We first took a look at Intel's P35 Express chipset back in May, when it was released into the wild to supplant the still relatively youthful P965 and usher in the era of DDR3 memory and 1333MHz FSB Intel processors. The P965 is a tough act to follow. Despite its intended mid-range market placement, Intel didn't hamper the P965 in any way except for the lack of official Crossfire support. With its excellent feature set and good performance, the P965 presented an excellent value and became many people's first choice for all of their single-GPU needs. For the P35, Intel has wisely chosen not to change the formula. Actually, the P35 Express is an even better value than the P965 was with its official support for 1333MHz FSB processors, DDR3, as well as the yet to be seen 45nm next generation of Intel processors.
Besides 1333MHz FSB and DDR3 support, the P35 Express also improves upon the P965 in a number of other areas. One of the biggest improvements in terms of performance is thanks to a newly tweaked memory controller which produced good results in our initial look at the P35. Thanks to its use of the new ICH9 south bridge, the P35 is also able to improve upon the P965 in terms of available features, as you can see in the chipset diagram below.
We have looked at quite a few P965 boards in the past in several reviews and two motherboard comparisons (1, 2) and it's now the P35's turn to
the same treatment. In our initial look at the P35 Express, we used an ASUS P5K3 Deluxe as our guinea pig. We didn't get a chance to take an in-depth look at the P5K3 Deluxe at that time since we wanted to focus on exploring the new features of Bearlake and DDR3, but we did promise we'd take a better look at it and we're not about to break our word. However, we've decided to make things a bit more interesting and instead of a standalone article, we've decided to pit another P35 Express based board up against the P5K3 Deluxe.
Luckily, there are plenty of contenders to choose from. Despite being just a couple months old, the P35 already has very good representation in the retail market, with a
large selection of P35 based boards available at a wide range of prices. The P5K3 Deluxe is positioned as a premium product, with a price tag to match, weighing in at about $250. We've decided to match it up against another heavy weight, the Gigabyte GA-P35T-DQ6, weighing in at $240. Both of these boards represent the best that the P35 Express chipset has to offer and then some. Both boards
DDR3 and they both go above and beyond the P35 specs, each with a couple of extra tricks up their sleeves. First we'll take a detailed look at each of the boards and then we'll introduce them to our test bench for a look at performance.