It’s been a while since we last looked at a DFI board, but we’ve always been plagued by relatively poor availability of the products in the UK. However, we’ve recently seen the channel distribution grow in the UK – something that’s partly due to a few new people joining DFI in Taiwan.
And despite remaining on a relatively small scale in the consumer channel, the company goes from strength to strength – releasing great board after great board. Unfortunately, we missed the company’s P35 range in Q3 last year but we'll be sure to jump on the P45 boards as soon as they are available.
In all honesty, we have a bit of a love-hate relationship with DFI’s motherboards here at bit-tech. While all of us in the office (and some outside) have owned and certainly used DFI boards at some point in our lives, they have bounced between sheer grief and stress and elation. Personally, I have a lot of fun since they're always a learning experience with every new BIOS, however our resident memory expert, Ryan Leng, despises them since they tend to cut the memory support so wafer thin, it gives the poor guy nothing but headaches.
We talked to DFI at CeBIT this year and as ever they seem as psyched up about their new products – the LANParty range is still kicking strong, especially its new(ish) addition: the LT range. This still has the UV sockets and black PCB like all the other LANParty products, but it’s a bit more board-focused so you get less box extras – nothing changes on the hardware front though.
The LT X48-T2R is no exception, this has to be the only board we’ve had where you literally have to build it yourself before you use it. The north bridge heatsink, designed by Thermalright, is so tall it simply couldn’t fit upright in the box so you have to pop it on personally.
We opted for the DDR2-based T2R version because, even though the X48 is predominantly designed for DDR3, given the epic depth of BIOS options that leave you feeling like a three year old sitting a University maths exam, it should be the perfect combination.
We're not getting caught up in a wave of DFI fanboyism though – is all this just a very niche appeal and do you have to have a degree in electrical engineering and a 4GHz Oscilloscope to actually know what you’re doing? Or is it simply a case of learning the ropes and having lots of fun? Let’s find out…
DFI LANParty LT X48-T2R Feature List
Supports socket 775 Core 2 Extreme, Quad, Duo, Pentium and Celeron processors between 800MHz and 1,600MHz FSB.
Intel X48 Northbridge
Intel ICH9R Southbridge
Four 1.8V DDR2 memory slots supporting up to 8GB memory at 667MHz to ???MHz in dual channel
Bernstein Audio daughterboard featuring the Realtek ALC885 7.1 channel, High-Definition premium audio codec that’s rated at 106dB DAC and 101dB ADC
Marvell 88E8052 and 88E8053 PCI-Express Gigabit Ethernet controllers
Two PCI-Express 2.0 x16 slots supporting ATI CrossFireX technology
One PCI-Express x16 slot (x4 electrical)
One PCI-Express x1 slot
Two PCI slots
Eight SATA 3Gbps ports – six from ICH9R supporting RAID 0, 1, 10, 5 and JBOD and two from JMicron JMB363 PCI-Express SATA 3Gbps chipset supporting RAID 0 and 1
One IDE socket from JMicron JMB363
VIA VT6307 IEEE1394a Firewire controller supporting two ports – one on the rear I/O and one via motherboard pin-outs
12 USB 2.0 – six on the rear I/O and six from motherboard pin-outs
Four UV green SATA cables
One UV green floppy cable
One UV green IDE cable
Two molex to four SATA power adapters
DFI – Thermalright northbridge heatsink
Metal rear I/O shield
DFI Heat-minator thermal paste tube
Bernstein audio module
Manual and Driver DVD
Click to enlarge
The SATA and IDE/floppy cables are not quite as luminous as they appear—that’s our flashes doing a number on them—but they are certainly reactive and fit within the theme of the board.
Only four SATA connectors are supplied for the eight sockets though, and none of the board sockets feature cable clips like those that Gigabyte, Abit and a number of others feature for their 90 degree connectors – this means that after several plug-ins and removals, the plastic wears and they fall out much easier.
The manual is pretty good for the board layout, but avoids and of the software or more importantly the BIOS, absolutely. I understand the BIOS can change quite often and there’s considerable third party influence – more so than any other manufacturer, but being left essentially blind out the box is pretty harsh.
The LT is designed to be an essentials package and that’s what you get. While part of us would want everything for £160, the value has been put into the substantially sized north bridge cooling which is really a genuine value add for everyone. It’s for people who already have a ton of kit spare and since DFI also offer more comprehensive packages from the LANParty (UT) ranges, we find it hard to fault it on the fact it does what it says on the tin, we just wish for a few tweaks like we mentioned above.