The Gigabyte GA-P31-DS3L is a cheap motherboard which uses the Intel P31 chipset, a cut down version of the highly regarded P35 chipset.
I purchased this board for two main reasons. The first was that CustomPC magazine, which I respect, have chosen this as their favourite budget board for many issues. They reviewed it as having great over clocking for only a small price. This is one of the reasons I wanted a new board as I wished to over clock my Core 2 Duo CPU. That brings us on the other reason I chose this board. It is very cheap compared to similarly performing motherboards. I got mine for £45 but they can be found for close to £40 as I write this review.
The motherboard might of been very cheap but Gigabyte didn't slack off when it came to packaging. The box is a great size and very glossy. Gigabyte gloats about "Ultra Durable Capacitors" on the box which sounds good for a £45 motherboard. The motherboard itself is packaged very well. It is wrapped in a anti-static bag and rests on a thin piece of foam. A few more pieces of foam to prevent the board banging against the side would be nice to see however.
The extra stuff you get in the box is also pretty good for a cheap motherboard. I received 2 SATA cables, 1 IDE ribbon and a floppy drive cable, plus a driver CD. The instruction manual is great and covers everything you may need to know.
When installing the motherboard I did not come across and obvious problems with the layout and design. The IDE socket is at the bottom of the motherboard which may be a problem concerning cable management if you have drive bays at the top. All of my drives are SATA so I didn't have a problem. The Intel pushpins are a pain in the behind but this isn't Gigabytes fault.
I can not go very far into the board's performance as I just wouldn't know where to start to produce accurate results but I can tell you that the board is much faster with the same components than my old Dell Dimension E520. One thing I would like to see Gigabyte fix (they may have already but I am scared of updating the BIOS) is that the board doesn't do anything for about 5 seconds when you press the power button. The fans just turn on and nothing is outputted. This isn't a major problem but boot up speeds would be reduced if this was sorted out.
Over clocking, this was the reason I bought it. The motherboard certainly lives up to its name. I reached 450FSB on my E6320 and it successfully survived many torture tests. This is fantastic for such a cheap motherboard. However if you are doing some heavy over clocking on this motherboard make sure you have a very well ventilated case. The Northbridge cooling is scant and it gets quite toasty, there is also no cooling on the VRMs, so don't over volt your CPU to much.
Overall I am very happy with this motherboard. It has certainly earned its reputation. I thought I may have to invest in another motherboard when I upgrade to a higher FSB Penryn CPU but this board will even over clock one of them.
The GA-P31-DS3L is GIGABYTE high performance platform based on the Intel P31 chipset plus support for the latest multi-core processors up to FSB 1333MHz, including the upcoming 45nm platform.
To ensure a longer for systems in daily operation and boost system stability under extreme conditions, this platform adopts cutting-edge Conductive Polymer Aluminum Solid Capacitors from the world's leading vendors. With these high-quality components, users can take advantage of better electronic conductivity and excellent heat resistance for enhanced system durability.
The GA-P31-DS3L supports Intel latest high performance CPU delivers the most energy-efficient performance available today. Based on Intel's Micro Architecture, the Intel multi-core processors with 4 cores and two shared L2 caches provide the best capability-per-watt solutions and are an ideal choice for multi-media enthusiasts and intensive multi-tasking environments. This cutting-edge processor offers significant performance boosts and provides an overall more energy efficient platform.
|Product Description:||Gigabyte GA-P31-DS3L - motherboard - ATX - LGA775 Socket - P31|
|Product Type:||Motherboard - ATX|
|Chipset Type:||Intel P31 Express / Intel ICH7|
|Processor Socket:||1 x LGA775 Socket|
|Compatible Processors:||Pentium 4, Pentium 4 Extreme Edition, Pentium Extreme Edition, Pentium D, Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Extreme, Core 2 Quad, Pentium Dual Core, Celeron 400 sequence|
|Max RAM Size:||4 GB|
|Storage Ports:||1 x ATA, 4 x SATA|
|USB Ports Configuration:||8 x USB|
|Audio:||HD Audio (8-channel)|
|Microsoft Certification:||Certified for Windows Vista|