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Gigabyte GA-8NXP-D

If the ABIT board was low on features, the Gigabyte GA-8NXP-D is quite the opposite. This is one of the first boards in Gigabytes new 8 Sigma family – Gigabyte’s new top end, hardcore motherboard range. This is also the first DDR2 board available with six memory slots, although there are limitations on how these can be populated.

Since the chipset is limited to only four double sided modules, you can only use single sided modules if you plan to populate all of the red slots. This in itself is not a bad thing, but it’s not always easy to know if you have single sided modules or not. This is not the first time that Gigabyte has released a motherboard with six memory slots, but the earlier boards had the same issues as this one.

Besides the six memory slots you get eight SATA connectors, four connected to the Intel ICH6R and four to a Silicon Image controller. This allows for two separate RAIDs with four drives in each. There is only a single IDE connector though, which means that this board is not ideal if you’re upgrading your old PC and want to keep your IDE drives.

Next up we get two dual Gigabit Ethernet connectors, one connected via the PCI Express bus and one via the standard PCI bus. The 8 Sigma family of boards also features IEEE 1394b, which is 800Mbit FireWire, although there is only one port on the bracket as well as one for standard FireWire.

Taking a closer look at the I/O panel reveals two PS/2 ports, a single serial and a parallel port, four USB 2.0 ports, the two Ethernet connectors, discrete 7.1-channel audio outputs as well as line in and microphone input and coaxial S/PDIF in and out for the Intel High Definition audio. A further four USB 2.0 ports are provided on separate brackets, with one bracket also sporting the two FireWire ports. Gigabyte also supplies four SATA cables and two SATA power splitters in the box, and single IDE and floppy cables.

As this is a 925X board there are of course PCI Express slots and Gigabyte has gone for a pretty typical setup with one x16 slot and three x1 slots as well as two standard PCI slots. As with all of Gigabytes high-end boards the GA-8NXP-D comes with Dual BIOS which can come in handy if there’s a power cut when you’re upgrading your BIOS.

The packaging of the GA-8NXP-D is unusual as it looks as if the motherboard comes in two boxes. However, the second box contains an 802.11g Wireless PCI card, the U-Plus DPS module and a fan for the chipset heatsink. It might seem odd that the heatsink fan for the chipset is not fitted to the motherboard, but if you’re not planning to overclock your PC, the fan isn’t really needed, so you can run a quieter system.

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