X48 Motherboard Comparison, Part 2

Onboard Devices

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NorthbridgeIntel X48 Express MCH
SouthbridgeIntel ICH9R
Voltage RegulatorFive Phases
BIOS1554 (05/01/2008)
333.3 MHz (FSB1333)333.3 MHz (+0.0%)
Clock GeneratorSilego SLG505YC256BT
Connectors and InterfacesRow 6 - Cell 1
Onboard2x PCIe x16 (Modes: Two x16: One x4)
Row 8 - Cell 0 2x PCI
Row 9 - Cell 0 2x USB 2.0 (2 ports per connector)
Row 10 - Cell 0 1x IEEE-1394 FireWire
Row 11 - Cell 0 1x Ultra ATA (2 drives)
Row 12 - Cell 0 6x Serial ATA 3.0Gb/s
Row 13 - Cell 0 1x Front Panel Audio
Row 14 - Cell 0 1x S/P-DIF Out
Row 15 - Cell 0 1x High Definition Audio Link header
Row 16 - Cell 0 Front panel CIR receiver (input) header
Row 17 - Cell 0 Back panel CIR transmitter (output) header)
Row 18 - Cell 0 1x Internal Power Button
Row 19 - Cell 0 2x Fan 4 pins (CPU/Chassis)
Row 20 - Cell 0 3x Fan 3 pins (Chassis/Chipset)
IO panel2x External SATA
Row 22 - Cell 0 8x USB 2.0
Row 23 - Cell 0 1x IEEE-1394 FireWire
Row 24 - Cell 0 1x RJ-45 Network
Row 25 - Cell 0 5x Analog Audio (7.1 or 5.1 ch. out, 2 or 4 ch. in)
Row 26 - Cell 0 1x Digital Audio Out (S/P-DIF Optical)
Mass Storage ControllersRow 27 - Cell 1
Intel ICH9R6x SATA 3.0Gb/s (RAID 0,1,5,10)
Marvell 88SE6121-NAA1 PCI-E1x Ultra ATA-100 (2-drives)
2x SATA 3.0Gb/s (RAID 0,1, JBOD)
NetworkRow 31 - Cell 1
Intel 82566DC (GLCI) PHYGigabit LAN Connection
AudioRow 33 - Cell 1
IDT STAC9274D57.1 + 2 channel Multi-Streaming Output
FireWireRow 35 - Cell 1
Texas Instruments TSB43AB22A2x IEEE-1394a (400 Mb/s)

Intel provides the full range of controllers we’d anticipate for any high-end board, including even the old IEEE-1394 FireWire interface, but the rear panel ports are a bit of a surprise:

In a not-so-bold move to eliminate legacy “junk,” Intel has eliminated PS/2 ports from the rear panel just as it removed the floppy cable header from inside. Two eSATA ports take their place, while a total of eight USB 2.0 ports provide more than enough connectivity for the average set of peripherals.

One other thing Intel has eliminated from its rear panel ports is any secondary Ethernet port. Intel is probably the biggest fan of Intel integrated controllers, and the chipset only directly supports one of those.

The 82566DC GLCI PHY accesses the ICH9R’s integrated networking capability, and being an Intel part we’d expect to find one on most of its desktop motherboards.

Intel gets its legacy Ultra ATA and modern eSATA connections from a single chip, the Marvell 88SE6121 PCI-Express to ATA controller.

From Ultra ATA, the next closest thing Intel has to legacy parts on its board is the Texas Instruments TSB43AB22A two-port IEEE-1394 controller.

Intel might be the “Leap Ahead” company, but it decided to “think different” about its audio solution. Formerly known as SigmaTel’s “Red River” audio controller, The IDT STAC9274D5 supports Dolby Home Theater for soundstage expansion (Dolby Headphone, Dolby Virtual Speaker) and on-the-fly analog to digital conversion (Dolby Digital Live), plus advanced features such as an integrated 12-band parametric equalizer and multi-streaming of separate 7.1 surround speaker and 2-channel headphone outputs.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • nihility
    I thought the major concern with overclocking was doing it with 4 GB or 8 GB of memory installed and with quad cores.
    Buying an overly expensive high end motherboard but installing a 65 nm dual core processor and just 2 GB of RAM seems a very odd combination to me.
  • @ni

    Not so odd if you want to get the base foundation set up and then wait for lower prices on higher performance parts later on down the road.
    A quad core (3.0 GHz x 4) chip is coming down the pike by years end and DDR3 prices are on the slide. Building an E8400 / 2 GB base machine is exactly what I did to finally migrate from my 5 year old P4 Extreme Edition / Intel 875 based rig.

    That's the beauty of the X48 platform; longevity.
  • The ECS offering has supposedly been out for around a month, but I can't find it for sale ANYWHERE!! can't even find a price. I used to turn my nose up at ECS products. Our company used Asus boards exclusively thinking they were a higher quality product. Evey one of our Asus boards failed within 4 years. This may be because the Chinese have studied the American business model... Make a product that is designed to either fail or need parts within a calculated period of time. ECS are much cheaper, and so far seem more stable than the Maximus Formula board we purchased recently. The Asus BIOS is for people who like to toy with settings. Unfortunately their BIOS has become complicated beyond their programmers ability too write stable code.
  • Glad to see that gigabyte's board was so much more energy efficient than Asus', or any other board for that matter... especially while overclocking
  • Fedor
    Arcolyte - lol. Did you fall asleep and dream up another page of the review which had power consumption whilst overclocking? :p

    For the record I'm using my first Gigabyte board (X38-DQ6) and overall I'm pretty happy with it, but having said that I haven't used Asus in at least 5 years. With these comparisons it often comes down to features since performance is pretty near (although the low memory speeds achieved by the Gigabyte surprised me!).
  • " Intel covers all of its CPU VRM MOSFET?s with sinks. Our apologies for the alphabet soup that made up the last comment. " -> You could've gone with " Central Processing Unit Voltage Regulator Module Metal?Oxide?Semiconductor Field-Effect Transistor's " , so it's ok =)
  • frodbonzi
    I wonder how the Asus' Rampage Formula stacks up here? It supports DDR2 or DDR3 and is part of the RoG line... X48 as well...
  • xanxaz
    asrock rocks....lol...although i'll keep my gigabyte... as i dont know where to say this, it's better say it here... your main page is eating my cpu cycles... between 25% up to 50% cpu utilization while viewing your site? please cut down in animated ads... running a c2d at 3.6 and still lags while surfing... dah... it's just your site... os is it me? i think it's the ad on the top right corner that is causing that...
  • wozeus
    I see that Newegg has ECS X48T-A for under $200. Looks like it's a great deal...going to get one.