Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Asus And DFI: Core i7 Micro-ATX Motherboards Compared

Asus And DFI: Core i7 Micro-ATX Motherboards Compared
By

With support for full-sized components and up to four expansion cards, the Micro-ATX format has always been more than adequate for the majority of high-end builds. Yet while enthusiasts have typically cited inadequate quality or design as the primary reason for not considering this option, manufacturers have cited lack of demand as a reason for not putting their best efforts into a board this small. A few attempts by manufacturers to win loyalty among space-conscious enthusiasts have mostly been rejected by a market that maintained its traditional view of the former problems.

The popularity of Micro-ATX portable gaming enclosures is finally starting to break the cycle of negative assumptions as customers are forced to make a decision about what hardware to put inside. Current top products are undoubtedly as feature-laden as many of their full-sized counterparts, incorporating high-end devices and support for even the largest dual-slot graphics cards in CrossFire and SLI. Always a target of upper-range Micro-ATX motherboard sales, professional media and home theater enthusiasts may instead choose to load up to three media-centric devices in addition to a single-slot graphics card. With this much flexibility, confessing that they don’t actually need more expansion room could be the hardest problem for many builders.

Yet few of us will even consider smaller devices until we can see that they function as well in every respect as the larger parts they replace, so today we’ll compare these against the fastest of our full-ATX samples. Before we go into the details of that test, let’s take a closer look at the features we so eagerly endorsed.

Micro-ATX Core i7 Motherboard Features

 

Asus Rampage II Gene

DFI LANParty Jr
X58-T3H6

Northbridge

Intel X58 Express

Intel X58 Express

Southbridge

Intel ICH10R

Intel ICH10R

Voltage Regulator

Eight Phases

Six Phases

BIOS

0705 (04-09-2009)

217 (02-17-2009)

133.3 MHz Bclk

133.6 MHz (+0.20%)

133.0 (-0.25%)

Clock Generator

ICS 9LPRS918JKLF

ICS 9LPRS918JKLF

Internal Interfaces

PCIe 2.0 x16

2 (x16/x16)

2 (x16/x16)

PCIe x1/x4

0/1

0/1

Legacy PCI

1

1

USB 2.0

4 (8-ports)

3 (6-ports)

IEEE 1394

1

0

Serial Port

0

1

Parallel Port

0

0

Floppy

0

1

 Ultra ATA-133

1 (2-drives)

1 (2-drives)

SATA 3 Gb/s

7

6

4-Pin Fan

5

1

3-Pin Fan

0

5

FP-Audio

Yes

Yes

CD-Audio

Yes

Yes

S/PDIF I/O

Output Only

None

Power Button

Yes

Yes

Reset Button

Yes

Yes

CLR_CMOS Button

Jumper Only

Yes (by PWR+RST)

Diagnostics Panel

External Device Header

2-Character

I/O Panel Connectors

PS/2

1

2

USB 2.0

4

6

IEEE 1394

1

0

Network

1

1

eSATA

1

0

CLR_CMOS Button

Yes

By Jumper

Digital Audio Out

1

2

Digital Audio In

0

0

Analog Audio

6

6

Mass Storage Controllers

Chipset SATA

6x SATA 3.0 Gb/s

6x SATA 3.0 Gb/s

Chipset RAID Modes

0, 1, 5, 10

0, 1, 5, 10

Add-In SATA

JMB363 PCIe, 1x SATA 3.0 Gb/s, 1x eSATA 3.0 Gb/s

None

Add-In Ultra ATA

JMB363 PCIe

JMB368 PCIe

IEEE 1394

VT6315N PCIe, 2 x 400 Mb/s

None

Gigabit Ethernet

Primary LAN

RTL8111C PCIe

88E8053 PCIe

Secondary LAN

None

None

Audio

HD Audio Codec

AD2000B

ALC889

Ask a Category Expert

Create a new thread in the Reviews comments forum about this subject

Example: Notebook, Android, SSD hard drive

Display all 41 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
  • 2 Hide
    IzzyCraft , May 29, 2009 6:32 AM
    Shame the DFI board didn't do better it help shut up people going where is the Rampage II gene in the Builders marathon.

