The launch of the Intel X38 chipset is just a few days away (after several delays, 9/19 update - Launch is moved to October 11th) and we have a feeling the product managers and press relations personnel in and around Santa Clara are a bit nervous at this point. While the P35 launch was a bit convoluted as product was available on the street before the launch date, the X38 launch is heading down a slightly different path.

Everyone we spoke to just over a month ago expected the same launch situation that we had with the P35. Boards would be hitting certain distribution channels before the press launch date and everyone would be scrambling to figure out which board best met their needs. Well, it's not going to happen that way now. In fact, most manufacturers are scrambling at this point to get boards ready for the press activities on Monday. At this point, they are wondering if there will even be sufficient quantities of product in the distribution channel for a smooth launch. So, what happened?

It seems the X38 was not exactly ready for a grand debut on the 24th after all. We thought it was ready based on what was supposed to be final board designs a couple of weeks ago, but it turns out a few technical issues arose during final QA testing and Intel had to respin the X38 chipset. The chipset has passed the final quality hurdles and is now in full production with quantities being delivered to the major manufacturers. That's the good news, but many manufacturers are still scrambling to get boards ready.

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After discussions this evening, it does appear that retail boards should arrive from a few motherboard manufacturers by early next week, but we do not expect the channel to be full until sometime in October now. This includes additional designs from the launch partners and competing solutions from other suppliers. While that is disappointing to us, we understand the situation and applaud Intel for making sure the chipset is actually ready for the market before releasing it. It appears they have learned their lessons after the rough P965 debut last year, at least.

In the meantime, we have been testing one of the first X38 boards with DDR3 capabilities for the past couple of weeks. ASUS sent us their new P5E3 Deluxe for an early look at the board design, performance, and new features that will be included when this board is released shortly. Although it turns out this board is not based on final silicon, the performance and stability have been excellent in testing to date, and it comes with a very nice feature set.

With that in mind, we are going to provide a very early look at the feature set and a few benchmarks that show its potential. The BIOS is still maturing and based upon the improvements we have seen over the last five releases, this chipset is looking more and more like a winner, especially in a DDR3 configuration. We just hope retail boards make it in time for the launch date; if not, we will have a lot of nice graphics to look at and will then move on to a very interesting product launch from the guys in green on the 25th.

Let's take a look at the feature set of the ASUS P5E3 Deluxe and check out preliminary performance in a handful of benchmarks.

ASUS P5E3 Deluxe: Board Layout and Features
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  • DigitalFreak - Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - link

    Funny thing is, there were quite a few boards a year or two ago that had Firewire 800 (mainly from Gigabyte). Not sure why everyone is going back to Firewire 400. Reply
  • Gary Key - Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - link

    Gigabyte use to have Firewire 800 and from all indications about a dozen (me included) people cared about it according to their marketing group, plus the cost was about double for the chipset. After speaking, sometimes pleading, the motherboard manufacturers are going to stick with Firewire 400 for the time being, originally most of the new boards were not going to have it. Reply
  • Hulk - Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - link

    It's great to compare this new chipset to other current designs but a lot of people, like myself, are considering an upgrade from older designs. I have a P5B Deluxe and would like to see a 965 based chipset in the performance graphs Reply
  • gramboh - Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - link

    I'm also a P5B Deluxe owner and I don't see much benefit to moving to P35/X38 at all. There might be a 3-5% performance boost and potentially better overclocking, but really nothing is different.

    I plan to wait for the next generation MB's and for DDR3 prices to drop. I might then upgrade my mainboard/memory in late 2008/early 2009.

    FWIW I plan to drop in a 45nm Penryn quad core into my P5B-Deluxe in summer 2008.
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - link

    We will have comparisons to the older boards in the launch article, well, the article that will contain retail boards. Right now, our first retail board with the revised X38 will not arrive until this Friday. Monday might be just be a fluff PR article on the chipset specifics until we get at another board or two in. Reply
  • hifisoftware - Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - link

    Good review.
    It's good to see DDR3 reviews once in a full moon (just to know where it stands performance wise), but 99% of people would rather see DDR2 review. DDR3 is just way, way more expensive without providing anything in return. I am looking for a new system so I want to know whether I should go with P35 or X38? Sounds like X38 will be more expensive and not much better (I do not care about running cooler, unless it can be translated to a higher overclock)
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - link

    The quad-core FSB OC results are quite a bit higher than anything we've seen so far. Many quad cores have issues running at FSBs beyond the low 400MHz range. Then again, with the lowest quad-core having a 9X multiplier, I don't really see this as a huge limitation. Reply
  • hifisoftware - Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - link

    Thanks. I guess then there is a reason for me to wait 2-3 weeks to decide if X38 price justifies it's OC abilities. Reply
  • n0nsense - Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - link

    In your case will be smarter to wait for chipsets with PCIe 2 support.
    not to mention soon coming HybridSLI with 1600MHz support from Nvidia and X48 from intel.
    and the Phenoms triple and quad cores will be released. Many new technologies. If it's not broken, let it work another half year.
    Reply
  • n0nsense - Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - link

    The passive cooling solution is good, but have some problem.
    The problem starting when you install this heatpipe cooled boards into cases like Enermax CS-718 (http://rusisrael.com/albums/pic/o/00/00/28/2863.jp...">http://rusisrael.com/albums/pic/o/00/00/28/2863.jp.... According to Asus support, "After all, the board is not designed to be installed "upside-down"" and they suggest to consider other cooling solutions in case of overclocking. It took me more then a week to get straight answer for the question "Does installation direction have negative affect on cooling". The question was asked about my P5N32-E SLI, but i suspect it remains true for all boards with heatpipe cooling solution. What is disappointing me most, is the fact that this information not found on Asus's site as "case compatibility" or "installation directions" or some other kind of note or warning.
    Reply

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