"BigWop" Chiappetta - 5/9/00
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
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!??
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.
/ Features Of The GA-6CXC
1 (Intel Pentium II/III Processors)
Intel 820 AGPset
Winbond W83627HF I/O chip
On-Board Aureal AU8810 PCI sound chip
Winbond W81181D USB controller
4 x DIMM Sockets (64MB to 1GB)
Supports 64/128/256/512 MB SDRAM?s
1 x AGP Slot Supports 2X/4X mode
1 x AMR (Audio Modem Riser) Slot
5 x PCI Slot Supports 33MHz & PCI 2.2
1 x ISA Slot
2 x Ultra DMA 33/66 Bus Master IDE ports on
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
2 x USB ports on board
Power-on by K/B, PS/2 Mouse, LAN, RTC, Modem
Supports USB device wake-up
Suspend / Wake-on by ACPI & APM device
AC Recovery ON/OFF control ; 3 Level ACPI LED
ATX , 4 layer PCB (30.5*22cm)
Auto speed down and alarm when CPU overheat or
(OS independent & Driverless)
3 Fan Power & Speed Detection Connectors;
Case open Detection
System Health status detect & report by
BIOS, LDCM and SIV
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)
Includes Wake-On-LAN Header (WOL)
Includes Wake-On-Ring (WOR)
and Setup With The GA-6CXC
made but that darn ATX Power
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.
image for full view
There is also
something Gigabyte calls "Dual BIOS"
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
image for full view
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
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
Once mounted and
all cards were installed, it was time to fire it
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
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.