Jetway 966PDAG-PB mainboard review

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Alrighty, you made it to the next page. So the Jetway 966PDAG mainboards is obviously based upon the Intel P965 Express Chipset, in combo with the ICH8R Southbridge chip. It's not the newest chipset one can think of, but certainly a good one for the money you pay. Today we test out what the Intel P965 has compared to NVIDIA's top notch 680i mainboards to see if performance makes a difference.

As you guys probably know Intels released the P965 chipset last year which is targeted at the mainstream market for the Core 2 Duo processors as well as Core 2 Extreme and Core 2 Quad processors.  Let's have a look at the generic chipset features here.

The Jetway 966PDAG 's FSB (Front Side Bus) supports 1066/800/533MHz which means this chipset will carry support for the full Core 2 range, as well as the Pentium D and Celeron D range of processors. Upcoming 1333 MHz FSB processors should not be an issue either; yet bare in mind that official support ends at a 1066 MHz FSB.

Jetway 966pdag-pb mainboard review

What's interesting, and I already told you this in the introduction, is that it has unofficial Crossfire support. Be warned though; don't plug in two Radeon HD 2900 XT cards in here, as the mainboard will split the PCI Express x16 lane down to two PCI Express x8 slots.

Although branded on the box, running NVIDIA SLI cards is not an option, NVIDIA is blocking this in their drivers.

Pretty cool is the DDR-2 memory controller. Intel put an upgraded memory controller supporting a 128-bit DDR2-400/533/667/800MHz controller with Intels new Fast Memory Access Technology to reduce the memory latencies which is all managed in the Northbridge (P965 MCH chip). As our tests later on will reveal, it's pretty darn good.

So this is the point where we go to the second chip on the mainboard, the Southbridge (ICH8).

The Southbridge chip is called ICH8 and pretty much is an upgraded version of the ICH7 Southbridge, which has quite some interesting features to be honest. Interesting, for example, is a six channel PCI Express x1 lane which can be configured to run different speed slots. Also a 10 port USB 2.0 controller system with Dual EHCI. In the past, Intel has used a single EHCI setup where all 8 USB 2.0 ports would share the same EHCI port. Pretty much this boils down to the fact that all eight ports were in use with USB 2.0 devices, 480MB/s was shared amongst 8 ports. With the Dual EHCI system, five ports are running on one of the EHCI controllers and the last five are on the second EHCI controller. This means 480MB/s is shared with five ports and another 480MB/s is shared with the other five, thus providing you with more USB bandwidth. I think NVIDIA would have liked to call this SLI USB :)

Soundwise Intel HD Audio makes its appearance again in the ICH8 series for 8 channel sound systems for the Digital Home audiophiles. And also; the ICH8 also has an upgraded Serial ATA-II controller system with 6 ports.

These 6 ports can support Intel Matrix Storage for RAID 0, 1, 0+1 and RAID 5. I just mention it, but the please be aware that the Jetway does not support this. Now that weve covered the most important features of the P965 chipset itself, lets have a peek at the Jetway motherboard specific features.

The board, the bundle

Okay, once you open the box you'll see a very colorful mainboard. Not bad looking I must say also. Let me quickly run down the features that are offered with this mainboard:

  • Intel P965 Express Chipset + ICH8 Chipset .
  • Intel LGA775 Conroe Processor .
  • Support FSB 1066MHz
  • Dual channel DDR2 800 / 667 / 533 Memory DIMMs .
  • Support Bi-GPU-Link with 2 PCI-Express x16 Slots Design.
  • Support 3 Serial ATA2 Devices .
  • Support 1 ATA-100 IDE Devices
  • 10 USB2.0 Connectors Embedded (4 present)
  • Gigabit LAN Supported .
  • AZALIA 8 Channel Audio CODEC.
  • CPU Vcore 7-Shift.
  • ATX Form Factort

So as you can see, the low price results into a somewhat castrated mainboard. You can see this clearly from the fact that you only get to have 3 Serial ATA connectors, one Ethernet connector and stuff like that. But guys  honestly, how many of you need more than 3 serial ATA HDs? Next to Serial ATA you'll find one Parallel ATA connector for two devices.

Connectivity wise we see that we can insert four DIMM DDR2 modules up-to 800 MHz (dual channel). Slots wise we see two standard (32-bit) PCI Slots, Two PCI-Express x1 slots and  2 PCI-Express X16 slots which, when shared, revert back to x8.

Other connectors, Floppy drive, 4 x High Speed USB Connectors @ 480 Mbit /s, PS / 2 Mouse & a PS/2 Keyboard connector. Audio I / O  (8 channels over six analog connectors), and hey some people still use it; a Serial Port (COM) port. No Parallel Port here, so be sure your printer can be run over USB.

Sound is managed by Realtek ALC888 Azalia 8-Channel Audio codec, so that's not exactly a Soundblaster Audigy or X-Fi; but it is definitely not bad at all.

Jetway 966pdag-pb mainboard review

Now let's take a look at the package, and exactly what extras you get for your hard earned money. Uhm yeah, okay ... not much. you'll receive the mainboard, drivers, a Serial ATA cable, IDE cable and I/O shield. Yeah, that's it. Hey, 79 bucks folks ... you get what you pay for. Don't worry though; because the product itself is really good.

Over the next pages we'll dive into a photo-shoot, followed by an intensive stress and benchmark session after which we'll end with our conclusion.

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