GigaByte GA-965P-DS3: Core 2 Motherboard for Everyone

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August 25, 2007 by Lawrence Lee

Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 Rev. 3.3 motherboard
Street Price


SPCR forum members took notice of the precise "reader reviews" of motherboards by "Amourek". So did I. It turns out the author resides in Vancouver. Naturally, I invited him to write for SPCR in a more official capacity. Hopefully, it's the first of many reviews.

Mike Chin, Editor


Gigabyte has a long history of producing affordable, yet feature-packed motherboards.  Their offerings have won over many enthusiasts in recent years. Their treatment of Intel's P965 and P35 chipsets shows they are taking on the likes of DFI and Abit for your hard-earned dollar.  (Editor's note: Gigabyte relies almost solely on retail sales to the DIY market, unlike many other brands who do lots of OEM/ODM business. So it's no surprise that Gigabyte is working hard in this market!)

Today we examine the Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3, an ATX motherboard designed for Intel Core 2 Duo and Quad processors.  After several tries, the DS3 is now on its third official revision so it's likely any major quirks or bugs have been worked out.  Gigabyte has also provided a steady stream of BIOS updates to fix minor issues and improve overall performance.

Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 Rev. 3.3 Product Specifications
CPU 1. Supports Intel® Core 2 Extreme Quad-Core / Core 2 Duo / Intel® Pentium® Extreme/ Intel® Pentium® D processor
2. Supports 1333/1066/800/533 MHz FSB
Chipset 1. Northbridge: Intel® P965 Express Chipset
2. Southbridge: Intel® ICH8
3. Marvel 8056 Gigabit LAN Controller
4. GIGABYTE SATAII controller
5. Realtek ALC888 8 Channel Audio Codec
Memory 1. Supports DDR2 800/667/533 memory
2. Dual Channel architecture support up to 8GB by 4 DIMM slots

* Due to standard PC architecture, a certain amount of memory is reserved for system usage and therefore the actual memory size is less than the stated amount.
Expansion Slots 1. 1 PCI Express X16 slot
2. 3 PCI Express X1 slot
3. 3 PCI slots
Form Factor 1. ATX form factor, 305 x 210mm
Internal I/O Connectors 1. 1 24-pin ATX power
2. 1 4-pin ATX 12V power connector
3. 1 floppy connector
4. 1 IDE connector
5. 6 SATA 3Gb/s connectors
6. 1 CPU fan connector
7. 1 system fan connector
8. 1 front panel connector
9. 1 front audio connector
10. 1 CD In connector
11. 3 USB 2.0/1.1 connectors for additional 6 ports by cables
12. 1 SPDIF In connector
13. 1 power LED connector
14. 1 Chassis Intrusion connector
Back Panel Connectors 1. 1 PS/2 keyboard port
2. 1 PS/2 mouse port
3. 1 SPDIF Out connection (coaxial+optical)
4. 1 parallel port
5. 4 USB 2.0/1.1 ports
6. 1 serial port (COMA)
7. 1 RJ-45 port
8. 6 audio jacks (Line In / Line Out / MIC In/Surround Speaker Out (Rear Speaker Out)/Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out/Side Speaker Out)
H/W Monitoring 1. System voltage detection
2. CPU / System temperature detection
3. CPU / System fan speed detection
4. CPU warning temperature
5. CPU / System fan failure warning
6. CPU Smart Fan Control
BIOS 1. 1 4 Mbit flash ROM
2. Use of licensed AWARD BIOS
3. Supports Virtual Dual BIOS
4. PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.3, ACPI 1.0b.
Other Features 1. Supports RAID 0, 1, JBOD (2 ports with RAID function supported by GIGABYTE SATA2)
2. Supports @BIOS
3. Supports Download Center
4. Supports Q-Flash
5. Supports EasyTune 5
6. Supports Xpress Install
7. Supports Xpress Recovery2
8. Supports Virtual DualBIOS
Remark 1. Due to different Linux support condition provided by chipset vendors, please download Linux driver from chipset vendors' website or 3rd party website.
2. Due to most hardware/software vendors no longer offer support for Win9X/ME. If some vendors still has Win9X/ME drivers available, we will publish on website.

The DS3 supports all current Intel Core 2 Duo and Quad CPUs.  It does not support Intel's upcoming 45nm processors (code name Penryn) as of yet. Rival Asus revealed that their P965-based P5B line will support Penryn with a BIOS update, so it's quite possible that other manufacturers can/will follow suit.  

P965 is a chipset targeted at the mainstream market with boards priced at anywhere between $80 and $200 depending on the brand and feature set. The DS3 utilizes the Intel ICH8 southbridge — it's a budget solution as it does not offer any RAID functionality.  To supplement this, Gigabyte added their own controller for an extra pair of SATA ports (for a total of 6) with support for RAID 0, 1, JBOD, as well as an IDE channel, which is useful as Intel has abandoned IDE altogether.  The DS3 also features gigabit ethernet and high definition 8-channel audio, but Crossfire and Firewire are absent, as can be expected for a product in its price range.  Another point of interest: The board's listed dimensions indicates it is narrower than the majority of ATX boards by more than an inch.

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