GA-M59SLI-S5 is the most high-end socket AM2 motherboard from Gigabyte based on the new NVIDIA nForce 590 SLI chipset and targeted to the new Athlon 64 CPUs supporting DDR2 memory. It features three PCI Express x16 slots (although the third one works only at 8x speed) and a copper heat-pipe cooler to cool down the chipset and the voltage regulator transistors. Let’s see how this new motherboard from Gigabyte performs.

Gigabyte GA-M59SLI-S5Figure 1: Gigabyte GA-M59SLI-S5 motherboard.

Two things immediately caught our attention when looking this motherboard for the first time. The first one was its passive cooling solution, using copper heatsinks with heatpipes to cool down its north bridge, south bridge and MOSFET transistors. It is impossible not to think that Gigabyte copied this idea from ASUS, as ASUS was the first manufacturer to launch this kind of solution some time ago. This also makes ASUS M2N32-SLI De Luxe the main competitor to GA-M59SLI-S5, as both feature this same design.

Gigabyte GA-M59SLI-S5Figure 2: Passive cooling solution using copper heatsinks and heatpipes.

Gigabyte GA-M59SLI-S5Figure 3: Passive cooling solution using copper heatsinks and heatpipes..

Gigabyte GA-M59SLI-S5Figure 4: Passive copper heatsink under the CPU.

The problem, in our opinion, is that this system produces a lot of heat. The whole idea behind passive coolers is to create a noiseless solution, the side effect, however, is that this solution increases the PC internal temperature.

On the other hand, this motherboard features three PCI Express x16 slots, feature not available on ASUS M2N32-SLI De Luxe. The third one works at x8 speed, as mentioned before, and only exists if you want to have more than four independent displays attached to your system. As nowadays each video card has two independent video outputs, with three video cards you can have up to six independent displays connected to your PC. It is also important to note that this third PCI Express slot isn’t SLI and should be used only to increase the number of independent displays attached to your system, as by installing a third card won’t improve your gaming performance.

Gigabyte GA-M59SLI-S5Figure 5: Three PCI Express x16 slots. The orange one works at x8 and isn’t SLI.

The two main (blue) PCI Express x16 slots truly run at x16 and this motherboard also has two x1 PCI Express slots and two regular PCI slots.


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.