Large electronics companies use some of the most advanced manufacturing techniques in the world in their factories, and Gigabyte is certainly no exception. For over 20 years, it has been a staple provider of leading enthusiast-class motherboards not only for hardware junkies like you and me, but also for boutique PC vendors like Falcon Northwest and Alienware. Gigabyte makes graphics cards, cases, and cooling components, too, and is even active in the handheld devices segmentespecially in Asian marketswhere it offers cell phones, PDAs, and laptops.
As part of its Open Overclocking Championship, Gigabyte gave participants and media an all-access tour of its main factory in Taiwan. Although we've brought you motherboard factory tours before, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to take a peek behind the scenes at Gigabyte's production line. Read on to see how the motherboard you might be using at this very moment came into being.
Booties and slideshows
Gigabyte's main factory in Taiwan is located in an industrial area known as Nan-Ping, which is about 40 minutes from downtown Taipei.
As we arrived, the complex looked like, well, any other factory. The building was colorful, though, just like Gigabyte's famously somewhere-between-blue-and-green motherboards.
Everyone was asked to cover their shoes with light blue slip-on covers to keep tracked-in dirt to a minimum. With our shoes safely encased, we descended into the depths of the facility.
To start, we all were introduced to the products Gigabyte makes via a slideshow and video presentation. There was even a company introduction video, and if you're interested in seeing it (warning: it's about as cheesy as a company introduction video can get) I've uploaded it to Google Video.
The most relevant part of the introductory presentation was an explanation of the stages a motherboard goes through before it's shipped out. Gigabyte actually receives printed circuit boards (PCBs) in a partially prepared state, with the traces and drilling already completed. This sets boards up for the SMT stage of the process, which gives boards a solder print job before peppering them with surface-mounted components like resistors.