The Gigabyte GA-965P-DQ6 motherboard has a
healthy dose of enthusiast friendly features like multiple eSATA ports, a unique
motherboard heatsink to cool the underside of the PCB, and even a
totally silent chipset cooling system. A full compliment of solid state
capacitors work to ensure this board will still be functioning
years down the road, and not blown and leaking electrolytic fluid.
Built with the workhorse Intel P965 Express and Intel ICH8R chipsets,
GA-965P-DQ6 motherboard is compatible with all Socket 775 processors on the
market; Celeron D, Pentium 4/D/XE and Intel Core 2 Duo/Core 2 Quad. It supports
all Socket 775 processors that operate on a 1066/800/533MHz FSB, and accomodates
up to 8GB of DDR2-800/667/533 memory in a dual channel configuration. The
bare minimum for Microsoft Windows Vista to run smoothly is 1GB, but PCSTATS
recommends starting off with at least 2GB RAM.
Standard equipment includes a PCI Express based Gigabit network connection
(Marvell 8056), three IEEE 1394a Firewire ports, a 7.1 channel High Definition
Azalia Dolby Digital Live certified audio controller and an additional
Serial ATA II/IDE RAID (0,1,0+1) controller. There are eight 3GB/s SATA channels
in total and one IDE channel. Six of those come via the ICH8R Southbridge,
and two via Gigabyte's additional Serial ATA II controller. Expansion is
possible via two PCI Express x16 slots for graphics cards, while high bandwidth
devices install into any of the three PCI Express x1 slots. There are two
32-bit PCI slots for legacy devices.
The Intel P965 Express chipset is compatible with ATI's
CrossFire technology so you can run two ATI videocards for dual 3D game
rendering, the only caveat being that the second PCI Express x16 slot (in
orange) has just 4 PCI Express lanes available to it. These PCIe lanes
are shared with the boards' PCI Express x1 slots. When populated with
a videocard, all three PCI Express x1 slots are disabled.
With a retail price of $235 CDN ($201 US, £102 GBP) the Gigabyte GA-965P-DQ6
motherboard offers a good set of mainstream-to-performance features. There is
some nice gear included along with this board, and we particularly liked the two
sets of eSATA cables and external molex power cables.
The Gigabyte GA-965P-DQ6 is certainly an eye
catcher and it's great to see that the motherboard doesn't have just
a pretty face, the colours actually serve a higher purpose. Each identify a different port,
from which Serial ATA II ports correspond to which controller, to which DIMM slots to occupy
to enable dual channel memory.
The motherboard layout is quite good; the main 24 pin ATX
and floppy connectors are all located to the right of the DIMM slots which keeps
those cables out of the way, and the lone IDE along the very bottom edge set at
90 degrees to the board surface.
Of note at the rear I/O panel are four USB2.0 headers, six jack-sensing audio
jacks, coaxial/optical audio outputs and one FireWire port. Two dual eSATA /
one molex power PCI brackets are included with the Gigabyte GA-965P-DQ6, but oddly not one single IEEE
header or USB header bracket is. There are no less than 3 USB2.0 headers
waiting to be used, one IEEE1394a.
If you plan
on running a high end Intel Core 2 Duo CPU on this platform, we'd advise
you to upgrade your power supply to an ATX2.0 compatible model with an
ESP12V connector. The Gigabyte GA-965P-DQ6 will work with 20-pin power
supplies , but older units are not designed to handle the power requirements of
modern computers with multiple videocards.
A compatible power supply is definitely required if you
plan on running a dual videocard setup, one with at least 30A+ capacity on the
12V line to be specific. This Corsair HX620W PSU is a good option. Alternatively,
the modular cable Seasonic M12 700W, or PC Power & Cooling's monster
Turbo-Cool 510W Express/SLI
are also well suited.
The user manual is well done, providing novice users with enough
guidance to make it through hardware installation. Topics like how to install the power supply,
optical drives and peripherals such as the keyboard, mouse and monitor are explained in
an easy to understand language.
Solid Capacitors in place of the Electrolytic
A significant feature on the Gigabyte GA-965P-DQ6 motherboard is the
manufacturer's decision to equip the board entirely with solid state
capacitors. The box proudly states that the GA-965P-DQ6 uses only "Ultra Durable
All-Solid Capacitors," as opposed to standard electrolyte capacitors.
A few years back there was a huge problem with motherboards suffering
from burst and leaking electrolytic capacitors. This industry-wide
event blossomed into a full blown epidemic, and almost single handily dragged
ABIT's name through the mud. The general consensus was that ABIT boards were
most affected at the time.
The Gigabyte GA-965P-DQ6 uses 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 improves overall
stability of the motherboard in the long term (we're talking 3+ years).
Being a solid device, the physical conditions which caused poor quality
electrolytic capacitors to 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, have a look at this PCSTATS article. It's actually a rather complicated story
of industry espionage...
Solid capacitors are more expensive than regular electrolytic capacitors, and so the GA-965P-DQ6 costs
a little more than an equivalent Intel 965P Express based motherboard.
Next up, PCSTATS investigates Gigabyte's
totally silent chipset and motherboard cooling solutions on the GA-965P-DQ6...