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Gigabyte GA-K8N Ultra-SLI Motherboard Review

Gigabyte GA-K8N Ultra-SLI Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: The GA-K8N Ultra-SLI includes an additional four channel Serial ATA/RAID controller, two Gigabit NICs, IEEE 1394b, 7.1-channel audio, SPDIF in/out...
 82% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Gigabyte Mar 08 2005   Colin Sun  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > Gigabyte GA-K8N Ultra-SLI

How does it overclock?

The enthusiast market is one area where Gigabyte has not been focusing much effort; not that I blame them though... Enthusiasts are extremely difficult to please and are always the first to complain. With the recent GA-K8NXP-SLI motherboard we reviewed only reaching 214 MHz, and seeing as how the NF4-SLI is passively cooled, we didn't expect much in terms of overclocking from this board.

Before we began overclocking, I lowered the processor multiplier to 8x and lowered the memory operating frequency to 166 MHz mode. This way neither the CPU nor the memory would be limiting the motherboard in terms of overclocking. Starting at 200 MHz we began to slowly raise the clock speed of the motherboard. To our pleasant surprise, we were easily able to pass the 214 MHz mark the GA-K8NXP-SLI was limited to.

Surprisingly, the GA-K8N Ultra-SLI turned out to be a pretty good overclocker. We were able to pass the 238 MHz point at which the MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum/SLI fell off. At 253 MHz we finally started to have some stability problems but raising the HT-Link voltage 0.2V solved that. In the end, the motherboard was able to hit 277 MHz. Not bad at all! I'm pretty sure that heat was the thing that was holding us back. If we changed the passive chipset heatsink, who knows how high this board could have gone...

BIOS Features for the Enthusiast

Gigabyte motherboards typically have a lot more memory tweaks than the average board, and in the case of the GA-K8N Ultra-SLI this is true. We have the usual CAS latency timing adjustments as well as the ability to change the memory operating frequency. There are a few other timing options that I'm sure most of us are not familiar with, like Refresh Period, Write recovery time and Row Refresh Cyc Time... We just left those options at default.

In the Motherboard Intelligent Tweaker section, we can tune the motherboard from 200-400 in 1 MHz increments as well as adjust the PCI Express frequency. Multiplier adjustment is possible based on the processor you're using. CPU voltage can be increased to 0.25V, Core Power voltage 0.3V, HyperTransport 0.3V and DDR voltage 0.2V.

PCStats Test System Specs:
Processor:

AMD Athlon64 4000+

Clock Speed:

12 x 200 MHz = 2.4 GHz

Motherboards:

ASRock K8 Combo-Z/ASR (ALi M1689)*
Soltek SL-K8TPro-939 (K8T800 Pro)*
MSI K8T Neo2 FIR (K8T800 Pro)*
MSI K8N Neo2 Platinum (NF3 Ultra)*
Epox 9NDA3+ (NF3 Ultra)*
Gigabyte GA-K8NXP-9 (NF4 Ultra)**
Gigabyte GA-K8NXP-SLI (NF4 SLI)**
MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum/SLI (NF4 SLI)**
Albatron K8X890 Pro II (K8T890)**
Soltek SL-K890Pro-939 (K8T890)**

Videocard:

Asus X800XT/VTD*
MSI RX800XT-VTD256**

Memory:

2x 512MB Mushkin PC3200 Special Ed.

Hard Drive: 40GB Western Digital Special Ed
74GB Western Digital Raptor SATA
CDROM: AOpen Combo 52x
PowerSupply: Seasonic Super Tornado 400W
Software Setup

WindowsXP Build 2600
VIA 4in1 4.55V
Forceware 6.10
Catalyst 4.12

Workstation Benchmarks

SYSMark 2004
Business Winstone 2004
Content Creation 2004
Super Pi
SiSoft Sandra 2004
PCMark04
3DMark2001SE
3DMark05
AquaMark3
Comanche 4
X2: The Threat
UT2003
UT2004
Doom 3

We've upgraded the PCstats Test platform with new 74GB Western Digital Raptor SATA hard drives. These are replacing the trusty 40GB WD IDE HDDs as our test drives. Please keep that under consideration when viewing the office and disk benchmarks.

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Contents of Article: Gigabyte GA-K8N Ultra-SLI
 Pg 1.  Gigabyte GA-K8N Ultra-SLI Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  Fully Featured Motherboard
 Pg 3.  SATA II and SLI
 Pg 4.  — How does it overclock?
 Pg 5.  Benchmarks: SYSmark 2004
 Pg 6.  Benchmarks: Winstone 2004, Winbench 99
 Pg 7.  Benchmarks: SiSoft Sandra 2004, Super Pi
 Pg 8.  Benchmarks: PCMark04, 3DMark2001
 Pg 9.  Benchmarks: 3DMark05, AquaMark3
 Pg 10.  Benchmarks: Comanche 4, X2: The Threat, UT2003
 Pg 11.  Benchmarks: UT2004, Doom 3
 Pg 12.  Lots of good useful features!

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