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Just few months ago Intel launched their latest mainstream chipset P45 Express; Codename "Eaglelake". The major different for P45 and P35 is P45 can support PCI Express 2.0. Today we are going to test out this P45 board from Gigabyte; GA-EP45-DS3. Gigabyte has total around 20 boards for this Intel P45 chipset and GA-EP45-DS3 is the most basic version of their P45 chipset line.
Founded in 1986, GIGABYTE started as a research and development team and has since taken the lead in the world's motherboard and graphics accelerator markets. To truly reach out to all consumers, GIGABYTE further expanded its product portfolio to include more diverse digital products such as Notebook and desktop PCs, digital home appliances, networking servers, communications, mobile and handheld devices, servicing every facet of people's lives at home or at work.
GIGABYTE aims for nothing but excellent. With all its outstanding products and designs, GIGABYTE for years has received numerous professional awards and media recognition. What's worth mentioning is GIGABYTE's unmatched record to have 100% of its entry qualified for Taiwan Excellence Award for the 11th year up to 2008.
- Revolution energy saving design with DES Advanced featuring hardware based Dynamic 6-Gear switching
- Supports 45nm Intel® CoreTM 2 multi-core processors with FSB 1600 MHz
- Dual channel DDR2 1333+ for remarkable system performance
- 2 PCI-E 2.0 x16 graphic interface with CrossFireXTM support for ultimate graphics performance
- 2 Gigabit Ethernet LAN with Teaming functionality
- DualBIOS solution gives a multiple security to the system
- Hardware Overvoltage Control IC Provides more voltage control options on CPU, North bridge and memory
- Blu-ray playback outputs supported by high quality 106dB SNR ALC889A HD audio
(Note) This motherboard is designed with VRD11.1 power phase, and cannot be compatible with VRD10 designed CPU. Please refer to "CPU Support List" for details.
1. Support for an Intel® Core™ 2 Extreme
processor/ Intel® Core™ 2 Quad processor/Intel® Core™
2 Duo processor/ Intel® Pentium® Dual-Core
processor/Intel® Celeron® processor in the
LGA 775 package
2. L2 cache varies with CPU
Front Side Bus
1. 1600/1333/1066/800 MHz FSB
1. North Bridge: Intel® P45 Express Chipset
2. South Bridge: Intel® ICH10
1. 4 x 1.8V DDR2 DIMM sockets supporting up to 16 GB of system memory
2. Dual channel memory architecture
3. Support for DDR2 1333+/1066/800/667 MHz memory
1. Realtek ALC889A codec
2. High Definition Audio
4. Support for S/PDIF In/Out
5. Support for CD In
1. 2 x Realtek 8111C chips (10/100/1000 Mbit)
2. Support for Teaming
1. 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16
2. 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x8
3. 3 x PCI Express x1 slot
4. 2 x PCI slots
1. 6 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (SATAII0, SATAII1, SATAII2, SATAII3, SATAII4, SATAII5) supporting up to 6 SATA 3Gb/s devices
JMicron 368 chip:
1. 1 x IDE connector supporting ATA-133/100/66/33 and up to 2 IDE devices
1. 1 x floppy disk drive connector supporting up to 1 floppy disk drive
1. T.I. TSB43AB23 chip
2. Up to 3 IEEE 1394a ports
1. Integrated in the South Bridge
2. Up to 12 USB 2.0/1.1 ports
Internal I/O Connectors
1. 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
2. 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
3. 1 x floppy disk drive connector
4. 1 x IDE connector
5. 6 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors
6. 1 x CPU fan header
7. 2 x system fan headers
8. 1 x power fan header
9. 1 x front panel header
10. 1 x front panel audio header
11. 1 x CD In connector
12. 1 x S/PDIF In header
13. 1 x S/PDIF Out header
14. 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
15. 1 x IEEE 1394a header
16. 1 x parallel port header
17. 1 x serial port header
18. 1 x power LED header
19. 1 x chassis intrusion header
Back Panel Connectors
1. 1 x PS/2 mouse port
2. 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
3. 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
4. 1 x coaxial S/PDIF Out connector
5. 8 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
6. 2 x IEEE 1394a ports
7. 2 x RJ-45 ports
8. 6 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out/Rear Speaker Out/Side Speaker Out/Line In/Line Out/Microphone)
1. iTE IT8718 chip
1. System voltage detection
2. CPU/System temperature detection
3. CPU/System/Power fan speed detection
4. CPU overheating warning
5. CPU/System/Power fan fail warning
6. CPU/System fan speed control
1. 2 x 8 Mbit flash
2. Use of licensed AWARD BIOS
3. Support for DualBIOS™
4. PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.4, ACPI 1.0b
1. Support for @BIOS
2. Support for Q-Flash
3. Support for Dual BIOS
4. Support for Download Center
5. Support for Xpress Install
6. Support for Xpress Recovery2
7. Support for EasyTune
8. Support for Dynamic Energy Saver Advanced
9. Support for Time Repair
10. Support for Q-Share
1. Norton Internet Security (OEM version)
1. Support for Microsoft/ Windows/ Vista/XP
1. ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 24.4cm
1. To enable Teaming or Bonding (IEEE 802.3ad Link Aggregation)
feature, it is required the connected network switch or router device
supports 802.3.ad LACP function.
