Test Setup

Standard Test Bed
Performance Test Configuration
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E6600
(2.4GHz, 4MB Unified Cache)
RAM: OCZ Flex XLC (2x1GB), 2.30V
(Micron Memory Chips)
Hard Drive: Western Digital 150GB 10,000RPM SATA 16MB Buffer
Seagate 750GB 7200.10 7200RPM SATA2 16MB Buffer
System Platform Drivers: Intel - 8.1.1.1010
NVIDIA - 9.35
ATI - 6.10
Video Cards: 1 x MSI X1950XTX , 1 x ASUS X1950CF for CrossFire testing
Video Drivers: ATI Catalyst 6.11
CPU Cooling: Scythe Infinity
Power Supply: OCZ GameXstream 700W
Optical Drive: Sony 18X AW-Q170A-B2, Plextor PX-B900A
Case: Cooler Master CM Stacker 830
Motherboards: ASUS Striker Extreme (NVIDIA 680i) - BIOS 0505
DFI LANParty UT ICFX3200-T2R/G (AMD RD600) - BIOS 12/01
Intel D975XBX2 (Intel 975X) - BIOS 2333
Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP2
.

A 2GB memory configuration is now standard in the AT test bed as most enthusiasts are currently purchasing this amount of memory. Our choice of DDR2-800 memory from OCZ offered a very wide range of memory settings during our stock and overclocked test runs. Our memory timings are set based upon determining the best memory bandwidth via MemTest 86 and test application results for each board.

We are utilizing the MSI X1950XTX video card to ensure our 1280x1024 resolutions are not completely GPU bound for our motherboard test results. We did find in testing that applying a 4xAA/8xAF setting in most of today's latest games created a situation where the performance of the system starts becoming GPU limited. Our video tests are run at 1280x1024 resolution for this article at High Quality settings without antialiasing; we test at 1600x1200 4xAA/8xAF for our ATI CrossFire results.

All of our tests are run in an enclosed case with a dual optical/hard drive setup to reflect a moderately loaded system platform. Windows XP SP2 is fully updated and we load a clean drive image for each system to ensure driver conflicts are kept to a minimum.

Overclocking

DFI LANParty UT ICFX3200-T2R/G
Overclocking Testbed
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E6600
Dual Core, 2.4GHz, 4MB Unified Cache
1066FSB, 7x Multiplier
CPU Voltage: 1.5375V (default 1.3250V)
Cooling: Scythe Infinity Air Cooling
Power Supply: OCZ GameXStream 700W
Memory: OCZ Flex XLC (2x1GB) (Micron Memory Chips)
Video Cards: 1 x MSI X1950XTX
Hard Drive: Western Digital 150GB 10,000RPM SATA 16MB Buffer
Case: Cooler Master CM Stacker 830
Maximum CPU OC: 432x9 (3-4-3-9 1T, 866MHz, 2.44V), CPU 1.5375V
3893MHz (+62%)
Maximum FSB OC: 511x7 (4-4-4-12 2T, 1068MHz, 2.41V), CPU 1.4875V
3575MHz (+92% FSB)
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Click to enlarge

We were easily able to reach a final benchmark stable setting of 9x432 FSB resulting in a clock speed of 3893MHz. The board was actually capable of running at 9x451 FSB but would consistently fail our dual Prime95 test along with a few game benchmarks. We attributed this stability issue to the lack of proper cooling for our CPU and Northbridge at the voltages we were running. Vdroop was excellent on this board during overclocking with an average drop of .002~.003V during load testing. We operated our memory at 3-4-3-9 1T with all sub-timings optimized at a final speed of 866MHz. We are currently running our memory up to DDR2-1010 at 5-5-4-15 1T with the new 12/07 BIOS. However, we have found this chipset prefers high memory speeds (1100+) at fairly aggressive latency timings around 4-4-4-15 2T to 1T operation at memory speeds in the 800~900 range unlike the 680i that seems to thrive on 1T operation in this same range. Our initial tests indicate that 4-5-4-12 2T with tight sub-timings at DDR2-1123 performs about two percent better in applications than our 5-5-4-15 1T settings at DDR2-1010. We will have additional benchmarks results in our next article.

