Biostar TPower I55
The specification of the Biostar TPower I55 looks very good on paper. There are twin graphics slots that support both CrossFireX and SLI; the integrated audio has coaxial and optical outputs; and there is a secondary storage controller that supports two eSATA ports and a legacy ATA133 connector. In short, what’s not to like?
First impressions when you open the box and clap eyes on the hardware are good, and the passive cooling system on the chipset and voltage regulation hardware certainly catches the eye as it is both extensive and impressive.
There’s something odd going on here as P55 is a single chip. However, Biostar has employed a cooler in the traditional northbridge position. This cooler doesn’t sit on a chip and is raised a few millimetres above the board so its function is to link the various coolers together.
Something to bear in mind if you're planning on serious overclocking is that all of these mobos use Foxconn sockets - dodgy pin contact and risk of burning up your shiny new i7.
On the plus side, all of the new Gigabyte P55A boards use Lotes sockets. DFI are also going Lotes exclusively, and EVGA have said they'll replace anything that burns up. On the other hand, Asus have said socket burn is excluded under their warranty (and deny condoning overclocking). MSI boards are actually built by Foxconn, so no luck their either.
Bone to pick
What is it with every tech review site and their failure to include warranty data? Before I purchase anything, I want to see what faith the manufacturer places in its product. On that note, perhaps you would include a review of an EVGA board next time? (10 year warranty: putting their money where their mouths are)
ASUS seems to limp on chipset cooling
That Asus chipset cooler seems pretty marginal, which fits in with my experience. The last couple MBs had huge northbridge heatsinks and tiny southbridge ones, so the southbridge was like grabbing a lit lightbulb, where the northbridge & CPU were fine. I had to buy my own southbridge cooler.
I'll take the huge ugly heatpipe setups for 100, Bob!
As if watercooling ever had anything to do with merit over expense/complication :-) Generally speaking it's put on there for bragging rights, a strive for absolute silence, overclocking beyond sane levels and a case of more money than sense!
When you're doing it properly, there can be no fans involved at all - external radiators (Zalman Reserator series), full heatsinks for CPU & GPU, so no residual airflow from graphics cards either.
Just waiting for this nutter's idea to become standardised - watercooled PSUs:
Insurance claim just waiting to happen!
Intel DP55KG Bluetooth
I didn't mention Bluetooth on the Intel board for a nmber of reasons.
1) The word count on each review is very tight so I stuck to what I considered to be the highlights and I am baffled by the appeal of a wireless technology on a desktop PC. For the record the DP55KG also has infra-red.
2) The antenna for the Bluetooth radio is a horrid fiddly thing that clips into place and then attaches inside your PC case using double sided tape.
3) There are no dedicated Intel drivers for the Bluetooth and you rely on Microsoft for the installation. In my opinion this is never ideal.
4) The Bluetooth doesn't appear to work. Or at least my phone cannot see it which boils down to the same thing. as there is no software on the PC and no way to configure the device. The drivers simply say 'Bluetooth' so I have no idea whether it is working but not broadcasting publicly or broken or what. As the drivers are Microsoft I shall wait for Rev. 3 and see if it bursts into life.