|Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD4P X58 Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Saturday, 24 January 2009|
Page 8 of 17
First Look: GA-EX58-UD4P
In this article, I am going to write for two different types of readers: those who don't have knowledge of the latest motherboards, and those who do. So beginning with the experts, I can reveal that the Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD4P motherboard is identical to the GA-EX58-EXTREME and GA-EX58-UD5 in PCB component layout and BIOS. All of these motherboards offer Gigabyte's Ultra-Durable 3 construction, which features two ounces of copper in the printed circuit board. All three use the same Realtek ALC889A high-definition audio, and offer the exact same PCI expansion slots. The only difference is in the chipset cooling, and the number of Realtek 8111D Gigabit Ethernet ports that are integrated.
Since the GA-EP45T-EXTREME and GA-EX58-UD5 are virtually identical twins already, it's easiest to consider the Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD4P the younger sibling. It doesn't have multi-rod copper heat-pipe channels spanning between the chips, instead it gets a lonely single aluminum heat-pipe rod. It also sheds the second NIC, and second JMicron SATA chip that the other two have. It does however pick-up a special TPM chip with 2048-bit encryption, which is unique to only this model. The exception, as I see it, is that the GA-EX58-UD4P is the most realistic version of Gigabyte's X58-Express LGA1366 line-up.
Design traditions not withstanding, the EX58-UD4P offers all of the features you would expect from an X58-Express enthusiast motherboard. Intel Core-i7 support and tri-channel DDR3 are both present, but also CrossFireX and SLI graphics-teaming support. From the top view, the Gigabyte EX58-UD4P reveals a blue-themed layout. Unlike past Gigabyte motherboards (such as the GA-X48T-DQ6), there are far less colors in this X58 iteration. The biggest difference is how the colors used on the X58-generation of motherboards actually represent something, instead of creating a loosely associated collage.
Gigabyte is working to promote their Ultra Durable 3 feature, which introduces the industry's first consumer desktop motherboard design with 2 ounces of copper used on the Power and Ground layers of the printed circuit board (PCB) which lowers the PCB impedance by 50% as a result. Impedance is a measure of how much the circuit impedes the flow of current. The less the flow of current is impeded, the less amount of energy is wasted. For Gigabyte Ultra Durable 3 enhanced motherboards, this means total PCB electrical waste is reduced by 50%, which also means less heat is generated. Two ounces of copper also provides improved signal quality, better system stability, and allows greater margins for overclocking. For those with older-generation motherboard, the Ultra Durable feature is designed to extend the overall product life, and help overclockers achieve more stable results.
Similar to when Intel moved from socket PGA478 to LGA775, the previous generation cooling products are not a suitable carry-over. The new LGA1366 socket increases the distance between CPU cooler mounting holes to 80mm, which is significantly more footprint area than the 72mm used by the LGA775 socket. Some CPU cooler manufacturers have designed adapters for their LGA775 coolers to fit on the new LGA1366 socket, which isn't a very safe practice. For systems not receiving an overclock, this may not be such a problem, but if you're going to re-use your Core 2 cooler on a Core i7 processor, it had better be listed near the top of our Best CPU Cooler Performance list. I'll explain why in my final thoughts section, which should be helpful information for enthusiasts.
The backside of the PCB lacks the "Crazy Cool" heatspreader cooling plates we've seen in past generations of Gigabyte motherboards, which some enthusiasts may not miss so much. The socket LGA1366 interface receives a backplate for reinforcing the structural rigidity of the GA-EX58-UD4P even further, and improves contact pressure for the CPU cooler. So far, every X58 motherboard I have seen has this backplate attached.
After a short 'first glance' at the basic layout for the GA-EX58-UD4P motherboard, it appears that Gigabyte has designed this to be a no-nonsense mainboard solution for mainstream overclockers and enthusiasts. We will dig deeper in the following sections to find out if this Core-i7 X58-Express DDR3 motherboard offers the features overclockers and hardware tweakers will want out of their top-shelf product.