Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 Motherboard Review

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Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 is a socket LGA775 motherboard targeted to new Core 2 Duo family, as it is based on the new Intel P965 chipset. One of the main advantages of this new chipset is the unofficial support for DDR2-1066/PC2-8500 memories, feature present on this motherboard from Gigabyte. Let’s see how this new Gigabyte motherboard performed against competitors from ASUS and MSI.

Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 Motherboard Figure 1: Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 motherboard.

As you can see on the sticker that comes attached to the motherboard slots, Gigabyte used only aluminum solid electrolytic capacitors on this motherboard. This kind of capacitor provides a higher life span and also is immune to the infamous leakage problem.

Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 Motherboard Figure 2: Aluminum solid electrolytic capacitors.

This motherboard uses a passive cooling solution on its chipset and does not use any cooling solution on its voltage regulator transistors, as you can see in Figure 2.

This motherboard provides one x16 PCI Express slot, three x1 PCI Express slots and three standard PCI slots.

On the memory side, Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 has four DDR2-DIMM sockets, supporting up to 8 GB officially up to DDR2-800, however this motherboard supports DDR2-1066/PC2-8500 memories (we installed four DDR2-1066 modules and they worked just fine at 1,066 MHz). On this motherboard sockets 1 and 3 are yellow and sockets 2 and 4 are red. Configuring DDR2 dual channel on this motherboard is pretty easy: just install each module on a socket with the same color.

This motherboard has 10 USB 2.0 ports (four soldered on the motherboard and six available through I/O brackets, that didn’t come with the motherboard).

On the storage side, this motherboard has a total of six SATA-300 ports, four provided by the south bridge (ICH8) and two provided by a “Gigabyte SATA2” chip, which is a relabeled JMicron JMB363 chip (see Figure 3). The ports controlled by the chipset do not support RAID, as the south bridge used is ICH8 and not ICH8R, however the two ports controlled by the JMicron chip supports RAID0, RAID1 and JBOD.

Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 Motherboard Figure 3: SATA ports.

It is very important to notice that the single ATA/133 port available on this motherboard is controlled by the JMicron chip, not by the chipset. This means that if you still have a parallel IDE optical drive it will only be recognized on Windows after you install the “Gigabyte SATA2” driver. The problem is that this driver comes on the motherboard CD-ROM, and you won’t be able to install it, as the system does not recognize your optical drive. You can download the driver from the net, however the driver for the on-board LAN port is also on the CD-ROM… The only option you have is to copy the JMicron driver from the CD to a floppy disk or a USB pen drive using another PC. This problem happens not only with this motherboard from Gigabyte, but also with all other motherboards based on Intel P965 chipset we’ve seen to date. Of course if you have a SATA optical drive you won’t face this issue.

This motherboard has one Gigabit Ethernet port, controlled by the south bridge using a Marvell 88E8053 to make the physical layer interface.

The audio section from this motherboard provides 7.1 audio, produced by the south bridge chip with the aid of a Realtek ALC883 codec. This codec provides a low (for today’s standards) signal-to-noise ratio for its inputs – only 85 dB. So it is not advisable to use this motherboard for professional audio capturing and editing (the minimum recommended for this application is 95 dB), unless you install a professional add-on audio card on it. Also the maximum sampling rate for its inputs is of 96 kHz, while its outputs supports up to 192 kHz. The signal-to-noise ratio for its output is of 95 dB.

On the rear panel (Figure 4) you can find the Gigabit Ethernet port, four USB 2.0 ports, separated analog audio inputs/outputs (7.1 format), SPDIF coaxial and optical outputs, plus one serial port, one parallel port, PS/2 mouse and PS/2 keyboard connectors.

Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 Motherboard Figure 4: Motherboard rear connectors.

This motherboard comes with just one CD, containing its drivers and utilities.

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Author: Gabriel Torres

Gabriel Torres is a Brazilian best-selling ICT expert, with 24 books published. He started his online career in 1996, when he launched Clube do Hardware, which is one of the oldest and largest websites about technology in Brazil. He created Hardware Secrets in 1999 to expand his knowledge outside his home country.

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