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Gigabyte GA-P31-DS3L
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by Rob Williams on January 29, 2008 in Intel Motherboards

There are few P31-based motherboards on the market, but as we find out, they are well-deserving of some attention. The board we are taking a look at today hovers around $100, but despite it’s value status, it’s a great offering.

Overclocking, Final Thoughts

If you guessed that the P31-DS3L was not developed for overclocking, you would be correct. However, that doesn’t mean much of anything, because there is a fair amount of tweaking ability here. My goal with any motherboard is 450FSB, but on this board, I was unable to keep it stable. At those speeds, SP2004 would fail after 15 minutes, but lowering to 430FSB rid the instabilities altogether.

The screenshot below shows the CPU speed as 2.58GHz, but it was actually 3.87GHz. It was lowered due to EIST taking care of business while sitting at idle. At these speeds, the computer was deemed stable after an eight hour period of running four instances of SP2004 – one for each core. Following that, 3DMark 06 was looped ten times, all without issue.

 

 

For the performance to be stable, the FSB voltage was set to it’s maximum of +0.3v, which I believe equates to 1.5v. This is still well within reason and would require absolutely no extra cooling, unless your room also happens to be a sauna. So overall, the overclocking performance wasn’t too bad. I believe though, that even higher heights could be reached. I could tell the board wanted to go higher, but was unable. You might achieve a better overclock than I did.

Final Thoughts

I admit that I wasn’t expecting much from this board at all, but I left impressed. Although the feature-set is far from robust, and the accessories is lacking, the board looks good and has a great layout. I appreciate the fact that more than two fan connectors are included, since most value motherboards ignore the fact that people like to have more than than two fans.

Though I still don’t understand the reason for including 3x PCI-E 1x slots, those are there for those who need them, alongside three standard PCI slots, perfect for audio, network cards and the like. Since this board includes one NIC port, adding a second might be in the cards. No pun intended.

Even though the board costs far less than the higher-end offerings, its performance kept right up. It did place last in most of the “races”, but the differences were negligible. It would be difficult for someone to tell the difference unless they are hopped up on a few cases of Red Bull.

The P31-DS3L is a small board, but packs a surprising punch. Inte’s P31 was never publicised much, but it should have been – it’s a true win for budget shoppers.

    Pros

  • Priced right (~$100)
  • Performance not far off from high-end
  • Board layout is top-rate (minus the floppy location)
  • 45nm Processors supported, even high-end QX9650
    Cons

  • Accessories bundle lacking, but that’s to be expected
  • Award BIOS is clunkier than competitors
  • Overclocking ability is modest

 

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