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

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PACKAGE CONTENTS

Gigabyte packs very few accessories with the DS3: Four orange SATA data cables, navy blue 80-wire IDE and floppy data cables, dual-head SATA power adapter, I/O shield, manual, and driver/utility CD.  Sparse, but acceptable.  The SATA data cables were a pleasant surprise as they were of the locking variety, reducing the chance of accidental disloding.  SATA connectors are notoriously flimsy, so this is a welcome addition.  There's something comforting about hearing a nice solid click when you plug in the cable.

BIOS

From the BIOS main menu, you can save/load up to 8 CMOS settings and using Q-Flash, you can update the BIOS with a USB device, avoiding the hassle of a bootable floppy disk or CD. Alternatively you can update the BIOS from Windows using @BIOS.

BIOS Main Menu   


The PC Health Status menu was somewhat of a surprise.  There were no actual voltage readings here, just a simple "OK," if it was within normal levels (we assume).  Gigabyte's EasyTune utility report vCore, +3.3V, and +12V but not +5V.  Speedfan displays +5V but not +12V.  

BIOS PC Health Status

The Smart Fan Control Method toggles for use with a 3-pin or 4-pin fan, while Smart Control Mode allows you to select either straight voltage or PWM control.  Leaving both settings at "AUTO" seemed to work fine in either case.  Only the two 4-pin headers were controllable; the 3-pin headers ran at full speed.  There is no customizable fan control in the BIOS, but you can use EasyTune or Speedfan in Windows. Normally Speedfan would be a no-brainer here, but strangely, it does not report RPMs accurately, unless our CPU fan really was running in the 6-digits.  Hopefully this will be fixed in a future version.

BIOS MIT1

The MB Intelligent Tweaker menu is where most of the action happens.  Many of these settings are actually not visible by default (including all the memory timings).  In the main menu, users must press CTRL + F1 to unlock more advanced menus and intricate settings.  We presume Gigabyte does this to prevent novice users from accidentally changing an advanced setting that could result in a dead motherboard.  However, they leave access to CPU frequency and various voltages open by default, making this precautionary "feature" ineffective for bumbling neophytes, while annoying for more advanced users.  The range of frequency selection is wide.  CPU frequency can be changed from 100-700Mhz in 1Mhz intervals, PCI Express frequency from 90-150Mhz in 1Mhz intervals, and flexible memory multipliers of 2.00, 2.50, 2.66, 3.00, 3.33, and 4.00 are available.

BIOS MIT2


Gigabyte also offers wide open voltage control.  Memory can be increased up to +0.7V in +0.1V intervals, and PCI-E, FSB, and (G)MCH (northbridge) can be increased up to +0.3V in +0.1V intervals.  Astoundingly, CPU voltage ranges from 0.51250V all the way to 1.60V in tiny 0.00625V intervals, and beyond that, 1.80V and even 2.00V can be selected.  A lot of these settings will probably never be used (nor should they), but just the fact they exist is encouraging.  



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