Intel DX48BT2: "Overclocker" Mainboard Not for Overclockers

Intel DX48BT2 is a mainboard for specialists and overclocking fans shouldn’t really pin any hopes upon it. Find out why from our today’s review.

by Doors4ever
06/10/2008 | 06:38 PM

Intel mainboards are installed in enormous number of computer systems. Back in the days I was practically shocked to find out that Intel and not ATI or Nvidia was the world’s leader in graphics chips manufacturing. It means that our high-performance systems with overclocked processors and powerful graphics cards are exceptions to the rule, while most computers in this world feature modest mainboards with Intel’s integrated graphics onboard. There are several reasons for that. It is evident that an office PC doesn’t need a mainboard on a flagship core logic set, an overclocked CPU and a gaming graphics card. And a quiet home system for elementary tasks such as video playback or internet surfing also doesn’t need high-performance (read: expensive and power-hungry) components.

 

These are logical reasons, but there are also a number of less evident factors. For example, there is an opinion that Intel processors work best on Intel based mainboards and it is even better if this mainboard is made by Intel, too. Therefore, users often try to put together a set of an Intel CPU and Intel mainboard. There exist legends about super-reliability of mainboards from Intel. In fact, any manufacturer tries to make their products as reliable as possible, and there is much smaller chance of a failure if the product is running in nominal mode without involving any specific functions and technologies. In these merciful conditions any other mainboard will work just fine, unless it has an internal defect.

Finally, we can’t disregard the fact that AMD accuses Intel of breaking the rules of fair competition and putting pressure on manufacturers and retailers. It’s a pity that they got to court hearings only now when Intel does in fact produce good processors with evidently great performance and overclocking features. Contemporary Intel CPUs do not need any suspicious distribution tricks to get popular unlike their predecessors “speeding up the Net”. Of course, it is unfair to make any accusations before the court rules, and the sales and production partners do not rush to reveal anything interesting just yet. Of course, no one wants to ruin the relationship with a powerful partner like Intel. Besides, they may also get in trouble once the details surface.

Anyway, but for the reasons explained above and not yet explained, Intel mainboards have a pretty significant share in the world’s computer systems. So, why don’t we know a lot about them? Why aren’t there a lot of reviews available?  There are also a number of reasons explaining this situation, but the main one is because Intel mainboards are not that interesting. While they have every single feature of the chipset they use, they lack unique features and peculiarities. The situation didn’t really change even now, when the company launched the whole lineup of overclocker mainboards.

In the beginning of this year we prepared an Intel DX38BT mainboard review. Since it was among the first reviews of an Intel mainboard of that kind it was pretty detailed. Besides the major characteristics that we always pay attention to, the review focused on a few less significant details, such as special software. 

Our today’s hero is a new Intel mainboard: DX48BT2. It is very similar to its less successful predecessor. However, exterior similarity doesn’t really mean anything. Our today’s review will reveal what it is actually capable of.

Package and Accessories

Intel DX48BT2 mainboard is shipped in a box with strict corporate design:

The front f the package contains only the main info on the product inside, while the back of the box bears detailed description of the mainboard’s features illustrated with a photo. There is also a list of bundled accessories and software:

A significant area on the back of the box is given to a warning message in multiple languages saying that this mainboard needs to be installed by a professional. You would normally disregard things like that, but in this case it is really important. This phrase describes Intel DX48BT2 very well, and later in this article we will understand why.

We have recently posted a review of a budget abit IP35P mainboard. Intel DX48BT2 belongs to a completely opposite group of top flagship solutions. However, both mainboards have a very similar list of bundled accessories. Moreover, the accessories bundle of a budget abit mainboard is even bigger. Intel solution comes only with one round IDE cable, one Serial ATA cable and I/O Shield for the case rear panel.

We have decided a while ago that small accessories bundle will not be regarded as a drawback. However, in this case we were considering only mainstream and budget solutions, where even a small price difference may determine the buying decision. Well, let’s consider this a drawback, however, it could be because we received a press review sample and didn’t buy it in a store with the full bundle enclosed. However, the difference wouldn’t have been dramatic: Intel DX48BT2 mainboard should be retailed with only three additional SATA cables and a 4-pin→8-pin ATX12V adapter.

