IntroductionIntroductionWhile the nVidia nForce 4 Intel Edition SLI isn't the newest chipset on the market, it's now a more affordable solution, thanks to the introduction of the nForce 4 SLI x16 chipset as the high performance model. This now gives motherboard makers the option of using the older chipset to make a cheaper Intel nForce 4 based motherboard. Recently we took a look at the 8N-SLI Quad Royal from Gigabyte, the flagship of the nForce 4 Intel SLI line with four PCI Express x16 ports for Quad SLI. While this does look and sound interesting, it's not really practical as a full features SLI setup, as there are limited expansion options. When Quad SLI makes its market debut, this motherboard will shine, but for now we need a mainstream board to handle the more sane hardware enthusiasts out there and this is it.Today we take a look at the Gigabyte 8N-SLI Royal - maybe the next best thing to a Quad Royal? Let's have a look and see what's on offer.
SpecificationsSpecifications of the Gigabyte 8N-SLI RoyalCPUSupports Intel Pentium 4 500 - 600 Series LGA775Supports Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition LGA 775Supports Intel Pentium D 800 Series LGA775Supports Intel Celeron D 300 Series LGA775ChipsetnVidia nForce 4 Intel Edition SLInForce 4 CK19 NorthbridgenForce 4 MCP04 SouthbridgeHypertransport @ 800Mhz.System Memory4 DDR-2 SDRAM 240pin DIMM SocketsSupports DDR2-400, 533, 66764/128Bit Dual ChannelSupports up to 8GB Total Memory (4x 2GB)Bus Frequency133/200/266MHz Internal533/800/1066MHz ExternalNetburst Micro ArchitectureExpansion Slots2 PCI Express x162 PCI Express x12 PCIConnectivity3 Parallel ATA port supporting 6 IDE Drives6 Serial ATA ports2 Gigabit Ethernet PortsExpansion Ports1 PS2 Keyboard Port1 PS2 Mouse Port8 USB 2.0 Ports (4 rear accessible, 4 via expansion bracket)1 Serial Ports 1 Parallel Port1 RCA SPDIF Output Port1 Toslink SPDIF Output6 Stereo Audio Ports
The MotherboardThe Motherboard
The Motherboard ContinuedThe Motherboard Continued
Firewire is now a common place standard, used for DV Camera, External Storage enclosures and even Apple Ipod's, its good to see it added to this board. A two chip Texas Instruments PCI based Firewire controller is added, the larger chip is used to provide Firewire-400 support, while the smaller chip is used to give the controller Firewire-800 support.
OverclockingOverclockingNow to the overclocking side of the equation.The 8N-SLI Royal is setup as one of Gigabyte's mainstream boards with quite a few overclocking options inside. In terms of the features, it's almost a mirror layout of the 8N-SLI Quad Royal with a few voltage changes. Some of the descriptions in this section will be the same as the 8N-SLI Quad Royal review, as some of the settings are exactly the same.First is CPU Ratio control. For Pentium Extreme Edition CPU owners this is where you will change the multiplier as this is one of the benefits of spending a lot of cash on a processor.On all of Gigabyte's top model boards is the C.I.A.2 automatic overclocking feature. In the C.I.A.2 setup you have Cruise, Sports, Racing, Turbo and Full Thrust options, which overclock the CPU to a set percentage when the load on the CPU is 100% for 10 or more seconds. You can disable this to overclock the FSB manually.FSB turbo mode is used to keep the FSB from fluctuating when under load; this option should be disabled for manual overclocking, as it tends to cause instability in the system.System Clock mode is where you start to manipulate memory and FSB speeds. There are three options here. Optimal prevents any changes by the user. Linked mode keeps the memory clock and FSB linked, so any FSB increases overclocks the memory. In Expert mode, the FSB and memory clocks work asynchronously; this means you can input any FSB speed and the memory will stay at the specified speed the user inputs. And vice versa, if you want to overclock the RAM and not the FSB, you simply change the RAM speed and the FSB remains the same.In order to get to the voltage settings you need access the Advanced Voltage Control sub-menu of the M.I.T menu. The first setting is the CPU voltage. You can adjust the voltage range from 1.0v up to 1.75v in 0.0125v increments. This allows you to use Presler, Prescott, Smithfield and Gallatin cores and give them all a pretty good voltage boost for your overclocking needs.Next is DIMM voltage. This has been a pretty sore point in Gigabyte's past, as they simply haven't given enough voltage in order to overclock to extremes. The 8N-SLI Royal breaks this rule. You can adjust from default voltage up to a max of +0.55v in 0.05v increments. In real world voltage this means you can go from DDR-2's default of 1.8v up to 2.35v, not the highest we have seen, but for quite a few DDR-2 modules out there on the market, it's more than enough. OCZ memory is rated to 2.2v DDR-2 and still warranted, so this board gives just that bit extra for headroom.Next is the Northbridge voltage. This is used in order to stabilise the Northbridge, PCI Express x1 ports and the first two PCI Express x16 ports