If you’re planning to build a new PC around an Intel 'Lynnfield' Core i5 or Core i7-800 processor then you are guaranteed to get stacks of performance at a reasonable price. In addition to a new CPU, you'll also need a motherboard that's based on Intel's P55 chipset and supports the LGA1156 interconnect spec. To help you choose …
Presumably all the passive cooling surrounding the CPU sockets aren't really passive - they're relying on airflow from the CPU cooler. Any indication what happens to them when there is no air cooling of the CPU? i.e. you point out P55-based mobos will be an enthusiast area, with a lot of watercooling.
Realtek again.. Cheapskates...
Client to the bone - realtek gigE so no header offload for IP processing. Good to receive stuff at 1G. Stinky to try to fill it up. For the amount of super-duper high power peripherals support they could have at least gone for Intel. It is not that expensive.
Of course you're correct in pointing out that LGA1156/P55 is an enthusiast platform but I doubt there will be many water cooled systems out there. The CPU remains amazingly cool with a decent cooler and a slow fan and can be very, very quiet without any need for water cooling. If you do decide to go for water cooling (and I would question the merit of adding expense and complication) you still have a degree of air flow thanks to the fans in the graphics card(s) and power supply.
If push comes to shove you can add an 80mm or 120mm case fan as extra (quiet) insurance.
MSI may blow away the competition soon when their "big bang" motherboards go on sale. the first (trinergy) uses an nvidia Nf200 to give PCI-E x16 on both slots for SLI and the second board uses a lucid hydra chip so you can have multi GPU's without the need for SLI
MSI and PCI Express graphics
Does dual x16 PCI Expres offer more performance than dual x8?
The bandwidth offered by x8 is huge and personally I have no time for the nasty hot NF200.
Lucid Hydra 200 sounds superb but the trouble is that Nvidia protects SLI jealously. It seems that MSI Big Bang Fuzion with the Lucid chip has been pulled either temporarily or permanently as Nvidia has apparently threatened to break unofficial SLI in the graphics drivers.
The Intel board you reviewed has onboard bluetooth -- a very unusual and convienient feature, surprised you didn't mention it
Nice roundup, covers a lot of interesting points without being too long-winded. Would be good, however if you could compare the manual overclocking performance and the power drain of each of the boards.
Intel DP55KG Bluetooth
I didn't mention Bluetooth on the Intel board for a nmber of reasons.
1) The word count on each review is very tight so I stuck to what I considered to be the highlights and I am baffled by the appeal of a wireless technology on a desktop PC. For the record the DP55KG also has infra-red.
2) The antenna for the Bluetooth radio is a horrid fiddly thing that clips into place and then attaches inside your PC case using double sided tape.
3) There are no dedicated Intel drivers for the Bluetooth and you rely on Microsoft for the installation. In my opinion this is never ideal.
4) The Bluetooth doesn't appear to work. Or at least my phone cannot see it which boils down to the same thing. as there is no software on the PC and no way to configure the device. The drivers simply say 'Bluetooth' so I have no idea whether it is working but not broadcasting publicly or broken or what. As the drivers are Microsoft I shall wait for Rev. 3 and see if it bursts into life.
As if watercooling ever had anything to do with merit over expense/complication :-) Generally speaking it's put on there for bragging rights, a strive for absolute silence, overclocking beyond sane levels and a case of more money than sense!
When you're doing it properly, there can be no fans involved at all - external radiators (Zalman Reserator series), full heatsinks for CPU & GPU, so no residual airflow from graphics cards either.
Just waiting for this nutter's idea to become standardised - watercooled PSUs:
Insurance claim just waiting to happen!
ASUS seems to limp on chipset cooling
That Asus chipset cooler seems pretty marginal, which fits in with my experience. The last couple MBs had huge northbridge heatsinks and tiny southbridge ones, so the southbridge was like grabbing a lit lightbulb, where the northbridge & CPU were fine. I had to buy my own southbridge cooler.
I'll take the huge ugly heatpipe setups for 100, Bob!
Bone to pick
What is it with every tech review site and their failure to include warranty data? Before I purchase anything, I want to see what faith the manufacturer places in its product. On that note, perhaps you would include a review of an EVGA board next time? (10 year warranty: putting their money where their mouths are)
Something to bear in mind if you're planning on serious overclocking is that all of these mobos use Foxconn sockets - dodgy pin contact and risk of burning up your shiny new i7.
On the plus side, all of the new Gigabyte P55A boards use Lotes sockets. DFI are also going Lotes exclusively, and EVGA have said they'll replace anything that burns up. On the other hand, Asus have said socket burn is excluded under their warranty (and deny condoning overclocking). MSI boards are actually built by Foxconn, so no luck their either.