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Intel DP55KG "Kingsberg" Motherboard

Surprisingly practical top-end.

November 24, 2009

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What concerns the audio controller, it's impressively often used in modern top motherboards, easily catering to the needs of an average consumer. Realtek likes to mention HDCP support as one of its advantages, which allows to output audio to a graphics card (or any other expansion card) with HDMI. It's surely very convenient. However, this feature supports a limited number of formats -- it can output audio that can meet restrictions of the old S/PDIF. That is multi-channel HD-audio is out of the question in this case: the best option is Dolby Digital/DTS. However, it's relevant only to those users, who already invested into the corresponding content and home cinema equipment, such as an expensive receiver. The other users will use the analog connection. Fortunately, the ALC889 can compete with SoundBlaster Live! 5.1, Audigy2, or even Creative PCI Express X-Fi Xtreme Audio that are sometimes installed on top motherboards. The integrated audio quality was tested in 16 bit 44 kHz mode using RightMark Audio Analyzer 6.0.5 and the Terratec DMX 6fire sound card.

Test 44 kHz 48 kHz
Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB +0.02, -0.06 +0.02, -0.06
Noise level, dB (A) -86.3 -86.3
Dynamic range, dB (A) 86.8 86.5
THD, % 0.0015 0.0018
Harmonic distortion + noise, dB(A) -79.6 -80.0
Intermodulation distortion + noise, % 0.013 0.013
Channel crosstalk, dB -84.8 -84.4
IMD at 10 kHz, % 0.012 0.013
General performance Very good Very good

These results are a little short of excellent. But even "very good" speaks for itself (traditional for most motherboards with this codec). On the other hand, we shouldn't ignore the fact that the other P55-based motherboards we have already reviewed (ASUS with VIA VT2020, MSI P55-GD65, and especially Gigabyte P55-UD6 with the same Realtek ALC889, just like this motherboard) demonstrate noticeably higher audio quality, which may be critical for users. Thus, it makes sense to consider installing a discrete sound card. Fortunately, there are plenty of expansion slots.

We should be grateful to engineers for their implementation of FireWire: most manufacturers currently use cheaper chips from VIA even in similar motherboards, they cope well with storage drives (which is getting less relevant), but sometimes having problems with miniDV cameras.

The rear panel is a little different from what we got used to. There are no outdated ports (Abit toyed with it almost 10 years ago). It has nothing to do with the number of USB and eSATA ports either (8 and 2 ports correspondingly are becoming a standard for top motherboards). The first thing you notice is two optical audio jacks (there is no coaxial) and a button. Their functions are described above.


Despite the top positioning, this motherboard doesn't look overloaded with bells and whistles like some competing models. This is typical of Intel, its engineers have always had a sense of proportion in expanding functionality. Unfortunately, this sense has somewhat failed them now. On the other hand, Intel's active advancement to the retail market was deemed to result in this funny reevaluation: a rave of LED colors instead of simplicity. Besides, it's not the only motherboard in the series, there are four models. So true stoics may just buy the DP55WG, which lacks only an additional SATA controller (it was relatively slow anyway), Bluetooth adapter (which can be bought separately), and heatsinks on the CPU power converter. Or you may buy a MicroATX DP55SB, which can accommodate two graphics cards, is equipped with eSATA and Bluetooth. So its only shortcoming versus the DP55KG is the lack of PCI, which is not a problem for a new computer.

So the company does not force users to pay for what they don't need (or don't like), offering a wide choice. The modern product range of motherboards from Intel actually includes only one motherboard with X58, one with X48, one with P45, one with P43 two with G45. So P55 stands out in the line of top chipsets: it is used in four motherboards already. And the DP55KG is the top model among them. It has plenty of bells and whistles.

And it's most certainly original. Even if we forget about illumination, Kingsberg offers Bluetooth, which hasn't become a standard in desktop motherboards. This and elaborated design (even if with some drawbacks) allow us to give the DP55KG our Original Design award.

The motherboard provided by the manufacturer.

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