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Market Survey, Part 2: Six Premium Pentium 4 LGA775 Boards

Gigabyte GA-8AENXP-DW (Intel 925XE)

An impressive sight: The GA-8AENXP-DW from Gigabyte offers connections for a total of 14 drives.

Board revision: 1.0

BIOS version: F2b

The 8AENXP-DW is the first of two Gigabyte boards we were sent for the test, and probably the best-equipped P4 board to ever enter our lab. Gigabyte utilizes all chipset features including SATA, RAID, and high-definition audio, but that's not all. A Silicon Image chip contributes another four SATA connections, and the PDC20779 from Promise another two SATA II ports plus an UltraATA/133 channel. A 108 MBit WLAN module with high-quality antenna, two FireWire/1394b ports and two PCIe GbE chips are all thrown into the mix as well. Any questions?

The components' specifications can be found on the Gigabyte website. Gigabyte is the only manufacturer thus far to provide SATA cables that are SATA II-compliant and have a locking mechanism.

DPS is the name of the additional power converter module that Gigabyte has used for a few years now. The four-phase regulator thus expands into an eight-phase model with this board. This idea is good, but the efficiency of the regulators deployed is less than that of other boards. Also, you shouldn't pay too much attention to the extravagant design of the cooler located on the DPS module.

In contrast to other models, the WLAN module is able to work at up to 108 MBit/s thanks to channel bundling. Even though this nominal bandwidth is really not achievable in practice, the real-world WLAN transmission rate does go up noticeably with the right access point. The feed cable for the antenna is 1.5 m long, and the magnetic stand can be tilted by up to 90°. If you felt like trying you could probably improve the signal quality that way.

As far as overclocking goes, Gigabyte is also at the head of the pack. Unlocking the x14 multiplier with P4 CPUs 3.6 GHz and faster can be done with no problem. This board starts an FSB800 processor slightly overclocked with a real bus clock speed of 201 MHz, using only conservative CL4 timings despite our fast memory modules. By hitting CTRL+F1 in the BIOS, a sub-menu pops up with all performance-related options. The choice of CL3 timings however required increasing the DDR2 voltage up to at least 2.0 volts.

Gigabyte GA-8AENXP-DW (Rev. 1.0)
PlatformSockel LGA775
NorthbridgeIntel 925XE
SouthbridgeIntel ICH6R
BIOSF2b (01/06/2005)
MemoryDDRII-333 to 800
Interfaces
Connectorsonboard/panel
USB 2.04 / 4
IEEE1394/Firewirenone / 2
Serial COM Portnone / optinal
Parallel LPT Port1 / none
Gamenone / none
LAN2 / none
WLAN1 / none
SATA10 / none
Audio analog8 / none
Audio digital2 / none
Connectorsonboard only
PCIe 16x1
PCIe 1x2
PCI3
IDE (PATA)2 (4 channels)
Fan 4 pins (CPU)1
Fan 3 pins (System)2
Mass Storage Controller
ICH6R2x IDE (ATA100)4x SATA (RAID 0,1,0+1)
Silicon Image SiL3114CT4x SATA (RAID 0,1,0+1,5)
Promise PDC207792x SATAII (RAID 0,1,0+1)
LAN
Marvell 88E053 PCIe1x 1 Gbit/s LAN
Marvell 88E053 PCIe1x 1 Gbit/s LAN
Atheros AR2414Super G 108 Mbit b/g
Audio
Realtek ALC880 7.1AC97 (HD-Audio)
IEEE1394/Firewire
TI TSB82AA22x 1394b (800 Mbit/s)
Clock Setting in BIOSMeasurement
200.0 MHz (FSB800)201.0 MHz (+0.50 %)
266.6 MHz (FSB1066)266.7 MHz (+0.50 %)
SPD Memory Timing RecognitionTiming Result
FSB800 settingCL 3.0-3-3-6
FSB1066 settingCL 3.0-3-3-6