Gigabyte's GA6CX i820 Motherboard and GAMG400 Graphics Card

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Gigabyte's GA6CX i820 Motherboard and GAMG400 Graphics Card - Page 3

The Gigabyte GA-6CX and GA-MG400
i820 Motherboard and G400 Based Graphics Card - A package Deal


Installation / Setup - The GA-6CX i820 Motherboard
Leading edge Intel technology with a familiar feel

The GA-6CX was transplanted into our main test-bed system which historically was on a BX chipset based motherboard.  From there it was clear sailing.  The board has a dip switch that allows you to set the CPU FSB and a jumper to allow for 10% overshoot of the CPU core voltage. You can of course enable or disable on board sound.  This is done via the BIOS.  

Unfortunately there are no settings for CPU frequency in the BIOS but the DIP switch approach proved to be easily accessible.  Speaking of the  BIOS, the GA-6CX has AMI BIOS on board which we have found to be more and more of a rarity these days.  However, this BIOS was very full featured and intuitive as well as easy to use.  A nice feature on it was the single key stoke set up of all drives in your system with the Auto Detect feature.  This feature even detects CDROMs.  

Finally, the board comes with lots of health monitoring options including fan speed and temp sensors for both the system or ambient air inside the case and the CPU itself.  These can be enabled or disabled in the BIOS and there are threshold values that can be set for each, sounding an alarm should a critical spec deviate to far from the limit you set.  All told, this is a very easily configurable board with excellent compatibility, as far as our test were concerned.

 

Test System
Specs and Setup

Full Tower ATX Case w/ 300W PS, Pentium III 533B overclocked to 600MHz with an FSB of 150MHz.. (supplied by Outside Loop Computers),

Gigabyte GA-6CX i820 Motherboard
, 128MB of  800MHz (400 DDR) Techworks  RDRAM, WD Expert AC418000 7200 RPM ATA66 Hard Drive, Gigabyte GA-MG400, Win 98SE, DirectX 7, Gigabyte GA-MG400 Drivers Matrox Version 5.26


It is important to note that we used 800MHz. RDRAM on these tests and took full advantage of the memory bandwidth offered on the i820 platform of the GA-6CX Motherboard. 

By the way, here is a shameless plug for the good folks at TECHWORKS!  They are one of the few manufacturers of Intel certified RAMBUS RIMM modules.  Plain and simple, they rock!

 

Overclocking  - The GA-6CX i820 Motherboard
Stability under pressure

Not only did the Pentium!!!533B we used, overclock easily to 600 MHz. but stability at default voltage was perfect.  This was something that we have not been able to accomplish on all motherboards we have tested with this CPU.  Furthermore, if your CPU needs an extra voltage boost to remain stable when overclocked, the board does have the ability, as we noted earlier, to set the core CPU voltage 10% higher than the CPU default.  

On the down side, FSB options of only up to 150MHz. are available via the dip switch settings, which limited our Pentium to 600MHz.  Perhaps we could have overclocked higher with more available high speed FSB settings.  The fact that this board utilizes RAMBUS as its main system memory, gives it an enormous amount of margin for FSB settings up through 400MHz and 800MHz aggregate bandwidth with Double Data Rate (DDR) capability.  Furthermore, any new Intel Camino based motherboard with RIMM support will have this type of headroom.  An FSB setting of 200MHz. with a 1 GHz. Intel processor, is something that will finally begin maximize the effective bandwidth of RAMBUS.

Regardless, the GA-6CX is a competent overclocking set up with excellent stability. 

 

Benchmarks - The GA-6CX i820 Motherboard
The i820 cranks it up a notch

We really wanted to see what the new Camino chipset from Intel could muster.  Furthermore, we wanted to see what our shiny new 128 RAMBUS RIMM could do for us in terms of a performance boost in main system memory.  In the following tests we tried to focus on three things, processor performance, main system memory performance and drive sub-system performance.  We intended to see how RAMBUS, The Intel 82801AA - Ultra DMA66 Bus Master Controller, and Camino System Chipset in general, performed.  Here are our results.


i820 and RAMBUS Vrs. BX Chipset and PC133
The Pentium III with the old and the new.

We went back to an old stand by for our memory tests.  Wintune98 is the only benchmark we have found to date, that will measure main system memory bandwidth while minimizing the impact of processor cache speed etc.  We've found it does the best job in isolating the performance figures for main system memory.

(click for larger view)


As you can easily see in this head to head test of a BX based motherboard with PC133 memory and the Gigabyte GA-6CX motherboard with RAMBUS, there is only a marginal performance gain while using RAMBUS at an FSB of 150MHz.  Again, we feel higher speed Front Side Bus settings are needed in order to see real gains in performance using RAMBUS.  In addition, RAMBUS should provide excellent stability at just about any Front Side Bus speed imaginable in the future.

 The CPU figures are pretty much neck and neck with perhaps a slight edge going to the GA-6CX.

 

Let's check out some other numbers...

 

 

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