One of the major factor for which AMD rules the budget PC market with their lower range X2 processors, such as X2 3600 upto 4400 is because the availability of cheap yet powerful, performance motherboards for lower range Intel Core 2 or Dual Core processors….
Though Intel do have a great low budget performance processor, which is Intel Dual Core E2140 available at Rs. 2450/- + 4% VAT (USD 75), however the only cheap but performance solution is XFX 650i Ultra with a cheap Graphics card… The lowest performance (Allowing OC too) onboard solution is ASUS P5B-VM (GMA x3000 with G965) or the recent ASUS P5K-VM (GMA x3100 with G33) both are well over Rs. 7500/- or USD 150….
We have lacked the balance in which a Low budget Intel system could come without sacrificing the performance…
Now with the recent launch of a budget Motherboard by XFX, it may all change !!!
I have got my hands to one of the brand new XFX 630i (7150), so let us take a quick look at the board.
Details about the Product
XFX 630i (MG-630I-7159)
Supporting any Intel LGA 775 desktop range including Pentium 4 (FSB 533 / FSB 800) / Pentium D / Intel Dual Core (E2xxx) / Core 2 Duo (FSB 1066 / FSB 1333) / Core 2 Quadro (FSB 1066 / FSB 1333) / Core 2 Extreme
Onboard Nvidia Geforce 7150 GPU with 650 MHz Core Clock / upto 256 MB
HDMI / DVI / HDCP
Two 240pin DDR-II 800 MHz Slot supporting upto 4 GB (Single channel only)
4 SATA-II Ports
1 PATA (IDE) Port
PCI Express x16
8 Channel (7.1) HD Autio with SPDIF
4 USB (MAX 10) 2.0
Onboard Rest and power Switch
Onboard 2 Digit LED for troubleshooting
The Product at a Glance
One nifty little tool is the Onboard Reset and Power Switch and also the Onboard 2 Digit LED for troubleshooting purpose…
As the title have pointed out, its a board which i considered to be a board, which would allow us to build up a budget quad core system, so let us see how the board would perform with a Quad Core processor…
Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600
2 GB Single Stick
160 GB SATA-II 7200.10
450 Watts Local Lowest end PSU
Liteon DVD RW 20x IDE
View Sonic vx1945wm (19″ HD TFT) and LG 700E (17″ CRT)
PS2 Mouse and Keyboard (Logitech Combo)
Will you face any problem in Assembling ??
All these new boards are really well managed, every port is well placed though out the board, so its quite easy to assemble with this board… Nothing special to point in this manner…
It comes with Phoenix – AwardBIOS … Easy to navigate and understand…
Real world Application Performance
Yes, the big question….
This motherboard by native comes with support for Windows XP and Vista, both x64 and x86 platform… However neither the driver and support CD nor the web support contains any official information about iether Linux Compatibility or about support for Server 2003 / 2008 !!!
Having said that, one must understand that, this one is meant to work with best under Windows Vista….
So, how is the Windows Vista performing ??
Nvidia Geforce 7150 is fully compatible with Vista Aero Interface… Also the board is good at supporting any platform under Windows Vista or XP, both x64 and x86… I have tested it with View Sonic 1945wm running at 1440×900 under DVI Interface…
The 7150 is smoth as it should be… I have also tested the 7150 by playing High Defination contents under 720p and 1080p… They run absolutelly fine…
The BIOS allows user to select amount of shared VGA RAM from 16mb to 256mb….
With 256 MB share, games like Fear runs at 1024×768 resolution under lower medium settings… NFS Most Wanted runs at 1024 with fairly high settings !!! Certainly, don’t expect onboard 7150 would allow you to play BIO Shock at high resolution and medium settings…
Take a look at the Performance Index Rating with Q6600 + 2 GB + 128 MB Share for VGA,
The DirectX Diagnostic Tool for Windows Vista SP1 x64
The DirectX Diagnostic Tool for Windows XP SP2 x86
Few points to note with the choice of platform, whether to go for x64 or x86… Now if you are running 4 GB under this board, then go for x64 platform as with 2 GB RAM there are no huge difference between x64 and x86 platform when running onboard video… You may read more the issue of which platform to choose here….
