The future for Intel 's P965 chipset is a bright one,
particularly with Core 2 Duo processors finally rolling out the door (actually,
physically so). Aside from PCI Express x16 videocard support, the Intel P965
chipset leads with a 1066 MHz front side bus, a new 12.8GB/s 'Fast Memory
Access' memory controller, and a few other technologies we'll touch upon
momentarily. Released in tandem with the Intel 975 chipset, the more economical
965 core logic is likely to be the real favourite of the show with most
As PCSTATS embarks upon the review you've come for, the
Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 motherboard, it's worthwhile to note that little has
changed since Asus and Gigabyte merged. Both Gigabyte
and ASUS will maintain
separate product lines, but the motherboard manufacturer is now among the
largest in the world. The only direct competition left comes from the industry
which aside from its own brand of
motherboards figures into just about every single motherboard produced at some
level.... but that's another story.
motherboard offers a good mix of performance and value for the Intel Pentium D or Core 2 Duo
microprocessor. The board itself retails for a reasonable price of $156 CDN
($140 US, £75 GBP) with scant little in terms of bundled in accessories.
The GA-965P-DS3 is made for Intel's remarkably proficient Core 2 Duo processor
series, and for the purposes of this review PCSTATS will be testing it with
an Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 CPU - the sweetheart of the bunch for its 2.4GHz clock
speed and 4MB of L2 Cache.
Featuring Intel's P965 Express northbridge and ICH8
southbridge chipsets, the Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 motherboard supports all Socket
775 processors from the flagship Core 2 Duo/Extreme to the Pentium D/4 and Celeron D. Either 1006MHz Front Side
Bus or 800MHz FSB is the number to remember, but it will also accept 533MHz FSB
chips if you're really strapped for a chip. The ATX motherboard's four DDR2
memory slots accommodate a maximum of 8GB of DDR2-533/667/800 RAM, and unofficially at
least it also works with DDR2-1066 memory modules. There are a few integrated
devices outside of the standard collection associated with the P965 Express chipset;
such as an IDE controller, 7.1 channel Azalia High Definition Audio and a
10/1000 Gigabit network card.
The Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 motherboard features three PCI
Express x1, three 32 bit PCI slots, and a single PCI
Express x16 slot for graphics cards. The variety of expansion devices will
make it easy to build a computer that fits your requirements, without forcing
the total abandonment of PCI cards from an existing system being upgraded, for
As for external devices, the GA-965P-DS3 motherboard has
four USB 2.0 slots on the rear I/O and there are headers for an additional six
slots by the bottom PCI slot. It's a bit odd, but there are only four 3GB/s
Serial ATA II channels associated with the ICH8 Southbridge, two additional
slots (in purple) and the lone IDE channel (green) are linked with the on board
'Gigabyte 3GB/s Serial ATA II controller.' Ultimately, that results in a
platform capable of supporting six SATA 2.0 hard drives, and two IDE devices.
The Gigabyte SATAII ports also include RAID 0, 1 and JBOD capability.
A floppy drive connector and 24-pin ATX power connector round out the list of jacks on the
motherboard itself, while at the rear I/O we also find optical SP/DIF and
coaxial audio outputs among the usual assortment of USB, parallel, COM, RJ-45
GbE network and 7-channel audio jacks.
Marketing Reliability with
Solid Capacitors in place of the Electrolytic variety
One of the oddest aspects of the Gigabyte
GA-965P-DS3 is promoted all over the front of the box. I would have never
thought that the type of electrical capacitors used on a motherboard could sway
the average consumer looking to build a PC, but obviously I've underestimated just how
tech savvy consumers have become.
Gigabyte proudly state that the GA-965P-DS3 uses only
"higher quality solid capacitors" instead of standard electrolyte capacitors.
Remember that recurring problem with burst electrolytic capacitors which blossomed into a
full blown epidemic a few years back? Well it evidently, burst and leaking
capacitors continue to be a problem for the industry.
The Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 uses Chemi-con conductive
polymer aluminum solid capacitors of the kind pictured at left. These are the
same type of capacitors mostly found on videocards, or in the CPU's power supply
circuitry. The gist of the situation is that Gigabyte have produced a
motherboard with only this kind of capacitor, because it is supposed to improve
overall stability of the motherboard as well as its longevity.
Being a solid device, the physical conditions which
caused poor quality electrolytic capacitors to fail and burst after 3 years is a
non-issue. If you'd like to read up on the back story of espionage that led to
the whole problem of burst and leaking caps, see this PCSTATS article.
Moving on, the Intel P965 Express and ICH8 chipsets are discussed next...