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


Board Layout

Once again, there are only minor differences between the boards. First of all, you might notice that the 945P has a couple very tall capacitors hanging around the CPU socket. These will very likely cause a problem with larger heatsinks, such as those from Zalman. The P965 does not have this isse, and any caps that are close to the CPU socket are low profile solid-state units.

Power header placement is perfect on both boards. The 24 pin ATX header is right at the edge, with the tab facing out. The 4 pin header is at the top edge, close to the rear panel port (and thus, right below the PSU when installed in a case). Perfect!

DIMM clearance is not an issue at all with either board. Even with a video card installed, there is plenty of room to install and uninstall memory. Even more so with the 945P, as one of the pairs of sockets is staggered a bit, so it is even further away from the video card.

This brings us to the issue with heatsinks. As I mentioned on the first page, the S3 series only have basic heatsinks. The 945P gets away with a very slim model, with no fan required. Gigabyte installed a larger heatsink on the P965, and it is also fanless. It should be noted that the 965P Northbridge gets EXTREMELY hot, especially when overclocking. This is one of the few times that I will criticize a motherboard for including a fanless heatsink, because heat issues affected overclocking performance in this case (which I'll get to later). Gigabyte should have included a detachable fan for overclockers (they have done this in the past). They do have a model identical to this that uses a more robust, heatpipe-based cooler (the GA-965P-DS4), which would be a better solution for overclockers. Still, the DS3 claims to be an overclocking board, albeit a basic one, so this problem should have been resolved. Under normal conditions, I witnessed no stability issues at all with this board.

The rear panel header is the one place where these two boards are significantly different. First of all, I already mentioned that the 945P only has stereo output, even though the codec supports 8 channels. There is an optional attachment to add 3 more headers for the remaining channels, but it may be difficult to find. The 945P also does not have any digital outputs. Again, the board technically supports it, you just have to find the output yourself.

This kind of cost-cutting makes the board seem somewhat cheap, but let's be honest. If the performance is there, and it can overclock well, who cares? As you'll see later on, you'll probably want to use a Creative soundcard if you care at all about gaming or audio quality anyhow.

For both boards, I would have liked to see one more pair of USB outputs on the rear panel, instead of having to use one of the onboard headers. This is especially the case with the P965 board, since it supports up to 10 USB 2.0 ports.

Next Page: (BIOS Interface)