GIGABYTE GA-8N Quad Royal SLI Motherboard Review :: GA-8N Quad Royal Layout

02-27-2006 · Category: Motherboards

By Benjamin Sun

The layout of this board is dominated by the presence of 4 PCI Express x16 slots. This is a preview of what's to come later in the year for the PC space from NVIDIA. Quad SLI has already been announced by Dell with 4 7800GTX 512MB video cards, and I have a feeling NVIDIA will introduce this in the form of retail motherboards sooner rather than later with the introduction of their next high end card. The 4 PCI Express x16 slots are situated in the following order PCI Express x16, PCI Express x1, SLI bridge under the first slot, PCI Express x1 slot above, the 2nd PCI Express x16 slot, a second PCI Express x1 slot, the third PCI Express x16 slot, the PCI slot and the 4th PCI Express x16 slot.


GIGABYTE GA-8N Quad Royal SLI Motherboard Review Rear layout

Rear layout

GIGABYTE GA-8N Quad Royal SLI Motherboard Review 8-pin power connector

8-pin power connector


GIGABYTE situated the 8-pin power connector next to the first PCI Express x16 slot. This position is clear of the CPU area. Speaking of which, the CPU area is clear of obstructions allowing for the use of after-market CPU coolers on the motherboard without difficulty. The 24-pin ATX connector is below the memory slots, a good position to route the power cable from the power supply. Some compromises have to be made when 4 slots are dedicated to video cards. The memory DIMM slots can be blocked when a long PCI Express video card is placed in slot 1.


GIGABYTE GA-8N Quad Royal SLI Motherboard Review Floppy drive

Floppy drive

GIGABYTE GA-8N Quad Royal SLI Motherboard Review Diagnostic LED

Diagnostic LED


One thing I have to take GIGABYTE a little to task for is the placement of the floppy drive connector. They decided to place the FDD connector on the far left hand side of the board below the 4th PCI Express x16 slot. If you have more than one PCI Express x16 video card installed, the cable to reach the connector would have to go over two or more video cards, making long cables a necessity. GIGABYTE includes a diagnostic LED on the rear of the board allowing you to troubleshoot problems. A FF reading on the LED means the board has passed the POST tests. No error messages showed up during testing.


GIGABYTE GA-8N Quad Royal SLI Motherboard Review USB headers

USB headers

GIGABYTE GA-8N Quad Royal SLI Motherboard Review Firewire header

Firewire header

GIGABYTE GA-8N Quad Royal SLI Motherboard Review Fan on North Bridge

Fan on North Bridge

GIGABYTE GA-8N Quad Royal SLI Motherboard Review South Bridge heatsink

South Bridge heatsink


GIGABYTE includes headers for 3 USB 2.0 brackets. The board supports up to 10 USB ports with the brackets all installed. Firewire ports are a necessity for the digital enthusiast. Gigabyte includes two headers for Firewire ports and the one on the back panel I/O. GIGABYTE chose to cool the North Bridge chip with a fan. They also include a secondary fan in the bundle to go over that cooler, keeping the nForce4 for Intel SLI chip, a notoriously hot chip, under control. There are a total of four fan headers on the board. The CPU Fan header is above the CPU Socket where you would expect it. There's also a Aux Fan, a Sys Fan and a third fan header for the fan you put atop the chipset fan. The Front Panel I/O is clearly marked on the board. If you can't figure out what Res, Pw, HD-, Speak, and Msg mean, I suggest thinking about it and reading the manual a little more carefully.


GIGABYTE GA-8N Quad Royal SLI Motherboard Review Fan header

Fan header

GIGABYTE GA-8N Quad Royal SLI Motherboard Review Fan

Fan

GIGABYTE GA-8N Quad Royal SLI Motherboard Review Front Panel I/O

Front Panel I/O