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)
Platform Sockel LGA775
Northbridge Intel 925XE
Southbridge Intel ICH6R
BIOS F2b (01/06/2005)
Memory DDRII-333 to 800
Connectors onboard/panel
USB 2.0 4 / 4
IEEE1394/Firewire none / 2
Serial COM Port none / optinal
Parallel LPT Port 1 / none
Game none / none
LAN 2 / none
WLAN 1 / none
SATA 10 / none
Audio analog 8 / none
Audio digital 2 / none
Connectors onboard only
PCIe 16x 1
PCIe 1x 2
IDE (PATA) 2 (4 channels)
Fan 4 pins (CPU) 1
Fan 3 pins (System) 2
Mass Storage Controller
ICH6R 2x IDE (ATA100)
4x SATA (RAID 0,1,0+1)
Silicon Image SiL3114CT 4x SATA (RAID 0,1,0+1,5)
Promise PDC20779 2x SATAII (RAID 0,1,0+1)
Marvell 88E053 PCIe 1x 1 Gbit/s LAN
Marvell 88E053 PCIe 1x 1 Gbit/s LAN
Atheros AR2414 Super G 108 Mbit b/g
Realtek ALC880 7.1 AC97 (HD-Audio)
TI TSB82AA2 2x 1394b (800 Mbit/s)
Clock Setting in BIOS Measurement
200.0 MHz (FSB800) 201.0 MHz (+0.50 %)
266.6 MHz (FSB1066) 266.7 MHz (+0.50 %)
SPD Memory Timing Recognition Timing Result
FSB800 setting CL 3.0-3-3-6
FSB1066 setting CL 3.0-3-3-6
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