DFI Lanparty LT X38-T2R Motherboard Page: 1
Introduction & Specifications
Back in the days of Socket 939 and 478; DFI was king. Motherboards like the Lanparty NF4 SLI-DR and Pro 875B reached almost iconic status among enthusiasts for their supreme looks, extensive features and unmatchable overclocking performance. In fact, despite my fan-boy like preference for Abit at the time, I just couldn't resist the offerings of the Lanparty NF4, eventually giving in to temptation and dumping my problematic AN8 32X in the loft.
However, since the release of the Core 2 Duo by Intel, It seems that DFI have taken somewhat of a back seat to the likes of ASUS and Abit. Sure there was the ICFX3200-T2R based on AMD's RD600 chipset, but unfortunately DFI went a bit crazy on the BIOS options, leaving many overclockers reading through pages and pages of how-to guides just to get their boards stable. DFI also seemed to be loosing momentum, with many boards based on the latest chipsets either taking ages to hit the market or not seeing the light of day at all.
Thankfully, DFI seem to be getting things back on track. The release of their Intel P35 based Lanparty P35-T2R was well received by enthusiasts for it's performance, and today we're going to be taking a look at the latest Intel based board in their line-up...
# LGA 775 socket for: - Intel® CoreTM2 Quad and Intel® CoreTM2 Duo
# Supports Intel Enhanced Memory 64 Technology (EMT64T)
# Supports Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology (EIST)
# Supports Intel Hyper-Threading Technology
# Supports 1333*/1066/800MHz system bus speed *Available only on CPUs that support 1333MHz FSB
# Intel® chipset - Northbridge: Intel® X38 Express chipset (with Intel® Fast Memory Access technology) - Southbridge: Intel® ICH9R
# Four 240-pin DDR2 DIMM sockets
# Supports DDR2 667/800 MHz
# Delivers up to 12.8Gb/s bandwidth
# Supports dual channel (128-bit wide) memory interface
# Supports up to 8GB system memory
# Supports unbuffered x8 and x16 DIMMs
# 2 PCI Express (Gen 2) x16 slots (PCIE 1 and PCIE 3) - 2-way CrossFire at x16/x16 bandwidth - 2-way CrossFire + Physics at x16/x16/x4 bandwidth
# 1 PCI Express x1 slot (PCIE 2)
# 1 PCI Express x4 slot (PCIE 4)
# 3 PCI slots
# Award BIOS
# 8Mbit flash memory
# CMOS Reloaded
# Bernstein audio module - Realtek ALC885 8-channel High Definition Audio CODEC - Center/subwoofer, rear R/L and side R/L jacks - Line-in, line-out (front R/L) and mic-in jacks - 2 coaxial RCA S/PDIF-in/out jacks - 1 optical S/PDIF connector - 1 CD-in connector - 1 front audio connector
# DAC SNR/ADC SNR of 106dB/101dB
# Full-rate lossless content protection technology
# Marvell 88E8052 and Marvell 88E8053 PCIE Gigabit LAN controllers
# Fully compliant to IEEE 802.3 (10BASE-T),
802.3u (100BASE-TX) and 802.3ab (1000BASE-T) standards
# VIA VT6307
# Supports two 100/200/400 Mb/sec ports
# Intel ICH9R chip - Intel Matrix Storage technology - Supports up to 6 SATA devices - SATA speed up to 3Gb/s - RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 0+1 and RAID 5
# JMicron JMB363 PCI Express to SATA and PATA host controller - Supports up to 2 UltraDMA 100Mbps IDE devices - Supports 2 SATA devices - SATA speed up to 3Gb/s - RAID 0 and RAID 1
Rear Panel I/O Ports
# Mini-DIN-6 PS/2 mouse port and PS/2 keyboard port
# 1 IEEE 1394 port
# 6 USB 2.0/1.1 ports
# 2 RJ45 LAN ports
# 3 connectors for 6 additional external USB 2.0 ports
# 1 connector for an external COM port
# 1 connector for an IEEE 1394 port
# 1 connector for the Bernstein audio module
# 1 front audio connector (on the Bernstein audio module)
# 1 CD-in connector (on the Bernstein audio module)
# 1 S/PDIF connector (on the Bernstein audio module)
# 1 IrDA connector
# 1 CIR connector
# 8 Serial ATA connectors
# 1 40-pin IDE connector and 1 floppy connector
# 1 24-pin ATX power connector
# 1 8-pin 12V power connector
# 2 4-pin 5V/12V power connectors (FDD type)
# 1 front panel connector
# 6 fan connectors
# 1 diagnostic LED
# EZ touch switches (power switch and reset switch)
# ACPI and OS Directed Power Management
# ACPI STR (Suspend to RAM) function
# Wake-On-PS/2 / Wake-On-USB Keyboard/Mouse
# Wake-On-LAN and Wake-On-Ring
# RTC timer to power-on the system
# AC power failure recovery
# Monitors CPU/system/Northbridge temperature and overheat alarm
# Monitors Vcore/Vdimm/Vnb/VCC5/12V/V5sb/Vbat voltages
# Monitors the speed of the cooling fans
# CPU Overheat Protection function monitors CPU temperature and fan during system boot-up
- automatic shutdown upon system overheat
