Intel SkullTrail Preview – Dual Core 2 Extreme QX9775 Processors

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A Closer Look At Skulltrail

Intel Skulltrail D5400XS motherboard

The Intel D5400XS I/O backplane configuration is actually very interesting as there are no legacy connectors to be found, but it does have six USB ports, dual eSATA ports, single Firewire and Gigabit Ethernet jacks, and analog and digital HD audio inputs / outputs. This goes nicely with the six internal SATA ports, IDE port, and headers for additional USB and Firewire ports. When it comes to I/O, the D5400XS only lets those with legacy connectors down.

Intel Skulltrail D5400XS motherboard

The Intel ESB2 (enterprise south bridge) chip and pair of NVIDIA nForce 100 chips usually hide under the large low-profile heatsink and fan, but we took that off so you can see what is going on here. The heatsink does not interfere with graphics cards as we tried with several GeForce 8800 models and ATI Radeon 3870 X2′s and all worked just fine. The cooling fan shroud was held together with double-sided tape and the corners popped off after the first time the system got warm, so a metal shroud might be needed if a revision is made to the board. (some of the popping off shroud can be seen in the image above) The fan that is used is also too loud and was by far louder than running a pair of GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB video cards in SLI at full load.

Intel Skulltrail D5400XS motherboard

Here are the pair of NVIDIA nForce 100 chips sitting just below the four blue PCI Express lanes that they control.

Intel Skulltrail D5400XS motherboard

The Intel ESB2 (enterprise south bridge) chipset.

Intel Skulltrail D5400XS motherboard

The Intel 5400 north bridge is passively cooled, but just for fun we took that heatsink off also.The Intel 5400 is a workstation chipset that features an FB-DIMM DDR2 memory controller for 667MHz and 800MHz memory kits. The Intel 5400 MCH is also communicates directly with the two NVIDIA nForce 100 chipsets to connect the four PCI Express 1.0 x16 slots together.

Intel Skulltrail D5400XS motherboard

The Intel 5400 ‘Seaburg’ Memory Controller Hub (MCH) is huge and dwarfs not only the processors, but a quarter as well.

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