Motherboard Guide

DFI LanParty MI P55-T36 review

The Tiny Giant - DFI LanParty MI P55-T36 (Intel P55)

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Overall rating 8/10
Performance:
8
Features:
7.5
Value:
7.5
THE GOOD
No major loss in functionality despite the smaller form factor
The first mini-ITX board based on the Intel P55 chipset
THE BAD
Motherboard could be prone to overheating issues from the cramped layout
More expensive than competing microATX boards


The DFI LanParty MI P55-T36

The DFI LanParty MI P55-T36

This is undeniably a very small board. It's not like we haven't seen a mini-ITX motherboard before, but it's certainly not raining boards of this size capable of supporting Intel's latest Core i5 quad-core processors. This novelty factor may well wear off once we get to the heart of it so let's start with our inspection of the board.

 

 

While the number of rear I/O connectors is almost comparable with a full ATX board, the rest of the usual board features are truncated. DFI has kept two DIMM slots, sufficient for a dual-channel configuration, but that means the maximum amount of memory supported is half of a full P55 board at 8GB.

There is no PCB space for extras like floppy or PATA connectors and three SATA ports are all you'll get for storage. The SATA ports are located just beside the PCIe slot and once you have installed a discrete graphics card and the processor, it's not the most convenient of locations. Fitting the USB 2.0 headers can also take some finger dexterity. To be fair, it would have been difficult to fit all these connectors at the edges of the board and only the front panel headers are given such a prime spot.

As for the expansion slots, there's only one for the graphics card so you'll have to rely on the DFI board for your audio, RAID and Ethernet functionality. There won't be any chance of slotting in an add-on card for these features. At least one gets Gigabit LAN, while RAID is natively supported by the chipset. So the lack of expansion slots shouldn't be an issue for most users. Meanwhile, though DFI touts X-Fi support on the board, it's a Realtek audio CODEC doing the grunt work and that Creative audio feature is implemented in software.


 

It may be a small board but all the quality components that you'll find on a larger DFI board are present, from the solid capacitors to the six-phase digital PWM. Despite the small size of the board, from its DNA we've seen so far, one can expect to get a similar level of performance
as its larger counterparts.