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Gigabyte GA-X48-DS5 Intel X48 Express Motherboard Review
Gigabyte GA-X48-DS5 Intel X48 Express Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Gigabyte's high-end GA-X48-DS5 motherboard is, as you might have guessed, based on the Intel X48 Express and ICH9R chipsets. It's core logic offers up 32 lanes of PCI Express 2.0 bandwidth which makes this platform great for running a pair of Crossfire'd ATI videocards at full tilt.
 86% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Gigabyte Jan 28 2009   J. Apong  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > Gigabyte GA-X48-DS5

The Intel X48 Express chipset will be remembered as a relatively minor update to the X38 Express. The notable differences between the two are an increase in the range of DDR3 memory supported, the introduction of PCI Express 2.0, and official capability for 45nm 1600MHz FSB processors. Other than that, not a whole lot has changed for Intel's top-tier chipset for the socket 775 CPU platform.

Gigabyte's high-end GA-X48-DS5 motherboard is, as you might have guessed, based on the Intel X48 Express and ICH9R chipsets. It's core logic offers up 32 lanes of PCI Express 2.0 bandwidth which makes this platform great for running a pair of Crossfire'd ATI videocards at full tilt.

The board offers up RAID 0/1/5/10 support on six SATA II hard drives, twelve USB2.0 devices (eight are already mounted on the GA-X48-DS5's I/O panel), and a Realtec 7.1 high-definition audio codec that's become standard. Gigabyte also includes its own storage controller for a single IDE storage channel for a legacy optical drives, as well as two SATA II ports, bringing the GA-X48-DS5's total up to eight.

Expansion opportunities arrive care of three PCI Express x1 slots to complement the dual PCI Express x16 slots (which run at x16/x16 in Crossfire mode). There's a pair of standard PCI expansion slots for older devices too. The GA-X48-DS5's four DIMM slots accommodate 667/800/1066/1200MHz speed DDR2 memory up to a maximum capacity of 8GB, provided there's a 64-bit operating system installed to take advantage of it. Intel socket 775 processors running on an 800/1066/133/1600 MHz FSB are supported, so that means CPUs from the lowly Celeron's to exotic Core 2 Extreme and 45nm Core 2 Quad processors are supported.

Gigabyte GA-X48-DS5 Motherboard

User's Manual, Driver CDs, Ultra/133 IDE Cable, Floppy Cable, (4) SATA cable, dual eSATA bracket, eSATA cable and power adapter, I/O Shield.

For around $275CDN (225 USD, 150 GBP), Gigabyte's GA-X48-DS5 motherboard carries a premium price, which makes it a very close competitor to Gigabyte's own GA-EP45-DQ6. Is the GA-X48-DS5's upgraded, high-bandwidth chipset really worth the extra cash? Strap yourself in and get ready for excitement - it's motherboard reviewin' time at PCSTATS!

The layout of the GA-X48-DS5 motherboard is very similar to that of other Intel X48 chipset based motherboards, with Gigabyte taking many of its design cues from Intel's own reference design. This isn't exactly a bad thing, as most components are spaced out logically and are laid out in an easy to navigate design.

Adding in dual-slot videocards will block out a PCI Express and standard PCI slot, and using the remaining slots can sometimes restrict airflow to the videocards.

The PCI Express x16 and PCI slots can become a bit of a tight fit when used in Crossfire, especially as more powerful Crossfire cards take up two expansion slots each for their cooling solutions. Placing one of the PCI Express x1 slots to the left of the video cards helps a little, but here in the PCSTATS labs we still prefer the expansion slot layout of the MSI X48 Platinum.

Gigabyte's GA-X48-DS5's on-board headers suffer from the same cramped feeling - getting everything plugged in at once is problematic. Once six SATA cables, the front panel audio header, the USB headers and the firewire headers are plugged in, getting to the wires that control the power on and reset switches quickly becomes frustrating. This motherboard doesn't include on-board power and reset switches, nor LED indicators to help with diagnose problems. Other than those very minor things, there isn't anything wrong with the GA-X48-DS5 motherboard to get upset about.

Gigabyte's passive heat pipe chipset cooling solution snakes across the board, but stays low enough that it won't cause any collisions even with large CPU heatsinks and long videocards. This passive cooling relies on airflow from an active fan, so for those who are watercooling the GA-X48-DS5, make sure to have lots of airflow.

Gigabyte doesn't skimp on the motherboard extras - included inside the box are both regular and right-angle SATA connectors, a dual eSATA bracket with additional power and data transfer cables, IDE and floppy cables, manual, driver CD, software CD, I/O shield and the software for the Dynamic Energy Saver. Like most brand name motherboards, the GA-X48-DS5 has transitioned to longer-lasting, more reliable solid-state aluminum capacitors. Unlike electrolytic capacitors that have a tendency to rupture, leak or dry out, solid-state aluminum capacitors can extend the lifespan of a motherboard considerably.

Next up PCSTATS looks at the Gigabyte Dynamic Energy Saver program, we test it's power saving impact.

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Contents of Article: Gigabyte GA-X48-DS5
 Pg 1.  — Gigabyte GA-X48-DS5 Intel X48 Express Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  Gigabyte Dynamic Energy Saver - Energy Efficiency
 Pg 3.  Intel X48 Express - Performance Tuned?
 Pg 4.  Motherboard Highlights Photo Gallery
 Pg 5.  Overclocking with Gigabyte
 Pg 6.  Motherboard Benchmarks: 3DMark06, Quake 4, FEAR
 Pg 7.  Motherboard Benchmarks: SYSmark 2007 Preview
 Pg 8.  Motherboard Benchmarks: SiSoft Sandra: Processor
 Pg 9.  Motherboard Benchmarks: SiSoft Sandra: Memory
 Pg 10.  Motherboard Benchmarks: PCMark Vantage
 Pg 11.  Gigabyte's take on the Intel X48

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