# 6 layers, ATX form factor
# 24.5cm (9.64") x 30.5cm (12")
Based on the Crossfire friendly X38 chipset combined with DDR2 slots, the Lanparty LT X38-T2R looks perfect for those of us who haven't yet sold a kidney to fund some DDR3 modules but want to run dual GPU's without any PCIe lane bottlenecks. The rest of the specs look pretty standard for DFI with many of the unnecessary "bells and whistles" found on other manufacturers boards being omitted in favour of a no-nonsense layout.
DFI Lanparty LT X38-T2R Motherboard Page: 2
Packaging & Contents
The Lanparty brand name has always been heavily associated with gamers, and the packaging on many of DFI's previous motherboards has certainly reflected this. Bright oranges and yellows combined with black backgrounds and artistic images of gamers playing at LAN's has always been the norm. However, with the event of the "LT" series, it certainly looks like DFI are going for a lighter, more professional approach...
While under most normal lighting conditions the packaging on the X38-T2R may look fairly average with its plain white background and light blue details, all it takes is the bright lights of a store window display to literally make the box sparkle. Looking up close at the surface of the box, we can see that DFI have actually gone to the trouble of embedding holographic speckles on all sides of the packaging, creating a rainbow effect of colour at various angles.
One of the major differences between the original LANPARTY series and some of its more recent successors (UT, DK and LT) is the amount of accessories included with the motherboard. Having owned an original Lanparty 875P-T, I remember being overwhelmed by items such as the cable sleeving kit, PC transporter, I/O breakout box, case stickers and the large quantity of UV cables. However, as we can see from the images above, the X38-T2R is slightly more modest in its offerings with all the accessories being packaged in a single box. Here's a run-down of exactly what's included:
- 4x UV Green SATA cables
- 2x UV Green IDE cables
- 1x UV Green Floppy Disk cable
- 2x Molex to SATA converter cables
- 1x I/O plate
- 1x Bernstein Sound Card
- 1x Lanparty Northbridge Chipset cooler.
- 1x Syringe of generic thermal paste.
- Manuals, Driver disks, RAID floppy disk
For the most part, the contents list is pretty standard and falls in line with offerings from other manufacturers such as Asus and Abit, but the X38-T2R does have a few tricks up its sleeve...
Probably the most important and positively refreshing of these "tricks" is the northbridge heatsink. Complete with heatpipes, a copper contact base and mounting braces for a 60mm fan of your choice, it's great to see that DFI are really listening to what enthusiasts want rather than just super gluing some kind of crazy heatpipe system to the board.
Next up is the Bernstein audio module powered by a Realtek ALC885 8-channel HD chip. While the card certainly didn't raise any hairs on our back where depth and clarity were concerned, the card does have one exceptional feature going for it.....it plugs into the motherboard via a small ribbon cable. Therefore it doesn't require any PCI/PCI-E slots for connectivity and can be located in almost any free expansion slot.
DFI Lanparty LT X38-T2R Motherboard Page: 3
Board Layout & Features
One of the largest factors for consideration when purchasing a new motherboard is its layout. While most manufacturers make their best efforts to ensure that their board can house a dual card setup along with a large CPU cooler and sticks of RAM in every slot, components such as capacitors and heatpipe coolers can easily obstruct the installation of your chosen hardware. With this in mind, let's inspect the X38-T2R for any common blunders.
As we've come to expect from DFI's Lanparty series, the board features some extremely striking UV reactive expansion slots and connectors. While most of the previous Lanparty boards have featured a combination of Orange/Yellow, the X38-T2R is equipped with an even more striking green theme.
