iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Gigabyte 8I945P-G — a Motherboard Based on Intel 945P

  • Intel 945P chipset (i945P northbridge and ICH7 southbridge)

Intel has just announced a series of inexpensive i945 chipsets to support dual core Pentium D and Pentium Extreme Edition processors. Gigabyte 8I945P-G has become the first motherboard based on one of these chipsets that appeared in our lab. It's a middle end model, which rectifies the drawback of this chipset for a regular user of inexpensive systems: support for only one Parallel ATA connector. Thus, the board contains IDE RAID controller, Gigabit Ethernet controller connected to PCI Express, and of course HDA (in fact, it supports even 10-channel audio). Good modern characteristics, no excesses, but the price will be hopefully affordable.

The layout is generally standard, but the PCB is unified (for this motherboard series) and leaves no empty space on the narrow board. The only layout inconvenience is the DIMM slots area of the board, which is overcrowded with connectors. Access to the only jumper is not hampered even when the motherboard is in a case. There is a brief description of jumper functions on the PCB. The 3-phase switching voltage regulator of the processor incorporates two 3300 uF capacitors, four 1500 uF capacitors, and five 560 uF ones. The board also has a memory voltage regulator incorporating twelve 1000uF capacitors and reinforced with inductive elements. It uses excellent electrolytic capacitors from Sanyo and Nichicon. Motherboard dimensions — 305x220mm (narrow ATX, 7-screw mount, motherboard edges may sag under pressure).

Gigabyte traditionally offers an entire series of motherboards on one or several similar chipsets, all this variety is usually based on one or two PCB modifications. For example, the motherboard under review resembles the 8I945G Pro (based on i945G), the 8I945P Pro and the 8I945G are just modifications of the 8I945P-G: the former differs in its functionality, being equipped with the majority of components that are missing on the 8I945P-G (GigaWire controller, additional Flash BIOS chip, power connectors), and the latter is based on a different chipset - i945G. The company's inventory also contains two twin mATX models on i945P/G and an interesting motherboard on i945P with two PCIEx16 slots (to organize SLI).

System monitoring (ITE IT8712F-A):

  • CPU voltage, +1.8 V, +3.3 V and +12 V
  • RPM of 3 fans
  • CPU and board temperatures (by the corresponding embedded sensors)

Onboard ports, sockets, and connectors

  • Processor socket (Socket 775 for Intel Pentium 4, Pentium D, Pentium 4 Extreme Edition, Pentium Extreme Edition — all top processors from this company are potentially supported, but the accurate data was unavailable at the time this review was written)
  • 4 x DDR2 SDRAM DIMM (up to 4 GB DDR2-400/533/667 without ECC Supports dual channel mode, the total memory capacity in both channels must be the same — for example, 256/256 or 256+256/512)
  • PCIEx16 for video accelerators
  • 2 x PCIEx1
  • 3 x PCI
  • Power connectors: standard ATX 2.2 (24 pins, you can connect a regular 20-pin connector, but in this case it's not recommended to use powerful up-to-date componentry like top PCIE video cards, or you will have to use the additional connector mentioned) and 4-pin ATX12V for a processor
  • 1 x FDD
  • 3 x IDE (Parallel ATA) for 2 ATA100 devices (chipset based connector) and 4 ATA133 devices (based on the additional VIA controller), the latter can form RAID 0, 1 and 0+1
  • 4 x SATA-II (Serial ATA II) for 4 SATA300 devices (chipset based connectors)
  • 2 connectors for brackets with 4 additional USB ports
  • 1 x CD/DVD audio connector
  • Connectors for analog audio ins and outs on the front panel
  • S/PDIF-In
  • RF_ID connector for some specific Gigabyte devices
  • Connector for a chassis intrusion sensor
  • Only two fan connectors (both with rpm control, the CPU fan connector also allows automatic rpm control).

Back panel (left to right, blockwise)

  • PS/2 mouse and keyboard
  • 1 x LPT, S/PDIF-Out (Coaxial and Toslink), 1 x COM
  • 2 x USB
  • 2 x USB and 1 x RJ-45 (Gigabit Ethernet)
  • 6 x Analog Audio (Mic-In, Line-In, Front, Center/Sub, Rear, Side).

