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Gigabyte GA-8AENXP-D – a Motherboard Based on Intel 925XE Chipset

April 12, 2005



There currently appear an increasing number of motherboards based on the recently released and well-advertised Intel 925XE chipset. Motherboards on this chipset are very often practically no different from their i925X predecessors. The new motherboard from Gigabyte is not an exception. It looks very much like Gigabyte 8ANXP-D, except for the support of Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition and 1066 MHz FSB.

Gigabyte GA-8AENXP-D is the top model in the series for Intel processors, so it is bundled according to its high status and possesses corresponding functionality. I would like to note that the manufacturer laid stress on the functionality of the motherboard instead of on "bells and whistles": eight Serial ATA connectors — this is quite "capital" even for these days. We should also note a very good quality of the integrated audio, based on Realtek ALC880 HD Audio.









The PCB layout is ordinary — inconvenient placement of connectors along the left edge, FDD and PATA connectors are behind the video slot, the audio connector is in front of the PCI-E 1x slots. Access to the jumper is not hampered, when the motherboard is in a PC case, its description is provided on the PCB. The 4-phase switching voltage regulator of the processor incorporates two 1500 uF capacitors, four 1000 uF capacitors, and nine 560 uF capacitors. The PCB also contains voltage regulators for the PCI-E x16 bus (4 x 1000 uF) and for memory (6 x 1000 uF).

The PCB layout provides space for a COM port connector, which is left empty. Motherboard dimensions 305x245 mm ("wide" ATX, nine-screw mount, all motherboard edges are firmly fixed). System monitoring is performed by the ITE IT8712F-A chip.

System monitoring (ITE IT8712F-A)

  • CPU and memory voltage, +3.3 and +12 V
  • RPM of 3 fans
  • CPU temperature (by the embedded CPU sensor)
  • Board temperature (by the on-board sensor)

Onboard ports, sockets, and connectors

  • Processor socket (Socket LGA775, for Intel Pentium 4, Prescott/Gallatin, Intel Celeron (Prescott), Pentium 4 Extreme Edition)
  • 6 x DDR 2 SDRAM DIMM (differ by color, grouped by three)
  • 1 x PCI-E x16 (with a latch)
  • 3 x PCI-E x1
  • 2 x PCI
  • Power connectors: standard EPS 12 V (24 pins) and 4-pin connector for 12 V
  • 1 x FDD
  • 1 x IDE (Parallel ATA) — in the chipset
  • 8 x SATA (Serial ATA), four of them are in the chipset, the other four are due to an additional controller
  • U - Plus DPS connector
  • 4 connectors for brackets with additional USB (2.0) ports
  • 2 connectors for the bracket with additional FireWire ports
  • 1 x CD/DVD audio connector
  • 1 x standard IrDA connector
  • Header for the bracket with additional Audio-Outs
  • 4 x fan headers (3 of them offer RPM control, the fourth can be used for the fan on the northbridge heatsink).

Back panel (left to right, blockwise)




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

Package Contents












  • Standard design package, two boxes with handles
  • Documentation (in English):
    • User's guide
    • SATA RAID setup guide
    • Poster with short instructions how to install and setup the motherboard

  • Cables:
    • ATA 66/100/133 (blue, with company logo)
    • FDD (blue, with company logo)
    • 8 x Serial ATA
    • 4 x SATA power converters

  • U-Plus DPS (additional VRM to increase operating stability, including overclocked modes)
  • Fan for a northbridge heatsink
  • WiFi 802.11b/g card with antenna
  • Rear panel bracket with 2 x USB and 2 x FireWire
  • Rear panel bracket with 2 x USB
  • Rear I/O shield
  • 2 CDs with software:
    • Motherboard drivers
    • drivers for the 802.11 b / g expansion board
    • Adobe Acrobat Reader
    • Norton Internet Security 2004
    • Gigabyte @BIOS
    • Gigabyte C.O.M
    • Gigabyte DMIView
    • Gigabyte EasyTune 5
    • Gigabyte FaceWizard
    • Gigabyte Windows Utility Manager
    • Gigabyte IA Panel
    • Gigabyte Management Tool
    • DirectX 9.0b






