Intel's P45 Express chipset has become incredibly
popular with both system builders and regular computer users.
Based on the P35 Express chipset that came shortly before it,
but with official support for 1600MHz FSB 45nm processors, the P45 is said to be Intel's last core logic for legacy
socket 775 CPUs. Now due to the sheer proliferation of P45 Express-based
motherboards on the market, picking up a motherboard can
be... well, quite challenging. Gigabyte is betting that connectivity will be the
edge that propels its GA-EP45-DQ6 motherboard to the forefront, along with some innovative
power saving technologies.
In addition to the P45 chipset's inherent PCI Express 2.0 and dual
videocard Crossfire support, Gigabyte's EP45-DQ6 motherboard boasts no less than
four gigabit network ports, ten SATA channels,
three IEEE1394 Firewire and
twelve USB2.0 ports! Follow along as PCSTATS
reviews the performance, overclocking and 'Dynamic Energy Saver Advanced' power saving features
of Gigabyte's GA-EP45-DQ6 motherboard, an enthusiast platform that packs in every feature you
can think of.
Based on the Intel P45 Express and ICH10R southbridge, the Gigabyte GA-EP45-DQ6 motherboard supports all socket
775 Intel processors running on an 800/1066/133/1600 MHz FSB - from lowly
Celerons and Pentium Ds
to exotic Core 2 Extreme and Core
2 Quad processors. Up to 8GB of 667/800/1066/1200MHz DDR2 memory can
be installed, we'd recommend starting with at least 2GB for smooth Vista running. For
good measure, the board make uses of dual BIOS chips, so
chances of a bad BIOS flash are greatly reduced.
||Gigabyte GA-EP45-DQ6 Motherboard
DVD, User Manual, IDE/Floppy Cables, (6)
Serial ATA Cables, (2) Molex to Serial ATA Power Cables, (2) eSATA
cables, (2) eSATA PCI brackets, Firewire bracket, I/O
Any gamer on the market for a Crossfire capable
motherboard will be pleased with Gigabyte's EP45-DQ6 motherboard and
its pair of 2nd generation PCI Express x16 slots. With only one PCI Express x16
videocard installed, there are 16 PCI-e lanes dedicated to it, but under
Crossfire both videocards will run in x8/x8 mode. Alongside are two PCI Express
x4 slots for high bandwidth peripherals, which while physically shorter than a
full size PCI express x16 slots are open at the end so full-size PCI Express x16
videocards can be installed (as well as PCI Express x1 devices). For good measure, there is one PCI Express x1 and two 32-bit legacy PCI slots.
Storage considerations are addressed by six SATA II ports off the Intel ICH10R (RAID
0, 1, 5 or 10) and four additional SATA II ports from a
SIL5723 controller (RAID0,1) which also handles the ATA-133 IDE connection.
Three independent RAID arrays can
be configured on this motherboard, at least one of which is BIOS
based. Gigabyte's E45-DQ6 includes two technologies the company is especially
Dynamic Energy Saver and Ultra Durable 2. We'll touch on the former in a moment,
the latter is basically a collection of electrical components which last longer. Chief
among them is the use of all solid state capacitors.
The Gigabyte EP45-DQ6's rear I/O
panel packs in four 10/1000 Gigabit LAN jacks! These RJ45
jacks can be teamed into one big network connection, improving overall traffic throughput and making
it possible to bypass stalled or failed connection packets and route information
through the other network jacks.
All four jacks can be configured to work as a router to other computers
and devices on a private network, allowing the EP45-DQ6 to potentially double
as a home gaming server.
Rounding out the feature list is 7.1 channel High Definition Audio
which includes Dolby Pro Logic (106 dB signal to noise ratio), and
optical and coaxial SPDIF connections.
The Gigabyte EP45-DQ6 costs around $270 CDN ($240 USD, 130GBP),
but this extra money does
get you one hell of a bundle. Aside from the pile of regular accessories in
the box are five Click-Connect SATA cables; these use a mechanical
lock to secure the data cables into their sockets in much the same
fashion as a RJ45 or RJ11 connector is fastened in place. Oh, and the Gigabyte EP45-DQ6 motherboard also comes with a copy of Norton Internet Security on the disc - it's quite an extensive bundle!