This motherboard has one Gigabit Ethernet port controlled by Realtek RTL8111B chip. This chip is a complete controller, so this motherboard does not use the chipset south bridge chip to control its network interface. This chip is connected to the PCI Express bus, what is great, because a PCI Express x1 connection can provide a maximum theoretical transfer rate of 1.5 Gbps, 50% more bandwidth than necessary.
This motherboard has 12 USB 2.0 ports (four soldered on the motherboard and eight available through I/O brackets, which don’t come with the motherboard). This motherboard does not provide FireWire ports and this is something we missed on this product.
On the audio section this motherboard has eight channels provided by the chipset together with a Realtek ALC889A codec, which is the most high-end codec provided by Realtek today, with a 106 dB signal-to-noise ratio, 7.1+2 channels (translation: besides the 8-channel surround sound, it features an extra stereo channel, usually used for audio streaming or frontal panel headphones) and DTS Connect compatibility (i.e., Blu-Ray and HD-DVD audio compatibility).
This motherboard also provides full 7.1 analog audio jacks on the rear panel, so you can easily hook an analog 5.1 or 7.1 set of speakers to this motherboard without “killing” your mic in and line in jacks, plus both optical and coaxial SPDIF outputs, making it easy to connect your PC to a home theater receiver.
On the rear panel (Figure 3) you can find the PS/2 mouse and PS/2 keyboard connectors, coaxial and optical SPDIF connectors, parallel port, serial port, four USB 2.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet port and analog audio inputs and outputs. As you can see this motherboard still has a parallel port, feature not found on the most recent motherboards.
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Figure 3: Motherboard rear connectors.
For this motherboard Gigabyte chose only high-end components. First all its capacitors are solid aluminum, even the smaller ones – and not only the ones used on the voltage regulator circuit like some manufacturers are doing these days. Using this kind of capacitors prevent the capacitor leakage problem. Second, this motherboard uses ferrite coils on its voltage regulator circuit instead of iron coils. According to Gigabyte this produces 25% less power loss. And third this motherboard uses better MOSFET transistors, which are smaller and don’t have the traditional big metallic heatsink on their back. These transistors provide a lower RDS(on) compared to traditional MOSFET transistors used on other motherboard models. Translation: when the transistor is “on” the source-drain resistance is lower, making the transistor to waste less power, i.e., to dissipate less heat. According to Gigabyte the transistors used on this motherboard heat 16% less compared to traditional MOSFET transistors. This set of improvements is called “Ultra Durable 2” by Gigabyte, as their goal is to provide a motherboard with a higher lifespan.
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Figure 4: Solid aluminum capacitors, ferrite coils and high-end MOSFET transistors.
In Figure 5, you can see all cables and adapters that come with this motherboard. On the left-hand side you can see the eSATA adapter and cables we mentioned before.
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Figure 5: Motherboard accessories.