Besides, the cables, Intel DX48BT2 box also contained two strange plastic pieces. Later on, one of them turned out very useful, while the other – very harmful.

The chipset North Bridge on Intel DX48BT2 mainboard is cooled with a massive heatsink without any active cooling.

By the way, we are very pleased with Intel’s thoroughness when it comes to chipset cooling retention. Here you will not see weak plastic spring-spindles like on many contemporary mainboards. The heatsink is locked with a massive steel bracket to a plastic frame that is attached very securely to the PCB with a backpate and four screws.

As is known, Intel X48 Express chipset is warmer than its predecessors, besides, overclocking often requires higher NB voltage, which increases the heat dissipation even more. To turn the passive chipset cooler into an active one, Intel included a special plastic retention frame for a 40-mm fan with its mainboard. The fan is not included with the bundled accessories, but you can easily get one on your own.

If the first plastic thing of the two we couldn’t figure out at first is actually intended to improve cooling, then the second one has absolutely opposite fate. The decorative lid with a skull image on it and a sticky layer on the other side will actually hinder proper cooling of the chipset South Bridge heatsink and cause its temperature increase.

 

It is interesting that Intel DX48BT2 mainboard doesn’t have a user’s manual. There is only an electronic version in .pdf format on a DVD disk. However, this is not a serious drawback. Even if you do not have another working computer available to you, you can get all the necessary installation instructions from a multi-lingual poster. There is also a connector layout sticker, which is a very useful thing, too. Frankly, I didn’t now that anyone besides abit was bundling these with their solutions.

When you purchase an Intel DX48BT2 mainboard, you also get a full version of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2 game. The second DVD disk contains Adobe Acrobat Reader, Dolby Control Center, Windows DirectX 9, a set of drivers and the following applications and tools:

Besides all that, you will also get a couple of marketing booklets:

Summing up what we have already discussed, I would like once again to give Intel due credit for including excellent set of software applications and tools on a DVD disk and a retention frame for an additional fan.

PCB Design and Functionality

Intel DX48BT2 mainboard makes a very good impression. The PCB layout is very well-thought, without any evident drawbacks that immediately catch one’s eye.

The five-phase processor voltage regulator circuitry with wavy heatsinks looks remarkably reliable.

By the way, note that the IDE connector is located in the upper right corner of the mainboard PCB. It is the best place for it these days, closer to the optical drivers, which use it most of the time. However, they had to install an additional Marvell 88SE6121 controller to implement it, so the question is: didn’t they remove IDE support from Intel chipsets too soon? And as for the FDD connector, you will not find one here that is why there was no corresponding cable among the bundled accessories. The board has no LPT and COM ports, no PS/2 connectors for keyboard and mouse, however there are 8 USB ports on the mainboard rear panel. So, looks like I was wrong considering 8 USB ports on Gigabyte GA-EP35-DS4 to be an industry record.

Besides the USA ports, we also see two eSATA ports, one IEEE-1394 port implemented via Texas Instruments TSB43AB22A controller, gigabit (10/100/1000Mbps) network based on Intel 82566DC Gigabit Ethernet controller, and 8-channel sound with Dolby Home Theatre support provided by Sigmatel STAC9274D5 controller.

Intel X48 Express chipset provides this mainboard with two fully-fledged PCI Express 2.0 x16 connectors (blue). The third (black) connector will also accommodate a graphics card, which will work in PCI Express 1.0a mode at x4 maximum speed. You should bear in mind that a graphics card installed into the very first slot will block memory module retention clips.

Besides the already mentioned add-on controllers, there are six Serial ATA ports in the lower part of the PCB, which can be used to build a RAID array thanks to the ICH9R South Bridge. There are two additional USB connectors, an additional IEEE-1394 connector, a configuration jumper, a Power On button, color-coded pin-connectors for the front panel buttons and indicators in the lower part of the mainboard PCB, where they will not obstruct expansion cards installation and can be accessed freely. The good impression made by the Intel DX48BT2 PCB layout is completed with five fan connectors including two 4-pin ones.

