DFI X48 UT-T3RS Motherboard Page: 1
Introduction
 
LanpartyIn years gone by, DFI was the motherboard of choice for overclockers worldwide. The AMD Skt 939 NF4 Ultra-D was the jewel in DFI's crown, attracting praise from all sectors due to its ultimate overclocking prowess and to a lesser extent, its funky looks. So then, it seemed DFI could do no wrong. Sadly, DFI appeared to drop off the map when Intel's dominance became prevalent with the Core2 series of chips. Asus and Gigabyte took centre stage and enjoyed booming sales due in part to DFI's absence.
 
Having a solid background of working with NVidia chipsets, DFI released a 680i variant of its Lanparty series but the 965/975 chipsets from Intel were found wanting. It wasn't until the advent of Intel's P35 chipset that we witnessed the switch from NVidia to Intel. With the Lanparty branding still present and the trademark UV slots, DFI were welcomed back with open arms. However, due to hold ups and research in this unfamiliar territory, the Lanparty boards were not released on the chipsets launch, instead arriving midway through the season, which in hindsight is a good thing as the chipsets had time to mature. DFI released not one board but a trio, The DK(Dark), LT(Lethal Tweaking) and UT(Ultra Tweaking), catering for everyone's pocket and needs. The Thai based manufacturer gathered momentum with the X38 LT-T2R proving to be a tremendous board, cementing DFI's return to the limelight (pun intended!).
 
Today we will be taking a look at DFI's latest Lanparty creation in the form of its flagship X48-T3RS. DDR3, full Crossfire support and topped off with Intel's latest and greatest chipset - the X48 series.
 
 
Specification
 
The DFI Lanparty X48-T3RS specifications were taken directly from the DFI product page.
 
CPU
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 1600/1333/1066/800MHz FSB

Chipset
Intel® chipset
- Northbridge: Intel® X48 Express chipset (with Intel® Fast Memory Access technology)
- Southbridge: Intel® ICH9R


System Memory
Four 240-pin DDR3 DIMM sockets
Supports DDR3 1600MHz (O.C 1800/2000 MHz)
Delivers up to 21.3Gb/s bandwidth at 1333MHz,(25.6GB/s bandwidth at 1600MHz)
Supports dual channel (128-bit wide) memory interface
Supports up to 8GB system memory
Supports unbuffered x8 and x16 DIMMs


Expansion Slots
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


BIOS
Award BIOS
8Mbit flash memory
CMOS Reloaded


Audio
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

LAN
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

IEEE 1394
VIA VT6307
Supports two 100/200/400 Mb/sec ports

Power Management
Ultimate 8-phase digital PWM with 18 MOSFETs
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

Storage
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

I/O Connectors
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)

Hardware Monitor
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

PCB
6 layers, ATX form factor
24.5cm (9.64") x 30.5cm (12")


 
The DFI sets its stall out well with quality components chosen for its premium board, making for a perfect foundation with which to overclock the nuts off both CPU and RAM. With support for 45nm processors and DDR3 it is obvious that the T3RS is aimed at the high-end of the market. Should you have the funds to fill those green and yellow memory slots, the board will support up to 8GB of DDR3 and overclock to 2000MHz! Being an X48 chipset the board natively supports ATI Crossfire configurations and with the quality Bernstein module included, the T3RS is sure to be a hit with the hardcore gamers out there.
 
Lets take a look at the motherboard's packaging and contents...


DFI X48 UT-T3RS Motherboard Page: 2
Packaging & Contents
 
From the outset it was clear that we were not dealing with any ordinary DFI product. Gone are the cartoon figures of some LAN geek, replaced with a very swish white & gold package. The font is worth mentioning as at first glance it is hard to decipher, my son actually thought it was box for a Digimon, such is the similarity. Dominating the front is the Thermalright 'Flame' in reference to the included Flame Freezer. The rear of the box goes into detail of what the board has to offer.  I must say it's a very striking package and of much better quality than the DFI's of yesteryear.
 
DFI X48-T3RS box front DFI X48-T3RS Box back
 
DFI X48-T3RS Box Side DFI X48-T3RS Bubble box
 
Opening the box we find that the motherboard is encased in a plastic sheet serving to protect the motherboard as well as prevent any static shock. I must say I was very impressed with the packaging which was very solid and should prevent any damage during transit. Doing the 'shake test', nothing inside the box was moving which is testament to the packing methods used. The accessories are also very well packaged having their own separate compartment rather than been thrown into the box as an afterthought. Careful consideration has been taken here and DFI deserve a commendation.
 
