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

 

Specifications

Although they look nearly identical, these two boards have a few major differences. First, take a glance at the specs of each:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  GA-965P-DS3 GA-945P-S3
CPU Support Intel Core 2 Duo/Extreme, Pentium D, Pentium 4 (LGA 775) - FSB 1066/800/533
Northbridge Intel P965 Intel 945P
Southbridge Intel ICH8 Intel ICH7
Memory Support 4 x DIMM - 8GB Max. DDR2 533/667/800 4 x DIMM - 4GB Max. DDR2 400/533/667
Storage Support Floppy x 1
DMA/ATA-133 (Ultra) x 1 (JMicron JMB363)
SATA 300 x 4 (ICH8)
SATA 300 x 2 (JMicron JMB363)
Floppy x 1
DMA/ATA-133 (Ultra) x 1 (ICH7)
SATA 300 x 4 (ICH7)
Expansion Ports USB2.0 x 10 (4 on rear panel)
Gigabit Ethernet Port x 1
PS/2 Mouse x 1
PS/2 Keyboard x 1
Serial Port x 1
LPT Port x 1
USB2.0 x 8 (4 on rear panel)
Gigabit Ethernet Port x 1
PS/2 Mouse x 1
PS/2 Keyboard x 1
Serial Port x 1
LPT Port x 1
Expansion Slots PCI-E x16 x 1
PCI-E x1 x 3
PCI x 3
Audio 8 channel Intel HD audio w/ Realtek ALC883
Digital Output: Optical & Coax SPDIF
Analog Output: 8 Channel (4 ports)
Digital Input: NONE
Analog Input: Mic, Line In (discrete ports)
8 channel Intel HD audio w/ Realtek ALC883
Digital Output: NONE
Analog Output: 2 Channel
Digital Input: NONE
Analog Input: Mic, Line In (discrete ports)
Networking Marvell 88E8053 Gigabit (PCI-E) Realtek RTL811B Gigabit (PCI-E)

First of all, notice that even the 945P board supports the Core 2 Extreme processor. However that might not be the best pairing, as the 945P does not allow core ratio adjustments. It's not like anyone is going to buy a $99 motherboard for their $1000 CPU though, right?

Because the P965 uses the ICH8 southbridge, which has done away with IDE support, Gigabyte has added JMicron's JMB363 SATA/IDE controller. Thankfully, this controller does not require "F6 drivers" to install Windows, so you won't be forced to use a floppy drive to install Windows. This controller does have basic RAID functions (RAID0, 1, 0+1, JBOD), runs on the PCI-E bus, and supports SATA-300. Neither of the boards use the RAID version of their respective Southbridges.

Another difference is in the audio outputs. Although both boards use the same Realtek ALC883 codec, only the P965 comes with full 7.1 channel output. The 945P only has stereo out. There is a bracket that adds the rest of the channels, but it is not included with the board. There are also no digital inputs or outputs on the 945P, and you guessed it; adding them is supported by the board, but optional.

Also note that the 945P does not officially support a DDR2-800 memory multiplier. Gigabyte have sort of gotten around this by adding a 2.66x multiplier which gives DDR2-709 speed (when the FSB is set to normal) and 3.33x which gives DDR2-888. So you have the choice of either underclocking or overclocking your memory. It's not the most elegant solution, but hey, AMD does the same thing with their AM2 processors ;)

Finally, the boards use different Gigabit ethernet adapters, but both of them are decent adapters, and are PCI-E based.

Features

Like the onboard specifications, the boards have very similar BIOS features. Being based on different chipsets though, there are bound to be some differences:

  GA-965P-DS3 GA-945P-S3
FSB Speeds FSB 100-600 in 1 MHz increments FSB 100-600 in 1 MHz increments
PCI-E Speeds Auto, 90-150 in 1 MHz increments Auto, 90-150 MHz in 1 MHz increments
CPU Multiplier 6-10X (with Core 2 Duo E6700) None
Memory Multiplier Auto, 2.0, 2.5, 2.66, 3.0, 3.33, 4.0 Auto, 1.5, 2.0, 2.5. 2.66, 3.33
DIMM Voltage Normal to +0.6 in 0.1V increments (2.4v max) Normal to +0.6 in 0.1V increments (2.4v max)
PCI-E Voltage Normal to +0.1V Normal to +0.3 in 0.1V increments
FSB Voltage Normal to +0.3 in 0.1V increments Normal to +0.3 in 0.1V increments
MCH Voltage Normal to +0.3 in 0.1V increments N/A
CPU Voltage 0.5125V to 1.6V in 0.00625V increments
Plus 1.8V and 2.0V
0.5125V to 1.6V in 0.00625V increments
Plus 1.8V and 2.0V
Voltage Monitoring CPU, DDR, 3.3V, 12V CPU, DDR, 3.3V, 12V
Temperature Monitoring CPU, System CPU
Fan Monitoring CPU Fan, System Fan CPU Fan, System Fan

Both boards offer quite a few options for the overclocking crowd, including full control over FSB from 100-600 MHz, DDR2 voltage up to 2.4V, and a plethora of memory multipliers on each board. My only wish is that they had added a 3.0 multiplier to the 945P board for true DDR2-800 support.

The P965 currently allows for an unlocked CPU multiplier on Core 2 Duo, and Gigabyte's board offers that. Although unlike the Core 2 Extreme, you can only control the multiplier downwards; in the case of the E6700, you have access to 6-10x. For now, the 945P does not support this, but I can see Gigabyte adding it in a future BIOS revision if it's not limited by the chipset itself.

Otherwise, BIOS features are quite similar, although the P965 only allows you to increase PCI-E voltage by 0.1V, and the 945P board does not have system temperature monitoring. We'll talk more about the BIOS later. For now, let's take a look at these boards!

Next Page: (Board Layout Part 1)