Gigabyte GA-P31-DS3L

Gigabyte GA-P31-DS3L
  • Gigabyte GA-P31-DS3L
  • Gigabyte GA-P31-DS3L
  • Gigabyte GA-P31-DS3L
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Inexpensive, supports CPUs with a 1333MHz front side bus, good performer, dynamic CPU fan control

Cons

  • Doesn't have FireWire, has only four SATA ports

Bottom Line

All up, the GA-P31-DS3L is a decent motherboard for anyone looking to build an inexpensive, yet fast-performing PC. It doesn't have as many ports as many higher-end models, so it's best to consider how many drives and peripherals you need to attach before purchasing it.

Would you buy this?

  • Price

    $ 189.00 (AUD)

If you're looking for an inexpensive motherboard that can handle Intel's latest CPUs (even ones with a 1333MHz front side bus), Gigabyte's GA-P31-DS3L is a good choice.

It's a mainstream motherboard that's based on Intel's P31 chipset, which isn't as extravagant as the P35 chipset. For example, it can only run DDR2 memory, not DDR3; it can't handle 8GB of RAM, only 4GB; it has less USB ports, eight compared to 12; it has fewer SATA ports, four compared to six.

Intel states that the P31 can only run a front side bus as fast as 1066MHz, but Gigabyte states that the board does support CPUs with a 1333MHz front side bus. Indeed, we ran Intel's Core 2 Extreme QX6850 on this board without any problems and while using 800MHz DDR2 memory modules. That means the board will handle CPUs such as the Core 2 Duo E6550.

The board performed well in our tests. A score of 107 was attained in World Bench 6, with a configuration consisting of the aforementioned QX6850 CPU, as well as 1GB of RAM, an ATI Radeon HD 2900XT graphics card and a 7200rpm Seagate hard drive. This is a particularly good score, which keeps up well against P35-based boards using the same configuration. Using the X38 chipset and an identical configuration, it's only three points lower than what a top of the range board can achieve.

Those of you looking to get more out of your CPU can tinker with the BIOS's front side bus speed, which can be adjusted in 1MHz increments, and the memory speed can also be set to run at various ratios of the front side bus speed (so the memory doesn't need to run at 1333MHz).

For connectivity, the GA-P31-DS3L has everything a modern PC requires, except for FireWire. If you want to transfer video from a camcorder, or if you have an older iPod, you'll have to purchase a PCI expansion card with FireWire ports on it. Apart from that, gigabit Ethernet is present, as is high-definition audio, and it also has a full complement of legacy ports, including parallel, serial and PS/2. Windows Vista found all the motherboard's components, so we didn't even have to use the supplied driver disc.

Physically, the board is of the ATX form factor, but it's not as wide as a full-size ATX motherboard, which means that it should fit easily into a smaller-than-usual case. It doesn't have an exorbitant heat-pipe cooling system, nor any beefy heat sinks on the chipset and power circuitry, which Gigabyte's more expensive models often flaunt. However, it does have the dynamic CPU fan control (Smart Fan) that Gigabyte boards use so effectively, and when this board is running, it keeps the CPU fan at a very low speed, which makes for a very quiet computing experience.

There are enough expansion slots for current and new-generation devices; three PCIe x1 (PCI Express) slots are present, along with three PCI slots, and there is one full-sized PCIe x16 graphics card slot. The graphics card slot doesn't impede the memory slot levers, so you can install new memory modules without having to remove the graphics card first, plus the SATA ports are located just behind the PCI slots. One IDE port is present, for a DVD burner or an older hard drive, and a floppy port, which is located on the bottom edge of the board, appears to have been included as an afterthought.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?