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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [03.03.04]
Manufactured by: Gigabyte

Est. Street Price: $130

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The Newest Exclamation Mark

We've reviewed over two dozen motherboards in the past 4 years. When we first started, it was all about the 440BX, and that's it. VIA then picked things up and offered some really great solutions for both Pentium III and Athlon processors. Now with the P4, there is really no competition to Intel's Dual Channel boards. Athlon64 platforms are still in their infancy, with no clear winner just yet. Nobody ever knows what SiS is up to though...

So with just a few chipsets to choose from for either CPU, motherboard manufacturers are having to work harder to set their boards from the rest. We've seen all sorts of evidence of this. Sometimes it is very strong with boards like DFI's Lanparty series. Sometimes boards rely on insane overclocking features, like Abit's uGuru boards. Other times a manufacturer will try to make a true 'all in one' package, where you need little else than what is in the motherboard package, like Gigabyte's higher end boards.

The latest feature being used by manufacturers to set their boards is integrated WiFi (or 802.11b wireless lan). WiFi is becoming extremely affordable, to the point where it is an alternative to wired networks for people who would otherwise not even consider wireless. You can put together a 2 computer wireless LAN, with internet sharing via router for less than $100 now if you shop around.

So in an effort to offer one less item to buy on your PC shopping list, Gigabyte is introducing the 8IPE1000 Pro2-W.

The 8IPE1000 Pro2-W is actually the fourteenth revision of the 8IPE1000 series from Gigabyte. They are all based on the same 865PE platform and PCB, but with various features added and subtracted. This is the latest one, so everything is up to date, including the wireless lan adapter.

The adapter included isn't actually a truly 'integrated' adapter. It's simply Gigabyte's internal USB adapter, thrown in the box. It doesn't take up a PCI slot, but it will take up an entire internal USB header. Personally, I would rather give up a PCI slot than 2 USB ports, especially with a board that has so many other truly integrated features like wired lan and audio.

The board itself is the smaller "3/4" design, donned with the typical groovy Gigabyte colors. This is the first time in a while I've seen such a full featured board come in this smaller form factor. It makes installation easier, but the small size does present the opportunity for problems to arise; let's find out if they are here...

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