when overclocking. You can set it from default up to +0.55v in 0.05v increments. This gives from 1.5v up to a max of 2.05v.Following the Northbridge voltage is - you guessed it - Southbridge voltage. This is also used to stabilise the Southbridge. You can raise the voltage from default up to a max of +0.55v in 0.05v increments. This gives you the same as the Northbridge, 1.5v up to 20.5v.Front Side Bus Overvoltage is next on the list. This one is used to give the Netburst bus an extra voltage jump when overclocking. You can adjust the FSB Overvoltage from its default up to a max of +0.175v in 0.025v increments. This means you get from 1.2v up to 1.35v.Lastly in voltage there is the SATA-II Overvolt. This gives extra power to the SATA bus when overclocking it. You can adjust this from default to a max of +0.3v. We aren't sure of its default voltage, so we can't give a readout on what the final voltage is.There is one final sub-menu in the Gigabyte M.I.T setup. This is called the Advanced Frequency Control Menu. Here there are two extra options. First is the PCIe Frequency control. You can set the PCIe Frequency from 100MHz to a maximum of 200MHz in 1MHz increments. PCIe buses are extremely sensitive to overclocking and cause the most instability in overclocked situations. PCIe is known to fail at even 7% overclocks. Best idea is to leave it at 100MHz to keep all PCIe devices at stock speeds.The final option is the LDT Frequency. AMD users will know this setting; it is used to control Hyper Transport multipliers. Now a lot of people might ask why there is an AMD Hyper Transport used on the Intel system. Hyper Transport is used to interconnect the North and Southbridges. They are clocked using the exact same setup as the AMD Athlon 64 CPU to External Northbridge at 800MHz, 600MHz and so on. This gives the most robust and fastest interconnect speed of any chipset out there on the market. Under this menu you have the ability to change the multiplier from 1x up to 5x. This gives you a 1600MT/s connection between to the two chipsets.With this setup we placed a Pentium D 840 into the system to test the overclocking ability. We managed 313MHz with 1.45v CPU, 2V DIMM, 1:1 RAM ratio, and all other voltages stock - a pretty good effort for sure.
Benchmarks - Test System Setup and SandraTest System SetupProcessor: Intel Pentium D 840 (800MHz FSB) (Supplied by Intel)Memory: 2x 512MB Corsair DDR2-800Hard Disk: 2x Seagate 7200.9 RAID 0 (Supplied by Seagate)Graphics Card: ATI Radeon X800XT Platinum (Supplied by ASUS)Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP SP2SiSoft SandraVersion and / or Patch Used: 2005 SR3aDeveloper Homepage: http://www.sisoftware.co.ukProduct Homepage: http://sisoftware.jaggedonline.com/index.php?location=home&a=TTA&lang=enBuy It Here
Benchmarks - PCMarkPCMarkVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.3.0Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/pcmark04/Buy It Here
Benchmarks - 3DMark Series3DMark03Version and / or Patch Used: Build 360Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark03/Buy It Here
Benchmarks - Doom 3Doom 3Version and / or Patch Used: UnpatchedTimedemo or Level Used: Custom TimedemoDeveloper Homepage: http://www.idsoftware.com Product Homepage: http://www.doom3.comBuy It Here
Benchmarks - Half Life 2Half Life 2Version and / or Patch Used: Unpatched Timedemo or Level Used: Custom TimedemoDeveloper Homepage: http://www.valvesoftware.com Product Homepage: http://www.half-life2.comBuy It Here
Benchmarks - Battlefield 2Battlefield 2Version and / or Patch Used: 1.12Timedemo or Level Used: Guru3D DemoDeveloper Homepage: http://global.dice.se/Product Homepage: http://www.eagames.com/official/battlefield/battlefield2/us/home.jspBuy It Here
Final ThoughtsFinal ThoughtsIt is clear that there is little difference in terms of performance between the Intel 955X and nVidia nForce 4 SLI chipsets for the Intel platform. While the nForce 4 has a slightly better memory controller, in the real world it isn't going to give you much.The one thing that nForce 4 has over the Intel chipset is SLI. No third party chipset has any SLI support, and nVidia has no intentions of allowing this to happen. While Intel and ULI have put in chipsets for SLI qualification, it's clear that there is no urgency to have them passed by nVidia - especially for ULI, now they are under nVidia's power.Gigabyte's interpretation of this chipset is very clean and fast with a great deal put into the features of the board, as well as putting the time and effort in for the overclockers as well.Overall we found the board to be a good performer with great futures for the enthusiast market who simply want a more rounded setup than the 8N SLI Quad Royal.- ProsSLI supportGood overclocking optionsFirewire-800 ReadyAdditional RAID controllerDual Ethernet- ConsOnly two PCI Express x8 slots rather than two x16 slotsNeed to use a SLI selector paddle- Latest Pricing Rating - 8.5 out of 10
Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:26 pm CDT
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