Clearance around the CPU socket area is exceptional, with DFI ditching the chunky mosfets and capacitors in favour of a more expensive digital PWM. While this will mostly be useful to water cooling enthusiasts who often encounter problems fitting the latest waterblocks on their motherboards, the flatness of the area around the socket is also idea for sub-zero cooling enthusiasts who need to insulate the board against condensation.
Similary, the Northbridge area is also reasonably devoid of intrusive components, allowing for the easy installation of 3rd party cooling products.
Stock cooling on the board is essentially passive, with finned heatsinks being placed on the Mosfets and Southbridge. As we've already seen over the previous page, the Northbridge features a much more elaborate cooler that can either be run passively or with a 60mm fan. During our testing of the board we increased the Northbridge voltage up to 1.55v in order to reach the maximum FSB of the board. However, at this setting active cooling was definitely required in order to stabilise the board.
Interestingly, DFI have chosen to locate the first PCI-E x16 slot at the very top of the board. This can pose problems attempting to insert memory modules with the graphics card already installed, as the memory clips cannot be fully retracted. While this certainly won't be a problem that many of us will encounter, my regular changing of memory modules during the testing of this board was slightly obstructed by this layout decision.
Despite a fair amount of real estate being taken up by the large aluminium mosfet cooler at the back of the board, DFI have managed to squeeze in a total of six USB ports, two Network ports, one Firewire port and two PS/2 ports into the I/O area. This brings the X38-T2R in line with a large majority of the other motherboards we've tested recently and certainly should provide more than enough connectivity for the average user.
The "benchers" among us will be pleased to hear that the DFI have placed power and reset switches at the bottom of the motherboard making extremely easy to operate outside of a PC case. While on the subject of the power and reset switches, it is also worth mentioning that the CMOS can easily be cleared on the X38-T2R by simply pressing both of these switches simultaneously for around 4 seconds.
DFI Lanparty LT X38-T2R Motherboard Page: 4
DFI have always been quite partial to the Phoenix Award BIOS and have used it on almost all of their previous motherboards regardless of chipset or socket type. Undoubtedly the blue and white screen will also be a familiar friend to many overclockers too, but let's take a closer look at exactly what options DFI have furnished their latest Lanparty board with.
Skipping past the boring Hard Disk/IRQ sections of the BIOS straight into the good stuff, we can see that DFI have placed everything overclocking related under the "Genie BIOS" header. While most of the overclocking options such as FSB speed, Memory dividers, CPU ratio and PCI-E slot speed are all grouped under this main heading, many more of the advanced options such as Memory timings, voltage settings and advanced CPU features are neatly tucked away under their own sub-sections.
An interesting feature not seen on many other motherboards is "Boot up clock". This essentially allows you to set the FSB speed that your PC initially boots at to lower than what is specified in the "CPU clock" settings. This can be useful if the board fails to power on at high FSB settings, but functions fine once it has passed the BIOS stage.
DFI also need to be commended for the sheer number of options available in the memory timings section. While this section certainly seems daunting with no information being given on the affect each option will have, the Auto settings specified by DFI very rarely needed changing during our tests.
Voltage options is yet another area where the X38-T2R excels in. Along with the usual NB, SB, and VDIMM options, the board also sports two settings for controlling the Vcore voltage. While the first Vcore option will only take the voltage up to a reasonably save 1.6v, the accompanying option "CPU VID Special Add" further increases the Vcore by a selectable percentage allowing the board to provide the CPU with up to 1.9v.
The available ranges for the rest of the voltages is also extremely good, but due to the tiny increments between each of the settings I often found myself holding my finger on the down arrow for several seconds before any reasonable voltages appeared in the list. Maybe it's time someone made a motherboard that allows the user to key in the voltage they want!
In comparison with some of the motherboards we've tested recently, the PC Health section of the X38-T2R is quite sparse. Granted it has a full list of voltage and temperature readouts available to the user, but the ability to control fan speeds is quite limited and the fact that DFI have only provided a shutdown temperature option for the CPU (and not NB / SB) raises concerns over whether these temperatures are even being monitored.
DFI were the pioneers of CMOS profiles and I'm sure that most of the overclocking community will agree that at some point this amazing feature has saved them a lot of time and effort restoring their previous BIOS settings after a CMOS clear. As we can see from above, the "CMOS Reloaded" function on the X38-T2R allows users to save their current BIOS settings into one of 3 available "Banks", giving each bank a description of their choice.
