Complete hardware monitoring is included on the GA-6BX7 through the Winbond 83782 chip and monitors 3 fan speeds, 9 voltages, and up to 3 temperatures. The 83782 improves upon the older Winbond 83781 by including a provision to read CPU temperature straight from the on-die thermal diode for the most accurate CPU readings possible. The 9 voltages measured include VGTL, +5VSB, and battery voltage, in addition to the standard +/- 5V, +/- 12V, +3.3V, and Vcore.

The reason for "up to 3 temperatures" is that the Winbond hardware monitor can only monitor two temperatures on its own - the temperature of the Winbond chip itself and the CPU's thermal diode (where available, which in the case of Socket-370 CPU's is always). In order to monitor the other temperature, the Winbond chip requires an external thermistor. There is no place to connect a thermistor, so with this board, you're stuck with just two temperatures - the CPU and system temperatures.

Gigabyte takes things one step further by allowing the system to be shut down if the CPU temperature exceeds a user defined value in the BIOS. This can of course be disabled as well if erroneous readings ever crop up and cause problems. Alarms for overheating and fan failure are also available via the BIOS. To top the hardware monitoring off, the core voltage and CPU ID are proudly announced upon bootup just before the memory check - a nice touch by Gigabyte.

Speaking of that BIOS, Gigabyte has also taken the standard Award BIOS and improved upon it just a bit, starting off with a feature well known on AOpen boards - a set of BIOS options that can be loaded and are already tweaked for performance. These options pretty much are optimal for the majority of users, but if you're a real hardcore tweaker, you'll want to go through and double check that everything set the way you like it. SDRAM CAS latency can be configured to 2 or 3 manually, or just left to be ready off the SDRAM SPD.

Overclockers will find the common FSB speeds 66/75/83/100/112/133 available via a dip switch setup. Clock multipliers are also controlled via a dip switch block. All FSB and multiplier settings are silk screened on the board, so there's no need to get the manual out when installing a new CPU. Any bus speed can be selected regardless of the CPU used. Clock multipliers are, of course, locked by Intel on the CPU.

Power management consists of pretty much the standard stuff these days. Wake on LAN and wake on modem ring headers are available to allow the system to power on in the persence of network activity or incoming call. The BIOS can be set to turn on the system at a specific time. The CPU fan can be shut off when the system suspends to quiet things down a bit. ACPI support is built into the BIOS for added power management under an ACPI compliant OS like Windows 98 or Windows 2000. The system can be configured to power on via hot key or mouse click as well.

A nice touch is the ability to configure what the system will do when AC power is restored after a power outage - either remain off, turn on, or resume last power state. This is a feature often overlooked since ATX and soft power became available, but is critical for anyone using their system where it must be on 24/7 or as close as possible. It also allows for users to shut the system on and off from a surge protector.

Although lacking details on installing a motherboard, the manual is otherwise pretty good for the experienced user and includes detailed information on all connector pin outs as well as the various BIOS settings. On the other hand, the CD is much better than the manual and includes Intel LANdesk Client Manager (LDCM) for hardware monitoring, Trend PC-Cillin 98 (OEM) anti-virus software, a suspend to disk utility, and even DirectX 6.1. Of course, there's also the traditional chipset patches and drivers. The CD is not board specific and does not include an online version of the manual.

Index The Bad

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