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The new Gigabyte GA-X48-DQ6 has a huge amount in common with the GA-X38T-DQ6 that we reviewed way back in October 2007.
This was our first X38 chipped motherboard and we were impressed by the support for proper CrossFire with 16 lanes of PCI Express for each graphics slot instead of the half-hearted 16 and 4 that you get with the P35 chipset. The other facet of the X38 was its support for Intel's 45nm Penryn update to Core 2 but of course those features are part of the chipset and don't reflect on the ability of the motherboard designer.
Gigabyte used the X38 to build an elegant motherboard in the GA-X38T-DQ6 that felt solid and which oozed quality. Most of the features were provided by the chipset although Gigabyte added support for a 1,600MHz front side bus along with 1,600MHz DDR3 memory, where Intel wanted those numbers to top out at 1,333MHz. We made the most of this feature when we reviewed the Core 2 Extreme QX9770 processor which runs on the new 1,600MHz front side bus and the Gigabyte performed admirably.
The other aspect of the GA-X38T-DQ6 that caught our attention was the attention to the control of heat. Gigabyte's DQ6 features high quality capacitors, MOSFETs and chokes which are more efficient than traditional components so they save power and reduce heat output. In addition the passive cooling system on the chipset and power regulation hardware is chunky and substantial yet far less intrusive than the systems used by Asus and MSI and leaves plenty of space for the processor cooler of your choice. Gigabyte even added a heat sink to the back of the board beneath the Southbridge so it could keep the cooler on the topside nice and small so it didn't get in the way of your graphics cards. We were less impressed by the Crazy Cool heat spreader on the reverse side of the processor socket which works just fine if you employ a standard Intel cooler. We prefer to use a large Zalman cooler which has a back plate that fits under the motherboard so the Crazy Cool was consigned to the box. Gigabyte supplies alternative fixings so you can remove the Crazy Cool so this isn't by any means a major task, although it is a bit fiddly.
That's the GA-X38T-DQ6 revisited and almost every word applies to the GA-X48-DQ6. As the name suggests the new model uses the X48 chipset and retains the DQ6 features, and the result is that the two motherboards look almost identical. The X38 is PCB version 1.0 while the X48 is version 1.1 and you have to look carefully to spot that the four-pin Molex power connector next to the main 24-pin block on the X38 has vanished on the X48 model. The retention device for the two graphics cards has also been changed.
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