1. Due to different Linux support condition provided by chipset vendors, please download Linux driver from chipset vendors' website or 3rd party website.
2. Due to most hardware/software vendors no longer offer support for Win9X/ME. If some vendors still has Win9X/ME drivers available, we will publish on website.
Gigabyte is one of the top motherboard manufacturers that always produce good quality products including the packaging, accessories and this is also same for their low end/entry products as well. Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3 comes with pretty nice looking packaging box as usual and in green color; maybe to remind end users about their energy saving technology for green environment. At the back of the packaging, all the unique and great features were listed clearly and it really make us drool.
Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3 is a basic board from Gigabyte P45 series so the accessories that are included are pretty simple where it only comes with four SATA cables (two 90 degree & two 180 degree), one FDD cable and one IDE cable. No round cable or UV reactive components here since Gigabyte isn't focus much on this. There is a multi languages hardware installation guide which contains 25 languages and a very detail user's manual which cover from hardware, BIOS till software,
Besides that Gigabyte includes two labels; Gigabyte Powered, Dynamic Energy Saver and one DVD media for drivers and software. For Gigabyte software, there are G.O.M, EasyTune 6, DMI Viewer, Face-Wizard, @BIOS, Q-Share, Time Repair and Update Manager. For the OEM software, there are Norton Internet Security, Kaspersky Anti-Virus, Acrobat Reader, Realtek Ethernet Teaming Utility, WinZip, COREL MediaOne, Browser Configuration Utility, Realtek Green Feature, Dolby GUI Software and Roxio Buzz 2.
As we mentioned previously Gigabyte has around 20 models just for P45 Express chipset and most of them are similar with minor changes to suit all kind of requirements and the differences are such as DDR2, DDR3, dual or triple PCI E x16, Raid, heatpipe cooler, water cooling cooler and etc. Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3 is not the cheapest model for Gigabyte P45 series but it is the most basic one.
Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3 is an Intel LGA775 socket board and LGA775 is also called as socket T. Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3 is designed with VRD1.1 power phase and it is not compatible with VRD1.0 CPU design, please refer to this CPU support list. Ultra Durable 2 is one of the great features from Gigabyte where it uses lower RDs (on) MOSFET, Ferrite core chokes and lower ESR solid capacitors to deliver lower temperature and longer system lifespan. Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3 requires 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector and 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector. Note* Gigabyte recommends at least 500W PSU for this product.
Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3 doesn't come with any fancy or unique heatsink rather than a simple aluminum gold color heatsink. If you are willing to pay additional then you should take a look on GA-EP45-EXTREME where it comes with heatpipe heatsink and water cooling is supported; this board will be called as S4 (Smart, Speed, Safe & Silent Pipe) while S3 for GA-EP45-DS3 without heatpipe feature.
South bridge of Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3 comes with smaller aluminum heatsink and Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3 comes with ICH10. Some Gigabyte P45 models come with ICH10R like GA-EP43-DS3R. The major difference between ICH10 and ICH10R is ICH10R support Raid while ICH10 does not. If you requires Raid feature then please ensure you get a model which end up with "R" which stand for ICH10R.
Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3 supports 4 x 1.8V DDR2 1333+/1066/800/667MHz DIMM up to 16GB of system memory. Besides DDR2 for P45 series, Gigabyte also offers DDR3 and combo of DDR2/DDR3 like GA-EP45T-DS3 and GA-EP45C-DS3. DDR3 is still not as cheap as DDR2 or close to it so it is better stick with DDR2 and upgrade to DDR3 when next Intel socket board; LGA1160 is widely available and cheap. At the upper portion of the DIMM, there are 6 multicolor LEDs which are used for indicating the number of active processor voltage regulator phases.
There are two PCI-E x16 for Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3. If you want cheaper board or just require single slot of PCI-E x16 then GA-EP45-DS3L is the one that you are looking for. On the other hand if you need more than 2 PCI-E x16 then GA-EP45-EXTREME has three slots of PCI-E x16. Please take note that the single PCI-E x16 will work at full speed of x16 but when two graphic cards are slotted in then the speed will changed to x8. Intel P45 Express chipset supports PCI Express 2.0 which has double the bus bandwidth from 0.25 GByte/s to 0.5GByte/s.
Besides two PCI-E x16, there are 3 PCI-E x1 and two more PCI slots. Different slot combination can be found on other Gigabyte P45 series models. Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3 has four onboard fan connectors and two of them are four-pin connector. COM and LPT ports are available at the bottom of the board.
Six internal SATA 3.0Gb/s ports are available for Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3. Although IDE is going to be phased out sooner or later, Gigabyte still include one IDE connector and one FDD connector. The rest of the internal connectors are front panel audio, CD IN, S/PDIF IN/OUT, USB 2.0, parallel port, serial port and chassis intrusion headers. On the top area of the six SATA ports, there are dual BIOS chip; B_BIOS and M_BIOS. As usual, Gigabyte board is expected to have such great feature.
At the rear panels, there are many USB 2.0 ports; total 8 ports which is definitely a good idea to have a board with as many USB ports as possible as most of the peripheral hardware/stuff today are using USB technology. Besides USB ports, there are PS/2 ports for older type of keyboard and mouse, coaxial and optical S/PDIF outputs, six audio jacks for 2/4/5.1/7.1 channel sound system, two IEEE1394ports and two network ports.
ITE IT8718 chip is an I/O controller chipset provides the most commonly used legacy Super I/O functionality plus the latest Environment Control initiatives, such as H/W Monitor, Fan Speed Controller (SmartGuardian). For the audio chip, Gigabyte used Realtek ALC889A which is a 7.1 (R)+2(F) channel HD audio coded with content protection.
Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3 has 2 x RJ-45 ports which are powered up by two Realtek RTL8111C chips where it combines a triple speed IEEE 802.3 compliant MAC with triple speed Ethernet transceiver, PCI Express bus controller and embedded memory.
TSB43AB23 from Texas Instruments is a 1394a link layer controller integrated with a 1394a, 400Mbps, 3-port physical layer while JMB from JMicron is a single chip 1-lane PCI Express to a-port PATA host controller.
As usual, Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3 BIOS is based on Award code and the latest BIOS from Gigabyte website is F9. M.I.T (MB Intelligent Tweaker) is a most frequent area that overclockers and PC enthusiasts will always play with it. CPU clock ratio can only be adjusted is the CPU clock ratio is not lock and fine CPU clock ratio allows user to adjust by 0.5 per step. C.I.A. 2 is designed to automatically adjust CPU computing power to maximize system performance.
Besides DIMM voltage, timing control is another area where users will tweak with it for CAS latency, tRCD, tRP and tRAS. In order to overclock further, most of the time more voltage will be pumped to the hardware like CPU and DIMM. So voltage adjustment is a must for an overclocker.
As usual hardware monitoring is available for Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3 for voltage and temperature monitoring and alert the user if there is anything not right and can be pre set to shut down the PC when it excess the upper limit. If Green Lan feature is to enable the Lan control will be disable automatically when network is not detected.
