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Intel DX38BT X38 Motherboard Review


Intel’s new DX38BT takes over from the BadAxe 2 D975XBX2 as the king of the Extreme Series line of motherboards. As the model code suggests the DX38BT uses Intels’s own X38 chipset, which supports the latest 45nm Penryn CPUs. However, there’s a fly in the ointment. The Taiwanese motherboard manufacturers have started to release BIOS updates that add support for a 1,600MHz front side bus to their X38 models along with support for 1,600MHz DDR3 memory. The problem is that the 1,600MHz front side bus requires unofficial support that takes the X38 into the same territory as the X48 so Intel is unlikely to go down this route with the result that its latest and greatest motherboard, the DX38BT, doesn’t support its latest and greatest processor, the QX9770.

In addition to this rather fundamental problem the DX38BT doesn’t have any fancy must-have features and the passive cooling system looks positively staid when you compare it with the X38 offerings that we’ve already seen from the likes of Asus, Gigabyte, and MSI.

This gives you a strong hint about the capabilities of the DX38BT. After all, you only need loads of cooling if you expect the chipset will be generating excessive heat and in the case of an Intel chipset that only happens when you’re overclocking. The DX38BT isn’t a success in the overclocking department so you don’t need anything more than the two passive coolers that Intel supplies however there are a few noteworthy points about the hardware.

The Northbridge cooler is secured to a heat spreader on the underside of the motherboard with four stout screws instead of the usual feeble plastic pop pins. Second, Intel supplies a bizarre stick-on cap for the Southbridge cooler that carries a cartoon of a skull as a nod to the DX38BT’s codename of BoneTrail and the logo is also printed on the board.

You might feel that the Northbridge cooler requires the assistance of a fan but Intel hasn’t supplied a clip-on fan such as you see with many nForce 680i motherboards, oh no. What you get in the box is a tiny plastic frame that mounts on the fins of the Northbridge cooler and you have to supply the fan. Nice touch Intel! In the event you happen to have a 40mm fan that isn’t full of dust you can bet your boots that it spins at a ferocious speed and makes a terrible din.

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