Gigabyte's GA6OXM7E i815 Socket 370 Motherboard Review - HotHardware

Gigabyte's GA6OXM7E i815 Socket 370 Motherboard Review

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Gigabyte's GA-6OXM7E i815 Socket 370 Motherboard
It sure looks nice...but how does it perform?

By, Marco ?BigWop? Chiappetta
11 / 2 / 2000

  

The hardware community had been eagerly anticipating a worthy successor to the mighty 440BX chipset. When Intel released their 133MHz FSB capable "Coppermine" Pentium IIIs it was time to also replace the aging BX chipset with a more feature-rich, capable part. The BX lacked native support for AGP4X, UDMA/66/100 hard drive transfers and wasn't designed to fully support FSBs greater than 100MHz. To compensate, Intel released the i810 and i820 chipsets to handle the needs of these new Coppermine processors.

There were many issues to deal with should a user opt for one of these new Intel platforms though. Should someone choose an i810 powered platform they had to contend with dismal overall performance and the lack of an AGP slot. i820 users had to deal with outrageous prices on RDRAM which was necessary to realize the full potential performance of their new system. Intel also released something called an MTH (Memory Translator Hub) which allowed the i820 to use standard, much more affordable SDRAM but performance was terrible (when it worked) and all boards using this technology were eventually recalled. All of these issues coupled with VIA's release of the very popular Apollo Pro 133A chipset resulted in Intel losing much of the mainstream chipset market. 

Intel's response to this dilemma was to find a good mid-point. They wanted to design a chipset with all of the value of the i810 with performance and features similar to the i820. Their solution was the appropriately named i815. With all of the benefits of both the i810 and i820 plus the ability to use much cheaper SDRAM the i815 should be a winner. Many motherboard manufacturers have jumped at the opportunity to implement this newer chipset from Intel. Virtually all motherboard manufacturers have since introduced products utilizing the i815, today we're going to take a look at one of Gigabyte's offerings, the GA-6OXME7. Let's see what happens when you mix Intel's newest chipset and Gigabyte's design team...

Specifications of the GA-6OXM7E
Some i815 & Socket 370 Action


Click for Enlarged View

Processor

Socket 370 for Intel® FC-PGA Pentium®III or other compatible processors
AUTO detect CPU voltage
Supports Auto/66/100/133 MHz FSB & other clocks by Gigabyte EasyTune III Utility

Chipset

Intel® 815E AGPset
iTE IT8712F-A I/O & health chip
Creative CT5880 PCI sound chip; AC97codec

Memory

32MB to 512MB memory size
4 x DIMM sockets
Supports 32/64/128/256/512 MB SDRAM module

Slot

1 x AGP slot supports 2X/4X mode AGP card or supports AIMM
1 x CNR (Communication Networking Riser) slot
6 x PCI slots support 33MHz & PCI 2.2 compliant

I/O

2 x Ultra DMA 33/66/100 IDE ports on board
1 x FDD, 2 x COM (1 by optional cable), 1 x LPT, PS/2 Keyboard, PS/2 Mouse on board
1 x VGA(DB15), 1 x Joystick, 1 x Line-in, 1 x Line-out, 1 x MIC on board
Provides one SPDIF connector (Optional)
2 x USB ports on board and another 2 front USB ports by cable (optional accessory)
Provides header for Smart Card Reader
Smart Card Reader
IrDA header ready
Front panel audio header ready
20 pin IA port header (Optional)
ATX , 4 layer PCB (30.5*21.5cm)

Power

ATX power connector
Power-on by K/B, PS/2 Mouse, LAN, RTC, Modem & switch
Power-off by Windows® 95/98/2000 shut down & Switch
Supports USB device wake-up
Suspend / Wake-on by ACPI & APM device
AC recovery ON/OFF control; 3 level ACPI LED support
Stop CPU fan during entering suspend mode

H/W Monitoring

Auto speed down and alarm when CPU overheat or fan failure (OS independent & driverless)
3 fanpower & speed detection connectors; Case open detection
System health status detect & report by BIOS, LDCM®
H/W detect 5V, 12V, CPU voltage & CMOS battery status

BIOS

Supports DualBIOS? technology; 4Mbit flash RAM
BIOS with enhanced ACPI feature for PC99/Win98/Win2000 compliance, Green, PnP, DMI, INT13 (>8.4GB) & Anti-Virus functions
IDE#1~#4, SCSI, LS120, ZIP & CD-ROM bootable
Auto-detect & report system health status

Other Features

Suspend-To-RAM (STR)
Includes Wake-On-LAN header (WOL); Includes Wake-On-Ring (WOR)
Poly fuse for keyboard, USB & game over current protection

Driver

Gigabyte Windows Utility Manager
Gigabyte EasyTune III over-clock Utility
Intel® LDCM® utility
Intel® 815 patch utility for Windows® 95/98
Creative PCI sound driver

The spec list reads like many other i815 boards, which is a good thing, the i815 is an excellent all around chipset. There are however a couple items worth mentioning. Our board came bundled with a Smart Card reader.

                   

We didn't get around to actually using the reader to perform a secure transaction but it sure does look cool doesn't it?!? :) This is the first time we have even seen an item like this bundled with a motherboard but suspect that as e-business continues to blossom we'll see more and more of this. Kudos to Gigabyte for getting the ball rolling.

We mention this other item, not because the board comes with something others don't but because it's missing something that has become almost standard. The GA-6OXM7E does not offer any sort of over-clocking options via the system BIOS. You heard us right, no over-clocking via the BIOS. You can over-clock with this board though using some proprietary software from Gigabyte called Easy Tune III. We'll get more into the over-clocking and Easy Tune III a little later.

 Quality, Installation and Setup

 

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