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Gigabyte GA-K8N Ultra-SLI Motherboard Review

Gigabyte GA-K8N Ultra-SLI Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: The GA-K8N Ultra-SLI includes an additional four channel Serial ATA/RAID controller, two Gigabit NICs, IEEE 1394b, 7.1-channel audio, SPDIF in/out...
 82% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Gigabyte Mar 08 2005   Colin Sun  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > Gigabyte GA-K8N Ultra-SLI

Fully Featured Motherboard

Count on Dual BIOS'


BIOS stands for Basic Input/Output System and is programmed into the computer's EEPROM memory. When you first boot up a system, the BIOS loads and runs a POST test which detects and initializes the hardware within the PC.

As components age, new BIOS' are released which improve hardware compatibility, and/or increase performance. Flashing the BIOS with a newer version can be tricky, especially with older hardware. A few years ago, a "bad flash" could render a motherboard useless and require a replacement board.

Dual BIOS' eliminate the possibility of killing a motherboard with a bad flash. If something were to go wrong during a flash, the motherboard would automatically boot off the backup BIOS which then allows you to reflash the main BIOS.

This removes the possibility of killing the motherboard while updating the BIOS, which is a very real risk. We've done it at PCStats, and we've heard many other horror stories from our readers!

The layout of the GA-K8N Ultra-SLI is excellent and users will have an easy time installing this board into a case. All the ports and headers are placed in the absolute best location.

Absolutely everything you'll need to use the onboard peripherals is included. For instance, eight Serial ATA cables are included as well as four Molex Y Serial ATA power cable converters. That means users with many HDDs or those who will be buying more do not have to shell out extra money for the accessories too. We love to see motherboard manufacturers putting this kind of value in their products.

We're also pleased to see that Gigabyte is not simply including features to tick off a check list. For instance, the GA-K8N Ultra-SLI comes with two Gigabit network cards but neither run through the PCI bus. Instead the Marvell 8053 is PCI Express based, and the Vitesse 8201 uses a special direct connection to the NF4-SLI chipset. That means both these network cards will never bottleneck the PCI bus.

It's nice to see that AMD has tackled heating and noise problems with its Cool 'n' Quiet feature. What C'n'Q does is automatically decrease the processor clock/fan speeds when idle, thus saving electricity and producing less heat and noise. When the motherboard detects more system activity, it will increase the CPU speed to meet demand (up to 100% if needed) as well as increasing the fan speed once the processor reaches a certain temperature.

There were only a couple of minor issues we had with this motherboard. First, the DIMM slots are too close together. We noticed that our Corsair TwinX1024-3200XL Pro memory modules did not sit straight as the heatspreaders pushed them apart. We didn't have this problem with other memory brands equipped with heatspreaders though, it seems to affect Corsair's Pro and Xpert lines of memory exclusively.

Also, the passive heatsink on the nForce4-SLI chipset gets extremely hot during operation. I couldn't even leave my finger on the heatsink for a few seconds without the risk of burning myself, and that's too hot for comfort. You'd better have good case cooling if you plan to use the GA-K8N Ultra-SLI!

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Contents of Article: Gigabyte GA-K8N Ultra-SLI
 Pg 1.  Gigabyte GA-K8N Ultra-SLI Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  — Fully Featured Motherboard
 Pg 3.  SATA II and SLI
 Pg 4.  How does it overclock?
 Pg 5.  Benchmarks: SYSmark 2004
 Pg 6.  Benchmarks: Winstone 2004, Winbench 99
 Pg 7.  Benchmarks: SiSoft Sandra 2004, Super Pi
 Pg 8.  Benchmarks: PCMark04, 3DMark2001
 Pg 9.  Benchmarks: 3DMark05, AquaMark3
 Pg 10.  Benchmarks: Comanche 4, X2: The Threat, UT2003
 Pg 11.  Benchmarks: UT2004, Doom 3
 Pg 12.  Lots of good useful features!

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