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Gigabyte packs very few accessories with the DS3: Four
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.
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.
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.
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
"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.
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
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
is wide. CPU frequency can be changed from 100-700Mhz in
1Mhz intervals, PCI Express frequency from 90-150Mhz in 1Mhz intervals,
flexible memory multipliers of 2.00, 2.50, 2.66, 3.00, 3.33, and 4.00
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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