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Jetway HI08

P67 Motherboard Roundup: Nine $150-200 Boards
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Jetway’s HI-series (officially named “Hummer Studio”) has continuously targeted the performance-value market, offering only those features that gaming enthusiasts want most at the lowest possible price. The HI08 continues that tradition by being the only board in today’s roundup that can hold three double-slot graphics cards within the confines of a standard seven-slot case.

There are still a few gamers out there that love their old PS/2 mice or “clicky” keyboards but far fewer that have both, so Jetway includes a single port on its I/O panel that can host either of these legacy peripherals. A “CLR_CMOS” button is also found in the upper corner to ease recovery from a failed overclock setting.

As with its triple-graphics competitors, the HI08 supports a single graphics card in x16 mode, two graphics cards in x8 mode, or three graphics cards in x8-x8-x4 modes, using automatic switching to shift lanes from the top to the second slot whenever a card in installed there. Yet, fitting all those double-slot cards into a standard case required Jetway to move the bottom slot upward by one position compared to ASRock and Asus. That move forced the middle slot upwards by one position, reducing the space between the top two cards from three slots to two. Reduced airflow to the top card is the price paid for making three cards fit within a standard case, since Jetway didn’t want to crowd the CPU cooler by moving its first x16 slot to the top position.

While we can appreciate Jetway’s design considerations, we would have preferred to see the eight-lane and four-lane x16 slots switched. That’s because an x8-x4-x8 configuration would have allowed extra cooling space in a two-card build. Crossed pathways, induced noise, and costly workarounds are Jetway’s most likely reasons for not implementing our preferred design.

Jetway places the P67 PCH’s two SATA 6Gb/s ports along the HI08’s bottom edge, far enough below the bottom x16-length slot to clear the coolers of most graphics cards. Our only real layout complaint is the bottom-rear corner position of its front-panel audio connector, since it requires a super-long audio cable with most cases. We were also surprised to find a parallel port next to it, though we can’t really complain about Jetway taking advantage of an interface that was freely available from the same I.C. that controls the PS/2 port.

Jetway sent us new images of its revised (retail) packaging and installation kit, including four SATA cables, a manual, an I/O shield, and an SLI bridge. CrossFire users will need to buy cards that include the bridge, but those cards are fairly common.

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