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8-Way nVidia nForce 2 Motherboard Roundup

By: Cameron Johnson | NVIDIA Chipset in Motherboards | Posted: Jul 3, 2003 4:00 am

Features of the Gigabyte GA-7NNXP


Board and Layout



Gigabyte's previous offerings for the AMD Athlon platform have been very exciting with great features and fantastic overclocking abilities. The 7NNXP is the first nForce2 motherboard to come out of the Gigabyte doors. Using a blue, full sized ATX motherboard coming in at 305 x 244 mm; it is no bigger than the other boards we have seen in this roundup. Expansion slots include a single AGP slot for AGP 4x and 8x with five PCI slots for add-on peripherals if you can find anything else to add which this motherboard does not already offer.


Layout wise, the Gigabyte board is one of the best of the roundup. The placement of the IDE and FDD connectors are behind the four DIMM sockets, that's right four. Gigabyte has gone with four sockets to maximise the amount of RAM you can use in Dual Channel mode, and they are colour coded to tell you which are Channel 1 and which are Channel 2 - just like Intel Canterwood and Springdale based motherboards.


The power connector is located behind the FDD connector, well out of the way of any of the CPU area resulting in good ventilation around the CPU area giving us something to tell the folks back home.


Chipset Usage



For their first motherboard with the nForce2 chipset, Gigabyte has gone straight to the top and used the SPP-400 and the MCP-T chipsets allowing for 400MHz FSB support along with the many impressive features that the MCP-T supports.


Added to the already impressive line up of features, this is the only motherboard in our roundup to include two network controllers.





Gigabyte first introduced the 6 Dual Miracle system on the 8INXP motherboard, and some of these features have been ported into the 7NNXP. First off for Serial ATA support the ever popular Silicon Image SATAlink RAID controller is added for the inclusion of two Serial ATA ports.



The second part of the Dual RAID is the ITE GigaRAID controller. This is a standard two port IDE RAID controller for those who have IDE RAID drives and don't want to give them up. Good consideration Gigabyte!


Firewire and Dual Ethernet



What kind of manufacturer would you be if you neglected to use the features that the south bridge provides? Gigabyte certainly isn't going to have to worry about answering that question. The Realtek RTL8801 PHY is included to give a total of three Firewire ports for your system via an external expansion bracket, two 6 pin and one 4 pin guarantees compatibility with all Firewire devices currently on the market.



As stated, this motherboard has two Ethernet controllers but not both are supplied by the MCP - the first Ethernet controller is the nVidia 10/100 MAC with the Realtek RTL8001BL PHY and the second is the Intel PCI Gigabit Ethernet controller that has been used on quite a few of the past Gigabyte motherboard giving 10/100/1000 Ethernet control over standard CAT5E cabling.


Dual Power



The Dual Power system first also appeared on the 8INXP. This introduced a riser card with three phase power circuit. With the existing three directly supported on the motherboard, when this card is inserted, a six phase power circuit is created to stabilise the power delivered to the CPU and aid in overclocking with stable voltages.


External Serial ATA?



Another feature we have seen in the past is the Internal to External Serial ATA adapter card which allows you to connect Serial ATA drives up external to the system for hot swapping which is a great idea indeed. Included are all the cables and instructions needed to make it happen.


Overclocking - We have a winner!


Overclocking on the 7NNXP was bar none, one of the best setups available. Under the Frequency / Voltage control menu are all the options you will need to overclock the system. FSB adjustments are adjustable from 100MHz to 300MHz in 1MHz increments.


CPU voltage is adjustable from 1.3v up to 1.8v in 0.025v increments. DRAM voltage is adjustable from 2.5v up to 2.8v in 0.1v increments. AGP voltage can be adjusted from 1.5v up to 1.7v in 0.1v increments.


AGP/PCI divider locks are available to keep the PCI and AGP within their specified bus speeds allowing a much more stable overclock.


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