Starting with the layout, the GA-8SRX is designed for the hardcore user with a 1/6/1 (AGP/PCI/Riser) expansion configuration. Supporting a full AGP 2x 4x slot, ANY AGP video card can be used on this baby without fears of frying the chipset. A CNR slot is present for OEM use; it is clear Gigabyte is still trying to cater to the OEM sector, doesn't hurt to try. Hard Disk and Floppy Disk connectors are well placed away from the PCI slots to allow use of full size AGP and PCI peripherals. DIMM slots are clear of the AGP card and its unique retention mechanism so you can install and remove the DIMM modules without having to remove the AGP card.
Kicking things along is the tried and true SiS 645 AGPset. This baby gives us DDR SDRAM support for up to 3GB, six PCI masters, AGP 4x control, and is the very first chipset available to market to support the DDR-333 memory standards. While VIA and Ali move towards their DDR-333 designs, SiS has jumped straight into this market and have proven to be a success. SiS has released two revisions of the SiS 645 Northbridge; A1 and A2. The A2 supports faster memory design architecture, but this board is only equipped with A1.
Accompanying the 645 Northbridge is the 961 Southbridge that gives us ATA-33/66/100 IDE support, two USB controllers supporting three ports per controller (6 in total) and our usual AC'97 and MC'97 codec devices.
Feature wise, the GA-8SRX isn't as feature packed as some of their other boards, but the included ones are well thought out.
First off we have the Creative SoundBlaster PCI128 Audio controller chip built onto the motherboard. Gigabyte has recently been listening to what hardcore gamers, the value market and mid-range users want and all have said removal of AC'97 audio. Well we have seen this done by a select few now and Gigabyte has listened very well. The SoundBlaster PCI128 is a rather inexpensive audio controller chip. This chip itself supports 4.1 speaker systems, but the connectors and the drivers have been designed to only allow 2-channel. CMI 8738 has 6ch speaker support and is often utilized. This audio chip would have been better, but for effort, I give Gigabyte a 9 out of 10 for the removal of AC'97 audio.
Next, we have Dual BIOS. Dual BIOS was first used by Gigabyte back in the BX chipset stage. The Gigabyte BX2000 was the first to implement this feature and has evolved and grown since then.
Dual BIOS is basically having two BIOS chips built onto the motherboard. One contains the main Flash upgradeable BIOS code for future BIOS released and the other is a permanent read-only BIOS image that is used in case of bad Flashes, using the wrong BIOS chip or a virus in the BIOS. How it works is pretty simple. If the Primary BIOS does not operate due to one of five major incidents that the backup BIOS is programmed for, the Backup BIOS is used to boot the PC to an operating state. From there, you can enter the BIOS and then use the Dual BIOS utility to re-Flash the main BIOS with the backup BIOS image file. This will then restore the system to a state where you can boot into your Operating System, get a copy of the new BIOS image and re-Flash the BIOS.
Overclocking and the others that make this board an overclocker.
This board is one of THE most flexible motherboards I have ever seen. BIOS control of the clocking features is simple, easy to set up, and most of all allows for the best overclock over every component.
First off we have the FSB. Changeable from 100 MHz all the way to 200 MHz in 1 MHz increments, you have no shortage of settings. Next, Gigabyte has memory bus speeds. Depending on your FSB, you have up to eight different settings due to a special clock generator tied directly into the memory bus. This allows you to run your memory at even 200 MHz with the FSB at 100 MHz. How good is that???
Next up is the AGP bus speed. Same as the memory; you have up to six different settings depending on your FSB. This allows you to get your AGP bus speed down to a reasonably normal level if you happen to use cards like GeForce3 and GeForce4 that really can't handle much above 70 MHz AGP bus. PCI bus is the same as AGP bus, but has only four settings depending on the FSB clock. Again this is to get the PCI clock down to a reasonably normal level when pushing extreme FSB speeds. While PCI has shown it can handle more overclocking than AGP, some of the new 3.3v PCI cards like NICs and SB Audigys can't handle PCI speeds above 35MHz at times.
After the speed control comes voltages. Vcore can be changed from 1.1v up to 1.85v in 0.025v increments. DIMM voltage can be 0.3v over standard giving us up to 2.8v on the DDR SDRAM channel. AGP voltage is similar; up to 0.3v over default which gives 1.8v using AGP4x cards and 3.6 using AGP 1x 2x cards.
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