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Battle of the i845 Titans; MSI -vs- Soyo -vs- Gigabyte

By: Cameron Johnson | Socket LGA 775 in Motherboards | Posted: May 1, 2002 4:00 am

Features of the Gigabyte GA-8IRXP


While we have previously reviewed the board and you could easily go straight to the review, we thought we would give you all a refresher on this board. Also, please note that we used the latest BIOS on this board to resolve overclocking issues (some boards refuse to POST after setting Vcore above 1.8v)


The Board



Here we see the board in its entirety; very neat, colorful and packed with features.



Here we have the layout. It uses a 1 AGP, 6PCI, 0 Riser slot layout. This is considered the default for hardcore users who want the extra PCI slot over the rather useless OEM risers.



First on the list of features is the Promise RAID controller. This controller chip is identical to the one used on the MSI board. On this board you only have the option or RAID, you can't set it back to ATA-133 IDE controller mode, so you are stuck with RAID only. This controller is able to be disabled in BIOS should you not require it.



Next on the list of features is a USB 2.0 controller provided by the NEC USB2.0 controller chip, and is also identical in design to that used on the MSI board. The two orange headers are for the USB 2.0 controller bracket to be attached.



Like MSI, Gigabyte have decided to do away with AC'97 on their top of the line P4 i845 board. But unlike MSI, Gigabyte decided to go with Creative's Ensoniq class chip based on the SB PCI128 controller, but cut down to only support a two-speaker configuration. It is far inferior in comparison to the MSI's onboard sound.



This feature has put Gigabyte at the top of "Safe Computing" for the end user; Dual BIOS. Basically how this works is there are two BIOS chips located on the board. One for the Main read/write upgradeable BIOS and the READ ONLY BIOS containing a backup image. Should the main BIOS become infected with a virus, or the end user Flashes the BIOS with the wrong code, the backup BIOS automatically boots up and allows you to Flash the main BIOS with the image from the backup. This restores the system to a somewhat working order so that you can go online, download the right BIOS for the board you have and re-Flash the main BIOS to an updated working order.


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