Four MicroATX Mobos for Core 2

Gigabyte GA-965GM-S2

Motherboard Revision: 1.0
BIOS Version: F2 (October 12, 2006)

The motherboard Gigabyte submitted is called GA-965GM-S2, with S2 standing for the additional Serial ATA controller (six SATA/300 ports total). This MicroATX motherboard is a mainstream product that does not cater to enthusiasts; There are no digital audio outputs nor eSATA connectors and only two fan headers. The voltage regulator is a standard 3-phase model. This allows the GA-965GM-S2 to run all Core 2 Duo processors, but we recommend against installing a quad core CPU or an old 800 series Pentium D.

There are plenty of interfaces, though: Four USB 2.0 ports were placed into the back panel (six more available via expansion cables) together with a Firewire port (two more available via expansion cables), the Gigabit Ethernet network jack, the audio jacks, S-DUB monitor connector and one parallel and a serial port. Only one of the two PCI slots can be used when a high-performance graphics card with dual-slot cooling is installed, but the x1 PCI Express slot will be available at all times.

The placement of the UltraATA/100 header is smarter than what Asus and Foxconn came up with, since it is on the right side of the motherboard, thus very close to where drives would actually be located. Although all pins are labeled properly we missed a color coding of the pin panel. The board is not exactly a bargain at approximately $120, but it is RoHS compliant, and is thus lead-free and somewhat environmentally friendly.