    Although this review let me have a little more respect for the board I'm still asus and gigabyte all the way.
  • 4 Hide
    Proximon , May 29, 2009 6:33 AM
    Really nice article! BIOS screenshots are so important when helping someone configure their board on line, and we do a lot of that around here. I thought you hit all the major points and I especially like the conclusion format.
  • 2 Hide
    andy_mcp1 , May 29, 2009 8:12 AM
    Great article. About time the facts were laid on the table. I've not quite got to upgrading to I7 M-Atx yet, but got an Asus P5E-VM (not the best admittedly) and an E8400 which on air is oc'd to 4.1Ghz stable (for the past 8 months), which I’ve on countless occasions used to show my mates who have full atx systems that bigger isn’t always better as my 3dmark and pcmark scores were better than theirs (of comparable full sized board builds).

    Good point, and I agree, that the hardest thing for the market is for those who have idealisms that the atx board with the most slots are best, have to admit that this not the case, that they don’t need and wont likely use them. It’s about time technology moved on and we start shrinking the components. We've come a long way from house sized computers but seems to have got stuck with fridge-sized atx, time to change that and join the 21st century!
  • -1 Hide
    doomtomb , May 29, 2009 8:13 AM
    The prices between the DFI and Asus are nearly the same, a difference of $20 or $30. The Asus Rampage II Gene wins it in my opinion.
  • 3 Hide
    SpadeM , May 29, 2009 8:36 AM
    For me, it's about the features and backplate I/O ports not the performance, when it comes to motherboards with the same chipset. The differences between them is so little that it doesn't matter in real life. Plus given the fat that motherboards, like processors, aren't identical I might get one that performs lower/better then what's in this review.
  • 1 Hide
    Crashman , May 29, 2009 8:52 AM
    IzzyCraftShame the DFI board didn't do better it help shut up people going where is the Rampage II gene in the Builders marathon.Although this review let me have a little more respect for the board I'm still asus and gigabyte all the way.


    Really, the reason the Rampage II Gene wasn't considered for the $2500 PC is that it didn't show up under a Newegg category search (LGA-1366, Micro ATX) and Newegg didn't fix that until this week. It's a good board, and if you need a weird cooler style, supports the more popular LGA-775 coolers.
  • 0 Hide
    atamanroman , May 29, 2009 9:42 AM
    I like it that uatx is getting more and more attention, since my own i7 uatx cube project is only a few weeks away.

    but im missing the MSI X58M (160€ best prive vs 198€ asus and 190 dfi) here, theres a great review at anandtech. the board really rocks and has only a few weak points (fan control and s3 wake up problem if overclocked). i think ppl would be glad if the msi could be added to this comparison.

    best regards,
    roman
  • -2 Hide
    zehpavora , May 29, 2009 11:41 AM
    Very good article, but I think that the components chosen should be from the same time frame, because I think that the P6T is "too old" compared to the GENE board. Maybe the P6T V2 would be a better idea. Now I fear the Mini-ATXs.
  • 0 Hide
    avatar_raq , May 29, 2009 12:17 PM
    Nice article..I wonder if you were planning on it for a while or you wrote it in response to our comments in the SBM..And yeah it showed what I always expect from ASUS; top notch mobos.
    P eople go for a full atx build simply because they can (:p ), and because larger cases offer better cooling especially for SLI and CF, it's much easier to build and, other than portability, there is no real advantage of a micro-atx build, even the price difference is not worth it in my opinion. But the article does a good job of showing that u-atx boards can be excellent performers.
  • 1 Hide
    Onus , May 29, 2009 12:20 PM
    Excellent article. Any differences between those boards are molehills, not mountains.
    Personally, I'd probably give up a tiny bit of performance for the more noteworthy reduction in power used by DFI; I like the cooler flexibility of the Asus though. It would be a tough call.
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , May 29, 2009 12:41 PM
    atamanromanI like it that uatx is getting more and more attention, since my own i7 uatx cube project is only a few weeks away.but im missing the MSI X58M (160€ best prive vs 198€ asus and 190 dfi) here, theres a great review at anandtech. the board really rocks and has only a few weak points (fan control and s3 wake up problem if overclocked). i think ppl would be glad if the msi could be added to this comparison.best regards,roman