Technical Specifications and Documentation

We will wind up the exterior examination of Intel DX48BT2 mainboard with a list of its official specifications, according to the manufacturer:

As for the documentation, it leaves a twofold impression. There is a lot of it, which is a good thing. It is very well structured, which is also a good thing. However, some info is duplicated, it is hard to figure out in what manual the info you are looking for might be, so you end up reading about the same things twice or three times. There is a brief mainboard description, a more detailed user’s manual, and technical specifications, which is actually almost the same thing as user’s manual. There are also two versions of BIOS settings glossary: in alphabetical order and in the same order as in the menu. However, it is valid almost for all existing Intel mainboards, so there is a lot of info that has nothing to do with this particular product. Besides, there are a BIOS update guides (general and stab-by-step for each one), chipset info and a bunch of other documents that are very confusing altogether.

However, there is really a lot of interesting read. For example, who else other than the chipset designer would be able to tell you that the maximum ICH9R South Bridge temperature is 92ºC and North Bridge temperature - 97ºC? Where else can you find a flow-chart showing how the whole mainboard actually functions?

Besides, wouldn’t you want to see the memory distribution chart?

Overall, there is a lot to read, really, but it would be much better if we didn’t have to fish out useful bits of information from the pool of supplemental data. In conclusion you can watch a demo movie about Intel DX48BT2 mainboard. If you have Flash player installed on your computer, you will be able to take a visual tour over the features and advantages of Intel DX48BT2 mainboard with commentaries in an actressy male voice.

BIOS Setup

There are a few ways to update the BIOS on Intel mainboards. You can do it manually with Iflash utility and any available boot-up device: FDD, USB Flash, CD-ROM. But we didn’t feel like typing anything in manually… Linux users should better update the BIOS with a CD ISO-image. In this case, you don’t need to type anything, the system will launch the script and reflash the BIOS, however, we didn’t feel like working on a CD-image, too… You can even use an automatic BIOS restore feature, but the board wouldn’t start in this mode: I guess I had to “kill” the existing BIOS first, so that this mode were operational.

The easiest way is to reflash the BIOS from Windows. Unlike other manufacturers’ mainboards, where the BIOS is indeed reflashed in Windows OS, this method is relatively safe:

You launch the installation file, agree with the licensing terms and conditions. After that the system restarts, reflashes the BIOS and boots Windows, where you get the success confirmation. Simple, convenient and fast. We used this particular method to update the BIOS to the latest version 1521 at the time of the tests.

You enter the BIOS by pressing F2 and get to the Main section that contains major system info:

As a rule, we would go through the BIOS menu items leaving out all secondary sections, which functions you can guess from their names. However, the section names in the BIOS Setup of Intel mainboards turned out pretty confusing, so we decided dwell on them this time.

The next section after Main is called Advanced and has a number of sub-sections with different system settings:

For example, what do you think can Boot Configuration page of the Advanced section contain? Myabe you were smart enough to have guessed correctly, but I could never imagine that it will offer me fan management settings:

However, Hardware Monitoring section didn’t have any parameters to adjust: it performs purely informational function, although doesn’t do it that well: there is not that much really useful info there.

It is interesting that with a 65nm CPU installed, the BIOS shows its real temperature. Or at least close to real. And for a 45nm CPU on Wolfdale core it displays the interval until throttling kicks in, 73ºC in our case.

The most interesting section for overclockers is called Performance:

However, you won’t be able to get to overclocking immediately. At first you have to accept full responsibility for five types of disasters that may happen to you in this case.

And although they give us a hint to answer “No” to the question “Do you wish to continue?”, we confidently click “Yes” and get into Processor Overrides section that looks pretty harmless at first glance.

The mainboard allows changing the processor Vcore from 1.2875V to 1.6V with 0.0125V increment, CPU Voltage Offset raises it even higher, and Enhanced Power Slope ensures additional stability. The FSB voltage can be adjusted by changing the Front Side Bus Voltage Override parameter in the interval from 1.1V to 1.5V with 0.025V increment. The chipset North Bridge voltage can be set using MCH/ICH Voltage Override parameter with the same increment of 0.025V from 1.25V to 1.7V.

