The Intel 955X Chipset and Cooling

The 955X Chipset

As I mentioned on the previous page, the move from single core to dual core processors on the Intel side of the camp requires a change in chipset as well.  From Intel, we get the 955X chipset, which is really a minor upgrade over the existing 925XE chipsets.

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What changes does this new chipset bring to the table?  First off, the 955X now supports DDR2-667 memory which now takes away one of the NVIDIA nForce4 Intel Editions high points.  In our testing the processor was running on a FSB of 800 MHz and so the added memory bandwidth of 667 MHz DDR2 didn’t seem to affect things dramatically.  We were able to run at 667 MHz with our Corsair DDR2 memory at 4-4-4-14 very easily and found that to be the best performance option for our test bed.

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Other than that, the only other changes come in the form of added RAID 5 support and an upgrade in the memory controller to support up to 8 GB of system memory.  The board does have a good feature set, including the addition of 4 more SATA channels courtesy of the Silicon Image 3114 chip.

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Wait, maybe there was one other change…?

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The inclusion of two PCI Express x16 connectors?!  At first this was a pretty exciting feature until I read the papers telling me it was only a x4 PCIe connection.  From the looks of it though, it is possible that Intel is going to be creeping into the SLI ring very soon — who knows maybe their chipset will be able to support BOTH NVIDIA’s and ATI’s options?  That would be a hell of a sale.

I did have a few quirks with the board.  Sometimes the board wouldn’t enter the BIOS menu when hitting the F2 button during boot up like it should.  Also, when it was booting, my KVM switch would always move one position to the right (i.e. the screen would switch) after the POST screens, forcing me to move it back over every time I restarted the system.  Finally, the multiplier adjustemets that were included didn’t seem to be working with my processor.

Cooling

With the new processor, Intel has included a new heatsink that looks remarkably similar to the old one.

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Old P4XE 3.73 heatsink on the left, new PXE 840 heatsink on the right

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Old P4XE 3.73 heatsink on the left, new PXE 840 heatsink on the right

What we see on the new heatsink is an enlargement of the copper bottom on the heatsink and more surface area thanks to the more numerous, slightly thinner fins.  It is however, a bit shorter.  The heatsink did get hot to the touch during our testing, registering temperatures of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit on our infrared thermometer.

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