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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [08.30.04]
Manufactured by: Abit, DFI, Foxconn, Gigabyte


Gigabyte GA-8ANXP-D Cont'd

One neat feature on this board is having the option of using a northbridge fan or not:

Sure it's a totally unnecessary feature (most 925x boards don't use a fan on the heatsink at all), but for those who like to tweak the most out of their system, the option is there for a NB fan. It certainly beats trying to find another way to attach a fan if you do decide to use a fan and your board didn't come with one!

Showing you the fan installed, I can take this opportunity to point out the terrible placement of the 2x2 P4 header. There it is, tucked away behind the northbridge and DPS heatpipe. Have fun routing a cable back there! I know I didn't!

Gigabyte is the only board to allow for up to 6 memory modules to be installed at once. Of course there are some limitations that you have to adhere to, so check the manual first.

A pretty standard layout here, with one COM port taking up the room that would be better suited for a couple more USB ports. Like DFI, Gigabyte uses a pair of Coax connectors for SPDIF in and out. As far as integrated components, Gigabyte does include dual gigabit ethernet adapters. And once again, one is on the PCI-E bus, and one is on the PCI bus.

What else does the Gigabyte include to make it so special? How about a Wireless G PCI adapter! That's right, not only are you not stuck with the buggy integrated southbridge solution, you get a full 54 mbps capable solution! Unlike previous Gigabyte boards that included WiFi, they used a PCI card here, instead of an internet USB card. Good - I hated having to use a pair of headers for a single USB device!

Layout Conclusions

Now that we've gone over the layout of every board, we can reflect on where each board stands.

Board Layout: The Gigabyte board really had be going with ALL of the USB and FireWire headers along the absolute bottom of the board. However, they lost it with the terrible horizontal IDE and Floppy headers that belong on a 2001 era motherboard. I did like the inclusion of extra USB and FireWire headers though.

Overall, the Lanparty had the best layout overall, with an extra PCI adapter compared to the other boards, and 8 USB ports on the back. I also liked having Coax digital ports, with one more Optical port when the FrontX is used. If DFI had taken just a few examples from Gigabyte (USB placement, colour coded front panel header), they could have the perfect overall board in terms of layout!

Onboard Features: This time I have to give Gigabyte full credit for including an insane amount of onboard features, and allowing full access to all of them. With an extra SATA controller, Wireless G adapter (okay, so it's not literally onboard, but it comes with the motherboard so it counts!), dual bios, and dual gigabit ethernet. Hell, even having a removable northbridge fan counts for a bonus point or two! I don't know about the DPS though; otherboards can utilize an 8 phase power circuit without the use of a huge heatsink sticking out, taking up a lot of room...

Accessories: I guess it isn't really fair to compare the Lanparty to 'regular' motherboards, but as you would have guessed, the Lanparty wins this category. I've said it several times, but I don't mind repeating once more; the Lanparty is not just a motherboard, but an entire package to base a system around.

You'll notice that we didn't mention Abit or Foxconn in any of these categories. That's because neither of them really stand out as far as 'extras' go. They are both barebones motherboards, although one is quite a bit more robust than the other, as you're about to see...

Now let's get on to the CMOS systems of each board!

Next Page: (CMOS - Abit)