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Gigabyte GA-8IHXP Socket-478 mainboard
By CPU-zilla
Category : Mainboard
Published by Jimmy Tang on Wednesday, 28th August, 2002
Rating : 5 out of 5 stars  

The Things We Like

In the package, Gigabyte has provided the user with a pretty complete range of accessories. The feeling of opening up a motherboard package with over-flowing accessories is simply indescribable. It just makes you feel like you've gotten your every cent worth. Anyway, in the box, you'll find :-

  • The GA-8IHXP motherboard
  • A printed manual
  • An I/O shield
  • 2x C-RIMM (Continuity RIMM)
  • A quick PC installation guide
  • 1x floppy drive cable
  • 3x 80-conductor IDE cable (2 pieces to be used for Ultra ATA 133 IDE RAID)
  • 2x USB 2.0 brackets (8 ports in total)
  • Driver CD
  • SPDIF output bracket for on-board CT5880 audio

    As usual, Gigabyte motherboards are normally packed with integrated peripherals and the GA-8IHXP is yet another winner in this area. Firstly, all USB 2.0 fans will be delighted to learn that the GA-8IHXP is one of the first Intel 850E motherboard to integrate the new ICH4 as the south bridge. Most Intel 850E boards come with the ICH2 south bridge as Intel has made the 850E north bridge pin compatible with previous 850 designs. This helps motherboard manufacturers to roll out 850E boards faster. However, the ICH4 and ICH2 are completely different south bridges and a motherboard layout redesign has to be performed in order to pair the 850E with the ICH4. This explains why Gigabyte released their 850E later than most manufacturers but their patience and diligence paid off.

    One of the rare 850E-based motherboards to use an ICH4 instead of the standard ICH2.

    The ICH4 supports the new USB 2.0 interface and it's already built into the chipset. Other 850E boards only support USB 1.1 natively and would need to depend on discrete host controllers to support USB 2.0. In addition to what is already offered by the ICH4, Gigabyte wanted to give users more ports and so they have added another discrete controller that brings the total to 10 USB 2.0 ports. The additional controller is based on the NEC mPD720100A chip which gives you another four ports on top of the six ports already offered by the ICH4.

    The NEC USB 2.0 controller that gives you an additional four USB 2.0 ports on this board.

    Gigabyte bundled two USB 2.0 brackets with the GA-8IHXP.

    The USB 2.0 headers are all color coded and they come with idiot-proof connectors.

    Another first for Gigabyte is the integration of an IDE RAID controller on the board to support Ultra ATA 133 devices. This will ultimately let you install up to eight IDE devices on a single board. You'll seldom find Intel 850E boards with this kind of option, at least not when Gigabyte launched the GA-8IHXP (the ASUS P4T533 has on-board RAID but the board is based on the rare 32-bit RIMM configuration). The IDE RAID controller is based on the Promise PDC20276 chip which could be configured to operate either RAID 0 or 1 arrays. Although, the FastTrak133 Lite BIOS is not a full-fledge RAID firmware that lets you do both Striping and Mirroring at the same time (0+1), it does however offer you basic RAID functions to get you going.

    The GA-8IHXP uses Promise's PDC20276 ATA133 IDE RAID controller.

    The board also comes with Creative's CT5880 audio chip that gives you Sound Blaster quality audio. The Creative CT5880 can be configured to operate in surround mode using four speakers. Gigabyte has also bundled an SPDIF bracket to output digital audio signals to either digital speaker systems or MD players. The bracket comes with the choice of using either a coaxial (with RCA jack) or a TOSLINK optical cable. However, newer boards may not feature Creative's CT5880 audio solution as Creative has decided to stop manufacturing this chip. Thus, newer batches may be based on just an AC'97 codec.

    This is the last you'll ever see of Creative's CT5880 PCI audio chip.

    A simple SPDIF output board with both coaxial and optical connectors.
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