++++ The GA-K8N Pro-SLI Socket 939
PCIe board cost at present approx. 110 Euro (01/2006)
and is appropriate thereby in the middle price segment of the Socket
939 PCI Express SLI boards.
The Gigabyte GA-K8N Pro-SLI Socket 939 Mainboard is in contrast
to the GA-K8NF-9
equipped with two PCIe 16x Videocard Slots, which are controlled
by the nForce4 SLI Chipset.
But what is SLI ?
Who isn't yet familiar with the SLI (Scalable Link Interface) technology,
should take a look
on the difference of both benchmark results.
The SLI technology makes it possible to address at the same time
2 PCIe video cards and
can thus combine the performance of both video cards with a so-called
(small circuit board to connect both video cards).
Of course one needs also the driver support, but this is given
in current nVidia Forceware drivers
with one mouse-click in the driver menu.
Thus one knows the performance in 3D applications (DirectX OpenGL,
or Direct 3D) with
2 quite inexpensive video cards and get in such way nearly twice
of the performance.
It's a very good and much cheaper way instead of buying one expensive
It is important that both video cards are appropriate identically
and SLI ready.
Furthermore it's necessary to use a high performance power supply
unit in order to get the
necessary power for a stable PC. (see PSU
Windows 98 friends won't find currently any nVidia SLI drivers,
because there's at present
no support for these operating systems.
Who would like to use a dual boot system with e.g. Windows 98 SE
can't use the second video card.
For LINUX based operating systems and Windows XP, etc. you can download
drivers on nVidia.
Here's a picture of the two PCIe 16x SLI Slots and the SLI mode
PCB, which have to be
turned for the SLI mode:
We come now to the further equipment and features of the GA-K8N
pro SLI Motherboard.
As already mentioned in the last PCIe Review, the amount of space
is already rather scarcely
on motherboards which are equipped with 2 PCIe 16x slots, so that
there're (despite the technical
possibility to be able to address several pci Slots) unfortunately
only 2 pci card slots available.
The nVidia nForce4 SLI chipset offers besides four S-ATA II RAID
(0/1/0+1) connectors also
up to 3 GB/s data throughput, 2 connectors for up to 4 UDMA 133
hard disks and 4 DDR memory
module slots with Dual Channel support.
The sound chip is the well-known 8-channel ALC850 with six 3,5mm
jacks for the 8 channel sound. Besides Gigabyte used even the Vitesse
8201 LAN chip, which provides up to 1 Gigabit network speed (instead
of the integrated 10/100 NIC) and thus can be used optimally for
fast home network.
All connectors are exemplary colored marked and the LED connector
pin row is marked
with small "+" symbols:
Regarding the overlocking and the tuning options of the components
Gigabyte gave the BIOS
several options, which are made accessible partially only with a
hidden CTRL+F1 key combination.
Because it's possible to get further features in the BIOS, if one
presses CTRL + F1 key, since this releases the Advanced chipset
menu with many memory timing and the HT clock options.
There're several hidden features like HT-frequency and the memory
Whereby other important voltage adjustments e.g. Vcore (CPU), VDDR
PCIe core voltage are alterable without this key combination.
The K8N Pro SLI Mainboard offers 2 BIOS chips (one Backup BIOS),
which can be used
alternatively e.g. to test beta BIOS versions.
Furthermore all frequencies are extensively alterable like the host
frequency, memory frequency and PCIe frequency, so it's very easy
to overclock with this mainboard.
However one shouldn't overdraw the overclocking without further
cooling measures straight with
the HT multi, since the nForce 4 chipset is unfortunately only passive
cooled and already becomes
quite warm with the usual frequency and moderate voltages.
Thus as always absolutely respects good cooling, whereby the overall
height of an active chipset
cooler may not be too high, so that both video cards can be completely
Result: The GA-K8N Pro-SLI Socket 939 PCI Express Motherboard offers
owing to the Scalable
Link Interface technology with both 16x PCIe Slots a high performance
at a favourable price.
The equipment is amazingly good and leave nearly nothing to be desired,
so that one might miss
beside the 4 RAID0/1/0+1 capable S-ATA II ports only the 4 further
S-ATA 150 connectors,
which remained unpopulated with this Motherboard.
Gigabyte once again enthuse an overclocker, who would like quite
recommend this board with little modifications to the chipset cooling
as a well tuning board.
Special thanks to Gigabyte
for their support.