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Review: Intel 925XE chipset and 3.46GHz Extreme Edition CPU

by Tarinder Sandhu on 31 October 2004, 00:00

Tags: Intel (NASDAQ:INTC)

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A reference look

I'll take a brief look at Intel's reference 925XE motherboard. Expect major motherboard manufacturers to have compliant boards in their catalogues when you read this.

Fully kitted out with an LGA775 reference cooler and some high-speed Crucial Ballistix DDR2 RAM. It's worth taking a look at this board because you'll be able to purchase a similar model in retail form soon enough, just like the Bonanza for the Canterwood chipset. This is how theoretical talk on the previous page manifests itself in physical form. Four DIMM slots gives rise to dual-channel DDR2 RAM at up to DDR533 speeds officially. Note that Intel and its partners will use a 24-pin main power connector. The established 20-pin variety works just fine when slotted in, though.

The socket change to LGA775 necessitated a new breed of Intel coolers. Prescott CPUs have thermal design points in excess of 100w and a 3.46GHz Extreme Edition is reckoned to put out 110.7w. That's why retail coolers now ship with copper inserts for efficient heat absorption. The reference cooler simply pushed into 4 mounting holes on the motherboard and locks into place by turning the four heads. Easy as pie.

Thermal interface material leaves a satisfying circular blob on our CPU. Decent contact is absolutely essential with such wattage-eating processors.

If you look closely enough at the motherboard picture again you can see 4 SATA ports right next to the heatsink-covered ICH6 south bridge. I made mention of Intel's excellent and efficient storage potential on the previous page. Here's how it looks in practice.

Note that two RAID sets are available on only two drives. That's the beauty and flexibility of Matrix Storage Technology at work. 2 74GB Raptors set in pure RAID0 make for an impressive HD Tach graph.

Intel's Desktop Center is the best system-reporting utility I've come across in a while. There's everything from RAM timings, explicit fan control, basic overclocking to an inbuilt stress test.

A 1067MHz system bus speed just sounds fast, doesn't it?. It represents a 33% jump from the 925X chipset's maximum official system frequency. Other than that, though, there's little change. Let's move on to the CPU.