Gigabyte's motherboards are always products we look forward to, especially the budget/midrange solutions. These boards represent features and performance that often belies their price. Recently, Gigabyte has also been making strides into the high-end of the motherboard market. The first product of Gigabyte's aspirations using an Intel chipset was the GA-X38-DQ6 motherboard. The board was generally well received and had a decent set of features and performance. In short, we would not hesitate to recommend the GA-X38-DQ6 for a top-end overclocking or gaming system.

The only gripe about the GA-X38-DQ6 by hardcore overclockers is that it has slightly lower clock for clock performance when compared to other X38 motherboards. The GA-X48T-DQ6 we are reviewing here today obviously uses Intel's higher speed binned X48 chipset. Instead of just plugging the X48 into the existing X38 board design, Gigabyte listened to the concerns of users. Gigabyte made a wise decision to refine the existing X38 motherboard design to take advantage of the additional performance potential of the X48 speed bin.

A few months ago our feelings about the X38 chipset were a little mixed; we felt it really did not bring anything exciting to the table. As time has progressed since the chipset launch, motherboards based on the X38 chipset have become our favorites for overclocking, for many different reasons. In fact, the primary reason is that they have proven to be extremely reliable for overclocking use on a 24/7 basis. Once set up correctly, we find these boards to be able to run the same settings day-in day-out, so long as the demands are reasonable. Naturally for the budget minded users, we would still lean towards the P35 chipset as far as single graphics card use goes. However, as the focus shifts, the prices of X38 based boards should come in lower than the higher end P35 boards, making the decision of which one to choose all too easy.

It really is no surprise that Intel CPU's are at their very best when teamed with Intel chipsets. Understandably, the release schedule of all the tier-one suppliers includes motherboards in either DDR2 or DDR3 format using either the X38 or the updated (speed binned) X48. While we have always felt that the synthetic performance figures of the X38 in DDR2 form have been lower than expected, the 3D performance gains over more attractively priced P35 chipset is always apparent. In DDR3 format the X38/X48 is the performance choice, and outperforms the DDR2 boards overall in just about every benchmark… well, at least by a few percent. Of course, this slight increase in performance comes at an expensive cost, with DDR3 memory prices being double that of DDR2 - if not more - depending on what speed bin you order.



A couple of weeks ago, we were able to provide a small glimpse of the high-end extreme benchmarking that the DDR3 based GA-X48T-DQ6 is capable of in current form. We managed a clean sweep of current single card 8800 GTS 640MB 3DMark world records using this motherboard. The board's overclocking performance impressed us, but using a motherboard in a normal operating environment like most users is always an important part of our testing. Things were still quite rough around the edges at the time of the preview. In fact, we were unable to install Microsoft Vista due to our boot drive being unrecognized as a valid partition after Vista had completed formatting the drive. Issues like these are not new to us; most of the boards always need BIOS updates in their early stages. Our real concerns at the time revolved around non-working memory dividers and general unpredictability when overclocking.

Things have certainly progressed in some areas since our first look; we have received a few BIOS spins addressing improvements and compatibility in several areas. In truth, this has not been the most solid pre-release board we have received of late. We were actually beginning to feel a little spoiled, as most of the X38 based pre-release boards we received have been remarkably ready for good overclocking right from the get-go. In spite of this, we decided to keep the length of time between the first look and our review as short as possible. This is especially important in light of the fact that we are endeavoring to provide users with meaningful BIOS insights before Gigabyte releases the board. Naturally, this process takes time, but we think it's well worth the wait considering the options available in the BIOS. Indeed, we are intrigued to see what Gigabyte has managed in bringing performance and reliability together in one package using the X48 chipset.

Board Layout and Features
POST A COMMENT

37 Comments

View All Comments

  • hicookie - Thursday, January 03, 2008 - link

    great oc ability and performance,
    air570fsb with e8400
    http://pic.xfastest.com/hicookie/cpu/e8400/570.png">http://pic.xfastest.com/hicookie/cpu/e8400/570.png

    and great in 3Ds
    http://pic.xfastest.com/hicookie/HD3870/LN2/98223....">http://pic.xfastest.com/hicookie/HD3870/LN2/98223....
    Reply
  • Rob94hawk - Friday, January 04, 2008 - link

    Giver me a screenie of it being Orthos stable for 8 hours and I might actually be impressed. Reply
  • Gary Key - Thursday, January 03, 2008 - link

    HiCookie,

    We could have posted similar results with the N2 BIOS, the only problem being that this BIOS will never see the light of day and is designed for one thing and one thing only, high FSB rates at the expense of everything else. Hell, we could have posted the same screenshots that Gigabyte engineering sent us, but what fun is that.

    While it is nice to see those results, it is not exactly fair to post such results without notifying a potential buyer as to how and why they were obtained. Retail E8400s and the latest public release BIOS for this board resulted in max "stable" FSB rates around 520, sure we could do suicide shots and run SPi1M at 550, but try playing Crysis or encoding a movie at those settings. ;)
    Reply
  • Googer - Thursday, January 03, 2008 - link

    I am a Vintage IBM Keyboard fanatic and won't buy a motherboard that does not have PS2 ports, I know there are USB adapters out there but they don't really work as well as a real integrated controller. Gigabyte is my Hero!

    I am not alone. There are many, many more just like me.
    Reply
  • takumsawsherman - Thursday, January 03, 2008 - link

    Two ports for FW400? No ports for FW 800? I can hear the defense swarming now. No one uses FW800, etc., etc. Fewer people use it, true. Perhaps that is due to the fact that Motherboard manufacturers are refusing to provide it, requiring you to buy an add-on board if you don't buy a Mac. Reply
  • eye smite - Thursday, January 03, 2008 - link

    From 2k2 to 2k4 I had 3 different gigabyte boards literally fail. Cmos would not clear them, they just physically failed. So my experiences with this manufacturer have left me with some disappointing experience, and I won't buy their products again. I'm sure other people have had better experiences, but for me 3 different boards that were 3 different models failing is enough for me to blackflag them on my money expenditures. I hope they've improved in reliability for it lasting more than a year, but from the looks of this review, they're struggling with it just functioning correctly with all of the included features. Personal opinion, asus, abit, even shuttle would be a better spend in the long run. Reply
  • kilkennycat - Thursday, January 03, 2008 - link

    Historically, not exactly the most stellar enthusiast-motherboard vendor in terms of quality or consistent support...my personal opinion of course. Reply
  • Foxy1 - Wednesday, January 02, 2008 - link

    I’m highly disappointed in AnandTech and its blatant disregard of its loyal readers. There is no excuse for the 9-day “holiday” break in which no articles/reviews were posted.

    I can already hear the writers whine in unison: “Are we not entitled to vacation time to enjoy the holidays?” To which I respond: Is everyday not a vacation for the slothful slackers that write for this site?
    Reply
  • Rob94hawk - Friday, January 04, 2008 - link

    Do you pay for these reviews or are they free? That's right you little twerp, you pay nothing so STFU NOOB! Reply
  • goinginstyle - Friday, January 04, 2008 - link

    Foxy1,

    Why don't you go back to playing your Nintendo 64 and let mommy tuck you in tonight. Every single post you have around here is negative and constantly attacks the editors or readers. If you have that big of a problem, go to another site or start your own. I would love to comment on your first article. Anyway, if they want to take a vacation, so be it, everyone needs one at least once a year.
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now