DFI Lanparty LT X38-T2R Motherboard Page: 5
To ensure that all reviews on Overclock3D are fair, consistent and unbiased, a standard set of hardware and software is used whenever possible during the comparative testing of two or more products. The configuration used in this review can be seen below:
• DFI LANPARTY UT X38-T2R (X38)
• XFX nForce 780i SLI (780i)
• Asus Maximus Formula (X38)
• Asus Striker II Formula (780i)
• DFI LANPARTY UT P35-T2R (P35)
• Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 "G0" 2.4GHz 2x4MB
• Cellshock PC2-6400 DDR2-800 (4-4-4-12)
• Sapphire Ultimate X1950 Pro 256mb PCI-E
• Hitachi Deskstar 80GB 7K80 SATA2 7200RPM 8mb
• Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate (Latest Updates)
During the testing of the boards above, special care was taken to ensure that the BIOS settings used matched whenever possible. A fresh install of Windows Vista was also used between switching boards, preventing any possible performance issues due to left-over drivers from the previous motherboard install.
To guarantee a broad range of results, the following benchmark utilities were used:
Synthetic CPU & Memory Subsystem
• Sisoft Sandra XII 2008c
• Lavalys Everest 4.0
File Compression & Encoding
• 7-Zip File Compression
• River Past ViMark
Disk I/O Performance
• HDTach 184.108.40.206
• Sisoft Sandra XII 2008c
3D / Rendering Benchmarks
• Cinebench 10
• Quake 4
Overclocking has always been one of DFI's strongest areas with many of their motherboards being used to smash benchmarking and raw MHZ world records. We've already seen the extensive BIOS options and superb layout of the board, but will this help in the overclocking department?
As we can see from the results above, the X38-T2R manages to place itself among the best boards that we've tested to date by taking our Q6600 up to 3650mhz. Overclocking on the board was extremely effortless, with only the CPU vcore and FSB settings requiring adjustment to take the processor this far.
While 3650mhz may not seem amazing as far as overclocking is concerned, please bear in mind that this was performed using Intel's stock cooler along with a maximum vcore of 1.500v.
With many of the lower-end Intel processors showing great overclock potential but often being crippled by low multipliers, having a motherboard that can obtain high-FSB speeds is a must. By reducing the multiplier of our Q6600 test CPU down to x6, the maximum FSB speed we was able to obtain from the X38-T2R was 495mhz. Other reports around the web have seen this board hit in excess of 530FSB on dual core chips, so it's highly likely that our Q6600 quad-core was close to hitting a brick wall (which most Q6600's do at around 500fsb).
As a side note, the Northbridge cooler included with the X38-T2R performed excellently during our tests; managing to keep temperatures under control even with 1.555v being applied to the NB chip. Unlike the heatpipe based cooling systems found on most other motherboards, I'd be happy to use DFI's stock cooler as part of my own overclocked system.
DFI Lanparty LT X38-T2R Motherboard Page: 6
SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility capable of benchmarking the performance of individual components inside a PC. Each of the benchmarks below were run a total of five times with the highest and lowest scores being discarded and an average being calculated from the remaining three.
Everest is in many ways similar to Sisoft Sandra. Focusing mainly on Software and Hardware information reporting, Everest also comes with a benchmark utility suitable for testing the read, write and latency performance of the memory subsystem. Each of these benchmarks were performed a total of 5 times with the highest and lowest scores being discarded and an average calculated from the remaining 3.
Despite the majority of the results being quite a mixed bag, the X38-T2R manages to keep up with the rest of the X38 and P35 based boards in almost all of the benchmarks. Interestingly, it would seem that DFI have done some tweaking on the X38-T2R vs its elder P35-T2R brother, as the board is consistantly faster in all benchmarks.
DFI Lanparty LT X38-T2R Motherboard Page: 7
ViMark is the latest addition to the OC3D motherboard testing process and a relatively new benchmarking application in general. Designed to take the inaccuracies and guesswork out of measuring the time taken to encode video files, ViMark produces easily comparable and consistent results for encoding raw video into Windows Media, Quicktime, AVI and Gif formats. As always, a total of 5 benchmark runs were performed with the highest and lowest scores removed and an average calculated from the remaining 3 scores.
7-Zip is an open source winzip-style file compression utility that has the ability to compress and decompress many file formats including it's own .7z compression scheme. 7-Zip also comes complete with its own benchmarking utility for gauging the compression and decompression speed of the system that it is installed on.
