Features of the 8TRS300M
- Package and Contents
Gigabyte has moved its ATI line into a new red box, as red is the symbol colour for ATI. It won't be hard to miss this motherboard in the shops with the large ATI logo on the box.
Inside the box you get your standard bundle. This motherboard is aimed at the budget/integrated PC, thus only a very small bundle is included. Simply put you get yourself a motherboard, user manual, driver CD, two IDE and one FDD cable. There are no SATA cables or additional power cables as this motherboard does not have SATA.
- Layout and Features
Being aimed at the all-in-one and integrated market, the 8TRS300M is built on a Micro-ATX form factor. This form is based on the size requirements of the old AT style, making them very compact but still adding all the requirements for the PC'99 specifications including LAN and onboard sound. The motherboard features one AGP slot supporting rev 3.0 specifications for AGP 4x or 8x cards only (2x or below is not supported). Three PCI slots are included for adding SATA controllers and various other devices - be careful as with only three PCI slots you can run out of space very quickly.
On the layout of the components, Gigabyte has continued to place its 4 pin power connector between the Northbridge and I/O plate. This puts the 4 pin power connector cables across the CPU heatsink which is really the only problem we see. DIMM slots are colour coded for easy reorganisation of the two separate channels as is the AGP slot in the new green colour for the rev 3.0.
At the very heart of the motherboard is ATI's Radeon 9100IGP. This is the first chipset from ATI designed for the desktop and integrated platform. Designed to be the nForce 2 for the Pentium 4, ATI has set itself a huge task by supporting 800MHz FSB with Dual Channel DDR-400 memory support.
Added to this is the Radeon 9200SE video core which has proven to be a very powerful budget 3D card, especially with full DX8.1 support as opposed to the DX7 support from its major contender, namely the I865G. The 9100IGP uses the same SMA (or Shared Memory Architecture) for allocating memory for the video card. Within the BIOS you can set the amount of memory the onboard video can use from 8MB up to 128MB. Using Dual Channel DDR-400, you have up to 6.4GB/s memory bandwidth for the video card to chew up which is more than any other video card has been given to play with.
The Southbridge is ATI's first Southbridge, the IXP200. This is a basic Southbridge by today's standards, in fact slightly behind the times, though this is set to change with the newest version due from ATI soon. The IXP200 supports a Dual Channel IDE array for up to 4 ATA-100 IDE drives. Added to this is a 3Com 10/100 Ethernet controller chip and AC'97 audio controller for up to 5.1 audio channels. The only major things lacking are support for Serial ATA and RAID functions, which should come soon.
Despite the addition of the 3Com Ethernet controller to the Southbridge, Gigabyte have totally bypassed this and gone straight for the tried and true Realtek Ethernet chip. The RTL8100C is the latest revision of the RTL8xxx family.
As for overclocking, this motherboard includes only one overclocking feature, FSB. There are no voltage adjustments, making it totally irrelevant for overclocking enthusiasts.
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