Connectivity and Initial Installation
One of the things we often wonder here at OC3D is that when we review power supplies they all seem to have a dozen SATA connections and hardly any of us have that many drives. However Gigabyte seem to agree with the PSU manufacturers and, alongside the four available e-SATA ports, have supplied 10, count them, TEN SATA ports on the board. Fabulously they are all horizontal showing once again that clearly a large amount of careful thought has gone into the design of this board. Lots of fan headers, horizontal connectors, most things right on the edge of the board, this truly is a dream for the cable hiding obsessives amongst us. The right six ports are all powered by the X58 chip itself.
The four white ones on the left are powered by the Gigabyte SATA2 controller hidden under the heatsink just behind the ports themselves. Also you can see to the left of the white SATA ports the on board power button, the blue reset switch and just behind that to the left of the CMOS battery is the black clear CMOS button. All very handy things to have for those overclocking "out of the case" tests. Truly this board covers anything anyone could possible think of.
Finally at the rear of the board we can see the plethora of connection options available. We can see a combined PS2 keyboard and mouse input. Having a PS2 mouse is probably unlikely in these days of wireless and gaming rodents, but anyone who tinkers with the BIOS should always have a PS2 keyboard handy so it's nice to see them still supported. Above that are two of the 10 USB 2.0 ports. Also visible are a Firewire port, a coaxial and optical SPDIF connector, the two LAN ports that can be combined, and the six audio jacks for the onboard Realtek ALC888S HD audio.
The really clever part is the combined eSATA and USB ports. With eSATA available on a included PCI bracket most people will enjoy having 10 USB ports, but if you're some storage monster and have already filled the ten onboard SATA ports, then it's nice to have a few eSATA around the back. A very innovative solution enabling maximum connectivity whilst still keeping within the ATX Form Factor. Well done Gigabyte.
As stated on the previous page, the design of the motherboard has cleverly taken into account the monster air coolers that are available to us these days. Long gone are an 80mm fan fitted horizontally, now 120mm heatpipe stacks are common.
For todays review we are using a Cooler Master 212 Hyper Plus and as you can see there is plenty of room around the heatsink, even with the fan attached. The right hand side, so often a choice between filling the RAM slots or cooling your CPU, has plenty of room for two fans in a push-pull configuration whilst still enabling all four RAM slots to be populated. Even the extra tall heatsinks on our G. Skill Trident don't foul. Another plus for the Gigabyte designers and something that really makes us wish more companies took into account the actual usability of their boards.
Let's have a look at todays test setup and see if all this technology allows for a good overclock.