iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Gigabyte 8GPNXP Duo Mainboard
Based on Intel 915P

The target group for this mainboard is rather difficult to identify, so it is most likely designed to satisfy absolutely all. Followers of the "gradual upgrade" will be pleased to find four DDR400 slots, fashion-mongers – two DDR2-533 slots. Those who like good package contents will be satisfied with a WiFi-g-adapter shipped with the mainboard and with a good set of software. Overclockers get an additional external VRM with passive liquid cooling. Besides, the price for this mainboard should not be out of sight, because it is based on the middle-end i915P chipset instead of the top i925X. Some people may call this combination of features strange, others - "funny", but we have all agreed upon one thing: it's an attractive offer for the widest audience possible, except for those who are pressed for money – Gigabyte 8GPNXP will hardly belong to the class of cheap solutions. Sort of an epitome of the golden mean – "Jack of both sides".

The PCB layout is ordinary – inconvenient location of connectors along the left edge, FDD and PATA connectors are behind the AGP slot, the audio connector is in front of the PCI-E 1x slots. The front edge is overcrowded with connectors, which is also not very convenient. Access to the jumper is not hampered, when the mainboard is in a 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 (4x1000 uF) and for memory (6x1000 uF).

The PCB layout provides space for COM ports, which is left empty. Mainboard dimensions – 305x245 mm ("wide" ATX, nine-screw mount, all mainboard edges are firmly fixed). The ITE IT8712F-A chip is used to monitor:

  • CPU and memory voltage, +3.3 and +12 V
  • RPM of 2 fans
  • CPU temperature (by the embedded CPU sensor)
  • board temperature (by the on-board sensor)

Onboard ports, sockets, and connectors

  • CPU socket (Socket 775)
  • 2 x DDR 2 SDRAM DIMM and 4 x DDR SDRAM DIMM (all the slots differ in color, grouped by three)
  • 1 x PCI-E x16 (with a latch)
  • 3 x PCI-E x1
  • 2 x PCI (32bit, 33MHz)
  • Power connectors: standard EPS 12 V (24 pins) and 4-pin connector for 12 V
  • 1 x FDD
  • 3 x IDE ( Parallel ATA ), one of them is in the chipset, the other two are due to an additional controller
  • 4 x SATA (Serial ATA) – all in the chipset
  • U - Plus DPS connector
  • 2 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 connectors (3 of them with RPM control, the fourth can be used by 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
    • PATA RAID setup guide
    • Poster with short instructions how to install and setup the mainboard

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

  • U-Plus DPS
  • WiFi 802.11b/g card with antenna
  • Fan for the northbridge heatsink of the chipset
  • Rear panel bracket with 2 x USB and 2 x FireWire
  • Rear panel bracket with 2 x USB
  • Rear panel bracket
  • 2 CDs with software:
    • mainboard 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

Noticeable items of the bundle are the WiFi-card (state-of-the-art card supporting 802.11g) and a separate cooler for the northbridge of the chipset. Actually, it makes sense: if a user is not up to overclocking, he will most likely do without it, and the system will be much less noisy. In the software package we can note the latest version of Norton Internet Security (personal firewall). This program is not cheap at all, and licensed software is more comfortable and secure to use...

Integrated Controllers

  • Audio, based on HDA CMedia CMI 9880 codec (7.1 ch Audio) with front Audio I/O jacks
  • 2 x LAN controllers, one of them is based on the Broadcom BCM 5751 KFB chip supporting 10 Base-T /100 Base-TX /1000 Base-T. The other is based on Marvell 88 E 8001- LKJ supporting 10 Base-T /100 Base-TX/1000 Base-T
  • FireWire based on Texas Instruments TSB 82 AA 2 and TSB 81 BA 3 supporting three FireWire -800 ports
  • PATA RAID based on the ITE IT 8212 F chip supporting RAID 0, 1, 0+1 and JBOD with two PATA 133 connectors.

The integrated audio quality was tested in 16bit, 44 kHz using the RightMark Audio Analyzer 5.1 test application and the Terratec DMX 6fire sound card:

FR passband ripple (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB:
+0.19, -0.71
Noise level , dB (A):
Very good
Dynamic range, dB (A):
THD, %:
Intermodulation distortions, %:
Channel crosstalk, dB:

General performance: Good (details).

Proprietary technologies

  • Gigabyte Dual BIOS (2 Flash EEPROM chips)
  • Gigabyte U-Plus DPS (additional VRM)


Jumpers and switches Clear CMOS jumper  
In Award BIOS v6.00PG Memory timings + CAS Latency, Active to Precharge Delay, RAS to CAS Delay, RAS Precharge, Write Recovery Time, Refresh Cycle, Refresh Mode Select
Memory frequency selection + Auto, DDR266, DDR333, DDR400, DDR2-333, DDR2-400, DDR2-533
AGP bus setup -  
PCI bus setup +  
PCI bus setup -  
PCI frequency divider setup -  
PCI IRQ manual assignment +  
FSB frequency setup + 100-355 MHz at 1 MHz steps
CPU multiplier + x8–x50
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 F2, the latest available BIOS version at the time of our tests.

Preliminary test results

We'll provide one of the diagrams from the future review. Gigabyte 8GPNXP Duo results are represented by the "i915P/DDR400" and "i915P/DDR2-533" bars (because this mainboard supports both memory types):




Dmitry Majorov (destrax@ixbt.com)
11 August, 2004

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