Intel DG35EC: G35 mainstream mATX board

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FINAL THOUGHTS

There has been hardly any alternatives to Intel integrated graphics chip for socket 775 boards. nVidia is the only one with any alternatives, and their efforts are half-hearted at best. Many of the nVidia-based socket 775 boards are semi-crippled with single channel memory controllers and only two memory slots. For high definition playback, GMA X3500 performs similarly to nVIdia's Geforce 7 series IGPs. Its 3D performance is poor in comparison with HD3200 in AMD's G780 chipset. Still it's better than Geforce 7, with its dated core architecture.

We expected the DG35EC's BIOS to be locked down, but we did not anticipate the poorer power consumption. Though based on the same chipset as the Asus P5E-VM HDMI, the board's power consumption was higher all around. It is, by a small margin, the most power hungry LGA775 mATX board we've tested, though to be fair, we've only tested a handful.

The board's saving grace its fan control capabilities. The automatic fan control system is simple, keeping the chassis fans at low speeds while ramping up the CPU fan in response to CPU temperature linearly after a certain target temperature is reached. However, it cannot be customized to suit particular needs. A third party software like SpeedFan is needed to control all three fan headers to your liking.

Overall, the Intel DG35EC is a classic Intel board more suited for business rather than home use. We were impressed by its fan control ability and the effective cooling. While it does a decent job with high definition playback, it lacks the outputs that would make it desirable for the multimedia center applications expected of home PCs these days — HDMI, S/PDIF. These omissions, higher power consumption and lack of undervolting/underclocking options prevent us from giving the DG335EC a clear-cut recommendation. Intel's newest integrated chipsets, G43 and G45, have been recently released. How much real-world improvement these new chipsets provide is unknown, but if Intel's promo is accurate, the G35's sun may have already set.

PROS

* Good HD playback
* 3 Controllable fan headers
* Components stay cool
* Cheap... for an Intel board



CONS

* BIOS locked down (no voltage & frequency control)
* Slightly high power consumption
* Lacks HDMI, S/PDIF
* Poor 3D performance
* G43/G45 now available

Our thanks to Intel for the DG35EC sample.

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