Intel’s Core 2 Duo desktop platform stormed into PC World a year ago, ushering in a new era of cool-running, low-heat and high-performance chips for all.
Since then, it’s largely been the steady introduction of new processor models that’s driven growth, but this month sees the next step in Intel’s roadmap: the launch of the P35 chipset, part of the Bearlake family.
The chipset is compatible with existing LGA 775 processors from the Pentium D upwards, and is ready to accommodate the new Core 2 Duos and Quads when they arrive. It supports 45nm CPUs and a 1,333MHz FSB (front side bus) out of the box, so models such as the forthcoming E6750 and E6850 will be able to take full advantage of this.
To aid the transition to DDR3 memory, Intel has included both a DDR2 and DDR3 controller, so manufacturers have the option of going with either four dedicated slots of one type or two of each (as many did when originally moving to DDR2). In either case, the memory itself is officially limited to a maximum speed of 1,066MHz.
One of the first motherboards to use the chipset, the MSI P35 Platinum, deserves an award for sheer novelty. It isn’t convenient for sitting the CPU cooler, but the network of heat pipes gives it overclocking potential that’s matched by the extensive CPU BIOS options.
It’s still a DDR2 board, but it keeps pace with the Asus in most other regards, only lacking the integrated Wi-Fi and an Ethernet or SATA port here and there. It also has the edge thanks to a more affordable price of £94, so we recommend sticking with a board like the MSI for now.