This is not the first impressive Intel chipset premiere: There were the 875/965 chipsets, 915/925 and 945/955 - and each time there was a significant number of new features that gave direction to the whole IT industry. It isn't different this time: The 3-series chipset family is the first product to support DDR3 memory, and it comes with lots of improvements: official support for FSB1333 system speeds is the most noticeable of them Compare Prices on P35 Motherboards.
We found the ICH9 Southbridge to be an impressive ingredient of the new chipset family, as it doesn't only outperform its ICH7 and ICH8 predecessors when it comes to USB 2.0 and RAID performance, but it also offers interesting new features such as support for SATA port multipliers (this is interesting for external eSATA devices) and support for an additional mode for easy drive recovery. In addition, P35 with ICH9 clearly is the most energy-efficient chipset for Core 2 processors.
More importantly, the 3-series chipset family will be the backbone for all upcoming Core 2 processors until the middle of next year. This means that both new dual-core and quad-core processors based on Intel's almost-ready 45-nm process require a P35, G33, G35 or X38 chipset, just because motherboards with these new core logic products support the latest voltage regulator standard VRM 11. Since the P35's performance, which we used for our first round of benchmarks, is on par with that of the P965, and it slightly outperforms the predecessors when running DDR3 memory at 1333 speeds, we strongly recommend that you opt for the new chipset right away if you are looking for a new computer - even if you equip it with DDR2 memory. However, this only applies to those who want to buy a new system. Those who want to upgrade their machines with a P35 motherboard might consider waiting. Yes, it's the best chipset and it overtakes P965 in all categories, but DDR3-1066 will remain expensive for several months and it is not really faster than DDR2-800. On the other hand, the upcoming X38 chipset will offer more goodies that are worth waiting for: PCI Express 2.0 and even better overclocking potential (beyond the FSB1900 speeds that we hit without much tweaking) are must-haves for enthusiasts.