Click to enlarge

We dropped the multiplier on our E6600 to 7 and were able to reach the maximum BIOS allowable FSB of 511 without an issue. Due to the clockgen controller utilized the current BIOS is limited to 511 although the included AMD System Manager allows you to soft overclock the FSB within windows. However, we were never able to go above 518FSB without encountering lockups or system shutdowns. Still, we were extremely impressed with the stability of this board at the maximum FSB level. The system did not behave any differently whether it was at 511 or 266 which is a testament to the engineering effort put forth by DFI into this board. However, to reach these settings we had to run several of the Northbridge voltages near their maximum that resulted in additional air cooling being required for the heatsink along with Northbridge temperatures increasing from 30C to 58C during testing. We will use an alternative Northbridge cooling unit in our follow-up overclocking tests.

We will provide our BIOS settings in the next article but for now this board makes for an excellent overclocking platform due to its stability and flexibility. Achieving high overclocks with stability took some time and effort when dialing in the proper memory and voltage settings. Once that was accomplished the results were certainly impressive, so for users that have the inclination to invest time tweaking their systems for maximum performance, the DFI ICFX3200-T2R won't disappoint.

Basic Features General Performance
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  • baronzemo78 - Monday, December 18, 2006 - link

    I would like to thank Gary for all the hard work getting this preview out so fast. I am still very excited about this board. I'm waiting for the R600 anyway, so hopefully by then the stability and BIOS options of the board will have improved. I'm very curious to see if the R600 in crossfire will need more then the x8 pcie bandwith. I certainly hope it doesn't as an overclocked RD600 with a R600 sounds awesome to me. Anyway thanks again for the preview and keep up the good work. Reply
  • Lord Evermore - Sunday, December 17, 2006 - link

    First page says SB600 offers multiple LAN ports, but SB600 has no LAN support, and the Marvell controllers are off the PCIe links from the northbridge.

    It seems odd that ATI didn't design the SB600 with at least a couple of extra PCIe lanes. Right off the bat, this mainboard has zero upgradeability for PCIe devices, if you set up the intended dual graphics and physics cards. No hot new PCIe sound cards, TV tuners, SCSI cards.

    SB600 automatically becomes a nice competitor to Intel's chipsets, due to the included PATA support, so there's no need for an add in PCI IDE controller. ATI/AMD's overview page though is a bit misleading, as they claim the built-in SATA controllers support "all RAID levels".

    You're blaming DFI's board layout for large heatsinks not fitting into smaller cases? They had to put the socket somewhere, if that's the issue, and no matter where board makers put things, reviewers ALWAYS seem to find some complaint because of odd components not fitting or cabling not being perfect. And you didn't even mention those 90 degree angled SATA ports. I haven't seen that before. Might those not be an issue if you don't use a cable with a clip, since the downward pull of the cables is now going longways instead of across the width of the connector? (Same thing could apply to any SATA or IDE ports aligned perpendicular to the expansion slots really, but most boards don't have them that way that I've seen, possibly for that very reason.) Yeah I know, it might get mentioned in a more in-depth review, but that stands out more to me than 0.1% of the available heatsinks not fitting in a tiny case.

    Why would the third PCIe slot need to be "jumpered for PCI Express card operation"?

    That Promise RAID looks like crap. The single drive SB600 performance almost beats it. Why no benchmarks with the SB600 RAID, or the Intel or Nvidia RAID? It would be nice to know if ATI can beat the roughly 50% performance gain of the others.

    Too bad this might be the only board ever made with this chipset, and that there won't be a more value-oriented line. I can do without the CrossFire support or the physics slot (although having the option of a non-graphics x8 or x2 slot with x16 physical support would be nice), and I can do with a reduction in the amount of tweaking options, or the add-in Promise controller, or dual LAN and the better audio solution. And the color scheme could be done without. I'm tempted by Core2Duo chips, but none of the other chipsets or boards really looks that great to me in terms of features.
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Tuesday, December 19, 2006 - link

    With the latest beta BIOS release -

    If you disable Promise and SB600 RAID you can use the second X16 slot (x8 electrical) for a RAID card, it will switch your first x16 slot from x16 to x8 operation.

