Conclusions and Final Thoughts
The Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 motherboard is a close competitor to both the Asus P5B Deluxe and the Asus P5W DH Deluxe in terms of raw performance. The P5W DH is based on the Intel 975X chipset, and as such, we saw a couple of instances where it was slightly faster than both of the P965 chipset motherboards. This was most notably seen in the synthetic tests on the memory subsystem from SiSoft, Everest and even ScienceMark, but that rarely developed into actual real-world performance differences. In nearly all cases, the performance gap between any of the three motherboards was within a few percentage points; hardly anything to write home about.
As we are comparing motherboards all using Intel chipsets, it makes sense that the performance is nearly the same. NVIDIA has long been promising some impressive benchmark results with their nForce 590 SLI chipset, but it has never materialized and is quickly falling into the “vaporware” category of products that we thought NVIDIA despised. The “hard launch” was definitely not addressed in this particular case.
Like most of the recent Gigabyte motherboards, you are forced to hit Ctrl-F1 in order to get access to most of the overclocking features. This is a bit of an annoyance, and is a legacy feature left over from the days of OEM motherboard usage and should have been removed years ago. I can’t tell you how many times I have answered emails or seen forum posts asking about missing BIOS features from a Gigabyte motherboard.
That being said, the options on the Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 motherboard are adequate for most basic users, but probably won’t meet the needs of the super-extreme overclocker. Being able to adjust the FSB, multipliers, voltages and memory timings is all most users will need to do, even if they decide to partake in the world of overclocking and tweaking.
If this board lacks in one area, this is it. Gigabyte decided to go on the light side with their 965P-DS3 model, offering only the basic features that users might be looking for on a motherboard. By using the ICH8 instead of the ICH8R south bridge, the only RAID support is with the IDE and SATA connections provided by the Gigabyte external storage controller. The remaining four SATA connections from the Intel south bridge are full SATA 2.0 ports but do not have RAID integrated into them.
A single Gigabit Ethernet connection and basic 8-channel Azalia HD audio support should meet the needs of most users; what disappoints me the most is the lack of FireWire support on the board. While I don’t think all users require 8 SATA connections, integrated wireless networking and on-board LEDs (but if you do, check out the Asus Crosshair motherboard!), I’d say there is a good chance users will want FireWire — its just used in too many accessories to leave out in this day and age.
That being said, if you don’t need FireWire, and can do without the other features that the Asus P5B Deluxe might offer, the Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 might be a great low cost choice for you to consider.
Pricing and Availability
The Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 is readily available online in our pricing engine for as low as $150 and from Newegg.com for $146.99. Comparing that price to other readily available P965 motherboards, and those using the Intel 975X chipset, the Gigabyte board is among the cheapest. Considering the prices for the two boards we compared it to are over $200 (Asus P5B Deluxe on pricing engine and at Newegg.com; Asus P5W DH on pricing engine and at Newegg.com) and as high as $260, it seems like an even better deal considering the performance differences between them.
As you know, the price differences between these boards is not due to the performance, and no company is trying to make that assumption; you are paying for features, for overclocking stability and for support and name brand. With that said: if you want a cheap Core 2 Duo ready motherboard for a stable system with basic features and options, then the GA-965P-DS3 is definitely a great choice and will allow you to put that extra $60-100 into your processor or video card.
The Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 motherboard isn’t going to surprise anyone with fancy new features, but if you want an inexpensive motherboard for your new Intel Core 2 system that provides stability and even some overclocking options, you may want to check it out.
If you have questions for the author or want to see what others are saying about this board, please check out this already in progress thread in our forums!
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