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Gigabyte GA-K8NXP-SLI nForce4-SLI Motherboard Review

Gigabyte GA-K8NXP-SLI nForce4-SLI Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: If you consider yourself a performance enthusiast and are contemplating purchasing a new system or motherboard in the near future, do yourself a favor and get something that's SLI compatible.
 88% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Gigabyte Feb 25 2005   Colin Sun  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > Gigabyte GA-K8NXP-SLI

SATA II and SLI

Case modders will absolutely love the motherboard as its quite good to look at. These days a motherboard cannot just be fast and fully equipped, it also has to look good and Gigabyte has that all covered with the blue PCB and multi-coloured ports. The layout of the motherboard is near perfect, and even with the board installed into a case with expansion cards you should be able to access all the vital connectors.

While Serial ATA has advanced past IDE on many fronts, one thing I did notice after setting up a few systems is that the cables come off the motherboard and drives quite easily. That issue has been addressed with the new style of Serial ATA II connectors and cables now used. Now when you insert one of the new cables into the appropriate slot it'll lock into place.

Removing the cable is quite easy, as pressing down on the latch allows you to pull the SATA II connector out. The SATAII controller and cables are backwards compatible with first generation of Serial ATA drives although you'll only be running at SATA I standard speeds, of course.

Gigabyte equip the GA-K8NXP-SLI board with two Gigabit NICs, and I'm happy to report that neither run on the PCI bus! That means you don't have to worry about the network card filling the PCI bus or about PCI activity slowing down your network traffic. The Marvel 8053 is PCI Express based while the Vitesse adaptor uses nVIDIA's "CSA" style connection to route directly to the NF4 SLI MFP chipset.

The nForce 4 SLI has a total of 20 PCI Express lanes to divvy up between the various peripherals. When the switch module just under the first PCIe x16 slot is set to 'Normal,' sixteen lanes are allocated for the first PCI Express x16 slot, two are allocated for the two PCI Express x1 slots and officially the second PCI Express x16 slot is not available. When the switch module is set to SLI, the sixteen PCI Express lanes from the first PCIe x16 slot are split in half and each PCIe x16 slot gets eight lanes while the small PCIe x1 slot between the two is disabled entirely.

During testing with the switch module set to 'SLI', the MSI RX800XT-VTD256 videocard still had use of all sixteen PCI Express lanes with no performance penalty according to SiSoft Sandra 2005. As expected, we were not able to run two GeForce 6600GT videocards in SLI with the switch module set to 'Normal' mode.

I would have preferred to be able to select normal or SLI modes within the BIOS instead of having to change a switch, but I guess it's not possible at the moment since every manufacturer with a nForce4 SLI-based motherboard requires a physical hardware change on the board itself.

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Contents of Article: Gigabyte GA-K8NXP-SLI
 Pg 1.  Gigabyte GA-K8NXP-SLI nForce4-SLI Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  — SATA II and SLI
 Pg 3.  nForce4 Technology Loving
 Pg 4.  Disk Improvements
 Pg 5.  More Storage Features
 Pg 6.  Overclocking and BIOS
 Pg 7.  Benchmarks: SYSmark 2004
 Pg 8.  Benchmarks: Winstone 2004, Winbench 99
 Pg 9.  Benchmarks: SiSoft Sandra 2004, Super Pi
 Pg 10.  Benchmarks: PCMark04, 3DMark2001
 Pg 11.  Benchmarks: 3DMark05, AquaMark3
 Pg 12.  Benchmarks: Comanche 4, X2: The Threat, UT2003
 Pg 13.  Benchmarks: UT2004, Doom 3
 Pg 14.  A great motherboard with a bright future!

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