One of the greatest aspects of today's motherboards
is a reliable level of performance across diverse platforms. Motherboard A from one company is bound
to handle within 2% of motherboard B from another manufacturer, provided the chipsets, processor, memory, etc.
remain identical. The Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3R is a good example of a
striped down mainstream motherboard, yet because it's built upon the
versatile Intel P35 Express chipset, it crunches office applications just as well
as enthusiast grade boards. The benefit to you is a
significantly more competitive price point, with just the essential features
you're actually going to use. If you don't overclock, or game more hours than there are in a day, chances are high a mainstream motherboard will service your computer requirements completely.
Naturally motherboards made for the normal masses (you and me in every day
life) lack some of the glitz and glamour of enthusiast gear; but it's all tucked
away inside you PC anyway, so it's not like anyone will notice.
In this review, PCSTATS will be getting our feet wet with the Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3R
around Intel's successful P35 Express and ICH9R chipsets, the Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3R supports socket 775
Intel Core 2 Duo/Quad/Extreme, Celeron D, and Pentium 4/D/XE
processors operating on a 800/1066/1333 MHz FSB. As is standard, up
to 8GB of DDR2 1066/80/667 memory can be installed in
a dual channel configuration. If you're using Microsoft Windows XP 1GB of RAM should
be fine, but for Windows Vista 2GB is a much better (see for yourself ).
Office and general home computers require a basic set of
features, and luckily for us the Intel ICH9R southbridge has pretty much covered
all the bases here. Even RAID (0/1/JBOD) is included, which is handy because
setting up a RAID 1 array from the get-go is a quick way to have a running
backup of irreplaceable family photos, an MP3 collection, or whatever.
Other integrated features on the
Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3R include Gigabit network card, 12 USB 2.0 ports (four at
rear), eight Serial ATA II channels (six via the Intel ICH9R with RAID
0/1/5/10, two via Gigabyte SATA2 controller with RAID 0/1/JBOD) and of course a
7.1 channel Azalia High Definition sound card. The GA-P35-DS3R board has one lousy IDE channel,
one floppy. Serial ATA hard drives are plentiful, and SATA DVD-DL
burners like the LG
GSA-H62N are less than $50 bucks.... so upgrade already!
There are no eSATA ports on the Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3R
motherboard, instead it comes with a dual eSATA bracket. The GA-P35-DS3R has an
equal number of PCI Express x1 and PCI slots (three), and one PCI Express x16
slot for a videocard. The Foxconn 8600GTS DirectX10 videocard is a good match for
this motherboard, and since it's DirectX10 it fully supports Windows Vista.
In an effort to improve the longevity of the motherboard
itself, the GA-P35-DS3R is equipped with fanless aluminum chipset heatsinks, and
all solid aluminum polymer capacitors. The retail price of the Gigabyte
GA-P35-DS3R is about $145 CDN ($150 USD, £75 GBP).
The layout of the Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3R motherboard is
good, all the ports and connectors are labeled well, jacks and cables organized
nicely around big peripherals like the videocard and memory.
My only complaint is the USB headers, the yellow plastic
doesn't have any polarity marking. This is important for
computer cases that have individually pinned front panel USB sockets that you
have to hook up manually. On the plus side, the rear-oriented PCI Express x16
videocard retention lock is easy to access, so even if the videocard has a large
double-slot heatsink your fingers will reach.
As the Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3R is a mainstream motherboard,
the box bundle is pretty skinny. No games, no flash, no little ribbon wrapped
The only interesting accessory is a dual port eSATA bracket and a pair of external SATA-to-eSATA data
and molex-to-SATA power cables. This allows a bare hard drive to be quickly
connected to the PC without opening up the chassis. The internal SATA cables are
the push-to-click variety. We like these because the positively lock into the
SATA motherboard jacks.
411 on the Intel P35 Express chipset is right around the
corner, then overclocking and benchmarks!