Haven Review: Gigabyte 970A-DS3P

gigabyte_logoAlright, a little summary for those who have been following us for a while. We’ve had a few technology articles in the past involving the Kingston V+ Solid State Drives (SSDs), but after we changed hosts we lost all our original works.

I’ve been having a lot of issues lately with the system I use. Although not my first computer, it was the one that came overseas with me when I moved from the U.S. to Norway. We’ve been using it ever since we started doing charity pledges, live streams, YouTube content and developing our first actual game.

My lovely little Asus Sabertooth X58 motherboard is finally biting the dust, and despite having a “tough” warranty, Asus refuses to replace the board because it left the country of original sale. Over the years I’ve had a lot of issues with Asus; they’re just not that willing to help. What people don’t realize is that our current endeavors are not for profit.

One company however did hear our pleas, and were willing to help out. Good-guy Gigabyte saved our butts so we can keep working, and we now present a shiny new tech article in response.

Here is our breakdown of the Gigabyte 970A-DS3P:

Gigabyte_big1aAt first glance, the motherboard looks and feels like most others. However, since it uses an AMD processor, it has limited dual-channel memory. For those who aren’t familiar with dual and triple-channels, it’s like having multiple people working on the same project at the same time. Although there are benefits to using an Intel board with triple-channel, AMD has its own benefits. Unless you’re a big performance hound, much of the time the differences aren’t that noticeable.2049

This Gigabyte motherboard in particular has another feature I very much enjoy, which is the CPU socket size. AMD is the Nintendo of the computer industry when it comes to their CPUs…they like backward compatibility! I had a spare AMD Phenom (Socket AM3) and it works perfectly in this motherboard. If I want to upgrade to a more modern six-core CPU, I can. The socket supports AMD AM3+ FX processors. That being said, this motherboard boasts a lot of compatibility. If you needed a replacement board and have all the parts for it, you could probably just invest in this model and you’d be set. I should mention also that if your CPU happens to be an FX, the motherboard comes with an unlock feature. If you have a quad-core, there’s a chance the board could unlock two additional cores for increased performance!

And when it comes to PC gaming, more cores and a high clock speed can make all the difference. Speaking of performance, this motherboard also has AMD Crossfire support. Remember my earlier analogy of multiple people working together on the same job? Essentially you are taking two identical graphics subsystems and having them work in tandem to provide the best visual experience. However this is for AMD only. If you have an NVidia graphics card, you’ll have to find a board with Scalable Link Interface (SLI) capabilities.
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Now I’d like to discuss Gigabyte‘s Ultra Durable 4 feature. For gamers who love overclocking (configuring your hardware beyond its rated limits), overheating is always a possibility. For this reason many PC gamers go with water-cooled systems. But if you’re like me, you can’t drop a lot of money on elaborate setups and must constantly worry about the temperature inside your computer. Ultra Durable 4 makes use of Fabric Printed Circuit Boards (Fabric PCBs); the motherboard itself can handle higher temperatures and humidity. This is proves especially beneficial in tropical and sub-tropical climates. This board also provides Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) protection, in case you forget to ground yourself when opening the case. Also included is Power Failure Protection in the event of a surge or brownout. The motherboard is able to deal with a certain degree of excess voltage.dual_uefi_bios

Another neat feature is the UEFI DualBIOS. Now for some users this isn’t a big deal. Many PC gamers go through their machine’s entire life without ever updating their Basic Input-Output System (BIOS). If you do periodically flash-update the BIOS and the process fails, you may have issues re-accessing the system. This is one of the perks of a dual-BIOS; it always keeps track of your current settings. If something goes horribly wrong, it will automatically boot to the alternate BIOS so you can restore and fix any damage.

The only thing about this motherboard I dislike is Gigabyte‘s affiliation to Norton, who’s products are among the biggest memory and resource hogs in PC history. But that discussion is for another day; there’s a pretty sizable list of why I don’t like Norton products when it comes to gaming.

Last but not least is Gigabyte‘s EasyTune feature. Like many computer manufacturers, they are aiming to make overclocking easier for the rookies out there. EasyTune provides a simple interface to boost the performance of your computer hardware. But unless you have adequate cooling inside your system I wouldn’t bother touching it. Although the motherboard may be able to take higher temperatures without added cooling, I wouldn’t risk it.

All in all, is this motherboard worth the price tag it carries? The simple answer is yes. With its modern features and backward compatibility, a new system can be easily built from old peripherals laying around. You can trust me on this…I’ve already done it!

-Daniel Clatworthy-