Gigabyte P35-DS3R - Features & Layout
The DS3 is Gigabyte’s bang for the buck line. It first appeared with Intel’s 965 chipset. The Gigabyte P965-DS3 provided stellar overclocking and performance equal to more expensive boards of the same chipset at a reasonable price. While the motherboard did lack features such as external SATA, a second PCI Express Graphics (PEG) slot and other premium features included in Gigabyte’s 6-Quad boards, it was a top choice for tweakers. Now comes the second DS3 board, this time with a P35 Express chipset.
As you can see, the Gigabyte P35-DS3R is a no-frills board. There is no ornate heatpipe cooling. The MOSFETS and power management isn’t cooled either. Even the two heatsinks covering the bridges are aluminum, not copper.
To further cut costs, one of the PEG slots is removed too. Even though a plastic slot and its connections may not cost much, Gigabyte leaves dual GPU possibility for the slightly more expensive DS3P and the premium DQ6 series. These are all measures taken to reduce the cost of the board. However, all the important features are kept to maintain top notch performance and overclocking.
Around the CPU socket, and everywhere on the board, you can see blue and red solid capacitors. Solid capacitors are much more durable and have a longer life than standard capacitors. They also affect overclocking because of their ability to maintain cleaner voltage. This is a true sign of quality despite the relatively low price.
The CPU socket area is clean and should fit coolers of all shapes and sizes. The expansion slots are standard for this board. As mentioned before, one PEG slot was replaced with a PCI slot to create another board (DS3P) for a little more money. With three PCI Express x1 slots, and three PCI slots, expansion should be no problem.
Another thing that Gigabyte doesn’t skimp on is the set of onboard controllers. All the controllers found on the more expensive P35-DQ6 board are found here as well. The ITE monitoring chip takes care of all motherboard sensors. The Realtek ALC889A codec handles the HD audio. Another Realtek controller handles the Gigabit Ethernet. Finally, Gigabyte adds an additional SATA controller for two eSATA ports. Of course any SATA port can be converted to eSATA with an expansion slot bracket, so Gigabyte just adds two extra ports for any use, both external and internal.
The bottom corner of the P35-DS3R is just as eventful as that of any premium board. Despite only four USB 2.0 ports on the back, there are 4 headers on the board for an additional eight ports. We think a balance (six on the back and six on the front) would have been wiser. The front panel connectors are color-coded for easy attachment. The single green IDE port is strangely placed. It is situated horizontally across the board, not vertically like most boards. This can result in messy cabling.
The rear panel is very standard as well. There are no special ports on the back. There are no Firewire, eSATA, or dual Ethernet ports. The P35-DS3R has a Parallel and a serial port, also known as legacy ports. These would be useful for older printers and accessories. Honestly though, there is really no need for these because of the proliferation of USB. We’d rather see that space devoted to more USB ports on the back panel.
The Gigabyte P35-DS3R shares the same BIOS as the P35-DQ6. All the M.I.T. (Motherboard Intelligent Tweaker) features are included on both the midrange and premium boards. We were able to hit 487FSB with our E6700. This is a fairly good result when compared to all the boards we tested. The result is even better considering the price and lack of cooling on the bridges, MOSFETS and PWM. For the P35 chipset, this is a little below average though.