Gigabyte GA-P31-DS3L Reviewccokeman -
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The GA-P31-DS3L is an ATX form factor motherboard that is designed for Intel socket 775 processors. This board offers support for the current crop of 65nm products, as well as the next generation 45nm products. If you look closely, you will see that the GA-P31-DS3L is a bit smaller than the average ATX form factor motherboard. Is this a positive or negative to the consumer? It really depands on the enclosure it will be going into.
The I/O section of the board shows the connectivity options available to the end user. PS/2 connectors for the mouse and keyboard are still available on this board, as well as a parallel and serial port. Digital sound out is accomplished in two ways, either coaxial or optical. Four USB 2.0/1.1 ports and one Rj-45 jack are available, as well as the analog sound out connections for the onboard 7.1 audio hardware by Realtek. Expansion options include one 16x PCI-E, three 1x PCI-E and three standard PCI slots. Using graphics cards in Crossfire is going to be a no-go here with only the single 16x slot available. But is it really needed for a board that may end up powering a workstation?
Along the bottom edge of the board you will find all of the drive connection options. Down on this end of the board you will find the two front panel USB connections, the floppy drive and IDE connections. At the bottom right hand side of the board are the front panel connections, the four SATA 3GB/s connections and the standard 40 pin IDE connection.
This board supports up to four gigabytes of system memory and supports up to DDR2 1066 memory speeds natively. The CPU socket area is quite congested and may prove to be a problem when mounting large aftermarket heatsinks. You will notice that there are no additional heatsinks in the area of the processor socket.
This board only uses two power connections to supply power to the components mounted to this board. Instead of the 8 pin 12v auxiliary power connector seen on many motherboards out today, this one uses just a 4 pin auxillary 12v supply mounted on the upper left hand side of the board. The main ATX power supply plug is of the 24 pin design.
Heatsinks used on this board are both aluminum and gold colored. They both seem to take care of the heat generated by the components they were designed to protect. You will notice that the only heatsinks are those on the P31 northbridge and the ICH7 southbridge.
Last, but not least, are the bundled accessories that come with the GA-P31-DS3L. While the bundle is quite sparse, it does include everything needed to get the average home computer up and running with the basics. Items included are motherboard manual, driver disc, quick start guide, floppy and IDE cables, as well as two SATA cables that feature a positive retention method to keep them from pulling out. The best item, as always, is the case decal.