Gigabyte GA-8IPE775 Pro review

£61
Price when reviewed

With the image of the 865 chipset as Intel’s ‘budget’ range firmly imprinted in our minds, it was a pleasant surprise to find the GA-8IPE775 Pro’s box bursting with instruction manuals, backplates with extra ports and cables. Compared to the ultra-budget ECS 865PE-A7, this board offers a great deal more to those building an entirely new system from scratch.

Gigabyte GA-8IPE775 Pro review

The GA-8IPE775 Pro continues this month’s trend of well-designed motherboards. It’s no more crowded than ECS’s 865PE-A7, and installing a chunky Pentium 4 heatsink and fan was no problem. The four DIMM sockets, supporting dual-channel mode and up to 4GB of RAM, are equally well placed.

The GA-8IPE775 Pro is extremely well specified. Gigabit Ethernet is ideal as the basis for a home web server, although it’s worth pointing out that the 10/100 Ethernet on other boards wouldn’t make a bad fist of it either. Eight-channel audio is another useful feature, particularly when coupled with Gigabyte’s Universal Audio Jack (UAJ) technology, allowing any audio cable to work with any 3.5mm jack.

Although there are no FireWire connectors on the board itself, there are two interesting backplates supplied. The first supplies a coaxial and optical S/PDIF out, while the second supplies a FireWire, a mini-FireWire and two USB ports. Once the GA-8IPE775 Pro is set up, it’s as fully featured as any of the boards on test.

It also had one of the most intelligent cooling systems we saw this month. Fan speed wasn’t left entirely up to the user, presumably to avoid damage to the processor, but the RPM of the fan varies depending on the heat of the chip. In truth, though, the thought of our beloved Pentium 4 Extreme Edition CPU overheating was too much, and we preferred to run the fan at full whack all the time.

Overclocking options are good. Two free fan headers mean that the extra heat generated by higher clock speeds can easily be reduced, while the BIOS options are simple to understand. Users should be aware, however, that memory clock speed is dependent on that of the processor, making the total amount of overclocking rather limited.

The GA-8IPE775 Pro is one of the best packages in the 865 chipset category. For those building a system from scratch, the GA-8IPE775 Pro comes with all the requisite wires to make a system fully functional. Its combination of features and price places it in competition with the ECS 865PE-A7, which just steals an inch on the GA-8IPE775 Pro because of its lower price.

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