星期一, 4月 19, 2010

Reviewing DFI LANPARTY MI P55-T36 top efficiency Intel ITX platform

Over these several years, seem in my impression that seldom having products of ITX specification appeared on the general consumer market.
The only more sources of ITX product information are probably all from the industrial market or other special use.
But this kind of market situation with ATX/Micro-ATX, has begun to have many changes in the past two years
More and more users begin to be interested in the small-scale computer, and can be found out a clue too;
more and more Micro-ATX products existed in the current market.

A lot of users hope the volume of computer can be smaller and smaller to avoid waste on a limited space;
in addition, people are aware of environmental protection and saving energy in recent years.
We can see more ITX platforms or boards in market recently, but they are base on low chip group product comparatively.
As like Atom or ION, etc., they are selling in the majority by CPU +MB integrated or whole platform of ITX size.
If the user hopes to have a high expanding or a high-end ITX board,
to match CPU with high capacity and efficiency, it is very difficult to go to look for.

DFI is a brand taking industrial products,
but it often sees the listing competition of high-end products on consuming type board at the same time.
DFI begin to put out first waves of Micro-ATX P45 products,
they broke past Micro-ATX impression with entry level or low-end chip two years ago.
They make Micro-ATX become to support to LGA 775 CPU of the latest specification on the general market,
this new product route of DFI that is broken through for one of market really.
Three major board makers follow up the concept of the small size products to design their own high-end Micro-ATX P45 platform after DFI successively.
Hence more Micro-ATX X58/P55 boards and a lot of brands can be chosen on the market.

DFI begins to develop and launch more into high capacity and efficiency of smaller size too after guiding out the trend of Micro-ATX high-end boards.
IP55 products of MINI-ITX specification, it called DFI LANPARTY MI P55-T36 and belong to LANPARTY series,
I believe DFI makes it has outstanding OC ability too.

Let’s see the packaging of the products at first; it is using the brief blue color theme.

Accessories enclosed inside:
User’s manual, Creative X-FI software, CPU cover , MB drive disc , IO shield and cables.

Outward of DFI LANPARTY MI P55-T36

Board size has 17 X 17cm only

1 X PCI-E X16
P55 has no GPU integrated, user must install VGA additionally.
But beneficial like this, even Intel newest 32 nm Clarkdale CPU was matched H55 for integrating GPU,
opposite; sharing usage on memory controller will decrease the performance efficiency.

2 X DIMM DDR3, supports the 1066/1333/1600 (OC), maximum DDR3 capacity can be supported to 8GB
I5 750 is used to 133/1333 ratio, if change into CPU of i7 860 or higher, can establish to 133/1600 ratio.
3X Black SATAII, supports RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 0+1 and RAID 5 (P55 chip is offered)
Debug code LED build, make user easy Debug systematic state

On left of the mother-board
Near to LGA 1156 CPU socket area
MI P55 uses 4 phase PWM design for CPU Vcore, each1 phase standalone power supply VTT and GPU.

Design of Mosfet and IC materials nearly.

Installing Intel Core i5-750 and CORSAIR DDR3 2000 2GBX2
5 X USB 2.0
1 X eSATA/USB 2.0 (Pwer eSATA)
1 X S/PDIF fiber/ coaxial output
1 X RJ-45
1 X Clear CMOS button

MI P55 solder-side, we can see the words of LANPARTY

Realtek ALC885 Audio chip supports 7.1 channels and High Definition Audio technology.
The software engineering that has contained Creative X-Fi technology.

User has more difficult to choose, should be some of matching of case.
Most of ITX case have equipped with a PSU, user should not need to look for PSU again in addition. But,
due to this is the platform of P55, it will be more steady to choose PSU above 150~200W to match with.
The one that I used is SEED ITX Case product, the market price is about around 1400 of Taiwan dollars; comparatively belong to the choice of the par.

The model name of SEED product is SQUARE
Above is a 3.5 inch DVD-ROM and below for Power button, earphone hole, Mic and 2 x USB 2.0 port.

Inside the ITX Case, there is a systematic fan which encloses a 8 X 8cm that is increased scattered heat for system.

Appearance of finishing installing the whole platform
I have not put PC for a long time either ...I did out case test that used to.

Regarding the design for VGA card area, length that can be installed an entry level, and high is quite enough for all kind of display cards use.

