Gigabyte GA-8N-SLI Quad Royal review

Price when reviewed

As the AMD chipset would be the only controller hub on an AMD board, it’s packed with the kind of features an Intel south bridge needs. It powers the four Serial ATA connectors, with the Media Shield RAID controller giving RAID0, 1, 1+0 and 5 arrays. It also provides for the two Ultra/ATA connectors for optical drives.

Gigabyte GA-8N-SLI Quad Royal review

There are a few eccentricities from the dual chipset arrangement, though. The audio codec is fed from the AMD chip, so rather than Intel High Definition Audio you get the more standard AC97 codec. And, curiously, neither of the hardware-firewalled Gigabit Ethernet controllers in the AMD nForce 4 chipsets have been used; the dual Gigabit Ethernet is provided by separate chips from Agere and Marvell.

Elsewhere, Gigabyte is typically generous with the bundle. There’s a Bluetooth dongle, as well as a FireWire/mini-FireWire/dual USB backplate, Serial ATA cables for all four ports, and a few other odds and ends to make system construction that much easier and cheaper.

However, testing this board brought some headaches. Our 3.2GHz Pantium D 840 test CPU was recognised as being such, but was forced to run at 2.8GHz, resulting in a score that was well below what we’d expect. We also experienced reliability problems. Even an updated BIOS did nothing to solve these, so we advise holding off on purchasing this board: we’ll bring you an update as soon as Gigabyte resolve the problems we faced.

Quad SLI and fastest-ever 3D scores may still be a dream even with the four graphics card slots, but the Quad Royal does make an eight-screen Desktop possible, and if you use 6200 TCs, stock up on system RAM and seat a Pentium D in the LGA775 socket, you’ll potentially have an excellent basis for a high-powered film-editing suite or digital photography studio.

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