Gigabyte has been around since 1986 and has consistently delivered products of only the highest quality, thus establishing a very strong brand for themselves. We have seen them enter the server/workstation market with multiprocessor motherboards such as the 6BXDS, we have benchmarked their graphics cards that have quickly become some of the most wanted cards in their class such as the GA-660 Plus TNT2 Pro, and they were even on top of AMD's Athlon release with one of the first Athlon motherboards, the GA-7IX. We had nothing but high expectations from Gigabyte when we found out that they would be one of the first with an i820 motherboard design ready to ship at the release of the chipset.

We first took a look at their i820 based GA-6CX last November when the i820 chipset was supposed to launch, but after a delay in the chipset's release due to a bug, it was another few weeks before we managed to get our hands on the shipping revision of the 6CX. After putting the shipping version of the 6CX through our usual set of tests we are very glad to see that Gigabyte addressed some of the issues that we noticed with the original 6CX.


New Anand Tech Report Card Rating
90/B+

Motherboard Specifications

CPU Interface
Slot-1
Chipset
Intel 820
L2 Cache
N/A (on-chip)
Form Factor
ATX
Bus Speeds
100 / 110 / 120 / 133 / 140 / 150
Voltages Supported
Auto Detect (1.3V - 3.5V)
Memory Slots
2 184-pin RIMM Slots
Expansion Slots
1 AMR Slot
1 AGP Slot
5 PCI Slots (3 Full Length)
0 ISA Slots
Hardware Audio
Aureal 8810
AC'97
Sigmatel STAC9721 (Modem only)
BIOS
AMIBIOS Simple Setup 1.20

The Good

The original 6CX, like most original i820 motherboards, featured a design that boasted 3 RIMM slots. After a design flaw was discovered involving i820 motherboards with 3 RIMM slots, Gigabyte went back to the drawing boards to redesign the 6CX with support for only 2 RIMM slots. Taking away that third RIMM slot allowed Gigabyte to conserve on PCB space, which naturally helps to reduce the overall cost of the motherboard.

The standard configuration of the 6CX features 5 PCI slots, the usual 1 AGP 4X slot, and 1 AMR slot. Note the use of the word 'standard' in describing that configuration, simply because it is an OEM option to add an ISA bridge and a single ISA slot to the design that would be shared with the fifth PCI slot. Of the five PCI slots, only three are always capable of accepting full length cards while the first two PCI slots can only accept full length cards if the system fan connector and front panel connectors are not being used.

The universal AGP connector on the 6CX supports all AGP 1X, 2X and 4X compliant graphics cards because it lacks the 1.5v and 3.3v notches present on AGP 4X and AGP 2X only slots. Gigabyte outfitted the AGP connector with an AGP retention kit designed to help hold the graphics card in place, a unique and useful consideration on the part of Gigabyte.

Unlike the ASUS P3C-2000 and the Supermicro PIIISCA, two other i820 motherboards, the 6CX does not feature an AGP Pro connector. Since we have yet to see many graphics cards take advantage of the 48 additional power and ground pins provided for by the AGP Pro specification, this feature, or lack thereof, doesn't penalize the 6CX.

The actual layout of the 6CX is one of the best that we have seen on an i820 motherboard. The ATX power supply connector is placed in a fairly out of the way location right next to the floppy drive connector on the motherboard. The front USB connector is placed at the end of the motherboard closest to the front of the case, which makes perfect sense, although you would be surprised at the number of motherboard manufacturers that place it away from the front of the case. The only complaint we had was the row of capacitors sitting between the memory banks and the Slot-1 connector which interfere with the installation of large heatsinks/fans on your CPU.

More Good

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