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Reviewed by: Trevor Flynn [07.17.03]
Edited by: Carl Nelson
Manufactured by: Gigabyte

Est. Street Price: $175

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First Impressions

As the consumer motherboard market continues to grow numerous companies have been putting more effort into the design of their packaging. Gigabyte is not any different. I remember the first motherboard I ever purchased from Gigabyte, an Ali Socket 7 board, and it's bland green and white packaging with little or no artwork.

The GA-7NNXP is exactly at the opposite end of the blandness spectrum. Its logo and colors are definitely eye catching. What I really liked was the flip out top, much like that seen on any of your favorite gaming title. Not only does this give Gigabyte additional space to tout the boards features, and include a picture of the board, but it also allows them to advertise for some of their other high end hardware (in this case, their 256MB Radeon 9800 Pro). I think this is great from a marketing stand point, and will probably result in at least a couple impulse video card purchases.

The included bundle was more than adequate and included absolutely everything you need to get every feature of the board up and running straight out of the box.

The bundle includes a complete set of both IDE and SATA cables (3 apiece), although the yellow IDE cables are pretty much the ugliest ones I've seen. Also, along with a full motherboard manual and quick start up guide are smaller manuals describing how and why to use both the IDE and SATA RAID functions, which is great for those still new to RAID setups.

Something we've seen left out on numerous nForce2 motherboards has been the inclusion of a backplate audio adapter. Gigabyte's adapter includes not only support for the additional channels, but also includes the digital header. It's nice to finally see a manufacturer include the equipment needed to take advantage of all of the features that they advertise.

Also notice the external SATA backplate that allows you to run and hot swap SATA outside of your system's case.  I personally would not use this feature, but I can see how it could be very useful for some and applaud Gigabyte's inclusion of the added value feature.

Going the Extra Mile

Now remember when I said that Gigabyte would have to include something substantial above and beyond other motherboard makers in order to make up for its late entry into the nForce2 market?  Well this just might be that something.

This is what is known as the Gigabyte DPS or Dual Power System.  The DPS delivers a 6-phase power circuit design to which is meant to provide stability in high power environments.  As many overclockers know, a cheap power supply can be an extreme limiting factor when voltages are raised past stock settings. We'll have a look and see if the DPS does it job a little later on when we take this board, with the help of our own HCW custom water cooling setup, for an overclock.  At this point it's looking pretty promising, especially with the beefy heatsink that Gigabyte has included over the neatly placed row of MOSFETTS.

Put that old Pentium heatsink away, there's no need to cut up sinks for the MOSFETT's on this board! Not only that, but Gigabye adds a little flair by adding a blue LED to the DPS's heatsink.

Just before we leave the bundle I'd like to mention one of the custom utilities included.

Gigabyte's Easy Tune 4 software lets you tweak and overclock your motherboard settings from within the windows environment.  Little conveniences like this are always appreciated by yours truly.

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