GA-K8NSNXP nForce3-250Gb Motherboard Review
enthusiasts were caught
off guard when it was discovered that the first crop of Athlon64 chipsets to hit the
streets did not feature AGP/PCI locking. After all, AGP/PCI locking was not a new feature by any
means, and with Intel platforms and the previous generation AMD CPU's supporting
bus locks, there really wasn't
any reason not to continue support on Athlon64
situation is different now that the nVidia nForce3-250 chipset has
been introduced, and once more, things are looking bright for overclockers! The nForce3-250 chipset also addresses
some of the shortcomings of the previous nVidia nForce 3-150; from slower HyperTransport connections, to the
lack of native Gigabit Ethernet support, plus a few other upgrades.
For any consumer interested in a fast
motherboard that is fully featured, pay close attention to the Gigabyte GA-K8NSNXP PCstats is testing today. Based on the nForce3-250Gb chipset, this
Socket 754 Athlon64 motherboard is literally filled to the gills with virtually every
option under the sun. It has onboard native Serial ATA RAID care of the NF3-250Gb chipset, and if
that doesn't satisfy your storage needs, an additionally Silicon Image SiI3512CT128 Serial
ATA RAID controller, for a total of four SATA headers!
GA-K8NSNXP also boasts an onboard IDE RAID controller, IEEE
1394B which handles data at up to 800mb/s, 7.1 channel audio, twin NICs
(one 10/100, and the other a Gigabit LAN), Gigabyte's proprietory Dual Power Supply
system (the big blue slot at right) and of course a pair of backup
||Gigabyte GA-K8NSNXP Motherboard
Users Manual, GigaRAID Manual, Serial ATA
RAID Manual, Quick Installation Guide, Driver CD, 2x Ultra/133
IDE cables, 2x Serial ATA cables, Floppy Drive cable, Serial
ATA power cables, External Serial ATA Bracket, USB Bracket,
USB/IEEE1394b Bracket, Audio Bracket, Rear I/O Shield,
Gigabyte GA-K8NSNXP includes four PCI brackets; one for external serial ATA
connections, one for 8-channel audio, and two more with a host of
USB2.0 and IEEE1394B Firewire jacks. The rear IO section of the board comes with four
USB2.0 jacks, so you really don't even have to install the extra USB2.0 brackets
unless there are simply too many USB devices in your life.
are generally easy to work with, and the GA-K8NSNXP is no different.
The main IDE/Floppy drive and 20-pin ATX power connectors are out of the
way of the other system devices, located just to the right of the three DDR
The auxiliary 4-pin ATX12V connector is near the top of the
motherboard so that cable is pretty much out of the way, and most
of the bracket headers are lined up along the bottom edge of the motherboard
Each type of slot, socket,
connector, and header is colour coded to help make installation a smoother
process for newbies, and a quick installation guide is also included in the box.
There are three fan headers located throughout the board, and the engineers have
even slapped an active cooler onto the nForce3-250Gb.
the industry is gradually moving towards Serial ATA hard drives, there are
still plenty of IDE hard drives floating
around. For that reason, I'm happy to see any board that supports both SATA and IDE
RAID, such as is the case on the GA-K8NSNXP. IDE drives are still so common,
that the only way they are going to be retired is if chipset makers stop supporting
high end boards feature the very clever Dual Power System, which offers better power to
the motherboad components, and some measure of redundancy.
Apparently too, the MOSFETs on this motherboard can handle
up to 150 amperes. The Gigabyte GA-K8NSNXP's Dual Power system is a 6-phase unit,
which reportedly can scale up with CPU's as fast as 10 GHz. I guarantee we won't
be seeing anything that quick, anytime soon, however!
comes to peripherals, USB2.0 offers
more bandwidth than the first generation IEEE 1394a Firewire, but if you're
into multimedia, you'll no doubt cross paths with IEEE 1394b fairly soon. With
a bandwidth of up to 800Mbps,
Firewire "B" offers basically twice the bandwidth of USB2.0 and IEEE1394a -
which makes this a great little add-on for any user involved with extra high
speed external HDD's or digital video cameras!
bracket from the top, at left, has the rectangular IEEE1394b socket. Right next
to it is a standard IEEE 1394a port. The GA-K8NSNXP also comes with a nice audio bracket with an assortment of headphone jacks,
an RCA out, and SPDIF (optical) out.
nForce3-250 chipset itself does not generate as much heat as
previous iterations of the nForce series, we're pleased to find an active cooling solution resting on top none
In terms of the software bundle, the GA-K8NSNXP includes a couple good
choices like Norton Internet Security 2004. There are so many viruses
floating around the internet today that any computer connected to a LAN must have some sort