Intel D955XBK review
The 955X chipset has three notable enhancements over the 945. First, it will handle the dual-core Pentium Extreme Edition; second, there’s IMPT (Intel Memory Pipeline Technology) for added speed, theoretically; and third, there’s Dolby Master Studio audio.
In practice, these make little difference. The Extreme Edition is expensive at about £650 and is essentially the same as the Pentium D 840 but with Hyper-Threading enabled. It should be regarded as only for serious media-encoding professionals. IMPT is slightly more useful, with the 955X chipset proving faster than the 945 in some tests, but not in others. Dolby Master Studio is an umbrella term that guarantees Dolby-quality surround sound from the onboard SigmaTel codec.
Added to this is the impressive Intel Matrix Storage RAID controller for one quad of Serial ATA headers, with a Silicon Image chip allowing for RAID arrays on the second quad. You won’t lack for a Serial ATA cable either, as Intel bundles eight.
Also in the bundle is a 3.5in bay with USB, FireWire, FireWire 800 and audio jacks. It’s a handy addition, as the floppy drive is near-dead, but not its bay. Naturally, there are headers galore to attach these ports to. There’s also an impressive range of software, including media-playing suites and a free subscription to the City of Heroes online game.
However, the Gigabyte 955X is almost £20 cheaper and doesn’t skimp on quality. You can also put an 840 Extreme Edition in an nForce4 board, and the MSI Neo-F sneaks a Dolby Master Studio codec onto a cheaper 945G board. This leaves the D955XBK struggling for value.