"Broadwater" unleashed

Gigabyte has unveiled four new Broadwater x965 based motherboards—three full ATX and one mATX motherboard. All four boards are based on either the performance mainstream P965 Express or the integrated graphics equipped G965 Express. The GA-965P-DQ6 and GA-965P-DS4 are the two P965 Express based boards with the GA-965G-DS4 and GA-965GM-S2 based on the G965 Express, with the GA-965GM-S2 mATX. All boards are equipped with all solid capacitors which pose no risk of future leaking as with electrolyte capacitors

The three full ATX boards all share a similar feature-set such as the ICH8R, DDR2-533/667/800, 1066/800/533 MHz front-side bus support, two PCI Express x16 slots, though one slot only has four lanes routed to it. There’s also eight SATA II ports—six from the ICH8R and two from a Silicon Image SIL6121 controller. ICH8R RAID support has been upgraded to include RAID 10 support in addition to RAID 0, 1, and 5. Integrated Firewire is provided via a Texas Instruments controller and one Gigabit LAN port powered by the ever-so-popular Marvell 8053. Lastly the boards have passive cooling for the MCH, ICH, and Mosfets.

That’s where the similarities end and the differentiation begins. At the top of the spectrum is the GA-965P-DQ6. A quad-three-phase power supply system ensures smooth power delivery when the system is under load or overclocking. Audio is provided by a Realtek ALC888DD high definition audio codec. The ALC888DD is the flagship Realtek high definition audio codec and features Dolby Digital Live encoding for those with speakers or home theater systems that can accept Optical or Coaxial S/PDIF signals. Lastly Gigabyte claims the GA-965P-DQ6 will support quad-core processors, whether or not that proves true is yet to be seen.

There’s very little difference between the GA-965P-DS4 and the GA-965G-DS4. The only difference between the two is the integrated graphics core on the GA-965G-DS4. It was previously unknown what the integrated graphics core would be named; however, Gigabyte documentation shows the integrated graphics core would carry the Graphics Media Accelerator X3000 name. Compared to the flagship GA-965P-DQ6, the GA-965P-DS4 and GA-965G-DS4 is equipped with the more value oriented Realtek ALC883 high definition audio codec. Neither motherboards are capable of outputting a Dolby Digital Live encoded signal.

Lastly we have the mATX GA-965GM-S2 which is equipped with the G965 and ICH8 combination. This board will support Core 2 and existing LGA775 processors with 533/800/1066 MHz front-side buses as well as DDR2-533/667/800. Expansion slot capabilities are quite generous with one PCI Express x16 and two PCI slots. Six SATA ports provide plenty of I/O connectivity, though finding an mATX that can accommodate six hard drives will be a little challenging. Firewire is provided by a Texas Instruments controller while Gigabit Ethernet is powered by the same Marvell 8053 controller used by the three full ATX boards. Lastly the Realtek ALC883 high definition audio codec is integrated for eight channels of audio. This is a shame as the GA-965GM-S2 had the specifications and layout to make a great home theater PC motherboard, except the lack of Dolby Digital Live encoding for those that want multi-channel HTPC gaming with a single audio cable.

Pricing is unknown for the four boards at the moment, but expect the GA-965P-DQ6 close to the $200 mark, around $150 for the GA-965P-DS4 and GA-965P-DS4, and around $120 for the mATX GA-965GM-S2. All boards should be available in time for the official Core 2 launch.

"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain

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