Gigabyte's Dual Quad boards are a thing of beauty. Their layout is excellent and the general all over feel just seems right. The board is a full sized 30x24cm ATX design on a 6-layer PCB for the best thermal and electrical profile possible. You will find the 24 -pin power and the FDD port at the top right of the board behind the four DDR-2 memory slots, Gigabyte has gone for DDR-2 on the first P35-DQ6, but do not be surprised if later in 2007 we see a DQ6 version with DDR-3 memory.
The 4/8-pin combo power port is located up on the top left of the board behind the parallel port, just between it and the heat pipe, this guarantees that the cables will not interfere with the CPU cooling.
Around the CPU there are no tall capacitors as this board has gone for a solid copper capacitor design, allowing for more efficient and smaller components to be used. The CPU gets its power from a total of 12-phases running in parallel, 4x3-phases, it is defiantly more than enough to keep any Intel CPU happy with power.
Another interesting thing is the evolved silent pipe cooling design that cools the southbridge, northbridge and CPU voltage MOSFETs. The back of the board has a large heatsink designed to take as much heat away from the back of the CPU area as possible while cooling the back of the northbridge at the same time.
Gigabyte has slightly changed its rear I/O port layout, but not by a huge amount. There is still a single serial and parallel port, PS2 ports, USB, S/PDIF and Firewire along with the 8-channel audio ports for the Azalia onboard audio codec.
Since the P35 has been given the all clear for Crossfire support, like the P965 DQ6, the P35 version comes equipped with two PCI Express x16 slots, one coloured blue and one orange. The blue slot is a full speed x16 slot and does not change at all, it is routed though the PCI Express bus on the northbridge. The orange slot runs at PCI Express x4 speed as long as no other PCIe cards go into any other onboard PCIe slot. This orange slot uses up four out of the six PCI Express lanes on the ICH9R and is run by a PCI Express switch, if you place a expansion card into one of the other two PCI Express x1 slots on board, the orange slot will reduce speed to x2.
Two PCI Express x1 slots are there if you wish to use them but doing so will reduce the orange PCIe x16 slot's speed if you are running Crossfire. Lastly two PCI slots are included for 32-bit legacy support.
Because the ICH9R, like the ICH8 series southbridge does not support a native IDE port (thanks Intel, but perhaps it was a bit too soon to remove IDE all together) Gigabyte has placed a JMicron two port SATA and single port PATA controller chip onboard and run it off one of the free PCI Express x1 lanes available. The Purple SATA ports belong to the Jmicron controller, while the six orange ones belong to the ICH9R.
Also Intel no longer places a LAN controller onto its southbridge or northbridge like it used to and now relies on PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet. A Marvell Yukon single port Gigabit LAN controller is provided for this function. Lastly there is a Texas Instruments two port Firewire controller chip running off the PCI bus to give you Firewire support on the board.
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