin-connector;
  • A local network port (network adapter is built on Gigabit Intel 82579V controller);
  • Optical S/PDIF and five analogue audio-jacks provided by eight-channel Realtek ALC892 codec.

Overall, we cannot complain about anything pertaining to the mainboard layout, although there are indeed a few peculiarities worth mentioning. For example, the power supply connectors were rotated by 1800 degrees, so that the locks are facing towards the inside. Also, the connector pad for the front panel buttons and indicators has been rotated as well. Moreover, and this is typical of all Intel mainboards for some reason, this connector pad is located in the center of the bottom edge of the PCB rather than in the lower right corner.

We summed up all the mainboard features in the table below:

Here is a list of bundled accessories:

  • Five SATA cables;
  • I/O Shield for the back panel;
  • Bridge for two-way SLI graphics configurations;
  • DVD disk with software and drivers;
  • WiFi/Bluetooth MS-3871 modules and a USB cable for it;
  • Connector layout sticker for the inside of the system case.

We were pleased to discover that the mainboard comes with an external WiFi/Bluetooth module, which is connected to the board with a special cable and is then attached to the inside of the bracket covering one of the free five-inch bays in the system case. Unfortunately, the SATA cables only had straight connectors and didn’t have any locks on them, which struck us as a strange way of saving money. It wouldn’t make any sense to purchase different SATA cables separately, because the SATA connectors on the board do not have special slits for the connector locks. The mainboard we had was based on the latest B3 chipset revision of the Intel P67 Express, and it seemed a little strange that unlike other mainboard manufacturers, Intel didn’t stress this fact in any way.

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