Flame & Freeze
Flame & Freeze
Some of DFI's previous LANParty UT boards (like its P35 and 790FX boards) have come with 'extended' heatsinks that protrude behind the motherboard and outside the chassis. This is again the case for the X48-T2R, with DFI using a Thermalright Flame-Freezer cooler with an external component. When installed, this heatsink should ideally be placed close to the vent of a chassis exhaust fan and hence reap the benefits of the airflow generated by the exhaust. This aluminum extension is linked to the passive heatsinks on the motherboard using copper heatpipes. It's certainly a good idea to improve cooling this way without building ever larger heatsinks and if you feel that your system is sufficiently cool, you can choose not to mount the extended component.
Obviously, this heatsink extension requires removing some of the usual I/O components from the rear of the motherboard. This is probably a reason why the usual audio I/O ports are sacrificed. Instead, DFI has a separate Bernstein audio module using a Realtek ALC885 8-channel HD audio CODEC with its own bracket. Besides the advantage of isolating your audio component from the electromagnetic interference generated by the motherboard, the audio module is also connected to the motherboard via a soft cable, so users can choose which rear expansion slot to mount the module bracket.
Another proprietary DFI technology is its EZ Clear feature for resetting the CMOS. Things have progressed a lot from the days when jumpers were used to reset the BIOS. While some vendors have dedicated reset CMOS buttons either onboard or at the back of the motherboard together with the I/O ports, DFI uses the standard Power and Reset buttons to accomplish the same. This is done by pressing and holding down the buttons in a certain order and works even if you're pressing these buttons on the chassis. Hence, there's no need to open up the chassis or reach a less accessible location to reset the BIOS. Neat. Additionally, the internal diagnostic LEDs are useful for troubleshooting the system.
Finally, DFI has gone with an 8-phase digital PWM integrated circuits instead of the conventional analog versions. Again, this is not new with recent DFI boards, though opinion among users is divided on its overall effectiveness when it comes to improving overclocking tolerance. On paper at least, shifting to digital will have gains for power efficiency and stability.
Besides these more distinctive 'DFI' features, this board is what you can expect from a typical X48 board, like support for all 45nm Intel Core 2 processors. It supports up to 8GB of DDR2-1066 memory. Using Intel's ICH9R Southbridge, it can support up to six SATA 3.0Gbps devices with a JMicron JMB363 controller providing the single IDE connector and two other SATA ports. You will also find three PCIe slots, of which only two are full x16 lanes (Generation 2 and CrossFireX compatible) while the third is PCIe x4 (Generation 1). Additionally, there are two Gigabit Ethernet controllers from Marvell and they can be teamed for load balancing and fault tolerance.
Moving on to the board layout, DFI has done a very decent job, with no major issues encountered. The SATA ports are located conveniently at the edge of the board to reduce cable clutter, along with most of the other connectors like IDE, ATX power and the floppy. There are also up to six fan headers located all around the board, which suits the overclocking crowd that DFI is targeting.
We would however like to point out that the DIMM slots are much too close to the main PCIe slot, so users with a long graphics card will likely have to remove the graphics card first in order to remove any installed memory modules. This is quite a common occurrence in motherboards so DFI is not the only vendor we have noticed with such an issue.