The nForce3 150 chipset supports six USB 2.0 ports, as I have already mentioned. Two of them are located on the back mainboard panel. Four more are onboard and should be attached to the appropriate brackets at the back of the system case. The PCB also carries an IEEE 1394 controller, TI TSB82AA2. Although this controller supports three FireWire ports, there is a bracket enclosed with the mainboard that carries only two ports: 10- and 6-pin ones. The third FireWire port is also implemented as an onboard connector only. Note also that we deal with a FireWire-800 controller that supports the latest version of the interface with a bandwidth of up to 800Mbit/s.
The Gigabyte GA-K8NNXP is one of the few mainboards included into this review to feature two network ports. Thus, this system can serve as a router for connection to a LAN or the Internet. Both RJ45 connectors are found at the mainboard back panel. One of them is Fast Ethernet (implemented in the chipset), the other – Gigabit Ethernet (the onboard Realtek RTL8110S controller, one of the most popular solutions nowadays for integration onto mainboards).
The integrated audio of the Gigabyte GA-K8NNXP is up to the mark, too. Although the mainboard uses an AC’97 codec rather than a PCI audio controller, the codec is the most advanced one of all available today: it is Realtek ALC658. This is an AC’97 ver.2.3-compliant chip with all the resulting consequences: six-channel sound, SPDIF, Jack Sensing and Universal Audio Jack. Three audio jacks sit at the back panel, while the other three plus the SPDIF output in coaxial and optical modifications can be found on a bracket coming with the mainboard.
Besides all those chips, Gigabyte GA-K8NNXP also features five PCI, one AGP 8x and three DDR DIMM slots. So, I think you understand now what a mind-twisting puzzle it was for the company engineers to place all that stuff right on the PCB. They solved it well enough, though. The only PCB layout drawback is too tightly packed chips and connectors in front of the PCI slots, which may cause problems during add-on cards installation. The chipset also sits in front of the AGP and first PCI slots, covered with an active (!) cooler. I wonder how necessary this cooler is, because other mainboards do pretty well without it.
The CPU voltage regulator circuit of the Gigabyte GA-K8NNXP uses a daughter card called K8 DPS (Dual Power System) installed into the special-purpose slot to the right of the Socket754. With this card, you get a six-channel CPU voltage regulation circuit, capable of yielding a fantastic current of 150amp (the Athlon 64 3200+ only needs about 58amp). A cooler with blue highlighting is mounted onto the daughter card, giving it a stylish appearance. Note that the voltage sent to the CPU with the K8 DPS is stable and close to the nominal, which made us very happy.