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Near to the CPU socket we can find the voltage regulator circuit, which on this motherboard uses only solid capacitors (as we mentioned all capacitors from this motherboard are solid) and ferrite chokes (usually motherboards use iron chokes in this circuit). Very good. We think Gigabyte could have added heatsinks on the voltage regulator transistors.

Gigabyte GA-EP31-DS3LFigure 6: CPU socket, solid capacitors and ferrite chokes.

Gigabyte GA-EP31-DS3L has four memory sockets, accepting up to 4 GB DDR2-667, DDR2-800 or DDR2-1066 memories under dual channel configuration. In order to use this configuration is simple: simply install memory modules in sockets with the same color. It is interesting to notice that the presence of four memory sockets is one of the things that differentiate mainstream and high-end motherboards from low-end models, which usually have only two memory sockets.

The main difference between P35 and P31 chipsets is the presence of DDR3 memory support on P35, feature not found on P31. Another important difference is that P35 is paired with south bridge chips from the ICH9 family, while P31 must be paired with south bridge chips from the ICH7 family.

Next to the memory sockets you can also see the main motherboard power connector.

Gigabyte GA-EP31-DS3LFigure 7: Memory sockets.

On this motherboard the ICH7 south bridge chip is cooled by a small golden passive heatsink. It is a pity that GA-EP31-DS3L doesn’t use ICH7R south bridge chip, which features RAID. Since this motherboard doesn’t bring any extra hard disk drive controller chip the absence of RAID feature is one of the main negative points from this motherboard.

Next to the south bridge chip we can find four SATA-300 ports and one ATA-100 port.

Gigabyte GA-EP31-DS3LFigure 8: South bridge chip, SATA-300 ports and ATA-100 port.

In Figure 9, you can see the two USB 2.0 headers for the case frontal USB ports and the pins for the case frontal panel features, which are very well identified through a color code, helping the person that will install this motherboard to a case.

Gigabyte GA-EP31-DS3LFigure 9: Connectors for the frontal panel of the case.


Rafael Otto Coelho is a physicist with a master’s degree in Education, and is a college professor in Brazil.