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Foxconn DigitaLife X38A Intel X38 Express Motherboard Review

Foxconn DigitaLife X38A Intel X38 Express Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: In this review PCSTATS is testing out Foxconn's DigitaLife X38A motherboard, an Intel X38 Express and Intel ICH9R platform that supports both DDR2 and DDR3 memory formats.
 90% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Foxconn Jan 15 2008   Colin Sun  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > Foxconn DigitaLife X38A

Intel X38 Express - Performance Tuned

The Intel X38 Express chipset is the last of Intel's new core logic lineup to be released but certainly not the least; it supports Socket 775 processors running on an 800/1066/1333MHz Front Side Bus, and unofficially 1600 MHz when overclocked. Be it an Intel Celeron D, Pentium 4/D/XE or 45nm 'penryn' Core 2 Duo/Quad processor, the X38 will get you moving!

The Intel X38 Express is paired with Intel's ICH9 series of Southbridge chipset. The Southbridge chipset that is used with the Foxconn DigitaLife X38A motherboard is the ICH9R model, so it supports RAID via Intel's Matrix storage technology.

With the Intel X38 Express chipset, DDR2 memory speeds have been increased to 1066 MHz, up from 800 MHz with the previous Intel 975X Express. That increases the maximum theoretical bandwidth up to 16GB/s when running in a dual channel configuration.

The Intel X38 Express support both DDR2 and DDR3 memory. Initial mainstream modules from Crucial, Corsair and OCZ are clocked at 800 and 1066 MHz speeds, and as the standard matures it will quickly settle on 1333 MHz. The Intel X38 Express supports a maximum of 8GB of unbuffered ECC/non ECC either DDR2 or DDR3 memory, depending on what the manufacturer chooses to implement. You can install both memory standards with the Foxconn DigitaLife X38A motherboard, but not at the same time.

The Intel X38 Express chipset is also the first Intel Northbridge to come with a heatspreader. This allows the X38 Express to use a smaller heatsink and still keep the Northbridge chipset cool. Here's a quick look at how the new X38 Express stacks up to the P35 Express and 975X chipsets. Apart from the speed increases and new memory standard, there are just a few extra ports here and there.

Intel X38, P35, 975, 965 Series Chipset Feature Breakdown
Intel X38 Express Express Intel 975X Express Intel P35 Express Express Intel P965 Express Intel G965 Express
CPU LGA775 Core 2 Duo LGA775 Core 2 Duo LGA775 Core 2 Duo LGA775 Core 2 Duo LGA775 Core 2 Duo
Front Side Bus (FSB) 1600/1333/1066/800 MHz 1066/800 MHz 1333/1066/800 MHz 1066/800/533 MHz 1066/800/533 MHz
Intel Flex Memory Technology Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Dual Channel Memory Support DDR2 1066/800/667
DDR3 1333(unofficial)/1066/800
DDR2 800/667/533 DDR2 1066/800/667
DDR3 1333(unofficial)/1066/800
DDR2 800/667/533 DDR2 667
Maximum Memory Capacity 8GB 8GB 8GB 8GB 8GB
Integrated Graphics - - - - GMA 3000
PCI Express x16 2 2 1 1 1
PCI Express x1 4 4 6 4 4
Intel Matrix Storage Technology Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
SATA/IDE HDD 6/0 4/1 6/0 6/0 6/0
SATA Speed 3Gb/s 3Gb/s 3Gb/s 3Gb/s 3Gb/s
RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 (with ICH9R) 0, 1, 5, 10 (with ICH7R) 0, 1, 5, 10 (with ICH9R) 0, 1, 5, 10 (with ICH8R) 0, 1, 5, 10 (with ICH8R)
Hard Drive NCQ Yes - Yes Yes Yes
USB 2.0 Ports 12 8 12 8 10
PCI Masters 6 6 6 6 6
Audio High Definition Audio (Azalia) High Definition Audio (Azalia) High Definition Audio (Azalia) High Definition Audio (Azalia) High Definition Audio (Azalia)

The Intel X38 Express chipset supports up to two PCI Express x16 videocards, each with a full 16 PCI Express lanes. With AMD's CrossFire technology supporting more than two videocards this could be a potential gaming monster. There are six PCI Express lanes associated with the ICH9R Southbridge and a 2GB/s I/O bus between the Northbridge and Southbridge chipsets.

The ICH9R supports six 3GB/s Serial ATA II channels (which support RAID modes 0, 1, 5 and 10) as well a 7.1 channel Intel Azalia high definition audio, 12 USB 2.0 ports in total (split between headers and the I/O slot), six PCI Express x1 lanes, and an integrated Intel Gigabit MAC that runs through the PCI Express bus specific to this chipset.

Noticeably lacking from the chipset is parallel IDE support. In this case, Foxconn rely upon a stand alone IDE controller. Without this there would be no way to hook up a DVD-ROM or similar legacy IDE optical drive. Luckily most manufacturers are installing IDE controllers onto the motherboards so you can use older drives. If not, time for you to buy a new SATA DVD burner .

The Foxconn X38A motherboard photo gallery is next, then overclocking.

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Contents of Article: Foxconn DigitaLife X38A
 Pg 1.  Foxconn DigitaLife X38A Intel X38 Express Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  — Intel X38 Express - Performance Tuned
 Pg 3.  Motherboard Highlights Photo Gallery
 Pg 4.  Overclocking with Foxconn
 Pg 5.  Motherboard Benchmarks: SYSmark 2007 Preview
 Pg 6.  Motherboard Benchmarks: SiSoft Sandra, Super Pi
 Pg 7.  Motherboard Benchmarks: PCMark Vantage
 Pg 8.  Motherboard Benchmarks: 3DMark06, Quake 4, FEAR
 Pg 9.  PCSTATS Maximum Motherboard Overclocking Chart & Conclusions

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