Last week HardwareLogic gave you our impression of Foxconn's brand new i975X based motherboard, and today we take a look at the Gigabyte G1975X based on Intel's 975X Express chipset.
It's hard to pick a place to start, this board offers many top notch features that set it apart from it's competition, like onboard 8-channel audio by Creative Sound Blaster. Lets take a look at the specs before rolling up our sleeves and beating up Gigabyte's i975 entry.
|Internal I/O Connectors|
|Rear I/O Connectors|
The Gigabyte GA-G1975X is a very unique looking board, due in large part to the enormous cooling solution surrounding the CPU area. From targeted cooling of critical areas to an excellent PCI and PCI_E expansion card retention system my initial impression of the GA-G1975X is very favorable..
Below we have the LGA-775 socket surrounded by 8-phase CPU power regulation and a very efficient cooling_exhaust setup for both the Northbridge and CPU MOSFETs.
Below we have closer look at the 975X Northbridge and CPU socket AREA cooling. There are a total of four LED lighted fans that push air through the socket area. The great deal of heat dissipated from the northbridge under normal circumstances increases case temperature.
Gigabyte eliminates the heat from the NB with it's Turbojet cooling. The two fans pictured above channel heat from the NB and woosh, right out the back of the case. The other two fans ontop of the board move air over the area of the board where the CPU MOSFETs sit. These MOSFETs get EXTREMELY hot, but the Turbojet system efficiently exhausts this heat out the back of the case. The turbojet system does generate some noise, but's it's nothing that's overwhelming. I relate it to the nosie of a low RPM 80mm fan or about 23dba @ 3ft.
On the left side of the above picture we see the 24-pin ATX connector. To the right side we see the 12V ATX connectors, or the black cap can be removed to make a 8-pin ESP 12v CPU power connector. It's our recommendation to use the 8-pin ESP connector for higher-end CPUs such as the Pentium D Extreme Edition or when oveclocking.
Here we see a black 4-pin molex connector. This feeds today's power hungry PCI_E graphics cards with stable 12v power.
Moving on to other componets of the board, underneath of the heatsink we have the Intel ICH7R Southbridge and it's surroundings.
The ICH7R chip coordinates HDD, USB devices and floppy disk drives to say the least. ICH7R is capable of running different types of RAID arrays including RAID-0, and RAID-1. In the picture we see 4 SATA connectors. The small green and yellow connectors are USB, while the longer green connector is IDE for PATA devices. Notice this board as TWO bios chips, in case one fails, no worry.
Next is a feature that is very handy. Pictured above are two buttons, one red and one blue. The red buttons clears CMOS, no moving arounds jumpers on this board, just click, and your done. The blue button switches power on_off. These features are real handy when the board is out of a case, or one's troubleshooting.
Here we have something not usually found as onboard sound. As you may know, on-board sound controllers usually aren't the best, having poor quality and lacking support. The Gigabyte 975X is rather different, featuring 8.1 channel, High-Definition, 24-bit audio by Creative Sound Blaster! The audio on this board is pristine clear, well suited for gaming and such.
Gigabyte outfitted the G1975X with a very innovative and effective expansions card retention system. This system holds expansion cards securely in their slot while installation and removing of cards is simple!
Here we have the back IO panel of the G1975X. It sports two of the four Turbojet fans on the G1975X along with two USB ports, ethernet, PS/2 mouse and keyboard, and 3 sound ports. The other 3 sound ports fit into a PCI I/O slot and connect driectly in the board.
The Gigabyte GA-G1975X retail box comes packed to the brim with goodies.
4 x SATA II cables
1 x SATA cable
1 x eSATA to SATA back panel slide
2 x PATA cables supporting two devices each
2 x molex --> SATA power cables
1 x USB I/O panel featuring 2 USB slots
1 x USB/IEEE 1394 IO panel
1 Universal PCI_E graphics bridge
1 I/O back plate
Gigabyte Utility CD
Creative Sound Blaster Live CD
DTS Connect trailer DVD
Cyberlink DVD Solution w Norton Internet Security
Quick Start Guide
Gigabyte case badge
G1975X features a dual bios setup by Award Software. Dual bios means nothing more then if the main ROM gets corrupted, or a flash goes bad, no panick, there's a backup. Above we see the main page of the bios. Now more into details of the bios....
