X48 Motherboard Comparison, Part 2

Onboard Devices

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NorthbridgeIntel X48 Express MCH
SouthbridgeIntel ICH9R
Voltage RegulatorTwin Digital 4-Phase (Eight Phases)
BIOS307 (03/07/2008)
333.3 MHz (FSB1333)333.3MHz (+0.0%)
Clock GeneratorCypress CY28551LFXC
Connectors and InterfacesRow 6 - Cell 1
Onboard3x PCIe x16 (Modes: Two x16: One x4/x1)
Row 8 - Cell 0 1x PCIe x1
Row 9 - Cell 0 3x PCI
Row 10 - Cell 0 3x USB 2.0 (2 ports per connector)
Row 11 - Cell 0 1x IEEE-1394 FireWire
Row 12 - Cell 0 1x Serial Port header
Row 13 - Cell 0 1x Floppy
Row 14 - Cell 0 1x Ultra ATA (2 drives)
Row 15 - Cell 0 8x Serial ATA 3.0Gb/s
Row 16 - Cell 0 1x Bernstein Audio Module Header
Row 17 - Cell 0 1x IrDA Header
Row 18 - Cell 0 2x 4-pin Auxiliary Power connector
Row 19 - Cell 0 1x Fan 4 pins (CPU)
Row 20 - Cell 0 5x Fan 3 pins (Chassis/Power)
IO panel2x PS2 (keyboard + mouse )
Row 22 - Cell 0 2x RJ-45 Network
Row 23 - Cell 0 6x USB 2.0
Row 24 - Cell 0 2x External SATA
Row 25 - Cell 0 1x IEEE-1394 FireWire
Mass Storage ControllersRow 26 - Cell 1
Intel ICH9R6x SATA 3.0Gb/s (RAID 0,1,5,10)
JMicron JMB363 PCI-E1x Ultra ATA-133 (2-drives)
Row 29 - Cell 0 2x External SATA 3.0Gb/s (RAID 0, 1 JBOD)
NetworkRow 30 - Cell 1
Marvell 88E8053-NNC1 PCI-EGigabit LAN Connection
Marvell 88E8052-NNC1 PCI-EGigabit LAN Connection
AudioRow 33 - Cell 1
Realtek ALC885 HD Audio Codec7.1 + 2 channel Multi-Streaming Output
FireWireRow 35 - Cell 1
VIA VT6307 PCI2x IEEE-1394a (400 Mb/s)

Logic would dictate that DFI’s use of three PCI-Express devices would leave only a total of three of the X48 chipset’s six available PCI-Express lanes available to the X48-T2R’s x1 and third x16 PCI-Express slots. Thus, if all onboard devices and slots are used, the third x16 slot must drop to x1 or x2 transfer mode, which is hardly worthy of any graphics card.

DFI’s rear-panel port section features a huge hole for VRM cooling, in keeping with the Lanparty brand’s overclocking theme. Only the basic connectors are featured here, and the boards added internal SATA ports seem geared for cases that have front-panel eSATA connections.

The Lanparty LT X48-T2R gets its Ultra ATA and two of its SATA ports from JMicron’s popular JMB363 controller. This device uses a PCI-Express x1 connection for data transfers up to 250MB/s in each direction.

A Marvell 88E8053 controller serves one Gigabit Ethernet connection over its PCI-Express interface.

Meanwhile, an 88E8052 provides the second Gigabit Ethernet connection, again through PCI-Express. Notice that DFI also offers jumpers for hardware overclocking, which is an option we hadn’t seen in a while.

The VT6307 FireWire controller adds two IEEE-1394 ports via legacy PCI connection.

The Lanparty LT X48-T2R’s “onboard” audio comes by way of a riser card, which is supposed to reduce noise compared to typical onboard codec locations.

The Bernstein audio module uses Realtek’s ALC885 codec to modulate HD signals from the ICH9R Southbridge. It features separate 7.1-channel rear and two-channel front outputs for audio multitasking, such as running a VoIP application over a headset while playing a movie soundtrack through speakers.

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.