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Review: Gigabyte GA-K8NXP-SLI

by David Ross on 14 February 2005, 00:00

Tags: Gigabyte (TPE:2376), AMD (NYSE:AMD), NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qa6e

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Specification

Gigabyte GA-K8NXP-SLI
CPU Support All AMD Socket 939 processors
Northbridge nForce4 SLI (CK8-04 SLI)
Memory Support 4 slots, DDR, 4GB max, dual-channel
AGP None
PEG16X 2x PEG 16x slots
Southbridge None
Audio Realtek ALC850
Audio Connectivity 8 channel backplane speaker, Coax S/PDIF output/input, 4x speaker, 1x line-in, 1x mic-in
PCI Conventional 2 x 32-bit 33MHz PCI 2.3 slots
PCI Express 2 x PCI Express 1x slots
IDE 2x ATA133 compliant ports from CK8-04 SLI
IDE RAID None
SATA 4x SATA-300 ports from CK8-04 SLI, 4x SATA-150 ports from Sil3114 controller
SATA RAID RAID0, RAID1, RAID0+1 on CK8-04 SLI ports, RAID0, RAID1, RAID0+1, RAID 5 on Sil3114 ports
Networking Marvell 8053 Gigabit Ethernet Controller, 10/100/1000Mbit, PHY CICADA8201 Gigabit Ethernet Controller, 10/100/1000Mbit
USB CK8-04 SLI, 4 x backplane USB2.0, 6 x I/O USB2.0
FireWire TI TSB82AA2, 2 x I/O Firewire IEE1394b
Other I/O PS/2, 1x Parallel, 1x Serial

No doubt about it, the GA-K8NXP-SLI is a feature-packed board in every sense of the word. Starting with storage, this motherboard features connectivity for up to four ATA devices, four Serial ATA devices using the SATA-300 ports of the CK8-04 chipset, and another four SATA-150 ports from the additional Silicon Image controller present. All eight of these SATA ports support RAID configurations, with the Sil3114 also offering RAID 5 functionality on top of the usual RAID 0, 1 and 0+1 configurations available here.

USB and Firewire connectivity is similarly comprehensive, with up to ten USB 2.0 ports on offer. The GA-K8NXP-SLI is also one of (if not the) first motherboard to support the IEEE1394b FireWire standard, courtesy of a Texas Instruments controller, and thus offers transfer speeds of up to 800MB per second for such devices. Sound and network capabilities haven't been shirked either - 8 channel audio is supplied from Realtek's ALC850 chip, and the GA-K8NXP-SLI also features two network controllers, both supporting Gigabit transfer speeds. A step up from the oft-seen combination of one Gigabit and one 10/100 adapter, that's for sure. Of course, both connections also make use of NVIDIA's ActiveArmor hardware firewall present in the nForce4 chipset.

Of course, the real star of the show with this motherboard is in its support for NVIDIAs SLI technology, and thus the centrepiece of the board is the two 16 lane PCI Express slots provided, complete with continuity connector to switch between SLI and non-SLI modes of operation. These two slots are flanked by a couple of 1x PCI Express slots, and two legacy PCI slots are also provided to round off one of the most complete feature sets you'll see on a motherboard this year.