Pretty much Intel recently released that cool yet expensive Core 2 Extreme QX9770 processor which runs on a really high FSB 1600 Mhz FSB. For that reason alone Intel had to update it's chipset. What's a bit weird is that we see DDR2 memory support instead of DDR3 that the X48 chipset actually supports. Though price wise the DDR2 memory right now has the preference, with a 1600 MHz based processor you'd really want faster frequency memory thus DDR3. I have to say here that DDR2 memory at a 1200 MHz frequency is not an issue for this mainboard and timeframe. But for those interested in a DDR3 version, look out for the GA-X48T-DQ6.
Some of the more prominent features of the GA-X48-DQ6 mainboard include a Quad BIOS which prevents the system from having a crooked BIOS flash or a virus attack by having four copies of the BIOS available. Agreed a little extreme, but it's good to have fail-safe's. No less than 8 SATA devices can be connected, you'll have eight USB 2.0 connectors on the rear, as stated earlier on, two PCI-Express gen 2.0 ports. Also when you first glimpse at the mainboard you'll notice some subtleties, the first is that Gigabyte is trying to tackle heat in an original manner, and they are doing a nice job with that. Spot on, Gigabyte's X48-DQ6 is loaded with high quality capacitors and MOSFETs which are more efficient than traditional components so they save power and reduce heat output. Next to that (we'll show it all in out photo gallery) we stumble into a huge passive cooling system. Pure copper, on the chipset and power regulation. You'll even notice 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 won't get in the way of your graphics cards. Pretty nice.
Another nice feature is the ability to do full rate Blu-Ray Audio without loss of quality and also worth a mention, the ability to team two Gigabit LAN connections, bringing up the bandwidth provided by the LAN to 2 Gigabits/second. It's teaming like we know from the NVIDIA nForce mainboards.
Besides the chipset, there is one significant addition opposed to the older X38 version is the debut of Gigabyte's new Dynamic Energy Saver (DES) technology.
DES adds another level to Gigabyte's escalating list of features on its Ultra Durable 2 and 6-Quad motherboard series. Gigabyte claims to deliver up to 70% more power savings and 20% better power efficiency than boards without this technology, activating DES allows the board to switch off unused power phases and thus increase the operating efficiency of the reaming active power phases.
How many power phases are active or deactivate is obviously dependant on the system's load level.
Once you have installed the DES software, you simply hit an enable switch in the user friendly software and you are good to go. Once enabled it also displays how much power you have saved. There are your usual bars to show the status of performance/voltage throttling and even an energy meter that shows current CPU draw and power saved over time. Unfortunately DES is useless for tweakers. DES seems to work properly only when Intel's own CPU energy saving features are enabled, such as C1E, which by default you'll disable one you start overclocking. So that's a bit of a controversy with a high-end board like this which is designed for speed and tweaking.
The results where promising yet a little mediocre. When we disable CE1 and all related functionally in the BIOS our system for example IDLES at 170 watt, with DES enabled we see it drop to 160 Watt.
Now with CE1 in the BIOS enabled, our system idles at 211 Watt with DES disabled ! Yet once DES is enabled we jump back to ~163 Watt. Which to be honest is standard for any modern mainboard with a graphics card like we used (9800 GTX). A little confusing, we'll do some more tests later on in this article though.
Audio then, included is the Realtek ALC889A with DTS Connect for the onboard audio solution. The HDA compliant CODECs includes multiple audio streams (7.1+2 channel), EAX compliant sound (for games that have support for the EAX extensions) and support for Dolby DTS sound. Unfortunately I find the lack of a good manageable GUI for Realtek's audio a missing feature. Good audio, definitely not in the same league as an X-Fi or Auzentech though. Anyway, let's take a peek of the primary features of the mainboard followed by our photo gallery, overclocking and benchmark results.
Gigabyte GA-X48-DQ6 Technical Specifications
Supports all 90nm/65nm Intel LGA775 processors
45nm ready (Wolfdale & Yorkfield)
Northbridge: Intel X48
Southbridge: Intel ICH9R
Supports four unbuffered DIMM of 1.8 Volt DDR2 SDRAM
Max 8GB Dual-channel configuration up to DDR2-1200
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