Gigabyte GA-EX38-DQ6 ReviewPropane - April 10, 2008
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The Gigabyte EX38-DQ6 is an ATX form factor motherboard, as most consumer models are. This means that it will fit pretty much any case you buy with your computer. It is a little larger than some other boards, but fit nicely into my mid tower case. The DQ6 has eight SATA ports, an IDE port and a floppy port in the lower left hand corner, room for four sticks of RAM (up to 8GB total), three PCI-E 1x slots, two PCI-E 16x slots, and two PCI slots. To round it all out, an LGA-775 socket is on the motherboard to accept any Core 2 series chip. An impressive system of heatpipes is laid out over the motherboard which helps cool the capacitors that control the Vcore (the voltage supply to your processor), the north bridge, and the south bridge. "Gigabyte" and "Silent Pipe" are shown in silver on the heatpipes and is a classy looking addition.
On the DQ6's backside, there are two copper plates that appear to be part of the Crazy Cool technology that Gigabyte takes advantage of. These can be taken off in the event you have a different cooler that you wish to use and should be enough out of the way for most smaller heatsinks. The larger plate that is underneath the CPU socket has small areas cut out of it so heatsinks can bolt into or snap onto the bottom of the motherboard.
The back I/O port has enough USB connectivity for almost everyone out there with eight ports. Also, two Firewire ports, two gigabit ethernet ports, a PS/2 keyboard and mouse port and a variety of audio ports, both analog and digital, reside in the back. It is packed, but provides a lot of capabilities. A closer look at the PCI area shows that the two PCI-Express 16x slots are far enough apart to put two high end cards with coolers into your computer, which is important if you plan on using Crossfire or SLI. You also should have access to at least one PCI-Express 1x and one PCI slot even if you have two huge video cards.
The four slots for RAM on the X38-DQ6 are color coded so you can tell which slots run in dual channel. You can put in up to 8GB of RAM, and can run the RAM at a clock rate of up to 1200MHz. If you look closely at the bottom right of the RAM slots, you can see a small strip of LEDs. These light up to show you how much power you are using which is a cool feature that I had never seen or heard of before. If you have a window in your case, it would be something cool to show off to your friends. The eight SATA ports that are on the motherboard reside in the lower left. You probably can notice that there are two different color blocks which might seem weird, however they have a purpose. The yellow blocks run using the main chipset, while the purple blocks have a separate SATA controller. You might be wondering which one you want to use, and the best bet is to go with the yellow ones first.
There are several headers on the motherboard which allow you to add support for devices. Most of these are legacy, but could prove to be useful if you have some old hardware you want to continue using. The most recognizable ones here are LPT and COM ports which are typically used for printers and game controllers, respectively. Also, you can find the headers for the the case I/O near by.
The CPU socket is just like every other LGA-775 on the market. It has a latch close design, so you will be sure that there won't be any movement of the CPU when it is installed. On the Gigabyte however, the socket is surrounded by the Silent Pipe cooling system, which should result in lower temperatures.
Finally, the aux power is located right next to the CPU socket. This can take either a 4-pin or 8-pin aux power, with the 8-pin being recommended.