Gigabyte X38 and RD790-DQ6

August 30, 2007 // 6:34 p.m.

Tags: #am2 #amd #barcelona #chipset #crossfire #dq6 #express #gigabyte #ich9r #intel #motherboard #pci #performance #phenom #rd790 #x38

First up: The RD790 chipset to complement your Phenoms. The GA-MA790-DQ6 supports AMD AM2/AM2+ processors with HT3.0 and DDR2 1,066MHz memory and Quad PCI-Express 2.0 graphics interface with ATI CrossFire technology - that's either two x16 or four x8, but as PCI-Express 2.0 is faster that means the x8's still give you more than enough bandwidth. This is for people who need eight displays or if you really, really want to wait: Quad CrossFire.

It also features the Gigabyte Ultra Durable design with high quality Low ESR Japanese Solid Aluminium SMD (surface mount devise) capacitors, Low RDS(on) Mosphets and Ferrite core chokes built into a "dual quad phase" power regulation design. How this is quite different from a straight eight phase design, we're unsure. There's even a Quad BIOS solution, just in case a pair isn't enough for you.

Some board features include the Realtek ALC889a with DTS connect and HDCP content protection for Blu-ray and HD DVD. Dual Realtek PCI-Express Gigabit Ethernet including a Teaming function is available for LAN connectivity, although there's no WiFi option.

The RD790 chipset is paired with the ageing SB600 southbridge, which won't be updated to SB700 until Q4 at the earliest. The whole thing is cooled by the usual heatpipe array, even if it is quite normal compared to Gigabytes previous DQ6 standards. There are six SATA ports on the board even if the southbridge still only offers a native four. For those needing a bit of legacy connectivity, there is still a couple of PCI slots and an IDE port.


If you're an Intel fanboi and are waiting for Gigabytes X38 DQ6 board, then we will have a first look for you... as soon as I finish hugging the board... but to keep you going we can tell you that the GA-X38-DQ6 is the DDR2 version and the X38T is for DDR3. Both feature support for 45nm Penryn CPUs and the upcoming 1,600MHz FSB. Just like the AMD board above, you can use DDR2 1,066MHz memory with it, although no word yet on the maximum DDR3 speed for the "T" version.

It has the same Ultra Durable 2 features as above and also include a dual x16 PCI-EXpress 2.0 interface with CrossFire support. There is also dual Gigabit Ethernet LAN with a Teaming function and an all copper heatpipe cooling the northbridge, southbridge and twelve phase power regulation. There's also separate power regulation for the memory and PCI-Express lanes!

Never had enough USB ports on the rear I/O? How does eight suit you? That does leave only four to be routed elsewhere, but still - integrated connectivity+++.

After hearing reports of the X38 guzzling as much as 35+W of power at Computex, we'll be sure to let you know if the heatpipes provide adequate cooling for such a power hungry chipset. There have been a few unconfirmed rumours from more than one motherboard manufacturer that Intel took the chipset back for a respin (to address the power issue?), although we've yet to hear from Intel whether this was true.

Overclockers.co.uk already has the board listed on pre-order for a massive £193! Could this be the most expensive motherboard to date? We'll try to fish out some chipset prices for you, whether this is just an overzealous pre-order price or the shape of things to come. We've also heard from multiple Tier 1 motherboard manufacturers that distributors are already placing orders and the boards are due to ship in very early September - we're talking next week(ish). It looks like it's going to be another launch like the P35, where you see reviews hit the net before the chipset is "officially" available.

Any thoughts? Want to fight it out Blue versus Green? Let us know in the forums.


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