Some of the first real X38 chipset reviews are coming out. The news looks pretty disappointing. Most of the new boards are DDR2 since DDR3 memory is just too expensive to buy. And compared head to head against a P35 chipset board they offer no performance advantages today. All things being equal if things don’t change in a major way I’ll just buy another Asus P5K for my workstation and equip it with 4GB of relatively inexpensive high-speed (1066mhz) DDR2 memory. That stuff costs about $270 for 4gb right now so all things considered its very affordable.
There are a couple of advantages that the X38 is supposed to have, but none of them are really useful yet at least for me. The X38 has better support for over-clocking but I don’t really care about that. Its supposed to have slightly better support for DDR3 memory but the P35 supports DDR3 also and as mentioned its starting to look like it doesn’t matter since DDR3 is just not realistic in the short term.
The other big advantages are that it supports two full x16 PCI-e channels whereas the P35 supports one at x16, and one at x4. So if you do dual video on a P35 the second one is somewhat bandwidth limited, although I haven’t seen any reviews that really show how big that impact is. I’m not planning on buying a second video card in the short run anyway. Also the x16 PCI-e channels support PCI-e 2.0. But no video cards do yet. Any idea when PCI-e 2.0 cards are coming out? With this winter’s refresh or much later?
In any case its starting to look like its going to make sense to just stick with the P35. Considering that the x38 boards cost at least $100 more right now worst case I can upgrade the motherboard next year once it matters. Although to be realistic, by that time its usually not worth upgrading the motherboard without upgrading all the other components too…