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Gigabyte GA-K8NXP-9 - nForce4 And 1394b

Board Revision: n/a

BIOS Version: F1

The GA-K8NXP-9 stands out visually due to its bright colors, but more noteworthy is the grand total of eight Serial-ATA ports: four from the nForce4 Ultra, and four from a Sil3114 controller from Silicon Image.

Penny-pinching is not evident elsewhere on the board, either: Gigabyte's DualBIOS is back again, as is a Gigabit network connection and the 100 MBit interface of the nForce4 chipset. The sound system is AC97-compliant, and USB fetishists can run up to six additional ports from the case using adapter cables (four ports are useable). Not one but two FireWire chips are on board: one for 1394a and a second for the 800 Mbit/s 1394b.

Only three PCI slots are available, but for that the user gets an A1 state-of-the-art PCI Express board with an x16 connection for the graphics cards and two x1 connectors for additional hardware.

This Gigabyte board also features the company's own DPS (Dual Power System), which houses additional voltage converters on a small sub-board that is inserted in the free blue slot. Even though the six-phase system does not run nearly as efficiently as high-end four-phase systems, it nonetheless provides for an optimal power supply to the CPU.

We were highly annoyed by the fact that Gigabyte sent us a board with a BIOS version that could not be coaxed into running slower than 202.9 MHz, meaning it's already 1.5% overclocked when it leaves the factory. Loading the latest version of the BIOS from the Gigabyte website finally allowed us to record a HyperTransport speed of 200.9 MHz. That's still too high, but it's within bounds.

In the end, this board placed among the top third in the benchmarks. Unfortunately, this test board was not delivered with the mobo's whole standard package, so we cannot comment on it fully.