    The article was put together a month ago, written two weeks ago, and waited in queue while other articles that had time restrictions went up first. That unfortunately left MSI out of contention, since its Micro ATX motherboard was more recently released.
  • -2 Hide
    dman3k , May 29, 2009 2:43 PM
    jtt283Excellent article. Any differences between those boards are molehills, not mountains.Personally, I'd probably give up a tiny bit of performance for the more noteworthy reduction in power used by DFI; I like the cooler flexibility of the Asus though. It would be a tough call.

    I don't know why anyone thinks Asus's Rampage II Gene is better than DFI Lanparty Jr.

    A mATX shouldn't drain as much power as full ATX. Asus's draining more power on idle is a huge negative. I've also always assumed that mATX will not match full ATX in performance. DFI's 14.44% more overall efficiency with 2.26% less performance vs. Asus's 2% more overall efficiency with 0.46% better performance, DFI wins this hands down.

    Sure, if you're out there to get a full ATX board, you might as well get the mATX Asus Rampage II Gene. But if you're out to get a mATX board, which is what this comparison is for, DFI Lanparty Jr is way better.

    DFI is the clear winner in this category.
  • -2 Hide
    ta152h , May 29, 2009 3:36 PM
    I agree with the author on the first page, about micro-ATX being more than adequate. I prefer them over ATX, or BTX motherboards, for the simple reason the cases can be smaller, and generally are more attractive. EATX is useful for dual processors, but ATX is probably either too big for what people need, or too small (for multi-processor configurations, typically server).

    I'd like to see micro-ATX get more popular, and there's really no reason why it should not be. There's no reason at all for lower performance. None.
  • -1 Hide
    Kill@dor , May 29, 2009 3:57 PM
    Very nice review. I'm glad the Gene II showed how much better it is than the full ATX board.
  • 1 Hide
    KyleSTL , May 29, 2009 4:07 PM
    I'm disappointed by the lack of peripheral testing (USB, SATA, IDE, LAN) these are the things that really set MBs apart from one another.
  • 1 Hide
    atamanroman , May 29, 2009 4:55 PM
    KyleSTLI'm disappointed by the lack of peripheral testing (USB, SATA, IDE, LAN) these are the things that really set MBs apart from one another.


    so true, but i havent seen any bad usb performances on x58 boards yet.
  • 0 Hide
    Summer Leigh Castle , May 29, 2009 5:06 PM
    Good review. As stated before, micro-ATX mobos are more than enough for most users. With most modern motherboards coming standard with IEEE and o'plenty of USBs, the need for additional PCI slots or 3xPCI-E is becoming unnecessary (and seriously, 2xPCI-E is more than enough). Also, I'm glad that Gene went with 4x 4-pin fans instead of the typical 3-pin design. I'm hoping to see more companies follow suit with micro-ATX boards.
  • -4 Hide
    pirateboy , May 29, 2009 6:04 PM
    nice, but why not include the msi x58m matx core i7 board?
    http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=3568
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , May 29, 2009 6:25 PM
    Quote:
    nice, but why not include the msi x58m matx core i7 board?
    http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=3568


    Read the 10th post in this thread.
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , May 29, 2009 8:40 PM
    Since when is Firewire obsolete?? It still has better continuous throughput than USB, and works much better with those video appliances that use 1394. While Firewire a and b certainly do not match ESata for throughput, most of the ESata external drives have interfaces that don't take full advantage either - And 1394c will come very close to most drive's maximum throughput if anyone chooses to implement it.
Display more comments