Received my new motherboard Friday, finally! These are just some scattered impressions I had from installing the motherboard, that I havn't really seen covered much in more 'formal' reviews.

Package: All the essentials, but could be better
Highlights include the Dual-Power System module w/LED fan, an external S-ATA bracket which also features an external molex power connector, your standard USB/FireWire/Audio brackets, S-ATA cables, standard IDE cables, etc.
However, for the price of this motherboard, I would hope they could include Rounded IDE Cables. Pretty much all other manufacturers include them with their higher-end motherboards, but for some reason Gigabyte decided to include the standard cables.

Layout: Overall, fairly good, but a few points to mention.
There are 2 capacitors relatively close to the CPU socket which would pose a problem for large heatsinks. I'm using a Thermaltake Volcano12, which is quite large, but not the biggest I've seen. It *barely* fit on, had to nudge the closer of the capacitors out of the way to be able to get the clamps down.

The Dual-Power System module has a glowing blue LED fan (which I did not see mentioned *anywhere*, on the box, in the manual, on other sites reviews). It's actually pretty nice looking, but I could see it 'clashing' with people's well thought out case-lighting schemes. The module itself is also pretty large, and the fan is almost touching my CPU HeatSink (about 1/16th-1/8th" gap). The retaining bracket they supply also sucks, it allows quite a bit of movement within the socket, and you would want to remove this module before moving the computer (definately while being transported by car, LAN-party'd, etc).

The IDE RAID connectors are at the very bottom of the motherboad. As I have a full-tower, I had to replace my 24" cables with 36" ones to reach my drives.

There is nothing to secure the AGP card in the slot, which I havn't seen a motherboard without in awhile.

The 4th RAM slot will cause problems for anyone who hasn't thoroughly read/understood the manual. It allows you to run (in total) 2 pieces of double-sided RAM (chips are located on both sides of the RAM, the most common type), and 2 pieces of single-sided RAM (quite uncommon nowadays). The chipset only supports 6 banks of ram (1 bank = 1 side of RAM, so 2x2 + 2x1 = 6 when using 4 sticks of RAM, or 3x2 in the standard 3-stick configuration). :confused:
I'm sure that probably just confused the hell out of some of you, which is good, because you should most likely completely ignore the 4th slot :p

And just as a side note, I have *never* seen a motherboard so *utterly* covered in circuitry. This board makes my KT400 motherboard seem *bare* by comparison. Every square milimetre of this board has circuitry on it, including between all the PCI slots, around the edges of the board, etc.

Configuration: Pretty straightforward, if you pay attention
BIOS setup was pretty standard, has very good overclocking capabilities (adjustable multiplier, fsb, voltage, RAM timings, etc). Only tricky thing is that Gigabyte is still using their hidden 'Advanced' BIOS options, accessed by pressing CTRL-F1 while in the BIOS. Unlike some previous models however, which had their own 'Advanced Settings' menu, this version just un-hides options within the existing categories.

Pay careful attention to the manual when installing your RAM. They include a handy chart showing which sockets to install your RAM, depending on your configuration. (ie, Sockets 1/2 for 2 non-Dual Channel memory sticks, Sockets 1/3 for 2 Dual-Channel memory, etc)

Also, there is one single DIP switch you need to set if you have a 333mhz CPU.

Gigabyte includes a fairly generous software package, incluing Norton Internet Security, and a ton of Gigabyte-branded utilities. Easytune, their Windows-based Overclocking/Monitoring program, Face Wizard which allows you to change your boot splash screen, @BIOS which features easy to download and use BIOS updates, etc. Also includes DX9, Acrobat Reader, and of course all the drivers.

Overall Impression: Excellent :thumb:
All in all, I am very impressed with this board, even considering its above-average cost. The list of features is quite impressive, especially the fact you can run *10* (4xIDE + 4xIDE-RAID + 2xS-ATA RAID) IDE devices. I've seen a noticable speed difference over my previous GA-7VAXP (KT400 chipset), even though I'm still only running on single-channel, and my OS is running on a 5400rpm drive. The boot time is excellent, even with 3 different BIOS's loading (Motherboard, ATA RAID, S-ATA RAID). Windows itself starts incredibly quick, the progress/activity bar during boot normally only makes it halfway across (about .5-1 second) before it loads. Can't wait for another paycheck (or two) to get some nice twin'd memory.

Price Paid: $258CDN (local store that loves me)
Pricewatch: ~$160USD

edit: minor fixes