Intel's P965 chipset, it's easy to work on and its driver installation is the easiest of any board we have seen. Simply insert the supplied CD-ROM, click on Xpress install, and once you re-boot, all the drivers will be installed. We tested the board using an Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 CPU, 1GB of DDR2 800MHz RAM, a 75GB Western Digital Raptor hard drive and a Radeon X1900XT graphics card.
All components fitted into the board effortlessly and we didn't find any inconvenience in its layout, except for the sole IDE port, which is located rather low and could be a nuisance in a full tower case. In saying that, the board is superbly built. Gigabyte uses solid capacitors on this board, which are said to be more reliable than traditional capacitors, which makes this board slightly more expensive than others with similar features.
The board also comes with a smart fan control. Run the board with a Core 2 Duo CPU and the fan will spin at a low rate unless it is doing some heavy processing; when the CPU is idle the fan will stop completely. The board performed superbly in our tests. It took 89sec to encode 53min worth of wave files to 192Kbps MP3 files. This is identical to the time it took the Core 2 Extreme QX6700 using Cdex.
Yes, this board does support quad-core CPUs straight out of the box. The CPU fan went a little crazy trying to cool the quad-core CPU, with the automatic fan control taking the fan from almost idle to full-throttle in the space of a few seconds, which means there's a lot of noise.
VERDICT: This board isn't too big, which is a plus if you have a relatively cramped case and its performance was excellent in our tests. This is a board well worth considering if you want to build yourself a stable and fast Core 2-based system.