Seems I am not installing IO shelf board in the photo.
Yes, there is no fault! I finished the DVD RW mounting and just find that I omit installing here ...Please give a strong imagination by oneself. 

BIOS picture
Main adjusted page of Over-Clocking and timing items.

CPU feature items

Voltage page
DFI own “O.C. Shut Down Free” technology, it needn't cut out AC power to start the machine again when setup a reasonable range for OC.
CPU Voltage 1.0000~1.2500V
“Power Saving” at “Standard” that is turn off “CPU Vdroop”, if at”Advance” that it will match Intel requirement to low down Vcore generally.
Super VID at “ON” whether EIST/C1E can lock Vcore when starting, it will keep voltage level which selected in BIOS.
CPU VTT Voltage +0.05~+0.697V
DRAM Voltage 1.20~2.60V

If CPU/DRAMCOMP selects open, it cans higher about 1~5 MHz stability in accordance with physique of CPU.

DDR3 detail parameters page

BIOS items of ITX MB should be less as like as Notebook.
Without too much selecting, only a few basic items can be chosen.
DFI combines own LANPARTY style, let BIOS selections as edition of DK P55 ATX abundantly.
But, due to it is a ITX platform, DFI limit 1.25V maximum for CPU Vcore and 170MHz maximum for BCLK.
Such adjustment is for preventing if system was damaged by over-heat or too much power consumption is occurred to against PWM design when over-clocking too much.

Test platform
CPU: Intel Core i5-750 ES
VGA: Nvidia Geforce 6200
HD: Seagate 7200.10 320GB
Cooler: Intel Cooler
OS: Windows7 Ultimate 64bit

OS application software of DFI
The top of picture is EZ-Flash and it is for upgrading BIOS use
Below is EZ-Tuner, DFI combines many applications to mix together in function.
Dynamic PWM page can be detected CPU output / input the voltage, electric current and watt dynamically.
It can see every phase current of Mosfet array and working temperature too.

EZ-Tuner has other three functions.
Clock Generator; Adjust CPU BCLK and PCIE working speed easily.
Smart Guardian; It is the monitoring tool which DFI use for a long time
Profile Setting; it has three kinds of settlement value to offer users use.

Default efficiency
CPU 132.7 X 20 =>2654MHz
DRAM DDR3 1329.4 CL7 7-7-21 1T
If “TurboBoost technology” is opened, the multiplier will be changed by CPU utilization,
For example, if rate of utilization is 1~2 CPU cores, maximum is BCLK X 24 times =>3184.8MHz
if rate of utilization is 3~4 CPU cores, maximum is BCLK X 21 times=>2786.7MHz
Hyper 4 X PI 32M=> 14m 07.766s
CPUMARK 99 =>488

Nuclearus Multi Core =>17398
Fritz Chess Benchmark =>17.05/8184

CrystalMark 2004R3 =>158257

1 CPU =>4380
x CPU =>14049

PCMark Vantage =>6096

The default performance of MI ITX is outstanding and other ITX platform can not approach it in now.
Especially, Core i5-750 has 4 Cores and pushes the performance of ITX to new field.
I have tested DTX platform before, it needs to use CPU and DRAM of Notebook.
In general, if you like to build on a ITX/DTX platform which equipped a 4 Cores CPU, you must spend a lot of money and more than 5 times of MI P55.

Over-clocking performance
CPU 170 X 19 =>3230.2MHz
DRAM DDR3 1700 CL7 7-7-21 1T
TurboBoost.C1E function is closed

Hyper 4 X PI 32M=> 11m 58.719s
CPUMARK 99 =>499

Nuclearus Multi Core =>19902
Fritz Chess Benchmark =>19.81/9510

CrystalMark 2004R3 =>188265

1 CPU =>4559
x CPU =>16392

PCMark Vantage =>6968

If I put high to 3189MHz from 2654MHz at the CPU speed, CPU efficiency has 10~15% increasing about around.
But, CPUMARK just add 1 from 488 become to 499,
that is because original design of CPUMARK has required a single core to perform test only, the score of CPUMARK is not big difference.
Due to I use Box’s cooler of Intel, I can't over clocking too higher either.
Otherwise, if under full-speed operation, it is very possible to gain a CPU temperature more than 90C degrees.

