Gigabyte GA-8ANXP-D - Page 4

..:: GA-8ANXP-D Layout: Northbridge Area ::..

The GA-8ANXP-D follows in line with previous Gigabyte Northbridge coolers, but it comes with one unique feature that I haven’t seen before. Looking at the heatsink in the image above, it appears to be your normal, every day anodized heatsink, and it is. The unique aspect deals with how it cools the Northbridge. Out of the box, this heatsink is passively cooled, which in many overclocking situations given that the voltages will be raised and FSB sped up, it is far from what should be used. Well, if you’re going to be using the board for overclocking, Gigabyte has included a clip on fan that comes with the two-pin power connection, and also glows with blue LED’s as do many of their 3D Cooler CPU heatsinks. The fan simply is pressed down and holds on by two small ridges on teach side of the heatsink. We found that with the added fan, the Northbridge heatsink was kept quite a bit cooler, especially when put in use with a Prescott core Pentium 4.

The area to the left of the i925X Northbridge chip is quite clean featuring three fan power headers, as well as the GA-8ANXP-D’s LAN Controller chip. Starting from the top, we find the four-pin 12V core voltage supply connection. I prefer to see this located farther up the PCB for airflow purposes, though with the slim size of the cable this implementation works nicely as well. Due to the U-Plus DPS connector, Gigabyte really had no choice but to put this connector here. Below, we find the four-pin and two-pin CPU and Northbridge fan headers, as well as the Marvell 88E8001 Gigabit Ethernet Controller chip. As we noted with the AA8-DuraMAX and AG8, the GA-8ANXP-D also only utilizes a 32-bit PCI interface connection for this Gigabit implementation. We also have another implementation to discuss, however.

..:: GA-8ANXP-D Layout: Expansion Area ::..

The expansion slot portion of the GA-8ANXP-D features a single x16 PCI-Express slot, along with three our x1 PCI-Express slots. At the bottom of the board, we also find two regular PCI slots. This is going to be the typical setup found on most of these i925X and i915P motherboards for some time to come. As there are no real PCI-Express products out there at this time that use the x1 connection, or any other besides x16, we’ll see mostly x1 and x16 connections for some time. This was the same setup that we found on the Intel i925X and i915P motherboards, as well as the ABIT AA8-DuraMAX and AG8 previously reviewed.

The majority of the core components for this portion of the board are, as always, located along the rear edge of the PCB. At the top of this section, right under the rear I/O panel we find the front panel audio header. I still say this header would be located further down on the PCB, though with some 3.5” plate connections, 5.25” plate connections, and connections built into the chassis, it’s hard to get this header to be in an ideal location. It is located above the PCI-Express x16 connector, so cable routing shouldn’t be too bad unless you need to route the cable to the lower front portion of the case. This could pose some problems as the cable would need to route between the rear of the PCI-E graphics adapter and motherboard, or simply go up and around over it, neither or which are fashionable nor fun installations.

Next up, we find another unique feature that Gigabyte has thrown onto the GA-8ANXP-D, a second Gigabit Ethernet Controlled. Given that the Marvell chip only supports Gigabit Ethernet on the PCI bus, Gigabyte chose to utilize both chips which means two, independent Gigabit connections, and the option for an improved connection due to the PCi-Express bus support. This second controller chip is the Broadcom BCM5751 NetXtreme which utilizes the PCI-Express interface and not the sluggish PCI interface as does the Marvell controller. The best, and most obvious, choice would be to utilize the Broadcom chip as the primary LAN connection.

Below, we find the High Definition Audio CODEC that Gigabyte has chosen to power the GA-8ANXP-D, the Realtek ALC880. The ALC880 offers full 7.1 channel audio support, features two 24-bit DACs and three 20-bit stereo ADCs for high quality, high resolution audio, and also features 32-bit, 96kHz support for both input and output S/PDIF connections. Along the right hand side of the ALC880 CODEC, we find the other typical audio-related header, the black CD audio header. This portion of the board also houses the ITE Super I/O controller. In case you’re unfamiliar with the responsibilities of the ITE chip, it is responsible for providing support of legacy connections, such as your Serial or Parallel ports. These chips can also be configured to act as a monitor to system critical readings, such as fan speeds and voltages.

Lastly, since the Southbridge portion of the GA-8ANXP-D contains a plethora of items, we’re going to cover a few of the components that remain within the expansion slot area. Along the side of the three x1 PCI-Express connectors we find the system BIOS chips, along with the Texas Instruments IEEE1394b chip. This TI chip is responsible for controlling the IEEE1394b header that is found underneath the last PCI slot along the bottom edge of the motherboard. The second TI IEEE1394a controller is located along the side of PCI slot one, and has control over the remaining IEEE1394a header.