In the CMOS section we can set system date and time. IDE configuration details are also listed here.
In the Advanced BIOS Features section we find hard drives settings such as boot device priority and SMART HDD capabilites. CPU Hyper-threading can be Enabled_Disabled along with Virtualization Technology(AKA Vanderpool Technology).
The Integrated Pheripherals menu lets the user Enable_Disable onboard controllers from IDE and USB to onboard sound. HDD controller mode(standard IDE or RAID) can also be set for ICH7R in this section.
The PC Health window of the bios offers us CPU temperature and the option to enable an array of warnings such as CPU warning temp. Unlike most bios, the G1975X bios does not display current Vcore, vDDR2, 3.3v or 12v. Instead it says 'OK' next to them. PC Health DOES show us fan speeds.
This next section, MB Intelligent Tweaker offers us all of our overclocking and performance settings plus a few unique features. Now we'll go over exactly what's in the M.I.T section.
Gigabyte CPU Intelligent Accelerator 2 auto adjust CPU computing power based on load. This allows for faster and smoother execution of programs. There are 6 different levels of acceleration.
FSB on the G1975X can be adjusted from 100MHz -600Mhz. This is ALOT of FSB. Default FSB is 200MHz on Pentium D, and 266MHz on Extreme Edition processors. From these defaults, 600MHz is quite a bit of headroom.....
PCI_E frequency can be set anywhere from 90-150MHz. 100MHz is default for PCI_E cards. Regular PCI frequency can be set to a max of 37.5MHz, from 33.3MHz default.
The memory multipier can be set ranging from 2.0- to 4.00. How this works is you take the set multiplier and multiply it by 200, and that gives you the effective DDR2 speed.
DDR2 voltage can be ajusted to a whopping 2.5v which is the highest we have seen out of our three 975x boards. 2.5v is enough to push the industry leading Corsair 8000UL or any Micron D9 based DDR2.
PCI_E voltage can be adjusted upwards of .7V! This is the most we have seen on 975X boards.
Front Side Bus voltage on the G1975 can be adjusted upward .35v to 1.65v. This allows for ALOT of headroom when overclocking
CPU voltage can be pushed into the range which takes exotic cooling to deal with. 1.75v is enough to break 6GHz overclocking processors. VCORE is adjusted in .0125v increments.
CAS Latency time can be adjusted from 3-6 in increments of 1. This is an advanced features and should only be changed by the seasoned tech.
The MIB 2 feature, when enabled optimizes performance for specific DIMM modules. This feature must be handled with care because there is a chance it may cause instability.
Last we have a very important feature of any bios. Simply enough we have an option that loads 'Fail-Safe Defaults'. When somethings not right and you can't put your finger on it, simply load 'Fail-Safe Defaults'.
- Intel Pentium D 920
- Gigabyte GA-G1975X
- Mushkin 6400 eXtreme Performance 5-3-3-8
- ATI X1900XTX w 6.4cats
- Western Digital 80GB SE SATAII 7200rpm, 8mb cache
- PC Power & Cooling 510w TurboCool Express
All benchmarks where done on a fresh install of Windows XP SP2 with ATI 6.4cats.
Next up we take a look at the overclocking performance of the G1975X. The board reached an 'Auto' overclock of 242FSB. Auto overclock is one without raising voltage or any other tweaks. The G1975 went further on Auto OC then the competition did, only by 2 Mhz FSB.
In our test rig the Gigabyte GA G1975X reached a max overclock of 284MHz FSB. This puts it in the middle in terms of performance of the three boards we tested. Below the graph shows how the G1 stood up against the competition when pushed for a max overclock.
As you can see from the graph the G1 was able to provide a stable bed for us to push the Pentium D 920 to 3.976ghz.
Sisoft Sandra 2005 CPU Arithmetic
SiSoft Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant)is a 32 and 64-bit Windows system analyser that includes benchmarking, testing and listing modules. For testing processors we use Sandra's CPU Arithmetic benchmark.