Once again, a pretty even playing field for all of the boards on test with the ViMark application requiring significant differences in performance in order to sway the results. 7-Zip on the other hand did show a slight preference for the X38-T2R in the compression benchmark.
DFI Lanparty LT X38-T2R Motherboard Page: 8
HDTach is a free hard disk benchmarking program from SimpliSoftware. This benchmark is not only capable of producing results on hard disk access times but also CPU usage required during disk access. The "Long bench" was run a total of 5 times with the highest and lowest results being omitted and an average calculated from the remaining 3 results.
As expected, the X38-T2R performs almost identically to the other Intel P35 and X38 chipset boards that make use of the ICH9R controller.
DFI Lanparty LT X38-T2R Motherboard Page: 9
Cinebench 10 is a benchmarking tool based on the powerful 3D software Cinema 4D. The suite uses complex renders to guage the performance of the entire PC system in both single-core and multi-core modes. Testing was performed a total of 5 times with the highest and lowest results being omitted and an average created from the remaining 3 results.
3DMark is a popular synthetic gaming benchmark used by many gamers and overclockers to gauge the performance of their PC's. All 3DMark runs were performed a total of 5 times with the highest and lowest results being removed and an average calculated from the remaining 3 results.
Despite the mixed bag of results over the previous pages, the X38-T2R produces some excellent results in both the Cinebench 10 and 3DMark05/06 suites. I'm confident that all it would take is a little BIOS tweaking by DFI to see the board beating out the current champion of the results - the Asus Maximus.
DFI Lanparty LT X38-T2R Motherboard Page: 10
Quake 4 is a game built on the Doom 3 engine. Benchmarking was performed using Quake4Bench and a custom timedemo recording along with 0xAA, 0xAF settings at a resolution of 1024x768. The benchmark was set to run a total of 5 times, with Quake4Bench automatically calculating an average result at the end of the run.
F.E.A.R. is a game based on the Lithtech Jupiter EX engine. It has volumetric lighting, soft shadows, parallax mapping and particle effects. Included in the game is a benchmark facility that taxes the entire PC system. This benchmark was run a total of 5 times, with the highest and lowest results being excluded and an average being calculated on the remaining 3 results.
Bioshock is a recent FPS shooter by 2K games. Based on the UT3 engine it has a large amount of advanced DirectX techniques including excellent water rendering and superb lighting and smoke techniques. All results were recorded using F.R.A.P.S with a total of 5 identical runs through the same area of the game. The highest and lowest results were then removed, with an average being calculated from the remaining 3 results.
In both Quake4 and Bioshock the X38-T2R and Maximus Formula were left to fight with for the top spot with only 1fps or less between them. Interestingly, the star of the show in F.E.A.R was the P35-T2R with a 2fps lead over the X38-T2R.
DFI Lanparty LT X38-T2R Motherboard Page: 11
It's been a while since I last used a DFI motherboard, and I'm certainly glad that we got reintroduced. Using the X38-T2R brings back memories of the "good old times" when the NF4 SLI-D was the king of all motherboards and you didn't need a PHD in advanced Electronic Engineering just to navigate around the BIOS.
Although the X38-T2R didn't manage to smash any records as far as overclocking on our Q6600 chip was concerned, the potential is most definitely there. DFI have designed the X38-T2R for the extreme overclocker and have taken measures to ensure that using exotic methods of cooling on the board (such as LN2 or Phase change) aren't hindered by objects around the CPU socket or Northbridge area. In addition to this, the board provides some very high voltage options right out of the box, and the ability to tweak some of the finer memory settings (if you know what you're doing) should certainly help to squeeze out some extra numbers during benchmarking.
Unfortunately the board is rarer than rocking horse poo in the UK at the moment, with many of the more respected retailers not stocking the X38-T2R or any of the DFI range at all. While we hope that this will improve in the near future, it obviously makes it very hard for us to comment on the price of the board at this point. We'll keep you updated!
• Excellent build quality with high quality components.
• CPU socket area free of any obstructions - perfect for sub-zero cooling.
• No heatpipes! High quality cooler included for Northbridge.
• Comprehensive but not overly confusing BIOS.
• Overclocking on par with the best boards we've tested.
• Memory slots a tad close to first PCI-E slot.
• Harder to get hold of than a nuclear warhead.
• Nothing to report.
Thanks to DFI
for making this review possible. Discuss the review in our forums