Gigabyte GA-8N-SLI Royal NF4-SLI Intel Edition Motherboard Review
If anything, history has taught us that Intel processors work best when teamed
up with Intel chipsets. A few manufacturers have tried to break this trend, with VIA being the only
relatively successful one, but in general Intel has always dominated
its own chipset market. There are good reasons for this of course; Intel chipsets tend to be
fast and stable from the start; VIA, SiS and ALi have often suffered from 'lower
performance syndrome,' and occassionally even a battalion or two of Intel lawyers.
There's a new player in town though, and nVIDIA's core logic chipset for
the Intel Pentium 4 platform is the 'Crush 19' nVIDIA nForce4-SLI
Intel Edition. Once only an AMD chipset provider, nVIDIA is now firmly supplying
its popular nForce4 chipsets to motherboard makers for both Pentium 4 and Athlon64 processors.
to AMD, when nVIDIA entered that chipset market it was
a little fish ignored by the established barracudas. Now it is arguably a market leader, which begs the question
of whether nVIDIA will have another hit, or face a 'sophmore slump.' Only time will tell, but one thing
is for sure: nVIDIA's nForce4-SLI Intel Edition chipset has forever changed the motherboard
|The new icon for the nVIDIA nForce4-SLI Intel Edition chipset.
To no-one's surprise, as a Tier-one manufacturer,
Gigabyte is one of the first companies to release a 'Crush 19' nForce4-SLI Intel Edition
In this exclusive
review, PCSTATS is benchmarking
Gigabyte's initial offering, the regally named GA-8N-SLI Royal motherboard. Like
AMD-based NF4-SLi boards, this motherboard sports dual PCI Express x16 slots
which can be used singly or together with SLi-compatible nVidia graphics cards.
SLI for the Intel Pentium4 processor has arrived!
The Gigabyte GA-8N-SLI Royal motherboard has all the makings of a
great motherboard. Integrated peripherals include an additional Promise Serial ATA
II/IDE/RAID controller, IEEE 1394b Firewire, two Gigabit NICs, 7.1-channel audio and of
course Gigabyte's trademark dual BIOSes. Also included for good measure is a
Bluetooth wireless USB device. Six SATA II drive connections are
available, and the board can also support six IDE devices. A pair of PCIe
x1 slots provide for future expansion while two more standard 32-bit PCI
slots cover current legacy needs.
Additional MOSFETS for power conditioning are provided
by the Gigabyte GC-U-Plus DPS power bracket that plugs into a slot next to
the processor. This power conditioner uses a heat-pipe solution
with a small copper heat sink to vent waste heat.
||Gigabyte GA-8N-SLI Royal
Users Manual, Driver CD, Hardware
Installation Guide, Eight Serial ATA cables, One Molex Y
Serial ATA Power Cables, Ultra/133 IDE Cables, Floppy Drive
Cable, Serial ATA RAID manual, I/O Bracket, SLI Connector, DPS
Power Bracket, Bluetooth USB Dongle
Gigabyte GA-8N-SLI Royal is quite a busy motherboard in terms of component
layout, but overall things are logically placed
and unobstructive. I especially appreciate
the IDE/floppy and main ATX power connectors being located just to the right of the DIMM
slots. Round back by I/O ports, we find the usual assortment of items, including
an SPDIF optical and RCA output.
|The nVIDIA nForce4-SLI Intel Edition chipset. This particular chipset is an engineering unit.
The amount of peripherals included with the GA-8N-SLI
Royal motherboard is impressive. Gigabyte packs so much in with their
motherboards lately that they have to use a second box to hold some of the
items. Included are six Serial ATA cables as well as brackets for both IEEE
1394b and USB 2.0 headers.
installing a Socket 775 processor is not difficult overall, it's more tricky
than before and Gigabyte does their part to make sure end users don't damage
their hardware. Included are two documents, one from Intel and one from Gigabyte
on how to install the processor properly.
Gigabyte integrates a Promise PDC20779 Serial ATA II/IDE RAID controller onto
the GA-8N-SLI Royal. If you want to run RAID, the PDC20779 supports modes 0 and 1. Unfortunately
the PDC20779 does not have SATAII port multiplier capabilities, but its six SATA headers should
be more than enough.
includes two Gigabit NICs on the GA-8N-SLI Royal motherboard and I'm happy to
report that neither of them run through the PCI bus. The Marvell 88E1111-RCJ has
a direct connection to the MCP04 Ultra Southbridge while the Marvell 88E8053-NNC is
a PCI Express x1 device. It's nice to see manufacturers moving away from the
PCI bus, since with only a total of 133MB/s worth of bandwidth multiple
devices can bottleneck it very quickly.