Intel DX38BT mainboard allowed changing the processor clock frequency multiplier only for the CPUs with the unlocked one. Intel DX48BT2 doesn’t have this drawback and allows reducing the multiplier below the nominal value to x6 even for regular processors. The FSB frequency changes from 133MHz to 500MHz, so you can forget about overclocking processors with low clock multipliers, because it is very inconvenient to perform, anyway. You could select the voltage from the drop-down menu, however, for the FSB frequency you will have to go up or down the list using “+” or “-“ keys respectively. There is no way to enter the desired value from the keyboard.

However, there will be no need to calculate the resulting frequency, as the Processor Speed information line will display it for you. On the screenshot below the combination of x8 multiplier and 500MHz bus frequency will result into 4GHz processor start speed.

However, it is not quite clear why the mainboard reports that the processor nominal Vcore equals 1.325V, while in reality it is 0.1V lower: 1.225V. I believe that it is not ridiculous, but shameful for an Intel mainboard on an Intel chipset to make such mistakes with Intel processors.

Reference Voltage Override parameter leads to a separate page with additional features:

Intel DX38BT mainboard didn’t have a parameter like that when we tested it, but now I believe it has it, too. The thing is that Intel DX38BT and Intel DX48BT2 differ only by their North Bridge chips. They are so similar that they use the same BIOS versions.

Memory Overrides page from the Performance section looks very nice at first glance. It allows changing memory frequency, timings, voltage and offers the whole bunch of informational parameters at the bottom of the page: total memory capacity, operational mode and even frequency and timings recorded in the modules SPD for each memory module installed.

However, the functionality of this section may receive a lot of complaints from overclockers. First of all, because there is no Auto setting for every timing. You can either set all of them to Auto, or have to adjust all of them manually. But this is not the biggest issue.

The memory frequency in systems with Intel processors depends on the FSB frequency. In our case the memory frequency is set with two parameters: Reference Frequency and Memory Frequency. Reference Frequency determines the bus speed: 200, 266, 333 or 400MHz. The dividers for the Memory Frequency parameter will change depending on the selected value and the memory speed will be set at 800, 1066, 1333 or 1600MHz. We have four basic FSB frequencies and four resulting memory frequencies, i.e. we have 16 memory dividers that can be used, right? Wrong. Because far not all available dividers are operational.

Intel DX38BT mainboard was among the first solutions on then new Intel X38 Express chipset that we managed to get our hands on. I failed to overclock CPUs on that board and then I spent quite a bit of time trying to get the memory to work at 1600MHz, when the CPU was running at its nominal bus speed of 266MHz. The board did I fact allow setting 1600MHz for any FSB frequency, including 266MHz. Only after I had worked with ASUS Maximus Extreme mainboard on the same chipset I realized that I was shooting for something completely impossible.

ASUS mainboard also allowed setting the memory at 1600MHz, but it raised the FSB speed to 400MHz in this case, and at lower bus frequencies this option simply disappeared at all. Moreover, when the memory frequency changes, you receive a warning that the mainboard may be running unstably with lower memory frequency settings. It certainly indicates that ASUS had significant experience with developing overclocker mainboards and cares about users, which unfortunately is not the case with Intel boards yet.

The problems discovered in the Memory Overrides section do not end with numerous non-operational memory dividers. Suppose that at 200MHz FSB the memory divider for 1600MHz memory frequency does work. How do we find out the resulting memory frequency if we overclock the processor by changing the bus frequency at the same time? As the FSB frequency increases, so does the memory frequency. This section lacks Estimated Memory Speed information field displaying the resulting memory frequency, otherwise, you have to calculate it yourself.

However, I did find this parameter. Although it was located in the very first Main section for some reason. If you go back to that page, you will see that the CPU frequency was 4GHz. You remember that we set the FSB at 500MHz and the multiplier at x8 a little earlier, don’t you?

At this bus speed and memory divider (200/1600) its frequency will reach 4000MHz, as reported by the System Memory Speed Override parameter. We didn’t have to calculate anything. The only inconvenience is that we get the resulting CPU frequency in Processor Overrides section, right where we set it, while the resulting memory frequency is reported outside the Memory Overrides page in the Main section. So, you have to leave the Memory Overrides age and go to Main, and then go back if you need to make any changes. Pretty inconvenient, no one actually needs this info in the Main section. So, looks like the developers didn’t put any thought in it from the overclocker standpoint: here are the dividers, and here are the voltages – now help yourselves.