 DFI X48-T3RS Accessory box DFI X48-T3RS Accessories
 
DFI X48-T3RS Backplate DFI X48-T3RS Flame Freezer
 
The accessories themselves are of the usual DFI standard. UV rounded cables for both Floppy and IDE are present along with UV SATA cables as per the norm for the Lanparty series. Also included is a fitment kit for the Flame Freezer, a Crossfire ribbon and the Bernstein Audio ribbon. A quick installation manual for the mainboard as well as a separate instruction leaflet for the installation of the Flame Freezer are there along with the usual multi-language motherboard manual. A nice addition is the inclusion of paste and spreader for the mounting of the Northbridge. Perhaps the strangest accessory is the I/O backplate. It is a very heavyweight affair to aid the support of the Flame Freezer itself.
 
DFI X48-T3RS Bernstein DFI X48-T3RS Bernstein module
 
Audio is provided by the Bernstein audio module which is highly regarded throughout the industry. It is attached to the motherboard via a supplied ribbon cable which is a great idea as this means that a PCI slot is not taken up by the use of an optional card. I have used this card before so I am quite conversant with its capabilities and while it is not exactly up there with the X-FI's and Xonar's of this world it is perfectly adequate and a definite improvement over tradition on board solutions. I appreciate that audio quality is a very subjective thing but only the most perfectionist of audiophiles would be disappointed with the module considering its basic functionality.
 
So a well featured and packaged product thus far. With a price tag at the thick end of £200 it should be well spec'd I hear you say but DFI have gone that little bit further to distinguish its product from others on the interweb's store shelves. DFI should rest easy in the knowledge that they have achieved just that with a premium and polished presentation.
 
Lets take a closer look at the motherboard itself...


DFI X48 UT-T3RS Motherboard Page: 3
Motherboard Layout
 
The motherboard itself is typical of DFI with the trademark UV reactive PCI slots. However that is not what dominates the board this time around. The gorgeous heatsink assembly from Thermalright is perhaps the most eye catching aspect of the board. A black PCB is now a prerequisite for enthusiast boards and the DFI is no different. On the back of the motherboard we see that it is relatively clear save for a heatsink! Yup thats right, a heatsink is actually on the back of the board. To be fair this heatsink is actually a backplate adding support for the MOSFET area but credit to DFI for adding a few fins even though I doubt the thermal properties of a PCB will aid heat dissipation! A nice idea nonetheless.
 
DFI X48-T3RS Mainboard DFI X48-T3RS Motherboard back
 
Starting from the top of the board, we see that the CPU socket area is relatively sparse which is good news for the extreme coolers out there. This is due to the Volterra 8 Phase digital PWM which claim to be up to twenty percent better than traditional PWM. Again, Thermalright take charge of cooling down the PWM area with a huge heatsink and also include a separate 'Flame Freezer' additional heatsink which we will cover later in more detail.
 
DFI X48-T3RS Digital PWM DFI X48-T3RS Socket & ram
 
The PWM heatsink is attached via a heatpipe to the Northbridge heatsink, which in turn is attached to the Southbridge as a single unit. The heatsinks themselves are Aluminium and are of typical Thermalright design being both great looking and perhaps more importantly functional. The NB/SB heatsinks are however a lot more 'chunky' than the PWM one with thick fin spikes that would be more akin to some sort of torture device rather than motherboard cooling! The fins are angled 45 degrees to increase the cooling area and are attached to the motherboard via a screw design rather than push-pins which ensure a very solid and tight fit as well as an even mount. Surprisingly DFI elected not to use backplates on these which, due to the screw-down version of fitment, could warp the board should excessive pressure be applied.
 
DFI X48-T3RS Northbridge Heatsink DFI X48-T3RS Southbridge Heatsink
 
The DFI offers a host of connectivity with 8 SATA ports, allowing a massive amount of storage should you feel the need. 6 of the ports (green) are Intel and the two Yellow ports belong to the JMicron. Personally I always found Intel to perform much better than the JMicron ports so would have preferred there to be Intel across the board but the addition of 2 JMicron ports does allow you to use a separate controller should you feel the need. It is a welcome option nonetheless. Towards the back of the board we find the I/O area where there is a gaping gap. This is where the Flame Freezer fits which may be why DFI have not included the amount of USB ports we have become accustomed to with high-end boards of late. The connectivity is all there though with 2 Gigabit LAN ports, 6 USB ports, a Firewire port and the traditional PS/2 mouse and keyboard sockets.
 
