Motherboard Guide

Gigabyte GA-G1975X review

Gigabyte GA-G1975X (Intel 975X Express)

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Conclusion

The Intel-ATI Route

The GA-G1975X is a brand new board with a brand new chipset and a design that departs from Gigabyte's previous efforts. It comes with Gigabyte's new Turbojet cooling technology, overclocker friendly options and LED lights to complete the picture. So why is it that we need such cooling solutions on the motherboard? The answer is a simple nod towards the enthusiast community. Better cooling equates to better overclocking when it comes right down to the nitty gritty. And as we've found out, the GA-G1975X will in fact ship factory overclocked at a 274MHz FSB and can effortlessly push past 310MHz, reaching a rock stable 317MHz FSB in our own overclocking tests.

Though the board is designed around the Turbojet cooling, Gigabyte has managed to keep the board clean and major components ideally located. Our only gripe with the design of the board is the layout of the expansion slots. As there are only two PCI slots available, it is inconceivable that both slots will most probably be blocked out in a dual graphics configuration, especially with those fat ATI Radeons in CrossFire configuration. You should still be able to squeeze in one card, but we'd rather like to have a little more breathing room and not stuck between two hot graphics cards.

With no real changes to its core technologies like Intel's Memory Pipeline Technology, the 975X Express performed almost identically to the 955X Express in our benchmarks, as expected. While NVIDIA will now have a real competitor and both ATI and Intel having a solid chipset to promote the CrossFire platform, our benchmarks show that the Intel 975X Express is still behind in terms of performance to an equivalent nForce4 SLI Intel Edition platform. This is where the GA-G1975X comes in and the overclocked board managed to match and outdo its NVIDIA-based cousin, the GA-8N-SLI Royal, in many benchmarks.

In the end, we think that the Intel 975X Express is what the 955X Express should have been, but because ATI has taken so long to realize their CrossFire technology, the chipset is actually launched at an opportune time. While NVIDIA fans will probably point out that they've already moved on to dual PCIe x16 configurations, our tests have shown very little gain in today's hardware so Intel still has some road left to flex its new chipset. However, its lifespan could be dictated by ATI's upcoming RD580 (supporting dual PCIe x16 channels) and major Intel CPU architectural changes that are expected in early 2006 (which is pretty soon).

As a motherboard, the Gigabyte GA-G1975X is an excellent integration of Intel's new chipset engineered for the hardcore gamer. Although it sacrifices features in return of better cooling, the performance gains will be more important to a gamer than having three more LAN ports or more than ten storage connectors that will never be fully utilized. Performance is top notch due to the board's default overclocking and with all the critical components properly cooled, stability will not be an issue either. With true native CrossFire support under the hood, the Gigabyte GA-G1975X is probably the best Intel based motherboard a gamer can get their hands on today - if you can overlook its ultra exorbitant US$280-290 price tag that is. If you still want to try out CrossFire, but aren't willing to spend your fortune on the motherboard, there are other affordable alternatives in the market that will still give you reasonable performance gains at a fraction of the cost, such as the ASRock 775i915P-SATA2 or ECS' PF22 Extreme. However, if you want the latest thingamajig and price is no barrier, the mean looking Gigabyte GA-G1975X comes highly recommended.