    The physics slot (x2 electrical) works fine with our x1 Network or TV Tuner cards once you switch the jumper now. This is required to change the operation of the slot based upon the switching mechanism employed with the future Physics setup.

    I am not blaming DFI for large heatsinks not fitting in smaller cases. I was just pointing out the fact that it could be an issue for those that try it. I like the open space myself due to the offset but that creates another issue for some users. It is just information being provided.

    The SB600 can support LAN depending upon how they configure it. DFI that it would be best for dual Lan coming off the RD600 instead.

    The other RAID benchmarks are coming in our follow-up as stated in the article.

    The 90 degree angled SATA ports are being used in most of the new board designs now. Look at most of the 680i boards and you will find they are being used extensively now. We did not have any issues with the cables slipping out.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Monday, December 18, 2006 - link

    quote:

    You're blaming DFI's board layout for large heatsinks not fitting into smaller cases? They had to put the socket somewhere, if that's the issue, and no matter where board makers put things, reviewers ALWAYS seem to find some complaint because of odd components not fitting or cabling not being perfect


    Thats why "we" just review the product, and not send them off to some salt mines, somewhere ;) This is after all, a review, everyone has an opinion, and if it doesn't bother you, simply disregard, and use common sense . . .
    Reply
  • Sh0ckwave - Sunday, December 17, 2006 - link

    Looks like a decentn my cramped case. board. I just need to know if my Infinity will fit on it i Reply
  • cornfedone - Sunday, December 17, 2006 - link

    From this initial review this mobo sure sounds temperamental and a shaky design if you see dramatic changes with BIOS settings and instability sometimes. The fact that it's performance changes radically with memory or CPU changes is not an indication of a stable mobo design.

    More BIOS adjustments does not necessarily make for a better mobo design if all the options do is make the mobo unstable or crash. This is a typical case of more is not better. The extra options are used as a rationale to jack the price and increase profits from consumers who lack the technical expertise to understand the motivation for such useless BIOS options.

    As far as the ATI/AMD labels go, I don't know why many in the online enthusiasts PC hardware segment make such a big deal out of AMD renaming the ATI products with AMD labels. Every company I know of that has bought another company, renames the products, so this ain't no big deal. If you don't like the product don't buy it. The name of the product has no impact on how it performs.
    Reply
  • mino - Tuesday, December 19, 2006 - link

    Also on the maning "issue".

    Most sites "big deal out of AMD renaming the ATI products" not because ot the renaming - no problem there.
    The thing is, one of the best chipsets/if not THE best for Intel comming form AMD, well, that IS something.

    Also remember, AMD chipset ? That has not been in the consumer market for LONG time. At the same note, most average people have no idea that X200=X3200IE=RD600 and is from the RD480line... to those (aned there are many of them!) this is a big deal as they do not have to dig the info themselves.

    Also, at least to me, seeing it makes me smile usually...
    Reply
  • mino - Tuesday, December 19, 2006 - link

    maning==naming Reply
  • mino - Tuesday, December 19, 2006 - link

    Well, at first You should understand what "temperamental when messing with BIOS" and temaperamental at "stock" means.

    When the board is "temperamental" when messing with BIOS, ti means YOU are messing with something you have no idea what it is or what it does!

    If you do not understand what overclocking really means, do NOT overclock at all.

    Overclocking is about running things "one the edge" ... and to find that "edge" you NEED to be able to push the board over it.
    To be able to do so is a dream of an overclocker as it enables him to get most performance from any set of components.

    I love those dumbass "overclockers" who assemble a mid-range machine, install some ClockGen-like utility, overclock it until it becomes unstable and consider themselves "overclockers".

    To topic:
    !!! I LOVE THE IDEA OF THOSE UNDERVOLTING OPTIONS !!!

    More boards should offer those, it is far more usefull and safe than overvolt jet most boards do not offer it... ;-(
    Reply
  • mino - Tuesday, December 19, 2006 - link

    sry for the typpos :) Reply

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