DFI X48-T3RS Sata Ports DFI X48-T3RS I/O area
 
The PCI slots are all UV lime green with right to left (top to bottom) PCIe 1x, PCIe 16x, PCI, PCIe 4x, PCI, PCIe 16. Obviously being an X48-based motherboard, Crossfire support is fully supported at its maximum bandwidth of 16+16 lanes. It should be noted that there is a mistake in the labelling in the manual regarding the PCIe slots positioning. In the manual it describes the centre slot as PCIe 16x where in fact it is 4x and it actually shows the bottom PCIe slot as 16x. The layout is near as damn perfect allowing the use of 2 dual slot GPU's while still allowing access to a single PCIe x1, the 4x PCIe slot (Raid/physics?) and PCI slot should you require them. The PCIe slots have 4-pin floppy cable headers which are not required unless you intend on running Crossfire. The manual does, however, suggest using them should you take advantage of Crossfire as it will supply more power to the board and grant a more stable system.
 
 DFI X48-T3RS PCI area DFI X48-T3RS PCIe Powah!
 
The Lanparty UT X48-TS3R requires a minimum of a 300W PSU (DFI recommend a 400W). Personally I think that unless you are running a very low spec system (which would negate buying a high-end motherboard!) then a PSU double that being recommended would be the wisest choice. 
 
The board's PSU socket areas are 24+8pin which is pretty much standard in today's market. Q-tec users should look elsewhere I'm afraid.
 
DFI X48-T3RS 24 PIN PSU requirement DFI X48-T3RS LED
 
Above right we see a very cluttered area. DFI have once again utilised the on-board switches we have become to know and love. The power and reset switches can operate individually (power/reset) or can operate together to clear the CMOS after a dodgy overclock. This does away with the need for a further CMOS clear switch freeing up space for other items, such as the Diagnostic LED. While useful (you will come to hate the 'C1' error!), it would have been nice of DFI to actually include in the manual what each error/readout is as there is nothing to be found in the manual. But with a quick search on DFI's excellent support forums most codes can be found with ease.
 
Moving along we see DFI still retain the use of a floppy and on-board speaker. It is nice to see the DFI also retain the removable BIOS chips which will no doubt help in restoring the motherboard to a workable state by an easy BIOS chip swap should it become corrupt. The board also has a variety of Jumpers which do everything from selecting the FSB of your CPU, to clearing the CMOS and even selecting the power requirements of your USB, of which there are an additional 3 headers but sadly no included bracket to make use of them.  
 
 
Motherboard Cooling
 
Being a DFI, it's pretty obvious that this board is aimed squarely at the overclocker. Overclocking inevitably leads to heat and DFI have taken this into consideration when designing the board and so drafted in the help of Thermalright. Starting with the PWM area I mentioned earlier, the 'Flame Freezer', which for all intents and purposes is an extension of the cooling assembly which extends out of the case. The fitments are pretty much self explanatory by the use of a coupling bracket held on by two screws but if you are in any doubt then DFI do supply a mini instruction booklet for your perusal.
 
Remember I mentioned the backplate? Well now you see why it is required as I'm sure you can imagine that knocking the flame freezer while fumbling around the back of the PC case for a USB slot could quite easily snap the PCB. The backplate therefore serves to strengthen that area.
 
DFI X48-T3RS Flame freezer fitment DFI X48-T3RS Flame Freezer
 
Perhaps the most ingenious thing about the whole heatpipe setup is the inclusion of an adaptable Northbridge. You can actually remove the Northbridge without the need to remove the whole heatpipe assembly. This is a great idea as you can add your own cooling to the Northbridge sink, be it water or air. The top is removed by the means of a clip very similar to AMD CPU coolers. Both surfaces are machined flat and have a dull finish but this shouldn't impact on the heat transfer of the blocks. Big thumbs up DFI!
 
DFI X48-T3RS NB modding DFI X48-T3RS Shiny?
 
Most folk would stop there as to be quite honest the removal of the whole heatpipe assembly is not required unless you wish to watercool each component individually. Here at OC3D we like to go that one step further and have done exactly that:
 
DFI X48-T3RS Screws DFI X48-T3RS Heatsink assembly
 
As all the heatsinks are screw down affairs, it was a time consuming process not made any easier by the fact only the Northbridge had screw heads. The nuts on the rear are also a pita to remove as they are 'sealed' with some gunk to prevent unwanted loosening. Once the heatpipe was removed we can see that surface contact on all of the components was near perfect with just the right amount of paste being used.
 
