Shootout at the Core 2 Corral: Seven P965 Motherboards Compared

Gigabyte GA-965P-DQ6: Dressed To Kill

Feature Overview

Gigabyte's GA-965P-DQ6 offers enthusiast-grade enhancements, such as a 12 phase (quad triple) power regulator, Quad BIOS and an IEEE-1394 FireWire controller. It adds to these an extended heat pipe arrangement that cools the ICH8R Southbridge, P965 Northbridge, and all voltage regulator transistors simultaneously, via three large sinks. This is also one of only three P965 boards we received to support a second PCI Express x16 graphics card, via x4 pathways.

An x1 slot above the top x16 slot might be useful for very short cards, but is otherwise blocked by the Northbridge cooler. All three x1 slots share pathways with the x4-equiped secondary x16 slot, so installing a second graphics card there renders them useless. Installing a long graphics card into the second x16 slot will also block one to four of the Serial ATA ports, depending on cooler size, and installation/removal of an Ultra ATA cable will be impossible if a card that long is in place.

Better placement can be found in the 24-pin ATX, front-panel audio, and floppy connectors, which are all within easy reach during a build. The 8-pin ATX12V connector is 4-pin-capable and also appears well placed, but reaching the latch to disconnect it is very difficult, because of its close proximity to the back of the parallel port.

Gigabyte places an additional sink branded "Crazy Cool" on the back side of the board to reduce hotspots under the CPU socket and Northbridge. While this could slightly enhance stability, its utility will vary greatly depending on case design. The downside to "Crazy Cool" is that it blocks the installation of CPU cooler support plates. This means that the installation of most enthusiast-level coolers will require removal of an enthusiast-level feature from this enthusiast-level board.

Gigabyte GA-965P-DQ6
Northbridge Intel P965
Southbridge Intel ICH8R (82801HR)
Voltage Regulator 12 Phases
BIOS F3 (08/11/06)
Clock Generator ICS9LPRS587AGLF
266.6 MHz (FSB1066) 266.6 MHz (+0.00%)
Connectors and Interfaces
onboard 2x PCIe x16 (2nd with x4 pathways)
3x PCIe x1 (shared with 2nd x16 slot)
2x PCI
6x USB 2.0
2x IEEE1394 FireWire
1x Floppy
1x IDE
8x SATA 3.0Gb/s
1x Front Panel Audio
1x S/P-DIF In
1x CD-In
2x Fan 4 pins (CPU, System)
1x Fan 3 pins (Power Supply)
IO panel 2x PS2 (keyboard + mouse)
1x Serial Port
1x Parallel Port
1x Network
4x USB 2.0
1x IEEE1394 FireWire
1x Digital Audio Out (optical+coaxial)
1x 7.1 Channel Audio, Mic-In, Line-In (6 jacks)
Mass Storage Controllers
ICH8R 6x SATA (RAID 0,1,5,10)
Gigabyte SATA2 (JMicron) 1x IDE (ATA133/100/66)
2x SATA 3.0Gb/s (RAID 0, 1, JBOD)
Marvell 88E8053 PCIe 1x 1 Gbit/s LAN
Realtek ALC888 7.1 AC97 or High Definition Audio
Texas Instruments TI 43AB22A 3x 1394a (400 Mbit/s)

The back panel features legacy PS/2, serial and parallel ports, four USB connections, digital audio out via coaxial and optical connectors, a single Gigabit network port, and six analog audio connections supporting 7.1 channels plus microphone and line inputs. While the onboard features are fairly extensive, missing from the GA-965P-DQ6 is the second Gigabit network connection typically expected in this market segment.

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