While Intel has not released a new chipset in several months, it does not mean that there are no new updates. Case in point, the . While it is still based on the now months old i965 chipset, Gigabyte et all has put enough into this motherboard to make it shine like brand new.
The Gigabyte 965P-DQ6, as I mentioned above, is based on the Intel 965 chipset. While Intel specifies the basics, the Manufacturers have latitude to help distinguish themselves. Let's look at what Gigabyte is putting to the floor to distance it from the pack.
|LGA-775 supporting the Intel Core 2 Extreme Quad / Core 2 Extreme Duo / Core 2 Duo / Pentium Extreme Edition / Pentium D / Pentium 4 / Celeron D
|4 DDR2 (240-pin) DIMMS / Max 8GB / Dual Channel capable - 800/667/533
|2 – x16 (PCIe1 x16 / PCIe2 x4) / 3 – x1
|Marvell Yukon 8056
|ICH8R – 1x – FDD / 6x SATA-II (RAID 0/1/5/10/0+1)
|Realtek ALC888 HD 8-Channel CODEC with S/PDIF Optical/Copper - DTS - Dolby Digital
|USB 2.0 (4 rear, 3x2 headers) / IEEE-1394 (1 rear, 2x header) / PS2 (2) / S/PDIF (Fiber and Copper) / RS-232 / parallel / 6 Audio (SW selectable)
Gigabyte Virtual 12 Phase power design / CrazyCool / Fanless (heat-pipe) Thermal solution
This is the Rev 3.3 version of the , while physically it looks very similar to earlier releases, there have been some subtle changes. Numero Uno on that list is the ability to support the latest Core 2 Duo processors running at 1333MHz FSB. Add to that a little thing called CrossFire, and you have a i965 chipset based motherboard that is challenging the supposed supremacy of the 975x.
Gigabyte, now Gigabyte United, is apparently here to contend in the High End motherboard arena, and they are doing so loud and clear. Gigabyte sports twin 6 phase voltage regulators (12 phases in all) using Solid State Capacitors instead of Electrolyte (as seen in many other manufacturers). Solid State Capacitors give you a distinct advantage in that they run cooler then their brethren as well as being able to sustain performance even when running hot. This not only buys you longevity in the component itself, it gives you cleaner power. As we all know, cool power delivery components tend to deliver cleaner power, which should bode well when it comes to overclocking.
While packaging is packaging, there is still something to be said for a package that catches your eye, and Gigabyte does just that with the 965P-DQ6 Rev 3.3. While its not Neon green or Orange its nicely presented with a full list of what you get inside the package as well as some quick information on what Gigabyte is touting as their “6-Quad” motherboard spec's.
Opening the package you realize that it is not the same old slide the cardboard out sideways and flip the top, this one opens from the edge and slides out 2 items. First is the box that encases your cables, manuals and other assorted goodies, 2nd is your motherboard, fully encased in a plastic mold that protects it, wow...
Opening the box with all the cables we will take stock of what we have on hand:
4 Orange SATA cables
1 Blue IDE cable's
1 Blue Floppy cable
2 eSATA Kits (includes riser / Rear Panel, Power connector and eSATA cable)
1 Driver CD
Quick Start Fold Out (Laminated)
While not as exclusive as some packages I have seen, overall a decent include. I would have liked to have seen 8 SATA cables instead of just the 4, but there are very few of us that would use all 8 SATA ports, so that is understood. While there are 4 USB ports and a FireWire port on the rear I/O, it would have been nice to include a riser for the extras on the motherboard. Granted most case manufacturers include those now (I know, I am getting picky in my old age).
The Gigabyte GA-965P-DQ6 Rev. 3.3 manual is similar to a lot of other manuals I have from other motherboard manufacturers. The layout is logical and easy to follow. There is no color once you flip the cover, color coding being something that is gaining popularity in other manuals I have seen. The laminated Quick Start sheet is done in color and is helpful on your initial quick build or even that rebuild for a new case etc...
The motherboard itself is absolutely breathtaking to look at. It is not often that I like to sit back and just look over a board (I want to install that sucker) but this one, with all of the Copper Heat Pipes and Copper Fins, it just looks good. Gigabyte used a decent color coding scheme in that it is not overly colorful but gets the point across nicely, also you can see they allowed for ample room between the 2 PCIe X16 slots for dual width cards (such as mine). The underside of the GA-965P-DQ6 is clean and noticed by me immediately, was that Gigabyte did not skimp just because this is the underside and no one would see; they continued to use a Copper Heat Sink here as well for cooling. Unfortunately you are going to need to be careful of Heat Sinks that have underside mounting brackets, as some (including one that I have) are not long enough to extend past the large heat sink Gigabyte has deployed here.
The socket used on the Gigabyte GA-965P-DQ6 Rev. 3.3 is of course of the LGA775 format and is located on the right rear quadrant as with most solutions today. There appears to be ample room surrounding the socket retention mechanism for most HS/Fan combinations. Surrounding the LGA-775 is the dual 6 Phase Power Design. You might want to take note of the cooling solution deployed for the Power Design, as the Copper Heatsink here could become an obstacle for some CPU Heatsink solutions out there today. It is nice to see that Gigabyte has utilized a 8 pin Aux-CPU power connector, thus allowing you to utilize both rails, if you have a dual 12V rail PSU. A word of caution to those that water cool, however, make sure you have enough airflow within your case as a water cooling setup would take away the exhaust air that helps the heat pipes fend of the heat.
Moving to the left rear quadrant of the motherboard we see of course the dual x16 graphics slots are here along with three x1 PCIe slots. Interestingly, between the 2 x16 slots are two of the x1's. This is possibly done so that if you are using CrossFire you wont use up some of that precious bandwidth for the 2nd card with x1 cards, but it's more likely that it was simply a good way of using space between the PEG slots to allow for two large cards to be employed comfortably. Also in the left rear quadrant you will find S/PDIF in, a TPM header () and 2 FireWire headers.
Moving to the left front quadrant of the motherboard we see our Front Panel connector, which is color coded nicely, 3 USB headers, 8 SATA-II junctions, one IDE and your SB Heat Sink / Heat Pipe. Each of the SATA-II connectors are color coded for quick discerning of its source chip, the ICH8 (orange) or Gigabyte/JMicron (purple).
Finally the right front section of the board where we connect our 20/24 pin main power. Conveniently Gigabyte has included the extra Molex connector here, making it a little less crowded over by the graphics card (always a plus). We of course also have the memory slots, which are color coded for Dual DDR2 functionality (Yellow Channel 1, Red Channel 2), you simply plug each module into the same color. Note that there is separation between the memory modules when running just two, which probably will be the primary scenario, this should allow ample cooling of the memory sticks. The all but useless floppy connection can also be found here.
The Rear I/O Panel for the GA-965P-DQ6 features (from left to right) 2 PS2 ports for your mouse and keyboard, Copper/Fiber S/PDIF, Parallel port, RS-232, FireWire / USB (2), 10/100/1000Base-T / USB (2), 6 connector Audio panel.
There is a plethora of Sys_Fan connectors all over this board, which is a godsend, they are positioned well across the board and not just in any place it could be squeezed in. The x16 PCIe lock downs work well, I like the solution GB chose here more then the pull tabs on most solutions.