Scarce functions in the Hardware Monitoring section and non-optimal structure of the Memory Overrides make a very poor impression of the Intel DX48BT2’s BIOS. However, things are not as bad as they may seem. The mainboard boasts advanced Security options and pretty decent Power section, where you can manage the operation of power-saving technologies.

So, little by little we get to the Boot section, which actually contains parameters for boot-up devices management, unlike the Boot Configuration page of the Advanced section:

Disregard the Floppy Drive item, as there is no floppy on this board. However, note that there is a highly important Boot USB Devices First parameter, which a lot of contemporary mainboards still lack these days. It allows booting the system from a USB Flash Drive n matter what device order is selected by the Boot Device Priority parameter. Very useful feature.

It seemed there cannot be anything interesting in the Exit section. It does contain the options for exiting the BIOS Setup with or without saving the changes – exactly what you would expect to see there. However, there are two more useful options called Save Custom Defaults and Load Custom Defaults. They allow saving and then loading desired BIOS settings. You can create only one profile and unfortunately, there is no way to provide it with a detailed and clear description. However, it is good to have at least something like that.

Again, this is not the end yet, although we have already gone through pretty much all the BIOS Setup sections. There is one more hidden page called Maintenance. When we talked about the PCB of Intel DX48BT2 mainboard, we mentioned a configuration jumper. The thing is that Intel DX48BT2 doesn’t have the traditional Clear CMOS jumper. If the configuration jumper is in its default position, the board would boot normally and you can access the BIOS by pressing F2. If you remove the jumper, the mainboard switches to BIOS restoring mode, which will be very helpful if the last BIOS reflashing failed or was interrupted. If you switch the jumper, the mainboard will access the BIOS upon boot-up and get you to the Maintenance page right away.

It is pretty convenient. If the board cannot boot as a result of over-overclocking, we don’t have to reset all parameters. Just switch the configuration jumper to boot the board is safe mode after saving all the settings that can now be corrected. Really, Clear CMOS is an anachronism, which should be eliminated already.

So, at this point we can conclude that the BIOS of Intel DX48BT2 mainboard doesn’t look common, its organization is not always clear and logical, however, all basic overclocking options are there, so it is time we checked them out in practice.

Overclocking

We performed all our overclocking experiments in the following testbed:

We faced some difficulty during system assembly: the voltage regulator capacitor contacts hanging off the reverse side of the PCB didn’t let us install the backplate for Zalman CNPS9700 LED CPU cooler. Luckily, it was a plastic backplate, so we simply shaved off one of its sides and it fit snuggly into the spot. For better chipset cooling we attached a 50-mm fan to the chipset North Bridge heatsink.

We received Intel DX48BT2 mainboard with the BIOS version 1513. Our Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 processor with its default x9 multiplier can overclock to 450-455MHz bus frequency. However, the board failed to boot at 450MHz FSB. To find out the maximum FSB frequency when the mainboard remains operational and stable, we lowered the processor clock frequency multiplier to the minimal value of x6 and tried to boot at 450MHz and then at 425MHz. Both these preliminary tests failed, so we reflashed the BIOS to the latest version 1521 and continued out vain attempts.

Intel DX48BT2 mainboard supports WatchDog Timer technology that monitors POST, and although it was enabled, it didn’t work well. The mainboard responded in several different ways to over-overclocking. For example, it could simply refuse to boot, which would be the best outcome, no matter how strange it may sound. The noise from the fans indicated that the mainboard was powered on, but didn’t start, so we had to stop wasting time and go ahead and correct the BISO settings.

It is much worse when the board powers on, quickly shuts down, then powers on again and continues booting. The thing is that Intel DX48BT2 mainboard, like Gigabyte boards, doesn’t report when the processor settings have been reset to defaults and continues to boot the OS. So, until you launch some diagnostic tools, you will not really know if your overclocking attempt succeeded or not. You simply waste the time on booting Windows and then rebooting the system. There is a variation of the latter situation, when instead of powering on and shutting down once the mainboard needs to do it at least five times to come to senses, but the worst thin when it loops at the on and off stage.

