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DFI LANParty Jr X58-T3H6

Asus And DFI: Core i7 Micro-ATX Motherboards Compared
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Features and Layout

The LANParty Jr X58-T3H6 looks almost identical to its full-sized predecessor with the exception of two missing slots, and we’re hoping to reach similar performance levels and overclocking capability. Yet DFI didn’t simply shorten the slot region of its previous design, as everything from the X58 northbridge to the bottom edge had to be moved upward to fill a previously unused slot position.

Also missing compared to the larger motherboard version are two SATA and two IEEE-1394 FireWire ports. The missing SATA ports can be blamed on the switch from the larger JMB363 combination controller to smaller JMB368. Complete obsolescence of Ultra ATA means that DFI could have just left the add-in controllers off entirely, and we’d certainly rather have a couple eSATA ports than an Ultra ATA header. But while FireWire is also obsolete, the fact that most high-end cases have front-panel FireWire presents a small problem for some builders.

DFI also kept the floppy header required by some Windows XP users to add RAID or AHCI drivers during installation. All current motherboards have a floppy controller built into the multi-I/O IC, but some manufacturers have omitted the cable connector in an effort to modernize the look of their product. AHCI mode is particularly beneficial for adding removable drives on the X58-T3H6’s hot-plug-capable BIOS.

The LANParty Jr’s raised slot positions cause long graphics cards to interfere with the lower DIMM latches, forcing users to remove the top graphics card prior to memory changes. But DFI apparently forgot to move its front-panel audio connector upward with the slots, placing it directly beneath any second graphics card so that any attached cable must be smashed flat in order to fit under a second graphics sink.

Like the Asus competitor, the LANParty Jr X58-T3H6 provides all sixteen PCIe 2.0 pathways to each x16 slot. But unlike Asus, DFI didn’t provide an open-ended connector on its x4 slot. Builders who wanted a small six-display “home-office workstation” for such tasks as investment analysis might be disappointed that they can’t cram a x16 card into DFI’s x4 slot.

Power and reset buttons found on the motherboard’s bottom edge allow easy bench-top testing, and pushing these in tandem provides a CLR_CMOS function. The Port 80 diagnostics display is also handy for bench testing, though all of these features become inaccessible in a fully-configured SLI system. Though internal buttons are inaccessible in fully-configured systems, the CLR_CMOS jumper on the motherboard’s I/O panel is less prone to accidental-engagement than Asus’ rear-panel button.

BIOS

DFI’s Genie BIOS settings take up far less page space than those of its competitor, but still provides full manual control of the most significant clock speeds and ratios.

DRAM timings and system voltage levels are accessed through separate sub-menus. The LANParty Jr X58-T3H6 offers fewer timing but more voltage controls compared to its competitor, and most of the “missing” memory settings are rarely used even by the most experienced overclockers.

The LANParty Jr X58-T3H6 provides four BIOS registers to save custom configurations, but perhaps more important is its ability to restore the “last bootable setting” once BIOS has been cleared.

Accessories

The LANParty Jr X58-T3H6 includes round cables for both floppy and Ultra-ATA drives, but its SATA cable set is unfortunately reduced to two. DFI also includes bridges for both SLI and CrossFire configurations and four easy-grip replacement jumpers.

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