A few months ago, I tried building my "Impossible” system. A Core 2 Duo system with 4GB of RAM with a bleeding edge dual-format Blu-Ray and HD-DVD combo, RAID’d 750GB drives, 4GB of RAM, and a Corsair 620W power supply... all in the micro ATX format factor. Unfortunately, due to a problem with dual-link HDCP and my 30” Dell LCD monitor, my plans were ruined. In addition, the system would die with a blue screen of death during Windows Vista installation anytime I had more than 3GB of installed. Like some of the best Monster Garage episodes, it was a failed build.
It took several months to resolve the 4GB issue. Gigabyte was initially unable to reproduce the problem. When swapping my RAM didn’t work, Gigabyte sent me a new motherboard, this time a Q965-based Micro ATX board and asked me to send the original G965 back to them for analysis. The new motherboard did not help. Gigabyte had no problem running 4GB on their lab systems, and they were blaming my RAM for the system crashes. I was using Corsair 6400C4, so I tried switching to standard CAS-5 DDR2. Again, no luck. I was reluctant to believe that the RAM was at fault since the individual modules were passing MemTest consistently. In addition, we had used this RAM in a Windows XP SP2 system without any obvious problems.
Finally, after more troubleshooting, we determined that my memory problems were related to an issue in systems with 4GB, a disabled integrated Intel GPU, and my GeForce 8800GTX. Enabling the Intel GPU (while also running the PCI-e GPU) fixed the problem temporarily and the latest BIOS release from Gigabyte completely solves the problem.
If I had been using my original Gigabyte GA-965GM-S2, I would have been in good shape. Not only had Gigabyte solved the 4GB issue on all of their micro ATX Core 2 motherboards, but they introduced basic overclocking tools (FSB selection, asynchronous PCI-e clock, and memory divider settings – but no voltage selection). Of course, in the process of debugging the 4GB error for Gigabyte, I had moved onto their GA-965QM-DS2 for my primary workstation.
Intel G965 Chipset
Designed to meet Intel’s vPro spec, Gigabyte GA-965QM-DS2 features several improvements from the typical G965 or P965 motherboard. As a G965, the motherboard features a barebones GMA3000 integrated GPU (rather than the X3000 in the G965). This integrated GPU is still fast enough to support Vista Aero Glass, but lacks the gaming performance that the X3000 is supposed to have. In my case, the integrated video performance was useless because I was pairing the system with a GeForce 8800GTX.
Intel vPro also mandates the use of an Intel Gigabit Ethernet network controller rather than the more frequently seen Marvell and Realtek designs and a hardware TPM 1.2 module.