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Gigabyte GA-8I945P Pro Intel 945P Motherboard Review
Gigabyte GA-8I945P Pro Intel 945P Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Two PCI Express x1 slots and three conventional PCI slots take care of further peripheral expansion needs, and the GA-8I945P Pro can support up to six IDE and four SATA II devices.
 81% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Gigabyte Aug 08 2005   M. Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > Gigabyte GA-8I945P Pro

Intel 945P/G desktop chipset

In the spring of 2005, Intel released its two newest desktop chipsets, the 945P/G and 955X Express. The 945 is the more mainstream of the two chipsets, coming in two variations: the 'G' version which incorporates Intels' GMA 950 integrated graphics solution, and the 'P' version which does not. The 955X Express is the new version of Intel's previous high-end desktop performance chipset, the 925X and represents the more 'enthusiast' friendly option. Let's have take a closer look at that 945P chipset, as this is what the GA-8I945P Pro motherboard is built upon.

The most obvious reason for the 945P chipset's existence is to support Intel's new dual-core Pentium D processor. Unlike AMD, Intel apparently needed to make provisions beyond BIOS updates in order to work with these new dual CPUs, so support was delayed until the release of the 945P and the higher-end 955X Express chipsets. The 945P does add more than just dual-core flavours though. The Serial ATA II standard was previously only available for Intel-based systems through nVidia's nForce 4 Intel Edition chipsets, but the Intel 945P brings this high-speed hard disk transfer standard back onside.

The 945P chipset supports only DDR II memory, and can handle up to 4GB of it. CPU FSB's supported include the popular 533MHz to 1066MHz processor variants. PCI Express x16 is the video connector of choice; Intel currently supports only a single x16 slot for one graphics card, but rumors are that 945P may eventually gain SLI or ATI CrossFire support along with its 955X Express big brother, or even an Intel-only dual-videocard solution. At the time of this writing, the details have not yet been firmed up.

The Intel ICH-7R Southbridge controller includes ample multimedia capabilities, and supplants the ICH6 chipset. The ICH-7R only uses a single ATA-100 IDE controller (as Intel is trying to phase out Parallel IDE in favour of SATA) but provides four SATA II ports, an integrated Gigabit network adaptor and eight USB 2.0 ports. The 'R' means RAID, and the ICH-7R also supports RAID modes 0,1 and 5. Native Command Queuing is not supported by the ICH-7R's SATA controller as it is in nVidia's Intel chipset.

In addition to the 16 lanes reserved for the videocard, an additional two PCI Express lanes can be used for two PCIe x1 connectors, which is less than the six additional lanes that the 955X Express chipset boasts, but enough for current needs.

The 945P and ICH-7R chips are connected by means of a 2GB/s Direct Media Interface link, just like the previous generation 925X/ICH-6R Northbridge/Southbridge combination.

Overall, the 945P chipset currently has the dual effect of pulling Intel even with nVidia in terms of the features the companies can offer on the Intel processor platform and providing a valid mainstream chipset for the Intel dual-core processors. The Intel 925X and 915P chipsets looked distinctly low-tech next to the nVidia nForce 4 Intel Edition, so the features introduced by the 945P and 955X Express chipsets were a necessary next step for Intel.

Once the whole SLI/CrossFire/multiple PCI video card issue has become clearer, these chipsets may prove to be a more flexible platform than their closest competitors too.

The most important factor though, is that Intel now has a mainstream chipset to support its dual-core CPUs. Now that the company's dual-core processors have been released into the wild, Intel can get down to business trying to win back sales from AMD. Since the prices of the Pentium D dual-core chips are considerably lower than the AMD equivalent, this may happen faster than AMD would like.

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Contents of Article: Gigabyte GA-8I945P Pro
 Pg 1.  Gigabyte GA-8I945P Pro Intel 945P Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  — Intel 945P/G desktop chipset
 Pg 3.  Overclocking the Gigabyte GA-8I945P Pro
 Pg 4.  Benchmarks: SYSmark 2004
 Pg 5.  Benchmarks: Winstone 2004, Winbench 99
 Pg 6.  Benchmarks: SiSoft Sandra, Super Pi
 Pg 7.  Benchmarks: PCMark04, 3DMark2001
 Pg 8.  Benchmarks: 3DMark05, Comanche 4
 Pg 9.  Benchmarks: X2: The Threat, UT2003
 Pg 10.  Benchmarks: UT2004, Doom 3 & Conclusions

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