DFI X48-T3RS Contact DFI X48-T3RS PWM
DFI X48-T3RS X48 DFI X48-T3RS ICH9R
 
So the board is as near to perfect you are going to get and is probably the best cooled motherboard out on the market at this moment in time. Everything is in the right place and with the ultimate amount of configuration options available via jumpers and the diagnostic readouts by both the main LED and individual LED's situated around the motherboard. It is clear that this motherboard can certainly talk a good fight. Let's now take a look at the means by which we can activate some of those LED's with, what I expect to be, a ridiculously complex BIOS as per DFI tradition.


DFI X48 UT-T3RS Motherboard Page: 4
BIOS Options
 
DFI have long been an overclockers favourite so it should come as no surprise that the X48 UT-T3RS BIOS is yet another complex and well thought out BIOS from AWARD. Before beginning the overclocking I wanted to make sure I had the latest official BIOS (X48BD725) available from DFI. The flashing procedure was pretty straight forward but could be made a lot easier. I actually used the tried and tested method of using a floppy but if you configure a USB stick correctly you can flash by that means. Or if you are feeling brave you could always use the Windows flashing method. I would have thought by now that DFI would have adopted a similar format from ASUS whereby you just put the BIOS on a USB stick and use a utility in the BIOS itself to flash but sadly the DFI doesn't have that option. Not a big problem but something that could be improved upon nonetheless.
 
The boot up screen is similar to that of the packaging being golden in appearance and actually quite pleasing to the eye. The usual .del key gets you into the BIOS itself and from the main screen we see the familiar layout of most Award BIOS. DFI have opted not to make the overclocking section (which we are all most interested in) the first section, deciding instead to go against the norm and put the section in its usual place, after PC Health status.
 
 
DFI X48-T3RS Boot up DFI X48-T3RS Genie
 
 
The Genie BIOS section though is where we want to be and navigating to that area by the use of the arrow keys we become initially disappointed as the Genie BIOS area is, from the outlook at least, basic by DFI standards. Fear not though because most headers in here each have their own subsection depending on what components you wish to tweak. Starting with the CPU features, all the favourites are there as well as the option to disable specific cores should you wish.
 
 
DFI X48-T3RS Enter the Genie DFI X48-T3RS CPU Features
 
 
Now this is more like the DFI's of old. The DRAM timing section is mind blowing. Every feature any tweaker could want is in there as well as some settings that even the most knowledgeable clocker would struggle to explain. The sheer amount of settings available can become a little daunting as there are simply so many options available one could become lost in there! Each setting has to be scrolled through which is a little disappointing as I find it much easier to input the timings directly but at least this does give an idea of the possible settings. Along with the usual main timings there are a multitude of subsection timings as well as further subsections such as phase adjustments, and clock fine delay options.
 
 
DFI X48-T3RS DRAM timing DFI X48-T3RS Clock fine delay settings
 
DFI X48-T3RS read phase delay adjustments DFI X48-T3RS BIOS
 
 
Above right we see the bulk of the voltage settings (all set to there maximum available for your pleasure). Excessive is one word, obscene is another and I would tend to lean towards the latter when describing the amount of voltage available to pump through your precious components. If I had to choose one board with which to destroy a CPU or DDR then this would be it as the ridiculous amount of power available is matched only by the multitude of options available with which to torture your components. I would prefer to have seen an inbuilt calculator instead of the percentage based CPU VID special add as, if like me, you were not the best mathematician, it can be a pain working out the percentage increase you wish to add and could inadvertently fry your CPU. Still, having that option in the first place is a bonus in itself and can work two-fold. One, by fine tuning the voltage required and two, by means of adding additional voltage should you feel 1.6v is not enough.
 
  
DFI X48-T3RS FSB DFI X48-T3RS CPU Clock Skew
 
 
One of the few settings that can be input directly is the CPU clock (FSB) with a range of 200-999. I doubt there is any CPU in the foreseeable future capable of reaching a 999 FSB but like everything else in this BIOS, the option is there. Rounding off the settings available in the Genie BIOS are settings such as the CPU Clock Skew and GTL reference settings. A nice addition to the options available is a boot up clock allowing you to set a CPU clockspeed to POST before the mainboard then sets the true clockspeed allowing you to get past the non-boot scenario of a failed overclock. We've all been there, an FSB can be set in windows for those suicide runs but getting the board to boot at those settings can be troublesome. This setting eradicates that problem. You can even set the number of times the board will try and apply those ambitious settings before reverting to a last good boot scenario once more proving the DFI is the ultimate in tweakability.
 
