Intel's 865/875 Superior Performance Song Remains the Same

Gigabyte GA-8KNXP

BIOS Version: M2T

The 8KNXP is one of those candidates that's out to break the record for features and extra goodies. The basics are certainly all there: in addition to the two ports on the ICH5R, there's also a Silicon Image Sil3112 offering two more SATA connections. Not content with that, an IDE RAID controller from Gigabyte gives you yet another two UltraATA/133 channels. You also get a Gigabit Ethernet chip from Intel, connected via CSA, and a well-equipped AC97 sound system. Last but not least there are two FireWire ports and the proprietary DualBIOS.

It also comes standard with a small board that can be used to run two SATA ports outside of the case. While there won't be a standard for external Serial-ATA devices until the final SATA-I specification comes out, this solution is certainly clever.

The 8KNXP is one of only a few boards that let the SPD EPROM on our DIMMs really strut its stuff. The board runs with our 3.4 GHz CPU at a standard 3,434 MHz; with the standard setting with earlier BIOS versions we achieved an outrageous 3,448 MHz. The 3,434 value applies for both auto and manual FSB settings at 200 MHz. Switching to 201, 199, 198 or 195 MHz is completely useless. Unfortunately, we have to give Gigabyte a big thumbs down here - even after two weeks they were still unable or unwilling to provide us with a BIOS that did not overclock the system by default.

The Northbridge fan can be easily removed from the heat sink, which in our test posed no problems whatsoever. Only in the case of extreme overclocking should the fan be reinstalled - otherwise it just makes unnecessary noise. This is important, especially considering another source of irritation in the system: the fan that Gigabyte has attached to the voltage converter of the DPS (Dual Power System). It lets the manufacturer arrive at a 6 phase power supply system.