Gigabyte's GA6CXC i820 w/ SDRAM Support

0 thumbs up

The Gigabyte GA-6CXC Motherboard
The i820 With  SDRAM  Support

By, Marco "BigWop" Chiappetta - 5/9/00

Usually when Intel releases a new motherboard chipset, there is a big rush to upgrade.  Power users, OEMs and do-it-yourselfers gobble up motherboards based on the new chipset to take advantage of new features, increase performance or simply to have bragging rights.  :)  With Intel's new i820, this hasn?t happened just yet.  There has been some acceptance, but with the high price of RDRAM (or Rambus SDRAM), which is native to the i820, many users are unwilling to upgrade.

When you sit back and think about it, what features over the aging BX chipset does the i820 offer?  Hmmm?easy, AGP4X, UDMA/66 support and 133MHz. FSB support for the full PC133 spec.  Those sound like impressive features.  AGP4X however has shown very little performance benefit as of yet.  UDMA/66 can be added with a simple card (many newer BX motherboards even come with it on-board) and most BX motherboards can hit the 133MHz. FSB when overclocked (video card permitting).  Then there?s the VIA Apollo 133A.  It costs less and has the main features everyone is after.  All of these options leave a potential i820 buyer thinking, ?I wish I could use my old RAM with a new i820 board!??

Enter Gigabyte and the GA-6CXC.  The GA-6CXC offers all the new features of the i820, but will accept standard SDRAM DIMMs.  This is done by using Intel's "MTH" chip or Memory Translator Hub.  Here is the feature list of the GA-6CXC.

Specifications / Features Of The GA-6CXC
Well rounded

GA-6CXC

Slot 1 (Intel Pentium II/III Processors)
FSB?s 100/105/110/115/117/120/125/127/133/135/140/145/150 MHz

CHIPSET
Intel 820 AGPset
Winbond W83627HF I/O chip
On-Board Aureal AU8810 PCI sound chip
Winbond W81181D USB controller

MEMORY
4 x DIMM Sockets (64MB to 1GB)
Supports 64/128/256/512 MB SDRAM?s

SLOT Configuration
1 x AGP Slot Supports 2X/4X mode
1 x AMR (Audio Modem Riser) Slot
5 x PCI Slot Supports 33MHz & PCI 2.2 compliant
1 x ISA Slot

I/O 
2 x Ultra DMA 33/66 Bus Master IDE ports on board
1 x FDD, 2 x COM, 1 x LPT, PS/2 Keyboard, PS/2 Mouse on board
1 x Joystick, 1 x Line-in, 1 x Line-out, 1 x MIC on board
2 x USB ports on board

POWER
Power-on by K/B, PS/2 Mouse, LAN, RTC, Modem & Switch
Supports USB device wake-up
Suspend / Wake-on by ACPI & APM device
AC Recovery ON/OFF control ; 3 Level ACPI LED Support

FORM FACTOR/PCB
ATX , 4 layer PCB (30.5*22cm)

H/W MONITORING
Auto speed down and alarm when CPU overheat or fan failure
(OS independent & Driverless)
3 Fan Power & Speed Detection Connectors; Case open Detection
System Health status detect & report by BIOS, LDCM and SIV

BIOS
Includes DualBIOS technology ; 4Mbit Flash RAM

OTHER / OPTIONAL FEATURES

2 x USB ports by cable (optional)
CIR TX / RX Header (optional)
IrDA TX / RX Header (optional)
Suspend-To-RAM (STR)
Includes Wake-On-LAN Header (WOL)
Includes Wake-On-Ring (WOR)

Installation and Setup With The GA-6CXC
Well made but that darn ATX Power Connector...

If any of you have read my earlier reviews, you know before I install any product I like to physically give it a good look and do a quick quality inspection.  I opened the box, picked it up and began to look closely at the mounting of the slots, connector positions, ?sturdiness? of the capacitors etc. The physical quality and workmanship seemed very good.  At the risk of sounding trivial, the board was heavy and ?felt? very solid. For example, hold a fake Rolex in one hand and a real one in the other and you?ll know the heavy, solid ?feeling? I?m talking about.  However, I do have one gripe with the placement of the ATX power connector.  If you look at the pic above, you?ll notice that it?s located between the Slot 1 connector and the DIMM slots.  Anyone wishing to use a large heatsink/fan combo may have some trouble with clearance, so overclockers should take note.  My Tennmax P3STF had no trouble.

There are some noteworthy additions to this board that are not present on many others.  Notice the thermal probe mounted directly in front of the processor slot.

click image for full view

There is also something Gigabyte calls "Dual BIOS" installed.  This is a great feature, the days of a bad flash ruining your rig, or a virus wreaking havoc are over.  Should there be any trouble, the Backup BIOS can be used to get you up and running in no time. 

click image for full view

Physical installation obviously went without a hitch, this is a standard ATX board.  However, one major consideration must be made as this board is completely controlled by jumpers.  That?s right folks, no jumperless BIOS setup here.  I don?t have any word from Gigabyte on this, but I believe this board was designed this way for stability reasons.  When jumperless setups were first introduced, some big names waited a long time to get on the bandwagon (namely ASUS) claiming a jumpered setup was more stable.  If stability was Gigabyte?s major concern, they made the right choice because this board was rock solid throughout testing. 

Once mounted and all cards were installed, it was time to fire it up.  There is an extra step to take here also.  Support for the i820 is not native to Windows 98, so you MUST install drivers for the board and for the integrated UDMA/66 drive controller.  I installed the drivers from the CD supplied by Gigabyte and was off and running. 

There was also on-board sound installed on this board.  A Genuine Aureal Vortex 1 is present to handle all the audio.

Should you choose to use the onboard sound, it?s simply a matter or installing Aureal?s reference drivers and plugging in your speakers.  Sound quality was excellent, but it made me miss my 4 speaker/Vortex 2 setup.  If you don?t have a 4 speaker setup and don?t mind the higher CPU utilization of the Vortex 1 chip, using the on-board sound is still a good choice. You can also save you a few bucks, if you plan on building a new system around this board.

 

Benchmarks and The Rating

 

Article Index:

Login or Register to Comment
Post a Comment