 
DFI X48-T3RS CMOS reloaded DFI X48-T3RS PC Health
 
 
Once you have found those golden settings you can back them up in the  'CMOS reloaded' with a customisable title as a gentle reminder of what settings you used. Ideal for those who always forget to right those settings down and a very neat way of reloading those settings after a CMOS clear. The DFI board is also presents itself very well in the PC health section. All too often we see some boards fall down in this department where they give you a multitude of options to tweak but then you cannot see what effect this has on temperatures, which given the silly amount of voltage the DFI offers it would be prudent to keep a close eye on this area.
 
So a very thorough BIOS and, dare I say, over the top? While a BIOS that is fully featured is a most welcome sight at OC3D we also like a BIOS to be easy to follow and easy to use. The DFI BIOS is neither and takes some time to reach the same standards other boards manage with just a few settings. I have no doubt that if you are looking for that nanosecond quicker PI time then this is the BIOS for you but for the average user, this BIOS is quite scary. Having said, that most options can be left to their own devices in AUTO configuration, so it should not be seen as a negative. I found myself fiddling with settings just to see what effect they had which for the most part had little or no effect and sometimes resulted in a non boot scenario while other settings had a massive effect on stability. It's just a shame the manual does not go into any great depth each setting is used for and for an explanation then a time consuming search is required along with a little guesswork. I don't class myself a novice overclocker but even I was daunted by the sheer magnitude of the options available.
 


DFI X48 UT-T3RS Motherboard Page: 5
Test Setup
 
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:
 
spec sheet
 
During the testing of the setup above, special care was taken to ensure that the BIOS settings used matched whenever possible. A fresh install of Windows Vista was also used before the benchmarking began, with a full defrag of the hard drive once all the drivers and software were installed, preventing any possible performance issues due to leftover drivers from the previous motherboard installations.

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 3.0.4.0
• Sisoft Sandra XII 2008c

3D / Rendering Benchmarks
• Cinebench 10
• 3DMark 05
• 3DMark 06

3D Games
• Bioshock
• F.E.A.R
• Quake 4
 
 
Overclocking
 
I was expecting great things from the DFI X48 UT-T3RS and I wasn't disappointed. Despite a few problematic settings I managed a decent FSB of 474. The time it took to get this FSB however was a little disappointing as I had numerous issues and non-boot scenarios. Some of the non-boot scenarios were down to overzealous memory overclocking resulting in a 'C1' error on the on-board diagnostic LED. Occasionally the only way to clear this error was to manually reset the BIOS by the use of the on-board jumpers as the EZ-Clear was simply not up to the job. 
 
I found the board to be akin to taking a posh girl out on a first date. Treat her well, go slowly and the rewards are yours for the taking, however if you go straight for the money shot you will get slapped and have to start all over again. The DFI needs time and patience if you are going to get the best out of it. It's simply no good upping the FSB and a few voltages and hoping for a good overclock. Frustrating, certainly, but with a little research into the numerous settings  you can push things a little harder with the DFI than you can with other boards but be under no illusion this is no 'point and squirt' board - if you are after a quick and easy overclock then I suggest you look elsewhere.
  
 
Max FSB 
 
Max overclock
 
 
For the maximum overclock we use a maximum voltage of 1.5v and see how far the board can go. Here is where the DFI UT-T3RS shows its strength in the overclocking department. While the maximum FSB may appear to be a little disappointing, the maximum overclock surpasses all its competitors with ease. I should however note that with our sample the Vdroop when under load (even with the setting preventing this set to enabled) was approximately 0.02v. Clearing its nearest rival by 80MHz is no mean feat and puts the DFI board at the top of the overclocking pile. I have no doubts that both the FSB and maximum overclock could be bettered given more time and more research/testing but I was happy the board has proven its salt by becoming our new overclocking supremo. Well done DFI.


DFI X48 UT-T3RS 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.

 

Drhystone

Whetstone

multimedia Int

Multimedia Float

memory Int

Memory Float

 

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.

