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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [08.30.06]
Manufactured by: Gigabyte


I guess the AMD fanboys will be hanging their heads in shame today, because the one bragging point they had left is no longer valid. No longer is building a Core 2 Duo system inherently more expensive than building an X2 system. The memory is the same, and in fact we found out today that you can get away with even slower memory on the Core 2 Duo than originally expected.

Motherboards for Intel systems were always more expensive than competetive AMD boards. Even the boards based on Nvidia's chipsets were more. ATI were always reasonably priced, but their performance (especially on that southbridge) stunk.

I'm not saying that the GA-945P-S3 is the BEST motherboard for a Core 2 Duo system. Rather, it is a great value; it offers excellent performance, keeping up with Intel's flagship product, and good overclocking options. It is, however, lacking somewhat in terms of extras, and even in standard features. There is no RAID to be found at all, and you will have to be satisfied with crappy stereo sound. Other things we normally look at is good silent cooling, but that is not an issue with the 945P chipset. Layout is nearly perfect as well, although you may have issues with larger, silent CPU coolers. The only thing really missing is a CPU multiplier setting, but that may be coming in a BIOS revision, unless it's something that simply can't be done with the 945P chipset.

The GA-965-DS3, at around $20-30 more, is also a great value. You get the very latest Southbridge, although without benefit of the nifty RAID options. Overclocking SHOULD be very good, even though for some reason I couldn't get very far with it. Other sites have though, so don't worry too much. The 965P adds proper 8 channel audio output, and digital audio output.

There really isn't anything negative to say about either of these boards. They both bring great value to a Core 2 Duo system, and allow for some great overclocking. I would recommend the GA-945P-S3 to anyone building an Allendale (2MB cache) system. For those going with Conroe, spend the extra $20-30 and go for the GA-965P-DS3. You won't be disappointed.

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Both boards are worthy of our GREAT VALUE AWARD!