Advantages Dual bios and great stability
Disadvantages Unnanounced conflicts and required settings
This Dual Bios motherboard designed to accept AMD/Duron/Athlon/XP processors,incorperates onboard sound,+4 USB,with DDR memorey and in innovative dual bios system.
Having myself tried and tested this motherboard for 6 months in two machines,I am totally convinced of is usefulness and it's place in the market.Providing a very stable board and up to date technology,it has the added benefit of a system that protects your bios against viruses,power fluctuations,incorrect bios upgrades and bios chip failure.
Its incorperated resources and features are good,and ample for a very respectable system.However there are a few factors to be considered when choosing a motherboard,and most of the conflicts and incompatibilty problems I have encountered are not documented or advertised by the manufacturer.
AMD Athlon/Duron (K7)Socket A Processor 128 L1 and 256/64K L2 cache on die.Supports 500MHz - 1.2GHz+ and faster.
105/110/115/133 MHz system bus speeds.
200/266 MHz FSB and DDR bus speeds (PCI 33MHz).
2 IDE bus ,aster (AT 100/ATA66)IDE ports for up to 4 ATAPI devices.
Supports PIO mode 3,4(UDMA 33/ATA 66) IDE and ATAPI CD-ROM.
Support Wake-On-LAN(WOL)/Wake-On-Ring (WOR).
Support Internal/External Modem Ring On.
Supprt PS/2,KB/Mouse Powers On.
Includes 3 fan powers connectors.
Poly fuse for keyboard over-current protection.
Support STR (Suspend-To-RAM) function.
Support Mic in,Line out,Game port,Front Audio,AUX IN,Telephony.
---------------------------------Performance and Features-
This motherboard has proven itself to me over the last 6 months as an incredibly stable and reliable board.Despite my managing to infect my Bios on numerous occasions(sadly I am a download freak,and one of the side effects is the occasional virus),it has never presented a problem as the dual bios acts as an excellent flushable system,with one being used as the main bios,the other as a back up that can be used to over write the main bios as or when required.The added beauty of this system is that it as almost fully automated.
You also have the facility to set the bios to automatically check for updates upon internet connection.Despite this being a nifty feature and the protection of the back up in case of a bad update,I'm afraid I still stick my veiws of "don't fix what isn't broken" and therefore don't have it set to auto update.
The speed of the boards facilities is quite good,and although many applications show little speed improvement from the DDR,some do.However with the board supporting such a large quantity of memory,you should not be tempted into cramming you slots full oversized sticks too readily,as some versions of windows will not support the high quanities at all,and others rely on you manually adjusting your Vcache and swap files.Ignore these factors and you could quickly find your state of the art system runs like a tired 486!!!
Having also done a little research prior to purchasing my board,I found that it consistantly reached solid midrange results in exhaustive benchmark tests.
Cost and availabilty-Costing me little over £80 6 months ago,this was a bargain,and although computor part prices fluctuate quite alot this board is still available at around that price.
Ok,so we've had the good, now it's time for the bad and the ugly.
For the bad,we are talking a few too many jumpers for my liking,and 4 dip switches for the facility of manually dropping the CPU core voltages.Keep well away from the dip switches as there are automated facilities to do this.Add to this the unessecary AMR slot (there's nothing available to use in it except the odd riser modem!!)
Ugly!! Yes,very ugly is the fact that this board has a big problem with real magic video cards and tv cards,try to put these in and you'll find it tripping up all day long,and that's only if you can get it to boot.
Oh,and if you are considering using Windows XP,you need to be aware of changes required in your bios settings(turn off USB support for the keyboard and mouse) or else you'll be unable to fully boot and you'll be minus a keyboard and mouse!! None of these little useful,or should I say essential bits of information are to be found anywhere on the gigabyte website, or in the otherwise comprehensive manual, so make a mental note or like me you'll be pulling you hair out for a week or two!!
Summery-This motherboard has some excellent features,and the dual bios is something I would love to see on other manufacturers boards,it is an innovative and reliable solution to one of the main weaknesses encountered by all motherboards.As the internet is becomming more and more accessable and downloading is becomming ever more popular viruses are a prevalent caualty and despite increasingly more effective firewalls and anti viral software,they still slip through and can cause damage.
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