Package and Contents
Now we have gotten the little bit of info we have on the X38 out of the way, it's time to start on the Gigabyte board. First off we wanted to state to you that this is a Retail Version of the Gigabyte X38-DQ6 and not an engineering sample board which Anandtech and a few others have posted about. This board is retail shipping with the latest retail BIOS meaning it has been tweaked, allowing for more performance than the results that have been posted by some other sites. Gigabyte's packaging hasn't changed for the DQ6 series, a rather large double sized box is used. The X38-DQ6 logo is printed on the front.
Turning over to the back of the box we have a colour photo of the board as well as a bit of info on the features and some marketing hype. The picture is rather small, but we won't criticise Gigabyte as they have at least put a picture of the board there. Though you won't really need it, why?
This is why! When you open the front flap of the box you get quite a good shot of the board inside its protective plastic blister that it is encased in. Gigabyte has certainly done a good job, even on the inside of the cover flap there is more info on the board as well as more hype about its all-solid capacitor design which we will state is a much better system than the old Electrolyte capacitors.
The software and documentation bundle is more than adequate. You get a full user manual which explains the board in full detail as well as a quick install sheet if you're not into knowing all the in's and out's of the board. It gives you header locations as well as orientations so you can plug your case switches up and go for gold.
Gigabyte hasn't gone to any lengths to put e.SATA ports on the board but rather done it in a somewhat cheaper way. While it's cheaper, it does do the job and just as well. Rather than putting ports on the rear I/O panel, Gigabyte puts two e.SATA ports and an external power port onto a PCI Bracket cover, these then plug into any free SATA ports on the board. You get two of the brackets giving you a total of four e.SATA ports. If you're only after two you can just use one bracket. If you're more into internal storage you can use all the board's SATA ports inside without having to use any e.SATA. Boards with dedicated e.SATA ports on the rear steal either two of the ICH9R's SATA ports or the JMicron SATA/PATA controller one. Gigabyte's way gives you eight ports in total, if you want to use e.SATA you can but if not you can use them all internally, it's just that simple.
In order to use the e.SATA cables Gigabyte has given you two e.SATA to standard SATA cables and a molex extension to SATA power cable. Unfortunately no e.SATA to e.SATA cables are provided, so if you have an e.SATA enclosure you need to get a cable with e.SATA at both ends. If you want to have your normal SATA drives external to the case, this is just fine to use these cables.
For your internal cables you get four SATA cables to connect to four of the total eight SATA ports. If you want to use all the ports internally, you're going to need to buy some more. If you want to use the e.SATA, there is enough here. A FDD and IDE cable make up the last of the parallel data cables, and it won't be long now before we see FDD and IDE totally off the boards now that SATA ATAPI devices are popping up quite regularly.