|Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD4P X58 Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Saturday, 24 January 2009|
Page 17 of 17
Whenever a new hardware platform launches, I feel that manufacturers owe it to consumers to educate them on the changes. To this extent, Gigabyte does only offer a few tiny bullet points of information pertaining to QPI, and 3-channel memory. What you get is a whole lot of information on Ultra Durable 3 and the benefits of using 2 ounces of copper, some marketing points pertaining to Hybrid Silent-Pipe 2, and a little about Dynamic Energy-Saver. This is all fine if you're a lifelong Gigabyte motherboard user, but buyers compare apples to oranges, and Gigabyte needs to remember this. I think it would also be helpful if the package states the compatible hardware; not everyone knows that a Core 2 processor will not work on the X58 platform.
Just like the Gigabyte GA-EX58-EXTREME we recently reviewed, the overall appearance of the GA-EX58-UD4P is exciting. My first impression was that the EX58-UD4P left behind all of the pastel colors as if to say that it came here to do business. Gigabyte has a winning combination of shiny silver and anodized blue components. The colors used for expansion card slots are matched to bus speed and type, and the power phase and onboard LEDs give just as much for user feedback as they do for captivating looks. At the end of my testing I was pleased to say I don't miss copper heatpipe tubing winding around the motherboard, because the EX58-UD4P gets the job done with a single aluminum rod.
For the first time in several product releases, Gigabyte has achieved near-perfect component layout on their X58-Express motherboards. The construction is what you would expect from a top-class premium product: second to none. I know that there has been a long history of being second-best in the motherboard industry, but the EX58-UD4P has convinced me otherwise. All eight SATA ports are turned sideways, which allows full access to them even with large video cards installed. Even the six memory module banks are located away from the action for better access and cooling.
Performance deserves some extra attention, and careful consideration for what tasks will be fed to the Core i7/X58 platform. Considering that video game frame rates on the entire collection of X58 motherboards were only slightly better than those of the X48 and P45 platforms, the EX58-UD4P shouldn't be expected to deliver anything you couldn't get from the more affordable last generation of hardware. I won't rehash two pages of Gigabyte-specific features, you can always revisit those sections, but the TPM Security Chip is certainly worthy of mention here.
As of January 2009, NewEgg offers the Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD4P for $259.99 ($239.99 after rebate). This is considerably better than the $329 EX58-EXTREME that offers nearly identical features, and makes the EX58-UD4P one of the most affordable X58-Express motherboards available. As the fresh after-glow of launch fades away, compare prices to get the best deals online.
In conclusion, the Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD4P receives my highest recommendation. This X58 motherboard offers all of the features available to premium high-end motherboards, but spares us the added cost. For previous generation users of the X48 and P45 platforms (and even X38), I don't see the X58 platform offering a substantial return on investment when gaming is the core focus. However the P35-Express and older platforms would benefit from a combination of updated PCI-Express 2.0 graphics bandwidth and updated memory architecture. Everyone and everything can benefit from triple-channel memory over the dual-channel bandwidth of past platforms, but the application workload must be large enough to see an actual difference. Casual overclockers are guaranteed to enjoy the myriad array of settings and BIOS configuration options, while the performance enthusiast will admire the scalability of 3-way SLI and CrossFireX. 24GB of total DDR3 capacity will please 64-bit users, and eight total SATA ports will ensure that no drive is left behind (a popular initiative for my SSD collection). The full depth of Gigabyte's proprietary product features is well worth the asking price, and the TPM encryption security is at the front of this list. Considering the matched performance against other X58-Express solutions, the final choice will depend on your needs.
+ Outstanding BIOS - designed for enthusiasts
- Premium motherboard solution
Final Score: 9.05 out of 10.
Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.
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