Packaging and Layout
Gigabyte has gone all out on the package and its contents this time. Placed in a gold, blue and white box with a fold open flap, it gives you some basic information on the board's features. This box is one that will not go un-noticed on the shelves. Unpacked, you get your motherboard, users manual, driver CD, Sub/Centre/SPDIF audio bracket, USB 2.0 four port bracket, Internal to External Serial ATA bracket as well as your standard floppy disk cables.
Layout wise, the 8INXP looks like just about any other high end motherboard that Gigabyte has released in the past. Using a 1/5/0 (AGP/PCI/Riser) slot combination, you might criticize Gigabyte for not adding an extra PCI slot. With just about everything onboard, you don't need that many PCI slots.
Placement of the power connectors is partly well thought out. The 20 pin ATX connector is placed on the upper right of the motherboard, behind the DIMM slots. The four pin connector is located between the power regulators and the CPU socket, meaning you have to drape the power cable across the CPU area, reducing the air flow around the HSF unit.
IDE connectors and FDD connector are very well placed. The FDD connector is located behind the 20 pin ATX connector, so this board is great if you have one of those cases with a high placed FDD access - In all a reasonably good layout.
E7205 - The new Era in Pentium 4 Processing
Powering the new Gigabyte motherboard as we stated before is the Intel E7205 chipset. This new chipset brings AGP 8x as well as Dual Channel DDR memory to the Intel Pentium 4 Platform. Originally intended for workstation use, it's not being used for high end motherboards. With support for overclocking as well as high bandwidth memory does make it an attractive feature for the high end users.
Coupled with the ICH4, you get yourself the same ATA-100 IDE, USB.20 and AC'97 audio controller as what has been used on the I845, G, PE and GE motherboards.
Dual RAID and BIOS
If you thought a single RAID system was overkill, this will make you think double - literally. Gigabyte has given you a single Promise ATA-133 IDE RAID controller and a Silicone Image Serial ATA RAID Controller. In all you can run up to six extra Hard Disks on this system. Why we say six is that Serial ATA can only access one device per Serial channel, there are two serial channels giving two Hard Disks access on the Serial ATA system. The Promise system is a standard IDE system which allows for four IDE devices. This gives in total 10 ports. Silicone Image supports Serial ATA to IDE converter so you can run standard IDE drives on the Serial ATA controller, though none of the converters are supplied.
Dual BIOS is one of those features we have seen before, but if this is your first TweakTown review you have read, let me give you a bit of info on this technology. Dual BIOS acts as a backup of your system BIOS. You have a Main BIOS chip (which is used to boot the system) and a backup chip (this stores a read only backup BIOS). The Backup BIOS is activated if the main BIOS becomes corrupted in anyway if you get a virus in the BIOS or bad flash your BIOS (i.e. the power fails during a flash attempt or you use the wrong BIOS file).