Package Contents

  • Documentation (in English): User's Guide, SATA RAID Setup Guide, poster with brief instructions on installation and setup
  • Cables: 1 x SATA, 2 x "round" ATA66, and 1 x "round" FDD
  • Fan that can be latched on the northbridge heatsink
  • Rear I/O shield
  • CD with drivers and proprietary Gigabyte utilities, as well as Norton Internet Security 2004.

We can say nothing about the package design, because our sample was shipped in a white cardboard box. We should mention the bundled fan: the idea to offer users a choice whether to use active cooling of the northbridge or no (though anybody can do it using a screwdriver) seems very good. Our motherboard missed the power connector for this fan, but this is probably a defect of a prerelease sample.

Integrated Controllers

  • Audio, based on the HDA codec Realtek ALC882 (7.1+2) supporting 7.1 surround sound audio with front line-in/out and S/PDIF-In/Out jacks
  • Network, based on Broadcom BCM5789KFB chip supporting 10/100/1000 Mbit/sec (PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet)
  • IDE RAID controller, based on the VIA VT6410 chip, supporting 4 ATA133 devices that can form RAID 0, 1, and 0+1.

According to the documentation of the manufacturer, the 8I945P-G should use IDE RAID controller from ITE (GigaRAID IT8212), as well as any other models from this series. Our sample used the VIA controller. Specifications of these products are the same, we cannot say for sure what you will see in production-line models.

The integrated audio quality was tested in 16bit, 44 kHz using the RightMark Audio Analyzer 5.5 test application and the Terratec DMX 6fire sound card:

Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB:
+0.14, -0.17
Very good
Noise level, dB (A):
Dynamic range, dB (A):
THD, %:
Very good
Intermodulation distortion + Noise, %:
Channel crosstalk, dB:
Very good
IMD at 10 kHz, %:
Very good

General performance: Good (Details). The board is equipped with an interesting new codec Realtek ALC882, which supports 10 audio channels in HDA quality, that is two more channels are added to the standard 7.1-ch format. What concerns the quality of analog audio playback at 16 bit/44 kHz, it's on a good level for modern codecs, nothing more.

Proprietary technologies

  • CIA (CPU Intelligent Accelerator) 2 — dynamically changes CPU clock (to be more exact, FSB) depending on the current load
  • MIB (Memory Intelligent Booster) 2 — optimizes memory operations by reckoning with properties of known chips/modules
  • EasyTune 5 - a proprietary Windows utility to overclock and monitor system parameters in real time
  • Q-Flash and @BIOS — these utilities can flash a new BIOS version without booting a computer from a floppy
  • Xpress Recovery - this utility backs up the data in the hidden area of a hard drive and then allows to restore this data
  • Xpress Install - automatically installs necessary drivers and applications from the bundled CD.


Jumpers and switches Clear CMOS jumper  
In Award BIOS v6.00 Memory timings + CAS Latency, RAS to CAS Delay, RAS Precharge, Precharge Delay
Memory frequency selection + Auto, a number of multipliers to set memory frequencies to 400, 533 and 667 MHz for each supported FSB frequency
Peripheral bus frequency control + PCI-E=Auto, 90—150 MHz at 1 MHz steps
PCI IRQ manual assignment -  
FSB frequency setup + 100—600 MHz at 1MHz steps
CPU multiplier +  
CPU core voltage control + Normal, 0.8375—1.6000 V at 0.0125 V steps
Memory voltage control + Normal, +0.1—0.6 V at 0.1 V steps
Chipset voltage control + Normal, +0.1—0.3 V at 0.1 V steps
PCI-E bus voltage control + Normal, +0.1—0.3 V at 0.1 V steps

We used BIOS F1, the only available BIOS version at the time of our tests. The mentioned BIOS parameters are available in this version, but the viability of non-standard settings hasn't been tested. You can see a complete list of settings by pressing Ctrl+F1 in the main BIOS Setup menu.


Note that the motherboard we got from Gigabyte was the first model on the new chipset, which had not been announced yet at that time. But there were no PCB layout defects, so typical of engineering samples. The only complaint about the 8I945P-G is its relatively low performance. However, considering BIOS version — F1 (it's often a prerelease version), we have every reason to expect new BIOS versions by the time of our i945P roundup. But for now you can read about the motherboard performance (which looks like preliminary data) in the article, which link is published below.

Test results:

This model on the manufacturer's web site

The motherboard is kindly provided by the manufacturer

Vladimir Senchihin (sench@ixbt.com)
June 2, 2005.

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