Gigabyte GA-8I955X Royal Dual Core Motherboard Review :: Features and Layout

06-13-2005 · Category: Motherboards

By Doc Overclock
Gigabyte GA-8I955X Royal Spec Sheet
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Motherboard Photo
Part NumberGA-8I955X Royal
Price CheckFind Best Price
ChipsetIntel 955X Express ICH7R
North BridgeIntel 82955X MCH
SocketLGA775 Socket
Processor TypesPentium 4
Number of CPUs1
Front Side Bus1066/800/533MHz
Memory TypeDDR2
Memory ChannelsDual
Maximum Memory8GB
External GraphicsPCI Express x16
IGPIntel Graphics Media Accelerator 950
South BridgeIntel 82801GR ICH7R
SATA3.0 GB/s
RAID0, 1, 0+1
FirewireIEEE 1394b
Expansion Slots
Form FactorATX
Motherboard Photo

If you like blue then you will like the PCP that Gigabyte makes their boards on, as blue has become their trademark color of choice when it comes to their PCBs. The board is very nicely laid out for the most part and offers many design features geared to be appreciated by the hard-core gamer and enthusiast crowd that is always the most picky and hard to please crowd of the PC users groups. Most motherboards are designed about the same with only a very few of them breaking the traditional mold and making the bold move to be different and this board falls into that category pretty solidly. Options are the meat on the bone that separates the different classes of motherboards, and Gigabyte's high-end motherboards always have a lot of meat to offer in their makeup, that being one of the things that sets them apart from their peers. The board is based on the ATX form factor and sizes in at 30.5cm x 24.4cm so it should fit in any mid tower or larger enclosure, it also comes with its own matching rear I/O shield that installs into your case preventing unwanted dust or other airborne particles from entering your system.

Gigabyte GA-8I955X Royal Dual Core Motherboard Review
Gigabyte GA-8I955X Royal Dual Core Motherboard Review
Gigabyte GA-8I955X Royal Dual Core Motherboard Review
Gigabyte GA-8I955X Royal Dual Core Motherboard Review

Based around Intel's latest NB i955 chipset and their ICH7R SB, the board supports up to a whopping 8GB of Dual-Channel DDR2 SDRAM via its four 240-pin DIMM slots with up to 888MHz of available bandwidth when using a 1066MHz FSB CPU. Anyone who needs 8GB of memory however should probably be planning on shelling out the coinage to have it, as at this moment 2GB memory modules are not even available and will be costly when first released. Supporting the entire line of LGA775 CPUs from Intel including their new Dual-Core and 64-bit series is really the main draw of the i945/955 chipsets. One drawback to the board though is the 8I955 Royals ZIF Socket, which has just enough room around it to use the standard factory designed cooling solutions. Anything larger might become a problem if you use Gigabytes U-Plus DPS power conditioner as it blocks the area surrounding the ZIF interface pretty well when installed on the board. A slot is solely designated for the DPS card and it is just too close to the ZIF interface for being ergonomic in its placement. The DPS power conditioner helps your motherboard to run stable by making sure the voltage coming to your motherboard remains the same at all times. This also should theoretically help the board have a longer life span as the board will not have to through the extremes alternating voltages that cause stress and then possible premature failure. A great idea located badly on the board.

Gigabyte GA-8I955X Royal Dual Core Motherboard Review
Gigabyte GA-8I955X Royal Dual Core Motherboard Review
Gigabyte GA-8I955X Royal Dual Core Motherboard Review
Gigabyte GA-8I955X Royal Dual Core Motherboard Review

Drive support is abundant on the GA-8I955 Royal as it has enough SATA/PATA connections to satisfy any desktop user. The ICH7R provides four channels of SATAII connections and the Silicon Image Sil3132 SATA II controller has two connections of its own for a total of six available SATA connections. The four ICH7R connections are located together near the SB of the board, while the Silicon Image connectors are located at the bottom of the board by the two PCI 1X slots and the USB headers that support an additional four USB 2.0/1.1 connectors via a cable bracket. In total the board can support up to eight USB connections. RAID O/1, O+1 and RAID 5 array setup options are available on the ICH7R, and the Silicon Image controller offers RAID 0, 1 plus 0+1 array functionality. SATA II drives will become readily available in the next few months offering better seek and search times than their predecessor SATA drives currently offer. Have no fears though, the SATAII connections are all backwards compatible to all the first generation SATA drives. PATA RAID is handled in two ways the first is provided by the ICH7R, offering one (IDE channel 1)33/66/100 connection supporting two IDE devices, and the GigaRAID ITE8712 IDE RAID controller (IDE II/II) supporting ATA 33/66/100/133 support and RAID 0,1 0+1 and JBOD arrays. You still get the good old school floppy connector, which if you do use, will probably be to flash your BIOS to the most current version if you decide to do it manually and not by a Windows based update.

Gigabyte GA-8I955X Royal Dual Core Motherboard Review
Gigabyte GA-8I955X Royal Dual Core Motherboard Review
Gigabyte GA-8I955X Royal Dual Core Motherboard Review

The board comes with three standard PCI slots two PCI 1x slots and one PCI 16X slot, Gigabyte was smart to leave off Intel's 4x PCIx slot that confuses many people into thinking the i955 supports SLI, which it does not. The extra PCIx slot seen on many i955 boards including the ASUS flavor board is really a ploy in my eyes to seem like it is SLI. But in fact is just a 4x slot that many times has problems running with VGA cards in both slots at the same time. Three Firewire connections are available, but can only be used by way of a cable bracket that attaches to headers on the board as none are available on the rear I/O.

Onboard sound has come a long way on the Intel platform and is seriously one of the best new features that the i955 chipsets is worthy of your hard earned cash. The 8I955 Royal sports the latest in Dolby technology as well as their patented HD audio package that uses the latest Realtek ALC882M audio codec and provides 7.1 surround sound support to your PC. Gigabyte is one of the first motherboards ever to be designed for Dolby Master Studio support and offers the user the entire trademarked Dolby Digital technology in its design implementation. Dolby Master Studio includes support for the following: Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Live, Dolby Digital EX, Dolby Digital 5.1 Creator, Dolby Pro Logic II, Dolby Headphone and lastly Dolby Virtual Speaker.

You can also connect the digital SPDIF cable directly to your home decoder and use your home theatre speakers if you want to use your PC as a media box. The sound options to me are very solid, and the Realtek chipset actually has a much warmer and cleaner sound than their previous generation Codec was capable of reproducing. The sound of movies is really excellent if you have 5.1 or 7.1 capable speakers and through a set of good speakers sounds excellent. The decoding capabilities function properly and seem precise in their separation of the different channels watching movies, and MP3 audio also sounds very good. Gaming and in-game sound will suit most users just fine and all but the latest EAX 3.0/4.0 technology is supported.

The rear I/O port offers four USB 2.0 connectors, both analog and digital, with Coaxial and SPDIF options, a com port, PS2, keyboard/mouse ports and finally a parallel port for older printers. The 8I955 Royal has a lot to offer on this silicon offering as far as features are concerned, let's see how it does in the lab.

Gigabyte GA-8I955X Royal Dual Core Motherboard Review

Intel High Definition Audio

Intel High Definition Audio enables premium digital sound on the PC platform for an immersive surround sound experience. In addition to standard audio support, Intel HD Audio delivers multiple audio channels from your PC so you can listen to two different streams simultaneously in two separate rooms. One person could be surfing the web/ listing to MP3 streamed audio, while others watched a movie in Dolby surround.