Integrated Controllers

  • Audio, based on HD Audio codec Realtek ALC880 supporting 7.1 channel audio, with front line-in/out and S/PDIF
  • Network, based on Marvell 8001 chipset, supporting 10/100/1000 Mbit/sec (Gigabit Ethernet)
  • Network, based on BROADCOM 5751 chipset, supporting 10/100/1000 Mbit/sec (Gigabit Ethernet)
  • Silicon Image 3114 RAID (4 x Serial ATA supporting RAID: RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10, JBOD)
  • Intel ICH6R (4 x Serial ATA supporting RAID: RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 0+1, Matrix RAID)

The integrated audio quality was tested in 16bit, 44 kHz using the RightMark Audio Analyzer 5.4 test application and the Terratec DMX 6fire sound card:

Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB:
+0.14, -0.21
Very good
Noise level, dB (A):
-90.8
Very good
Dynamic range, dB (A):
90.7
Very good
THD, %:
0.0026
Excellent
Intermodulation, %:
0.055
Good
Channel crosstalk, dB:
-90.0
Excellent

General performance: Very good (details).

Proprietary technologies

  • C.I.A.2 — dynamically changes CPU performance depending on the current CPU load
  • M.I.B.2 — optimizes memory operation
  • EasyTune 5 — a proprietary program that helps with overclocking
  • Xpress — a proprietary program that helps restoring lost data.
  • U-Plus DPS (additional VRM to increase operating stability, including overclocked modes)

Settings

Jumpers and switches Clear CMOS jumper  
In Award BIOS v6.00PG Memory timings
-
Memory frequency selection + Auto, DDR2-333, DDR2-400, DDR2-533, DDR2-600, DDR2-667, DDR2-711
AGP bus setup
-
PCI-E bus setup + 100-130 MHz at 1 MHz steps
PCI frequency divider setup
-
PCI IRQ manual assignment
+
FSB frequency setup + 100—600 MHz at 1MHz steps
CPU multiplier + x 12 —x 13
CPU core voltage control + 0.8375-1.6 V at 0.125 V steps
Memory voltage control + Normal, +0.1, +0.2, +0.3 V
Chipset voltage control
-
PCI-E bus voltage control + Normal, +0.1, +0.2, +0.3 V

We used BIOS 1.02F, the latest available BIOS version at the time of our tests.

Performance

Gigabyte GA-8AENXP-D demonstrates the best test results among the motherboards based on i925XE that we have tested. Differences between motherboards' test results are insignificant, so it's hard to say for sure which motherboard is faster. And, of course, a couple of seconds must not play a pivotal role when choosing one of these motherboards.

Test
Foxconn 925XE7AA (DDR2 533)
ASUS P5AD2-E Premium (DDR2 533)
Abit Fatality AA8XE (DDR2 533)
MSI 925XE Neo Platinum Edition (DDR2 533)
Gigabyte GA-8AENXP-D (DDR2 533)
Archiving with 7-Zip, min:sec
7:53
7:53
7:33
7:34
7:18
Memory read rate, MB/sec
2978
3021
2995
2992
3421
Memory write rate, MB/sec
1246
1362
1230
1220
1558
MPEG 4 (XVID) Encoding, min:sec
5:25
5:43
5:24
5:25
5:15
MPEG 4 (DIVX) Encoding, min:sec
3:57
4:14
3:56
3:56
3:51
Processing images in Photoshop, min:sec
35:20
35:16
34:30
34:36
33:05
Unreal Tournament 2004 (Fast@800x600x32), fps
69
67
69
68
72
Unreal Tournament 2004 (High@1280x1024x32), fps
64
63
65
64
68

Conclusions

Gigabyte products have always been a model of reliability. The new GA-8AENXP-D motherboard is not an exception. Besides, this model can boast of almost ultimate functionality, excellent performance, and very good quality of integrated audio.

But there is still a fly in the ointment of Gigabyte GA-8AENXP-D: for some unknown reason our sample refused to operate well with DDR2 Corsair XMS2 DDR2 PRO modules, so we had to replace them with XMS2 DDR2 TWINX. Considering very good performance results of this product in our tests, it will be logical to assume that it's a "price of speed", sort of: perhaps, some default timing values are a tad too "aggressive" (we traditionally use BIOS Optimal Defaults + By SPD in our tests, that is the settings used by the majority of users).

References

Senchihin Vladimir (sench@ixbt.com)
March, 2005


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