DFI MI P55-T36 mini-ITX motherboard review

January 13, 2010 | 09:34

Tags: #benchmark #lga1156 #mi #mini-itx #mobo #motherboard #oc #overclocking #p55 #perform #performance #pics #picture #result #review #sff #small #tiny

Companies: #dfi #intel #test

Board Layout

For those unfamiliar with mini-ITX products, the tiny board is just 17 x 17cm. Featuring two DIMM slots it can cater up to 8GB of memory should you find a pair of 4GB DIMMs, although we expect most people will be dropping in the usual 4GB (2x2GB) at this stage.

The full 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS12V power hardware has been squeezed in around the edges and within the rear I/O. This all powers the 4+1 phase CPU power and single phase for memory and PCH. The MI P55-T36 would have benefited from digital PWMs given the limited space and considerable power requirement for overclocking - we've known limited MOSFETs to simply blow up under heavy overclocks. The power hardware doesn't receive any additional cooling either, which we can accept given the space, but it's not particularly reassuring.

*DFI MI P55-T36 mini-ITX motherboard review Board Layout and Rear I/O *DFI MI P55-T36 mini-ITX motherboard review Board Layout and Rear I/O
Click to enlarge

DFI attaches a very small heatsink to the P55 chip; and although it works, but it certainly runs hot. An additional source of airflow is not strictly necessary, but we'd advise fixing a fan on top if you're putting in many hours of heavy load or are overclocking.

Getting to the three SATA ports is a challenge, especially if you use a large CPU heatsink, but it's one we have to accept given the space available. Just three ports might stretch some of us too, since one goes to the optical drive, however there's still an eSATA available for external storage and NAS boxes are plentiful available these days (through the included Intel 82578DC Gigabit Ethernet PHY).

*DFI MI P55-T36 mini-ITX motherboard review Board Layout and Rear I/O *DFI MI P55-T36 mini-ITX motherboard review Board Layout and Rear I/O
Click to enlarge

The best part about the board is the full size 16x PCI-Express 2.0 socket though. That will take any graphics card you can throw at it, providing you have the PSU to match.

DFI even manages to squeeze in a two digit POST code readout too - a first for a mini-ITX board we think - which is awesome for diagnosing overclocking and general boot issues.

*DFI MI P55-T36 mini-ITX motherboard review Board Layout and Rear I/O

Creative X-Fi software is bolted onto the Realtek ALC885 audio codec that provides the usual 7.1 channel High-Definition sound, and DFI has included not just the usual six 3.5mm mini-jacks but optical and coaxial S/PDIF out too on the rear I/O. If you don't want the Creative fluff, you can choose not to install it though - it's your choice. In addition there are six USB 2 ports - one of which doubles as a powered eSATA - the RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet socket and PS/2 keyboard and mouse.
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