Springdale motherboard: 8PENXP (i865PE)

Choosing the wrong motherboard can limit the PC upgrade path severely, but selecting the right board can maximise a PC user’s experience.

Targeted at the mainstream market, the Gigabyte 8PENXP motherboard is based on the i865PE chipset (codenamed Springdale) and showcases some excellent features for the average user. The 8PENXP supports 800MHz front side bus speed for Hyper-Threading processors and is backwards-compatible with the older 400 and 533MHz flavours.

A dual channel memory controller supports the newer DDR400 memory and is also compatible with the DDR266 and DDR333 predecessors. A new Intel South Bridge chipset, ICH5, offers support for Serial ATA and Parallel ATA RAID, and up to eight USB 2.0 ports. Carrying on from the older ICH4 chipset, the 8PENXP also bundles an integrated Gigabit LAN adapter, six-channel audio and three FireWire ports via a PCI bracket.

The motherboard is based on a bright blue PCB and has colour-coded ports to distinguish the different ports, slots, and header connections. Its layout is very well structured and all components are easily identifiable.

In the event that some­thing does go terribly wrong, the standard Giga­byte Dual BIOS and Xpress System Recovery tools can help to cure any teething problems or mishaps. An included three-phase power circuit daughterboard, the DPS2, provides additional backup if any power circuit fails, and also features a small fan with a luminous blue LED.

Performance enthusiasts may want to look elsewhere, as the overclocking capabilities are limited, but for the gamer or average user this motherboard meets all criteria with flying colours.

In brief: Gigabyte 8PENXP (i865PE)
A fully-featured motherboard that is easy to configure and has excellent features, although it’s a little pricey in comparison to other 865PE-based motherboards.
Price: $399
Distributor: Global Business Technology
Phone: (02) 8718 8888
URL: www.gbt.com.au

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