DFI LanParty UT ICFX3200-T2R/G review
With ATi now under the wing of AMD, Intel has good reason to consider whether or not it wants its CPUs to run on chipsets developed by its arch-rival. But for now, the coast is clear, and the LanParty UT is the first Core 2 Duo compatible motherboard we’ve seen with ATi’s RD600 north bridge.
The LanParty supports up to 8GB of 800MHz RAM and provides three full-length PCI Express slots – the third designed to work with ATi’s fabled physics card. The BIOS is very customisable: virtually every RAM and CPU voltage and frequency can be changed. At stock settings the board ran to an overall score of 1.51 in our benchmarks (with our usual test rig of E6700 CPU, 1GB of 800MHz DDR2 RAM and a WD360 Raptor hard disk), which is on par with our expectations.
There are few capacitors on the board, with voltage regulation provided instead via a six-phase digital PWM (Pulse Width Module). Not only does this mean that the chance of a capacitor failing is virtually zero, but it also means the board is cleaner – useful when installing a large CPU cooler. There are five three-pin fan headers, plus two 5V/12V headers next to the first PCI Express 16x ports.
The ATi SB600 south bridge provides four SATA ports, which can be combined into RAID0, 1 and 0+1 arrays. Promise’s PDC40719 chip provides another four SATA ports, this time with all the RAID options of the south bridge plus RAID5. Eight-channel HD audio comes courtesy of Realtek’s ALC885 chip. Elsewhere, there are two Gigabit Ethernet controllers, plus support for up to ten USB ports, six of which are supplied by the backplane. However, no backplate USB ports are included.
It’s clear the LanParty will be at its best in a custom-built, overclocked PC, but it’s still hard to overlook the price. The A-Listed Foxconn P9657 AA-8EKRS2H, costs almost £100 less. And while a dedicated overclocker might be able to recoup the difference by buying a cheaper CPU and running it at higher frequencies and voltages, we’d argue that you should save money on the motherboard and then simply buy a more expensive CPU.