Gigabyte GA-K8NS Pro review
We saw a variety of motherboards this month, ranging from those that resembled OEM models in terms of packaging and bundled cables and software to others that came with everything but the kitchen sink. The Socket 754 GA-K8NS Pro falls into the latter category.
It uses the familiar nVidia nForce3 250 chipset and adds dual RAID controllers, eight-channel sound, FireWire and gigabit Ethernet. It all means the Gigabyte will be perfect for users who want it all.
The dual RAID will be ideal for workstation-like PCs. The Sil3512 chip handles two Serial ATA disks, while the IT8212 chip can manage up to four Ultra ATA devices on two channels, allowing for a RAID0+1 array. There are also two other Serial ATA ports, and a further two Ultra ATA channels, so you won’t be at a loss for drive connectivity.
We were disappointed to see that Gigabyte has again designed a board with Realtek’s ALC850 eight-channel sound but only three mini-jacks on the backplane. This limits users to a 5.1 speaker setup – the backplate with extra mini-jacks is optional. Audiophiles may be appeased, however, by the coaxial and optical S/PDIF out ports on a backplate.
There are four USB 2 ports on the board and another two on a backplate. There’s a further spare header on the board, so you can connect front-mounted USB ports. FireWire and mini-FireWire are supplied via the same backplate. Five PCI slots and an 8x AGP slot complete the expansion options. As usual with nVidia chipsets, three DIMM sockets are present, allowing up to 3GB of RAM.
Layout is generally good, but the two Ultra ATA RAID channels are placed well away from the other two. If you’ll use all four channels we recommend using rounded IDE cables in order to keep air moving around what will quickly become a very crowded case.
It was good to see the GA-K8NS Pro bundled with plenty of cables: a pair of Serial ATA cables, two Ultra ATA cables and a Serial ATA power converter can be found in the box. Software wasn’t shabby, with Internet Security 2004 included. We were disappointed that Gigabyte’s Download Center didn’t support its AMD boards, although we’ve been told that it will do soon.
At £60, the GA-K8NS Pro won’t break the bank, but it still costs £12 more than Biostar’s K8NHA Grand. This is more significant than the difference in features between the two and means that we can’t quite recommend the GA-K8NS Pro.