CPU Thermal Monitor 2 is enabled; the system will lower down the CPU frequency and voltage when the CPU is overheated. Here are some power management setup that are available.
Gigabyte Dynamic Energy Save Advanced
Gigabyte Dynamic Energy Save (DES) is industry leading energy saving technology and Dynamic Energy Save Advanced is a improved and newer version. Gigabyte Dynamic Energy Save Advanced allows power phases switching accordingly to the CPU workload. With this, it will save the energy consumption during idle and low CPU workload stage. With the Gigabyte own software for DES, the power saving will be calculated automatically so that it is a good reference for users and through this users will know how great of this Gigabyte own tecnology.
Further information of DES and the rest of Gigabyte great features, please refer here.
Gigabyte EasyTune6 is a simple and user's friendly GUI which allow users to fine tune their system and of course overclocking as well in window environment without keep on restarting the PC in order to tune the setting in BIOS environment. Besides that EasyTune6 also good for hardware monitoring like temperature and voltage rails.
Installation, Testing & Performance
Processor : Intel Core 2 Duo E8300
Memory : 4GB 800MHz DDR2 Memory
Hard Drive : 250GB 7200RPM 8MB Seagate HDD
Graphic Card : Nvidia GeForce GTX280
Optical Drive : 16x DVD RW
System BIOS : F7
Operating System : Microsoft Window XP SP2
Benchmark Software : HD Tech 3.0
Ambient Temperature : 28 Degree Celsius
Xpress Install feature is available for Gigabyte Media CD to install all the drivers that are required for the system. Application software need to be installed one by one because not all users will need them all as Gigabyte boards always comes with a lot of their own software.
For the overclocking, with the original voltage and we are able to overclock the Intel E8300 from 2.83GHz to 3.145GHz. This is not really outstanding and we were trying to change the multiplier from 8.5x to higher but due to limitation of the processor so we have stop the further overclocking from here since this board is not aim for overclockers.
For the benchmarking, we included some popular benchmark tools like 3DMark06, Everest, Sisoft Sandra and etc. For the benchmarking comparison, we compared the stock CPU clock speed with overclocked value; 3.17GHz.
No doubt Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3 is a very advanced and good performance board with its price. It comes with great hardware like dual PCI-E x16 2.0, dual BIOS, dual network and plenty of USB2.0 ports. For the software portion, the greatest one will be Dynamic Energy Saver Advanced which is most of the people are looking for either to save the electrical bill or for the better green environment. Besides that M.I.T. and EasyTune 6 are good for tweaking, overclocking and hardware monitoring. If you have different requirement for the hardware portion, Gigabyte has around 20 boards of Intel P45 Express for you to find you own one. With all these, Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3 is deserved a Gold Award from us.
* Good performance in term of overall
* Dual BIOS
* Dual PCI-E x16 2.0 & support Crossfire
* Dual network ports
* Dynamic Energy Save Advanced for energy saving
* EasyTune 6 for tweaking, overclocking & monitoring
* Great BIOS flexibility for overclocking; M.I.T.
Only registered users may post a comment.
|Le085 (Guest)||2.0 / 5||Sun 4 Jan 09|
|Ehm, just saying that you can't change the multiplayer over 8,5x due to e8300 limitation, not to motherboard limitation! I was looking for a overclocking test of this Motherboard but can't trust on review of people that isn't able to overclock...|
|Owner (Guest)||5.0 / 5||Mon 3 Nov 08|
|Nice board, I will buy it.|
|Administrator||5.0 / 5||Sun 2 Nov 08|
|This gigabyte P45 board is around the same range with MSI P45 Neo 2 and the features/price are around the same. No doubt, the north/south bridge cooler of MSI P45 Neo 2 is very charming but Gigabyte also comes with dual BIOS, dual NIC. So it is really depend what you need. Hopefully we will have a chance to test on MSI P45 Neo 2 as well for direct performance comparison. Thanks you|
|Vijay (Guest)||5.0 / 5||Sun 2 Nov 08|
|This board is the best for it's price! Thank you for the awesome review. How would you compare it though to the MSI-P45 NEO?|
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