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Gigabyte has quickly become one of the premier competitors in the enthusiast market for motherboard in the AMD market. With their release of an nForce2 motherboard a few months ago, they asserted themselves even farther.
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On the Gigabyte board, the CPU socket does not have the four mounting holes around it, and to that affect the socket doesn’t have a lot of room around it anyway. Gigabyte did include some good PCB guards however.
The DIMMs on the board are very close to the north bridge and CPU socket, and in this case do not interfere with the AGP slot. This is one of the few boards I could recommend to you as being able to change the memory while the AGP card is installed. The north bridge heatsink is very thin and light, and doesn’t seem to be very effective at cooling, though the KT600 chipset doesn’t necessarily get that hot.
The AGP slot uses the unique retention clip that Gigabyte started using last year. It makes installation very easy; just slide the card in. Only when you remove the card does it require user intervention – obviously the point of a retention clip. There are only 5 PCI slots on the Gigabyte board, but as I mentioned before, I think the time for 6 PCI slots is behind us as features on board are become a standard and not a differentiating feature.
The IDE channels are above the AGP slot and that makes installation a bit simpler. There is room for two more IDE channels if you get the revision of the board with that option as well. Farther down we see the SATA channels courtesy of the VIA south bridge and a place for two more additional SATA channels, should Gigabyte include the Promise chipset on their motherboard. (That model is available, just not what we were sent.)
The case connectors on the Gigabyte 7VT600 are color coded for easy installation.
The Gigabyte 7VT600-1394 has a lot of features, though there is another Gigabyte model that adds to it. First, as we mentioned above, the SATA comes from the VIA south bridge as do the RAID features for it. We also see Gigabyte has a Dual Bios feature for BIOS safety.
On the external connectors we see 4 USB 2.0 ports, a 10/100-network connection and 6-channel audio via a Realtek solution.
The Firewire is available on the header on the motherboard via 2 headers and so are 2 additional USB 2.0 headers.
The Gigabyte motherboard comes with 2 SATA cables and 1 IDE and 1 floppy drive. Gigabyte also includes cables for the Firewire and USB headers on the motherboard, 2 of each.
Here the Gigabyte bios allows you to adjust the FSB up to 250 MHz, and set DDR settings of 133/166/200 MHz. Voltage maximums are – CPU: +10%, AGP: +0.3v, DIMM: +0.3v.
The memory timings are here and show a good amount of options for tweaking and increasing system speed.
Gigabyte is also one of the board manufacturers that give the user the option to enable and disable every feature on the motherboard very easily in the bios.
The Gigabyte board was also a bit unstable, but in their case I found that single DIMM configurations were less stable than using two DIMMs.