Once the starting FSB frequency was dropped to 400MHz, the board could finally boot, but still failed to load Windows. It succeeded only at 380MHz FSB, however, this poor overclocking result will hardly be of any value, so we didn’t perform any detailed performance tests at this speed. We haven’t come across FSB Hole for a long time already (when the board doesn’t work in a certain frequency interval, but functions normally at lower as well as higher speeds). Therefore, we tried booting at 450MHz as well as 475-480MHz FSB as well.

We increased processor Vcore, NB voltage, FSB voltage and Vmem; changed the bus frequency, processor clock multiplier and memory dividers; disabled power-saving technologies. However, if the operating system booted, it always meant that the mainboard reset all the parameters to defaults again. Just like with the previous Intel DX38BT mainboard, we didn’t manage to achieve any more or less acceptable overclocking results on Intel DX48BT2.

I am sure you may already imagine the conclusions we might want to make in the end of this article. However, while working on this review I checked out Intel web-site a few times and was very surprised to find out that there was a new BIOS version – 1554 - already available. Strangely enough it was dated May 1, although I never saw it there on May 12, when I downloaded the latest available BIOS version at that time – 1521.

Once I read the BIOS Update Release Notes, I realized that I absolutely had to check it out. They listed all those problems that I have just described among the corrected bugs: hanging on boot-up, continued booting in safe mode, boot-up with maximum clock multiplier and disabled EIST despite the setting in the BIOS, looping system restart. Actually, the list of made corrections is much longer: I was just lucky not to have experienced all of the issues. Besides, the new BIOS version allows disabling C1E, supports fractional processor clock frequency multipliers, and offers higher maximum supported FSB frequency of 720MHz instead of 500MHz.

As a result, we had to put together our Intel DX48BT2 based testbed one more time, update the BIOS with the newest version 1554 and attempt to boot at a modest but yet unattainable FSB speed of 425MHz. I have to say that the board changed dramatically. It started acting much more predictably. Now it responded adequately to over-overclocking: rebooted in safe mode, stopped at some point and offered the user to continue booting with the last operational settings or enter the BIOS Setup to make a few changes. I was offered this choice quite a few times, because I still failed to successfully overclock the CPU.

Software

In the beginning of this article I spoke very highly of the third-party software bundled with Intel DX48BT2 mainboard and not very enthusiastically of the brand name Intel utilities. I have already dealt with them when I tested Intel DX38BT mainboard and they made not the best impression. Non-overclocker mainboards without the corresponding options in the BIOS can use software overclocking tools. In our case the BIOS functionality is all there, however, the results turned out quite unsatisfactory, so we had to give Intel Desktop Control Center a chance. Besides, they did a lot of work on the latest BIOS version 1554 of Intel DX48BT2 mainboard that was connected with this particular program. And since Intel DX48BT2 mainboard doesn’t support a compact an very convenient HWMonitor utility that I normally use for voltage, temperature and fan rotation speed monitoring, I will have to use Intel Desktop Utilities.

The list of tools bundled with Intel DX48BT2 mainboard includes Intel Desktop Utilities, however, I didn’t find it on the DVD disk that came with the board. They also listed Intel Desktop Control center, however, it is initially marked as “Internet Download”, so it shouldn’t actually be there. It is not a problem, it makes much more sense to download the latest version of this tool anyway. So, I went to Intel’s web-site and discovered drastic changes there, too.

During our tests of Intel DX38BT mainboard, I tried downloading the latest versions o these tools as well. The first one on the list was Intel Desktop Utilities, and as for Intel Desktop Control Center, I could only find it using web-site search function. Now the situation is completely the opposite: first they offer you to download Intel Desktop Control Center, while Intel Desktop Utilities disappeared from the list of compatible programs. The same is true for Intel DX38BT and for Intel DX48BT2. However, in reality the changes were not really dramatic, but pretty superficial – both programs were exactly the same versions: Intel Desktop Control Center dated back to last November, while Intel Desktop Utilities – to last July.

