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Gigabyte GA-P31-DS3L Intel P31 Express Motherboard Review

Gigabyte GA-P31-DS3L Intel P31 Express Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: Mainstream users really can't hope for much more, but if you're looking to build a low cost entry level computer I'll bet you want something a little cheaper than P35 can afford. Well just your luck, Intel has released a stripped down iteration of the P35 called the P31 Express chipset.
 88% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Gigabyte Nov 02 2007   Colin Sun  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > Gigabyte GA-P31-DS3L

Intel P31 Express Chipset

The Intel P31 Express chipset was created for the entry level PC market, but don't let that fool you, the P31 Express is pretty powerful. Officially the chipset supports Celeron D, Pentium 4/D/XE and Core 2 Duo/Quad processors running on an 800 or 1066 MHz FSB. As mentioned earlier, Gigabyte has qualified the GA-P31-DS3L to run at 1333 MHz FSB, but that does not mean every Intel P31 Express motherboard will be able to do that. In so far as the GA-P31-DS3L is concerned, it will support Intel's upcoming 45nm Penryn processor. Intel ship the P31 Express with the Intel ICH7 series Southbridge.

Adding 45nm processor support to the Intel P31 Express means that consumers will have a low cost entry level platform to use should they need something on the inexpensive side. Of course with the platform only officially supporting FSB's up to 1066 MHz, you may have some limited options for future CPUs.

The P31 Express also only supports DDR2 memory up to a speed of 800 MHz, and a capacity of 4GB. Non-ECC unbuffered DDR2 memory is recommended.

One interesting feature that's built into the Intel P31 Express chipset is Intel's Flex Memory technology. While it's available in Intel's other P35 series chipsets, we haven't focused on it much because it's more of an entry level tool. To enable dual channel memory support with this platform, Intel claims that you can use memory of difference sizes.

We tried this and while the Gigabyte GA-P31-DS3L motherboard would register dual channel memory support at the POST screen, the system would BSOD while loading Windows. Looks like Intel/Gigabyte has a bit of work to smooth out the rough spots. Still this is an excellent feature for entry level systems if it actually works. PCSTATS didn't have much luck, but we agree the concept of Flex Memory technology is a positive development.

Here's a quick look at how the new P31 stacks up to the other Intel chipsets. Apart from the speed increases and new memory standard, there are just a few extra ports here and there.

Intel X38, P35, 975, 965 Series Chipset Feature Breakdown
Intel X38 Express Express Intel 975X Express Intel P35 Express Express Intel P31 Express Express Intel P965 Express Intel G965 Express
CPU LGA775 Core 2 Duo LGA775 Core 2 Duo LGA775 Core 2 Duo LGA775 Core 2 Duo LGA775 Core 2 Duo LGA775 Core 2 Duo
Front Side Bus (FSB) 1600/1333/1066/800 MHz 1066/800 MHz 1333/1066/800 MHz (1333* unofficial) /1066/800 MHz 1066/800/533 MHz 1066/800/533 MHz
Intel Flex Memory Technology Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Dual Channel Memory Support DDR2 1066/800/667
DDR3 1333(unofficial)/1066/800
DDR2 800/667/533 DDR2 1066/800/667
DDR3 1333(unofficial)/1066/800
DDR2 800/667 DDR2 800/667/533 DDR2 667
Maximum Memory Capacity 8GB 8GB 8GB 4GB 8GB 8GB
Integrated Graphics - - - - - GMA 3000
PCI Express x16 2 2 1 2 1 1
PCI Express x1 4 4 6 4 4 4
Intel Matrix Storage Technology Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
SATA/IDE HDD 6/0 4/1 6/0 4/1 6/0 6/0
SATA Speed 3Gb/s 3Gb/s 3Gb/s 3Gb/s 3Gb/s 3Gb/s
RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 (with ICH9R) 0, 1, 5, 10 (with ICH7R) 0, 1, 5, 10 (with ICH9R) 0, 1, 5, 10 (with ICH7R) 0, 1, 5, 10 (with ICH8R) 0, 1, 5, 10 (with ICH8R)
Hard Drive NCQ Yes - Yes - Yes Yes
USB 2.0 Ports 12 8 12 8 8 10
PCI Masters 6 6 6 6 6 6
Audio High Definition Audio (Azalia) High Definition Audio (Azalia) High Definition Audio (Azalia) High Definition Audio (Azalia) High Definition Audio (Azalia) High Definition Audio (Azalia)

The Intel P31 Express chipset is PCI Express 1.1 compatible and supports one PCI Express x16 slot for videocards. It has an additional six PCI Express lanes from the Intel ICH7 Southbridge. The main difference between the Intel P35 series chipsets and the P31 Express is that is paired with Intel's ICH7 Southbridge instead of the ICH9.

The ICH7 Southbridge incorporates four Serial ATA II channels, a 7.1 channel Intel Azalia high definition audio codec, eight USB 2.0 slots, six PCI Express x1 lanes and an integrated Intel Gigabit MAC which runs through the PCI Express bus. It's important to note that the ICH7-series of Southbridges support a single Parallel IDE channel. The latest Intel ICH9 chipset does away with parallel IDE support completely.

Overclocking is next. Any bets on how this entry level Gigabyte motherboard will handle itself when PCSTATS puts speed into overdrive?

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Contents of Article: Gigabyte GA-P31-DS3L
 Pg 1.  Gigabyte GA-P31-DS3L Intel P31 Express Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  Gigabyte GA-P31-DS3L Motherboard highlights
 Pg 3.  — Intel P31 Express Chipset
 Pg 4.  Overclocking the the budget platform
 Pg 5.  Motherboard Benchmarks: Sysmark 2004
 Pg 6.  Motherboard Benchmarks: Sysmark 2004 Continued
 Pg 7.  Motherboard Benchmarks: PC Worldbench (Graphics)
 Pg 8.  Motherboard Benchmarks: PC Worldbench (Office)
 Pg 9.  Motherboard Benchmarks: PC Worldbench (Data Crunching)
 Pg 10.  Motherboard Benchmarks: SiSoft Sandra, Super Pi
 Pg 11.  Motherboard Benchmarks: PCMark05
 Pg 12.  Motherboard Benchmarks: 3DMark05, 3DMark06
 Pg 13.  Motherboard Benchmarks: FarCry, Doom 3., Quake 4
 Pg 14.  PCSTATS Maximum Motherboard Overclocking Chart & Conclusions

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   11 / 15 / 2018 | 7:24AM
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