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Big Business: 18 P4 boards In Price / Performance Face-Off

Gigabyte GA-8S648FX

Board Revision: 1.0

BIOS Version: M01 (May 21, 2003)

Gigabyte is the only manufacturer here that does not rely on chipsets from Intel or VIA. The 8S648FX is based on a SiS648FX chipset, which supports FSB800 as well as DDR400. The latter is responsible for helping this board achieve the best score in the SYSmark 2002 Content Creation Benchmark and Comanche 4. In other disciplines it gains good mid-table results.

To keep the price competitive, the manufacturer has kept features to a minimum. A sound system is included, but it offers minimal features. The Realtek network controller is, unfortunately, an optional extra.

There are five PCI slots, AGP 8X, three DIMM slots, and an uncluttered layout. The PCI slots accept full-length expansion cards. All connectors are positioned close to the edge as far as is possible. There are also color-coded connectors everywhere. On the downside, the purpose of the Northbridge fan is dubious.

This board comes with a good selection of bundled components: in addition to ribbon cables, a good user manual, and a USB adapter cable for two ports, Gigabyte supplies Norton Internet Security from Symantec on the driver CD. This bundles an antivirus program with a personal firewall - particularly useful at the moment when W32.Blaster is making the rounds.

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