DRAM performance test
DRAM DDR3 1328.4 CL7 7-7-21 1T
Sandra Memory Bandwidth - 15552 MB/s
EVEREST Memory Read - 16598 MB/s

DRAM DDR3 1700 CL7 7-7-21 1T
Sandra Memory Bandwidth - 21325 MB/s
EVEREST Memory Read - 16404 MB/s

Intel newest Core i5/i7 CPU built in with DDR3 Memory Controller inside;
it has a lot of times on memory performance even higher more than other 945 and G45 ITX platform.
MI P55 is not needed like most ITX platforms which needs to match DRAM of SO-DIMM either.
SO-DIMM has higher price and lower performance if compare to DIMM.

Power consumption test
Default settings:
CPUZ at 3184.8MHz, single core used
Idle mode - 50W

CPUZ at 2786.7MHz, 4 cores used
Full loading mode-134W

Default settings, CPU voltage is reduced to 1.0875V
CPUZ at 3184.8MHz, single core used
Idle mode - 50W

CPUZ at 2786.7MHz, 4 cores used
Full loading mode-115W

CPU voltage establishes in 1.0875V, there is no much difference on power consumption under idle mode that is because;
AUTO CPU Vcore is the dynamic control from 0.9V to 1.25 which depends on CPU utilization,
and at idle mode, it’s real working Vcore will be lower than 1.0875V.
But we can find out that 1.25V and 1.0875V power consumption are 19W difference at full speed.

Over clocking status
CPUZ at 3230.2MHz, single core used
Idle mode - 80W

CPUZ at 3230.2MHz, 4 cores used
Full loading mode-142W

This power consumption is higher after OC obviously, especially in full-speed operation; power consumption will reach peaking value.
I have tried OC up to about 3.3.~ 4GHz too, the power consumption reaches 170~185W,
though PSU of the150W is still strong enough to support, but because temperature has already reached more than 90C degrees. Hence,
I do not recommend making an extreme OC on ITX platform if there is not built with a high-end cooler.

1. Packaging and color theme of box are looking good
2. Seldom OC BIOS for ITX platform which provided a range voltage and CPU base clock and setting items are plentiful.  
3. Though BIOS is range limited on BCLK, but its OC ability is quite good enough for the ITX platform.
4. Digit PWM designed for CPU power source.
5. Base on the Intel P55 Chipset which increased performance a lot of ITX platform

1. Less market agents of DFI, users are not easy to buy the products of DFI
2. Less ITX Case/PSU that can be matched with ITX boards now.  

Performance      ★★★★★★★★★★
Materials          ★★★★★★★★★☆
Specification       ★★★★★★★★★☆
Appearance        ★★★★★★★★☆☆
Cost / Performance  ★★★★★★★★★☆

I have contrasted the ITX platform products on the market at the same time too.
Most of ITX boards are base on Intel Atom series or required Notebook CPU/DRAM additionally.
Except, performance is not enough as we expected, moreover users need to spend more money to build their own ITX platform.
Products price is we take notice of most that is what I believed.

DFI LANPARTY MI P55-T36 market price about 141 U.S. dollars.
The price is almost similar or even cheaper if we compared with other maker’s ITX products which based on 945, 965,
AMD or VIA chipset, so C/P is worth getting higher in my review.
MI P55 ITX board is one of highest performance and worth choice for user who likes to build a ITX PC to use at car or to be a Media -Center at living room.

DFI combines consume design and industrial size again to create new MI product line of LANPARTY series.
It is really put into a shake and light in consumer market; let most users have chance to build their own machine smaller than Micro-ATX.
And it equips LANPARTY Genie BIOS and OC style, MI P55 gets rid of the traditional impression that ITX can only be used steadily under the default speed.

DFI LANPARTY MI P55-T36 market's prices that make people surprised.
In the past, even an elementary ITX MB which base on a chip group is very old, it was sold to high price.
For newer ITX industrial specification of G45 chip boards are often about 40000 dollars as well.
A par price, high-level materials and design of MI P55, really benefit for users who loved small machine a lot and performance required.

There is a little bit regrettable that DFI promoted ATX and MINI-ITX two P55 platforms only, lack Micro-ATX one.

If DFI can promote the edition of H55 again in the future, I believed DFI can make a plentiful and completed for MI product line,
moreover user gains more opportunities to choice smaller size boards.