RSS Feed

HCW Tech Blog

For the latest info on computer hardware, tech, news, video games, software tips, and Linux, check out our new improved front page: HCW Tech Blog

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

Est. Street Price: $175

Discuss this article in the forum!
Registration NOT Required!


The Board

Another trend that has taken the motherboard industry by storm is both slot and PCB colors.  Personally I still have not found another board to match the prettiness of the Soltek's Golden Flame nForce2 offering. That seems to be very much a matter of opinion though, as I've heard from others who don't dig the gold PCB with matching yellow slots at all.

Gigabyte has also followed the coloring trend, although their focus seems to be much more on functionality as opposed to aesthetics by going with a "color-coded" slot theme on top of the typical Gigabyte blue PCB.

Now, I'm not much for the multicolored look, which I suppose is obvious by my appreciation of the Golden Flame line.  One color-coded inclusion which I think is ingenious are the color coded pin headers.

Is anyone else driven nuts when having to count pins while consulting the motherboard manual in oder to properly install your case leds/power buttons/speaker?  With the Gigabyte 7NNXP, you are no longer required to either count pins, or strain your eyes trying to read the tiny onboard pin map. Thank you Gigabyte!!

The northbridge comes with a nice beefy cooler, although Gigabyte elected to use thermal tape instead of the thermal grease that most people prefer.

As is the case with pretty much every motherboard on the market, Gigabyte also has it's share of minor layout annoyances. First off is a nasty capacitor that is found a little too close to the CPU socket.

As you can see here, even a midsized cooler like the Volcano 7 has problem fitting around these two malplaced annoyances. When will motherboard manufacturers learn that CPU sockets require at least one full inch of personal space?!

My only other annoyance with this board (although it can potentially be a big one for you) is the lack of mounting holes around the CPU socket. (And yes I am absolutely sure that they are not there this time )

It always puzzles me when manufacturers skip out on including this little extra on their high end line of motherboards, especially when like they 7NNXP they are directed towards the overclocking crowd.

Just as a quick aside, if you look closely at both the top and the bottom of the socket there is a little protective slip for those of use who can sometimes be clumsy with the flathead screwdriver when installing our heatsinks.


Just a couple quick things to mention about the BIOS here, since most nForce2 BIOS's are very much the same in terms of layout and features.

The first and most important thing you'll need to know if you purchase the 7NNXP is the key combination of Ctrl+F1. Allow me to demonstrate for you:



The CTRL+F1 combination unlocks all of those extra tweaking settings that we've come to know and love.

Along with the regular Aggressive/Optimal/Expert settings, the 7NNXP ups the overclocking ante in with the availability to increase the FSB setting all the way to 300!

This is the absolute highest available setting I've personally seen on an AMD platform motherboard to date. At this point we were licking our chops just waiting to ramp the clock speeds up with this board.

Just a final little note here that I found interesting.  The ordering of the multiplier setting as seen below is a little bit interesting.

Now for those of you who are familiar with the old dip switch method of setting the multiplier, you'll probably recognize a pattern. Since only so many multiplier combinations were possible with a four-slot dip switch some settings doubled as two multipliers. The same would theoretically be true now even though the value was set within the BIOS and not on the board itself. That perhaps answers the question as to why the values are laid out in such a peculiar order, however as to why they were left this way and not ordered numerically as we've seen in every other nForce2 BIOS, I have no idea...

Next Page: (4)