The launch of the Intel X38 chipset occurred just a few weeks ago and even by the most optimistic viewpoint, it was nowhere as successful as the P35 rollout last spring. In fact, we can honestly say this chipset launch is just about the only blemish on Intel's almost flawless product release schedule this year. We had grown comfortable over the past year with Intel's continuing evolution and roll out products, each one offering something distinctive whether it was performance related or a cost reduction that reset the price to performance ratios in an already very competitive market. The hype surrounding the X38 for the past several months had labeled it as the pinnacle in performance chipsets. From all early indications, it was going to be just that and then boom; it seemed like a major disappointment upon release.

The performance of the X38 was clearly not a step above the P35 upon release. Test results from new features such as PCI Express 2.0 and true dual x16 PCI Express capable slots were not available. The lack of performance oriented GPUs based upon PCI Express 2.0 from AMD meant CrossFire with the HD 2900XTs were not an alternative to NVIDIA's SLI technology featuring the class leading 8800GTX. Even without those new features, the whole launch process seemed unorganized with only a couple of motherboards available at launch. Even several weeks after launch, we are just now seeing boards from manufacturers other than ASUS and Gigabyte hitting the channels. It was not until this last series of BIOS releases that we would even consider purchasing an X38 based board over a P35 equivalent. It appears from the number of boards in the channel that many of you agreed with us.

Another kink in the X38 launch process centered on the continuing rumors of the upcoming X48 chipset. Once again, the hype machine or maybe more like the rumor machine got into full gear with claims touting the X48's greatly improved performance. If some of the rumors were true, it would soon wear the performance crown. Of course, a lack of official information from Intel about the chipset only propagated the continuing rumors around the X48 and the apparent demise of the X38 in short order. To complicate the situation, the release schedules for the X48 have bounced around from November to February and even at this point, we are still unsure.

What we are sure of at this point is that we have a mess on our hands. However, after testing the X48 for the past few days several areas of concern with the whole X38/X48 situation are clear to us now. The X48 is an upgrade to the X38 and not a replacement according to the information we have currently. Even with this statement, the motherboard manufacturers are still unsure at this point, as to how to market the chipsets or if they will even coexist in certain lineups. We see no reason as to why the X48 cannot be marketed into the very top end with the X38 replacing the upper tier P35 boards in the $150~$250 market. The X38 in our opinion is maturing quickly and we will see it replace the P35 at the top end, especially for those wanting a CrossFire setup.

With that in mind, we are going to provide a very early look at the X48 chipset and a few benchmarks that show its potential before spending the next few days concentrating on wide range of products from AMD. We will look at the X48 and DDR2 performance along with several X38 motherboards afterwards. Let us look at the feature set of the ASUS P5E3 Premium and check out its preliminary performance.

ASUS P5E3 Premium: Features and BIOS Changes
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  • Kougar - Saturday, November 17, 2007 - link

    Ah, you are correct. G45 will be the GMA X4500 with DX10 and HD playblack offloading support, if the wiki is anything to go by. At least they seem to understand Intel's nomenclature! But that makes two of the three G31, G33, and G35 pretty superfluous, since they supposedly use mostly similar or different variations of the same G965 design that G45 will then supersede? I had thought G35 was released, but you are also correct it has not. G45 is due at the same time as the rest of the 45 chipset launches in 2Q'08, so what is the point of launching G35 just for one quarter except to help push more parts?

    Sadly this does not explain P45 or X48... both of which only offer a higher official FSB rating. Suffice to say if X48 doesn't offer any improvement over X38, then why would P45 offer the same over P35. X38 is nothing more than a P35 with extra PCIe lanes, which is fine, but it makes P45 and X48 rather moot points. The goal of a business is to turn a profit, but forcing a steady stream of superfluous rebadged "new" hardware down the industry's throat is not a good thing.
  • ninjit - Wednesday, November 14, 2007 - link


    1 x PS/2 Keyboard
    2 x eSATA
    2 x SPDIF - Optical Out, Coaxial Out
    1 x IEEE 1394
    1 x Audio Panel
    2 x RJ45
    6 x USB 2.0/1.1

    Personally I really wish they dropped PS/2 altogether from new motherboards, but I find it a little odd that they included a PS/2 Keyboard port, but no mouse one.