Everest Ultimate Edition 2006
EVEREST Ultimate Edition is system diagnostics and benchmarking solution for enthusiasts PC users, based on the award-winning EVEREST Technology. During system optimizations and tweaking it provides essential system and overclock information, advanced hardware monitoring and diagnostics capabilities to check the effects of the applied settings. For testing processors we use Everest's CPU Photoworxx benchmark.
The tool is set to deliver accurate benchmarks by testing not only a computer's raw processing speed but also all other areas that affect system performance such as OpenGL, multithreading, multiprocessors and Intel's new HT Technology.CINEBENCH includes render tasks that test the performance of up to 16 multiprocessors on the same computer as well as software-only shading tests and OpenGL shading tests on huge numbers of animated polygons that will push any computer to its limits.
Sisoft Sandra Memory Bandwidth
SiSoft Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant)is a 32 and 64-bit Windows system analyser that includes benchmarking, testing and listing modules. For testing memory we use Sandra's Memory Bandwidth benchmark.
Everest Ultimate Editon 2006
EVEREST Ultimate Edition is system diagnostics and benchmarking solution for enthusiasts PC users, based on the award-winning EVEREST Technology. During system optimizations and tweaking it provides essential system and overclock information, advanced hardware monitoring and diagnostics capabilities to check the effects of the applied settings. For testing memory we use Everest's Memory Read and Memory Write tests.
Super Pi Mod v1.4
Super Pi is a program used by enthusiasts to benchmark system performance. Owned and maintained by XtremeSystems.org, Super Pi is as much a competition as it is a benchmark, with many forums cataloging users times in the 1M and 32M calculations. For testing memory we use the 1M calculation.
Science Mark 2.0 is an attempt to put the truth behind benchmarking. In an attempt to model real world demands and performance, SM2 is a suite of high-performance benchmarks that realistically stress system performance without architectural bias. For benchmarking memory, we use MemBench, an unbiased, synthetic benchmark that sweeps through more than 15 different, publicly available, memory copy algorithms to measure the peak memory performance of your CPUs caches and your memory subsystem.
3DMark05 is best suited for the latest generation of DirectX 9.0 graphics cards. It is the first benchmark to require a DirectX9.0 compliant hardware with support for Pixel Shaders 2.0 or higher! By combining high quality 3D tests, CPU tests, feature tests, image quality tools, and much more, 3DMark05 is a premium benchmark for evaluating the latest generation of gaming hardware.
By combining full DirectX 9.0a support with completely new tests and graphics, 3DMark03 Pro continues the legacy of being the industry standard benchmark. The high quality game tests, image quality tests, sound tests and others give you an extremely accurate overview of your systems current gaming performance.
Doom 3 is an "older" game that still is a good benchmarking tool as it highly stresses your entire system. For benchmarking we use TimDemo1 with the screen resolution set to 1024x768.
The HardwareOC FarCry Benchmark is an easy-to-use tool, which makes Far Cry video card benchmarking fast and easy.
In 2004 Far Cry earned the "Best Game of the Year" award because of its awesome graphics and gameplay. It was the first game with Pixel Shader 3 support, which later became a standard in many other games.
While the user interface is simple, you can actually change more details than you think. With its one-of-a-kind screenshot feature, you can make snaps from the same frame from different views. You can also use OpenGL instead of Direct3D, or turn on HRD and Geometry instancing.
Warranty and SupportAll Gigabyte motherboards carry a 3 year limited warranty (First 2 years parts & labor, 3rd year parts only). gigabyte's website includes a wide variety of information and support options to include a Comparison Sheet, BIOS, Driver Updates, a FAQ, User Manual, and CPU Support List.
The Gigabyte GA G1975X is definitely one of the best 975X solutions on the market. The board packs a handfull of unique features including the Turbojet Cooling and Blue LED decked across the board. Another unique feature worth mentioning again is the PCI_E card retention system which is a big plus for the gamer moving their box around often These features set it apart from the competition. Overall performance was superb during my benchmarking. I definitely recommend this board to any enthusiast or gamer looking for the latest Intel desktop motherboard solution.
Well the 3D benchmarks speak for themselves. The G1 is a very strong performer!