Intel DG33TL G33 Express chipset mATX motherboard

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TEST RESULTS

Power Consumption & CPU Usage
Test State
Mean CPU Usage
Peak CPU Usage
(Either Core)
System Power (AC)
Core 0 / 1
Average
Off
N/A
N/A
N/A
2W
Sleep (S3)
N/A
N/A
N/A
3W
Idle
0%
0%
0%
52W
720p H.264
18% / 11%
14.5%
44%
~55W
1080p H.264
15% / 35%
25.0%
60%
~58W
WMV3 VC-1
32% / 25%
28.5%
60%
~58W
WVC1 VC-1
51% / 53%
52.0%
79%
~71W
Prime95
100%
100%
100%
96W

Impressively, the system plowed through the video tests with ease. CPU usage remained under 50% for the majority of playback. The most stressful video, the WVC1 clip caused CPU usage to peak at 79% on Core 1 — still plenty of headroom for even more complex decompression. It may be that the Core 2 Duos are simply very efficient at decoding high definition videos. We would have liked to lower the CPU speed to see what effect it would have had on our test results, but due to the Orwellian BIOS, this just wasn't possible.

Comparison: System Power Consumption (AC)
Test State
M2A-VM +
X2 BE-2400+
DG33TL + C2D E6400
Idle
35W
52W
720p H.264
~52W
~55W
1080p H.264
~57W
~58W
WMV3 VC-1
~58W
~58W
WVC1 VC-1
~65W
~71W
CPUBurn / Prime95
84W
96W

The last motherboard we reviewed, the Asus M2A-VM HDMI paired with a X2 BE-2400+ processor, idled at only 35W, a difference of 17W, so the overall power consumption during idle on this platform was quite a bit higher. When you take into account that the Intel E6400 processor has a TDP of 65W compared to 45W for the AMD BE-2400+, it isn't surprising. During video playback however, power consumption, the Intel setup managed to close the gap, with only a 6W difference during the WVC1 clip.

As expected, the massive northbridge heatsink stayed lukewarm throughout testing, but the southbridge heatsink was definitely put to task, getting very hot to the touch. This isn't too surprising as most passive chipset coolers we've seen in the past heat up just as much.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Intel DG33TL has a good set of features including eSATA, which is usually found on premium boards. Power consumption is relatively low and high definition playback was surprisingly excellent — the best we've seen so far for integrated graphics. It has an enormous northbridge heatsink and a well-designed, low-profile southbridge heatsink. Everything it does, it does well. You could even turn it into a gaming rig by tossing on a good 3D graphics card but...

...with a stripped down BIOS, and atrocious fan control, it's hard for us to recommend it to either gamers or silent PC users. Not to get too metaphysical, but the board lacks personality — it simply has no soul. There's no doubt it is a good performer, but throughout the review we never felt excited playing with it as there were no points of intrigue or interesting features that made it stand out. The DG33TL (along with the majority of Intel boards) is more suitable for business or workstation environments, where no tinkering is expected where it simply has to work, and absolutely nothing else. You could toss on a gaming graphics card and turn it The price also makes it one of the most expensive mATX boards. For $120 we would like HDMI to be included seeing as there are AMD 690G and nVidia-based Geforce 7150 motherboards with HDMI retailing for $30~50 less.

It's a shame but the DG33TL could have been so much more — the design of the board is great and physically it has almost everything in needs to be a champion. Sadly, it takes itself so seriously that it makes it hard for us to appreciate it. In the end, the DG33TL is a robot, a grunt, a simple but extremely effective soldier. Welcome to Sparta.

PROS

* Impressive set of features (including eSATA)
* Excellent high definition playback
* Low power consumption
* Large northbridge heatsink
CONS

* BIOS is locked down tight
* Severely limited fan control
(that requires a PWM fan)
* High price
* Lacks HDMI

Our thanks to Intel for this motherboard sample.

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AOpen i945GTt-VFA m-ITX C2D motherboard

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