 

Memory read

Memory Write

Latency

 

Results conclusions

The DFI niether shines nor disgraces itself in the CPU and memory benchmarks. DDR3 obviously adds the increase in bandwidth and here is where the DFI X48 UT-T3RS takes the lead over the DDR2 boards. A solid showing thus far.. 



DFI X48 UT-T3RS 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.

 

Windows Media

Quicktime

 


7-Zip is an open source Winzip-style file compression utility that has the ability to compress and decompress many file formats including its 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.

 

Compression

 

Results Conclusions

The DFI X48 board started to show signs of pulling away in some of the benchmarks with the 7-Zip compression test really impressing. The mainboard throughout the testing came out top or a close second, testiment to the improvements on the X48 based chipset.



DFI X48 UT-T3RS 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.
 
 
 Burst speed
 
Read Speed
 
Random access
 
CPU Utilization
 
 
 
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.
 
Read index
 
 
 
Results Conclusions
 
It is apparent that the Intel chipsets are still a little behind the NVidia chipsets when HD performance is concerned, although the gap has closed somewhat of late. Having said that the DFI can still holds its own in this department scoring well across the range of tests.


DFI X48 UT-T3RS 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.
 
x1 CPU
 
x4 CPU
 
OpenGL
 
 
 
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. Also included are the CrossfireX results to give an indication of how 8x PCIe lanes perform.
 
3d05
 
3d06
 
 
Results Conclusions
 
Once again the DFI X48 UT-T3RS proved to be a very strong contender in the synthetic 3d benchmarks coming top in both 3DMark05 and '06 while scoring well in Cinebench. Lets see if these figures carry through to 'real world' gaming...
 


DFI X48 UT-T3RS 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.

Quake 4

 

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.

F.E.A.R

 

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.

Bioshock

 

Results Conclusion

Here the DFI had less of an advantage and split the pack straight down the middle. I found it strange that the DFI performed near the top of the pile in the synthetic benchmarks yet could reproduce those same results in the gaming arena. That's not to say the DFI didn't perform well as it clearly did, especially in Bioshock but I would have thought that, taking the synthetic benchmarks into account, the gap would be higher. Still, an all round good performance from the DFI mainboard.



DFI X48 UT-T3RS Motherboard Page: 11
Conclusion
 
LanpartySummarising this review is not going to be easy. While on the one hand, the DFI is clearly a very accomplished board with a very thorough and complex BIOS resulting in some fantastic performance, on the other hand, there are now boards out there that can achieve similar performance without all the stress, grief and mountains of patience required. While on the A64 platform the DFI was king of the overclockers, the Intel market has seen Asus, Abit and Gigabyte make leaps and bounds in the enthusiast market, so now the lead DFI had is all but gone.
 
It has been a while since I had a play with a DFI board and this is my first outing on an Intel DFI so I was particularly interested in if DFI had changed its approach to overclocking compared to my old DFI Ultra-D. Thankfully it has not. The numerous amount of options and tweaking available on this board are second to none. IF you know what you are doing and IF you are an accomplished overclocker then I can wholeheartedly recommend this board. You will simply be blown away with the sheer power that is available at your finger tips and if you can bare the frustration involved in getting to grips with those options then you will have found a new best friend.
 
If however, you are new to the dark arts then this board will scare you (and no doubt your components) witless. It's all very well having all the options in the world at your fingertips but unless you have some form of understanding of what 'those buttons do' then the end result could quite easily be a doomed overclock or worse, fried hardware.  I wouldn't let my 3 yr old drive my car, much the same I wouldn't advise a novice to buy this board.
 
I am still unsure as to whether I love the board or hate it. The motherboard on test broke our current best clock for our test Q6600 but the amount of frustration that went with it has tainted the glory somewhat. 'No Pain - No Gain' so they say but call me lazy, I'm actually getting quite used to achieving some quick and easy overclocks.
 
 
The Good
- Supreme overclocking.
- Thermalright cooling.
- Funky colour scheme.
- Removable Northbridge section.
- Digital PWM.
- Solid caps all round for durability.
 
The Mediocre
- EZ Cear switches look basic in comparison to other boards don't ALWAYS clear CMOS..
- BIOS scrolling. Input method could be better.
- Bernstein Audio. Good but not great for a £200 motherboard.
  
The Bad
- Poor recovery from a bad overclock.
- BIOS update procedure tedious.
- CMOS clear with dual slot crossfire cards will be impossible without removing the lower card first.
 
 
Overclock3D Performance Award
 
 
Thanks to DFI for providing the X48-T3RS for review. Discuss this review in our forums.