This is a platform in which you build your system, as I have said in the title, this one would allow a budget quad core, so I am using the Q6600 for testing…
As with Q6600, Video Editing and Encoding is a charm… 2.4 GHz Quad Core with 8 MB L2 is running blazing fast as I am Ripping a DVD5 (4.3GB) to a 700 MB xvid RIP using AutoGK…. So actual performance may differ when some one many buy this one with Intel Dual Core E2140… Therefore I am not going in to any discussion which would be effected by processor performance…
Some Bench Markings…
PC Mark 2005 Total Score 4972 running Q6600 @ 2.4 GHz / 2 GB Single Channel Kingstone Single Stick DDR-2 667 MHz / 160 GB SATA-II (8MB) 7200.10
What about Temperatures ??
Its a mATX board so many folks would try to find a small and good looking casing / cabinet for their home or office system, so the temperature is a really big factor to consider…
Under default CPU / RAM value, it runs just as cool as XFX 650i ultra or ASUS P5N-E SLi !!! Take a look at few Stress testing details,
4 instance Super Pi Running at 4 different core, thus pushing the CPU (Intel Q6600) working at 100% to calculate the value of Pi upto 1 million digit…
2 Instance of Orthos running at 2×2 format for Processor load testing
As its Winter time at my place, so the idle temp for the CPU is 29c-31c where as at Load testing all though th individual Cores went up to 60c but the CPU it self is stable at MAX 55c….
The real beauty of the Core2 range of Intel is their ability to run beyond their original clock speed which in terms is known as Over Clocking, those who are new to Over Clocking idea, please read some basic TIPs about Over Clocking a processor here….
The setup I am using is identical to a common home or Office user setup, so lets see how far the Q6600 can go with just Default Intel Air Cooling…
1st Attempt is 2.6 GHz which is the running value for Intel Q6700 (Rs. 17550/- + TAX) which is quite expensive for just a 200 MHz gain…
This Motherboard doesn’t support nTunes, though it is said at their web site I would support nTunes, but the package in which it comes, clearly suggests that, there are no support of nTunes for 630i or 610i boards… So all Over Clocking tricks need to be done from BIOS it self…
XFX 630i 7150 is quite a over clocking friendly board… certainly it is not a board which any pro Over Clocker would like, but it does come with all needed features for a good over clocker…
Limit for CPU vcore is 1.575 which is more than enough for those who plans to stay under Air Cooling including pro solutions such as ThermalRight Untra 120 Extreme to push an enrty level Quad Core to 3.6 Ghz ….
Just like any other nvidia Over Clocker, this one too comes with feature to use Unlinked Memory FSB…
With 1st try I reached 2.6 Ghz (running value of Q6700) with ease and without touching the vcore..
Over Clocking just wont depend on the Board it self, the processor is also greatly responsible for a good over clocking result, and this board do have all needed feature for Over Clocking, which may help an user who would be buying E2140 along with this XFX 630i 7150….
What are the negatives ??
So far I just went over the positives, so that doesn’t mean that, it doesn’t have any negative points… Lets quickly go through the negative ones…
No Dual Channel support… This is a big let down which in terms may and will harm the system’s over all performance…
Only 2 RAM Slot…. With ever increasing hunger of applications for RAMs, just 2 slot is certainly not enough !!!
No Official Linux or Server 2003 / 2008 support…
Driver CD not coming with PDF of manual…
I already have pointed out at the start of the guide, the importance of a lower end performance board for Intel Core2 range processors to compete with AMD X2 solutions…
Though there are quite a few negatives, but still the features and the price makes its a board to recommend to any Budget PC buyer !!!