It’s no secret that we haven’t exactly had great love for Intel’s motherboards of late. Heck, we once openly wondered why the hell Intel even bothered to make enthusiast boards anymore.
Intel’s LGA1156 DP55KG, aka Kingsberg, board doesn’t erase all of our misgivings, but it does make us think that Intel is at least trying rather than phoning it in.
Take the SATA-port placement. Most enthusiast boards use forward-facing SATA ports to get around today’s honking-big graphics cards. But Intel’s X48 and X58 boards had all SATA ports pointing straight up. It was as though Intel was in denial over the size and importance of today’s GPUs. The DP55KG finally remedies that flaw by aiming all eight SATA ports forward. Want more proof that Intel is learning? The DP55KG even includes an Intel-branded SLI bridge—something we thought we’d never see.
Other nice enthusiast touches include a surface-mounted power-on switch and a decorative skull backlit by blue LEDs. Even cooler, the skull’s eyes are lit by red LEDs that indicate drive access. We also like the PCI-E slots Intel selected. The slot size corresponds to the signaling, so you can easily figure out that the x4 slot is x4, and the x8 is x8. Those same slots, however, also accept a full-length physical x16 card. Most boards use full-length x16 physical slots with x4 or x8 electrical plumbing, which leaves you guessing about which is which.
Intel's top P55 board features a backlit LED skull with red glowing eyes
On the other hand, Intel could have borrowed a trick from Asus on its RAM slots. The P7P55D Deluxe board that we reviewed last issue featured one-sided DIMM slots to let you remove memory without having to pull the GPU. The DP55KG RAM slots are so close that you’ll have to yank the GPU if you want to mess with the RAM. A couple of the fan headers are also poorly placed, but the physical layout of the board is fairly clean and well thought out. Intel even includes an embedded Bluetooth module and external antenna. We’re not sure why, but free is free, right?
One area where we found the DP55KG wanting is in auto-overclocking. While the Asus P755D Deluxe would auto-overclock our Core i7-860 to a very stable 3.87GHz, and the Gigabyte GA-P55-UD6 would auto-overclock to the 3.5GHz range, the Intel board took us to an unstable 3.67GHz when we set the Desktop Control Center to “beyond manufacturers limits.” We did manage to get a stable 3.3GHz overclock on a second run, but the “extreme” setting led us to an overnight session that just failed in the end. Mind you, the same CPU and cooler was used in the Asus board that went to 3.87GHz. Overall, we were unimpressed. Manual overclocking will yield far better results.
In performance, the DP55KG was mostly comparable to the Gigabyte and Asus boards, although slightly slower. However, we continued to see inexplicably wacky results among all three boards in our gaming benchmarks. With the exact same videocard, GPU drivers, and game versions, the boards’ frame rates were all over the map. As we’ve said before, we think the discrepancies are the result of the Turbo Boost in Core i7 processors, which jacks clocks up or down based on load, thermals, and power consumption. In loads that hit all cores, the results were predictable, but in lightly threaded loads, such as gaming, the results can be baffling.
In the end, Intel’s DP55KG is still a lot like its predecessors: a stable and conservative mobo for those who trust the Intel name. There’s a lot to be said for that, as Intel’s qualification and engineering is the envy of the industry. But if you’re looking for a true enthusiast board, there are better ones out there.
Easy-to-understand PCI-E slots and that cool-ass skull.
RAM slots too close to GPU; auto-overclocking underwhelms.
PCMark Vantage 64-bit Overall
Everest Ultimate MEM Read (MB/s)
Everest Ultimate MEM Write (MB/s)
Everest Ultimate MEM Copy (MB/s)
Everest Ultimate MEM Latency (ns)
Sisoft Sandra RAM Bandwidth (GB/s)
3DMark Vantage Overall
3DMark Vantage GPU
3DMark Vantage CPU
Valve Particle Test (fps)
Crysis CPU (fps)
Resident Evil 5 fixed DX9 (fps)
World in Conflict (fps)
Best scores are bold. We tested both motherboards using a Core i7-870, 4GB of DDR3/1333 Corsair DRAM, an EVGA GeForce GTX 280, a Western Digital Raptor 150GB, and 64-bit Windows Vista Home Premium.