Layout and Design - GIGABYTE GA-M59SLI-S5
As with all of the boards we are reviewing today, the GIGABYTE GA-M59SLI-S5 supports all socket AM2 AMD processors. The board also sports 4 DDRII slots and is capable of supporting 16GB of memory with the S5 version, compared to the standard 8GB with the ASUS and MSI boards. Memory frequencies range from DDR 800, 667, 533 and 400MHz. The GA-M59SLI-S5 also has a leg up on the competition by providing a third PCI Express x8 slot. This can come in handy for dual monitor users, where only one monitor is supported in SLI mode. Now the third slot can drive the second monitor independently of the SLI configured graphic cards. The third slot also opens up the possibility of using another GPU for physics processing.
The GIGABYTE GA-M59SLI-S5 is also equipped with 2 PCI Express x1 slots as well as two PCI slots for broad expansion options. All three PCI Express graphics slots had the retention release mechanism on the same side, for the easiest access. Storage options were ample as well, offering 6 RAID ready 3GB SATA ports powered natively by the nForce 590 SLI chipset. The nforce 590 SLI brings RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5 and JBOD to the game while a second GIGABYTE SATA2 controller adds two more SATA 3GB ports capable of RAID 0, 1 and JBOD. The nForce 590 SLI chipset also offers a single floppy port and ATA 133 IDE port. In total, the GIGABYTE GA-M59SLI-S5 supports 13 separate storage devices.
The rear I/O console houses the remaining features of the GIGABYTE GA-M59SLI-S5. Along with standard PS/2, LPT1 and Serial ports, we find four USB 2.0 ports and dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, each powered by a Marvell 88E1116 controller. There is also a 4-Pin IEEE1394 port, Optical port and 6 audio connectors combining for up to 8 Channels of audio. The audio is driven by a Realtek ALC888DD CODEC.
The GIGABYTE GA-M59SLI-S5 is equipped with a heat pipe assembly mounted on the Northbridge and power chokes surrounding the CPU socket. Dubbed "Silent Pipe Technology", the heat pipe is designed to keep operating temperatures in check, which is critical, especially when overclocking. You might have also noticed that GIGABYTE outfitted the board with an added Molex connector adjacent to the last PCI slot which delivers added power supply to the PCI Express x16 slots.