    I thought it might be a typo, but the board picture only seems to show the purple keyboard ps/2 port as well.
  • Gholam - Sunday, November 18, 2007 - link

    Intel DP35DP has a nice little bug where you get locked out of the system after doing a BIOS upgrade. All "USB Root Hub" devices fail to start; you have to delete and redetect them - but since the only way to connect mouse and keyboard is via USB, they don't work, and the only way to resolve it is to use a remote connection via LAN.

    Likewise, on Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3R, a Logitech G15 keyboard connected via USB doesn't function with Vista x64 boot loader - the "F8" part. A PS/2 keyboard must be used to access startup options.
  • TA152H - Wednesday, November 14, 2007 - link

    I'd rather they drop an additional USB ports and keep the PS/2 ports.

    Why would anyone want to connect their mouse and keyboard to a USB port? It does not function better, and has higher overhead. It's kind of funny how much importance people place into ringing that last cpu cycle out of their machine, and then the nitwits put in a USB keyboard and mouse.

    Guess who invented USB? Intel maybe? Why do you think Intel would want this lousy technology? Because it made people want faster CPUs. Why do we need something other than PS/2 ports for a mouse or keyboard? They don't do the job properly, and efficiently? Or wait, if we have USB ports, we can use them for something else in case we don't need to use a keyboard or mouse. Yes, that must be it! Except, how often don't you need a keyboard or mouse on a desktop machine and desperately need an extra USB port or two? Hmmmm, I'm thinking next to never.

    USB is a bad, inefficient technology. For things that don't matter like cameras, it doesn't matter (naturally). For anything else, you've made a compromise you probably shouldn't have made. It sucks for hard disks, it sucks for mice and keyboards, although it's good for powering portable refrigerators ("> ). Maybe that's what it should be used for. Everything else pretty much has a better choice of an existing interface.
  • jonp - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    Yes, let's keep the PS/2 keyboard and mouse connections. I have a KVM that I don't want to replace and a mix of systems across time. The latest edition is a MB with PS/2 keyboard but no mouse. The first PS/2 to USB converter was trash. The 2nd one works better but still the mouse hangs up without warning at the darndest times.

    At slightly off the topic, it seems that Intels dropping of IDE/PATA was a bit premature as all the MB manufacturers have to add back a JMicron (or someone elses) chip for IDE hard and CD/DVD drives....
  • takumsawsherman - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    Absolutely. There's nothing worse than having the Mobo not like your choice of USB keyboard and refuse to recogize F-Keys or Del upon boot. PS/2 is reliable, and has no disadvantages over USB that I can think of for keyboards. I think I heard something about precision mice that seemed to favor USB, but I've never had an issue with using my PS/2 connector with my USB mouse (till the adapter broke due to leverage issues). My mouse is now plugged in via USB and I don't feel any more precise or that my mousing has improved.

    USB is a hellspawn of a standard, and I wish that Firewire would have taken off instead. Some will blame Apple for the licensing garbage, and maybe that is true, but Apple's first iMac had USB and no Firewire. That is when USB really took off. Meanwhile, much like PS/2, ADB (the bus used for keyboards and mice on old Macs) was a better standard, and many complained about the USB keyboards not keeping up with typing, and of course the old keyboard combinations did not work as well, due to a lack of hardware interrupt, I think. No more rebooting from the keyboard when locked up, force quit didn't always come up. Lots of issues.

    Back to this board, I see they put FW400 on it, but felt that for $230, the customer should pay for their own FW800, even though it has been out for 4 years. Some premium.
  • leexgx - Wednesday, November 14, 2007 - link

    rants aside, keeping the PS/2 keyboard connector is an good idea as it allways works as with windows that is an slight chance that the usb kayboard may not not of been detected yet or you mate be stuck with the found new hardware box but unable to press enter heh

    i still use an ps/2 keyboard and an usb mouse so works well as it is
  • PLaYaHaTeD - Wednesday, November 14, 2007 - link

    Double paragraph on the first page,

    On Test Setup, memory is "Corsair GARY FIX THIS"
  • Raja Gill - Wednesday, November 14, 2007 - link

    oops sorry was posted during final edit, it's all fixed now...

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