First we install Intel Desktop Control center and reboot the system. However, the first program launch failed:

Maybe we should install Intel Desktop Utilities before starting? We launch the installation file and se that the program doesn’t yet meet Windows Vista security requirements:

We again agree to restart the system and try launching Intel Desktop Control Center. Before that we make sure that the Intel PerfTune service is up and running, while last time the utility claimed it wasn’t.

“Error while loading the application” – was the answer we got from Intel Desktop Control Center. No explanations followed.

We gave up at this point. For your reference I would like to once again show you the screenshot taken during the tests of Intel DX38BT mainboard. Check out the full-size image: you will be shocked with the actual size of the application window:

The round indicator on the left reports the current CPU frequency and utilization. On the right-hand side you can see the same precise data on the bus frequencies and memory timings, although the voltages aren’t reported correctly, and there are simply no temperature readings. We can’t rally complain about any missing data, as the utility is still in its beta version and they make sure you know it.

However, Intel Desktop Utilities turned out quite operational despite the missing official support. You can use this program to monitor major system parameters as well as for general info. The first window reports the main system info:

The corresponding sub-sections contain details on the system mainboard, CPU, memory and cache-memory, network card and hard drives.

Hardware Monitor section provides the same general info on the system temperatures, fan rotation speeds, voltages and HDD status.

The corresponding sub-sections contain more details on the CPU:

mainboard:

voltages:

current hard disk drives status:

Options page allows selecting the thermal diodes to monitor, setting the acceptable parameter intervals, so that the warnings could be sent out once you get beyond them. You can check the event log, change the temperature measuring units.

It is a pretty bulky tool, too. It launches upon Windows boot-up and cannot be closed and removed from memory that easily: you can only delete it completely. However, since there are no alternatives available, you will have to put up with that, too.

Conclusion

I don’t think I have to explain why my overall impression from Intel DX48BT2 turned out not that favorable. However, emotions aside, the mainboard is not bad at all. I have to admit that I am mostly frustrated because of the faulty BIOS version 1521. The mainboard behaved as it wished: could boot or hang, could reset the parameters to defaults or loop on system restart, while you sit there waiting what your next CPU overclocking attempt will end up with. However, the new BIOS version didn’t have any of these issues, so you shouldn’t worry about them.

If we sum up everything from the very beginning, we will see that almost all the complaints had to do with the mainboard BIOS. Not even the actual BIOS functions but mostly convenience of their use. Intel DX48BT2 mainboard features very decent accessories bundle with a bonus fan retention frame, it has good PCB layout and excellent functionality. Of course, it can be sad to give up a favorite PS/2 keyboard, but it is not that big of a problem that can make you turn your back to Intel DX48BT2.

As for the BIOS that proved pretty inconvenient for overclocking needs, don’t take this mainboard to be an overclocker product (since we failed to overclock the CPU on it anyway) and it will be simply perfect. It is a good Intel mainboard, although it is not really meant for you. It is targeted for system integrators and specialists. The Security options in the BIOS are way too sophisticated for home use, although they will be very handy for corporate customers who never needed any overclocking functionality in the first place.

Pretty strange. Second mainboard from Intel with overclocking functionality that wasn’t really put to good use. Maybe we have “faulty” CPUs? I supposed that maybe Intel DX38BT mainboard was designed for new 45nm processors, while I checked it out with old 65nm ones and that was the reason I failed. However, the situation repeated again with Intel DX48BT2 mainboard and new CPUs… Could it be me then? Possible, but so far I didn’t have any problems with other manufacturers’ mainboards. So, maybe it is still Intel boards that are t blame here?

You can’t make a good overclocker mainboard right away. Is it the third Intel mainboard with overclocking functions or the fifth one? So what do you expect? Despite tremendous experience, Intel is still a newbie in overclocking. In order to make a really good overclocker mainboard, one has to become an overclocker, to see the world as one. Give them some time and maybe one day we see a great overclocker solution from Intel. However, maybe we never will, because Intel’s priority is corporate mainboards for system integrators and specialists, while overclocker board is more a matter of prestige and PR.

In conclusion I have to say that in my opinion Intel is much more successful with processors and chipsets than mainboards and software. I sincerely hope that it is only a conclusion to this review and that one day we will see great overclocker mainboards from Intel and convenient brand name utilities and tools.