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Gigabyte's P45 motherboard plug-fest

Mid-range hotness debuts in Taiwan

Last week, Gigabyte invited a gaggle of international journalists to a "plug-fest" preview of its P45 motherboard line in Taipei, Taiwan. Intel has yet to formally introduce the P45 Express, but given the success of the P35 chipset, we were naturally eager to get a glimpse of its successor. Gigabyte had no less than five different P45 models on display, including a new Extreme board that may well live up to its name, at least as far as overclocking is concerned. The company also unveiled a number of new features that will be spread throughout its P45 family, including an improved version of its Dynamic Energy Saver software, trusted computing compatibility, and a driver-free hardware RAID solution that uniquely combines multiple auxiliary storage controllers. Keep reading for the goods on Gigabyte's upcoming P45 products.

Guang Hua market: An enthusiast's paradise
It's said that to truly get a feel for a city, you should visit its central market. My first stop in Taipei, then, was the famous Guang Hua Market. Guang Hua is the biggest computer market in Taiwan, and quite a bit different from the Neweggs and brick-and-mortar computer shops you'll find in North America, or indeed most of the western world.

This is a market in the true sense of the word, with little shops filling seemingly every corner and even spilling out into the halls and streets. PC hardware is the commodity of choice in Guang Hua, of course, but one can also find all manner of consumer electronics products, digital cameras, cell phones, and even base electrical components like LEDs, resistors, ICs, and processor sockets. Shops are open well into the evening, and the market itself is only closed two Tuesdays a month, ensuring plenty of shopping time for bargain-hunting enthusiasts.

Even on a Wednesday afternoon, the market was bustling with activity. I'm told it's an absolute zoo on the weekends.

The sheer volume of PC hardware available at Guang Hua is what makes the market so impressive. The individual shops may be small, but they're jam-packed with all the latest and greatest components. Motherboards and graphics cards completely lined the walls of one shop, with the latter hanging like action figures in a toy store. How appropriate.

Most of the shops in Guang Hua seem to offer a bit of everything, but many specialize in a few specific components. The shop above easily had over a hundred cases lining its walls in every imaginable configuration, style, size, and color.

Blank media and peripheral shops are popular, too. I've never seen quite so many keyboards and mice crammed into such a small space.

Guang Hua shops constantly update their price lists, which are available on individual sheets if you want to wander around and do some comparison shopping. There's room for haggling, too, especially if you're buying multiple components at once.