Intel DP55WG "Warrensburg" Motherboard
The board is based on the Intel P55 chipset and offers the following additional controllers:
- Integrated audio based on 10-channel (7.1+2) Realtek ALC889 HDA codec. This top-end solution supports HD-DVD and Blu-Ray output, offers frontal I/O, optical S/PDIF-Out and S/PDIF-In (!) interfaces on the back panel, an S/PDIF-Out for HDMI-enabled graphics cards.
- Gigabit Ethernet based on the chipset MAC adapter and Intel 82578DC PHY.
- FireWire controller based on Texas Instruments TSB43AB22A (PCI) supporting two ports, one of which is on the back panel.
As we have already said, Intel is one of the few companies that uses chipset's standard networking features. And unlike the case with the top-end board, we cannot criticize the 82578DC chip, as the reviewed motherboard belongs to a lower class. There's a very strong possibility that it will never have to work in a Gigabit network, so the lack of jumbo frames support won't affect anything. Also, the lack of vPro support can be critical for a consumer-level board only if hardware virtualization is actively used. But Core i5 and i3 processors do not support VT-d anyway. But the XP Mode will still work in Windows 7 (it can do with VT-x only) and that is more than enough for most users. The aforementioned lack of integrated Bluetooth allowed to free up a USB port (to which you can plug a cheaper Bluetooth dongle).
So eSATA support is the only thing that we really miss. Perhaps, Marvell 88SE6145 isn't that performing and has too many ports, but many users have high-performance external hard drives these days. So any board (excluding the cheapest, perhaps) should have at least one eSATA port. (And until cheap LGA1156 CPUs are released, all boards with eSATA ports are at least mid-end or higher.) On the other hard, the board still has one of the most trouble-free FireWire controllers, and the audio codec is decent as well. Though as we remember, DP55KG's audio path yielded to those of competing boards due to implementation issues. So let's see if DP55WG is any different by means of RightMark Audio Analyzer 6.0 and Terratec DMX 6fire sound card. For a change, we also tested the board in the 24-bit/96kHz mode, in addition to the usual 16-bit/44kHz and 16-bit/48kHz.
|Frequency response (40Hz to 15kHz), dB
|Noise level, dB(A)
|Dynamic range, dB(A)
|THD + noise, dB(A)
|IMD + noise, %
|Channel crosstalk, dB
|IMD at 10 kHz, %
The results were close to Excellent, but the Very Good mark (traditional for most boards with this audio codec) also speaks for itself. In general, the board's audio path is even slightly better than that in the series flagship. The most advanced mode caused no trouble. Though, as you can see, there's not much sense in using it -- the general performance is the same, meaning that this board cannot uncover the potential of better sampling rate and higher bit count.
The back panel is very similar to that one the higher-end board, except for two eSATA ports. Though the reviewed motherboard still has the less needed Toslink and the button accessing BIOS setup. The latter is even less reasonable here than on the higher-end modification. We doubt that many users will buy a 4-phase motherboard for overclocking needs. Besides, Intel has provided for automatic emergency recovery as well. The button might only be useful, because it saves certain settings, so you can just fine-tune them, while automatic recovery resets them completely.
Some parts simplified, some removed -- perfectionists might find this board unattractive. On the other hand, all these simplifications have a very positive effect on the price. Today (at the moment of publication) DP55WG is about $80 cheaper than DP55KG. This is comparable to the price difference between Core i5 750 and Core i7 860. In other words, having saved on the motherboard, you may start looking for a higher-performance processor. And the rollout of dual-core Core i5 600 and Core i3 expected in a few months will obviously spur interest to the boards priced below $200. By the way, the 73W TDP of those CPUs justifies the simplified power circuitry even at reasonable overclocking, not to mention the standard mode.
Features removed from this board (compared to its higher-end modification) are of additional nature. And the basic capabilities of the P55 chipset are quite good -- on a par with the recently popular P45+ICH10R combination, and higher than those of the budget P43+ICH10. Having them implemented in full (like in our case), even an inexpensive board can offer support for multiple graphics cards (or other high-performance expansion cards), RAID arrays and the like.
Thus, considering the price, Warrensburg is a very good choice for users trying to save money reasonably. And it's a nice choice for low-volume PC building as well.
The motherboard provided by the manufacturer.
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