|Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P DDR2 P45 Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by Bruce Normann - Edited by Olin Coles|
|Sunday, 25 January 2009|
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The packaging of the Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P is completely in tune with its mid-level standing in the universe of motherboards. It's bright, catchy, covered in diagrams and text describing its major differentiating features. It does not attempt to seduce on any level with guns, girls, or layers of opulence. It's marketed like a Toyota, not a Lexus, all right?
Once the retail package is opened, you are faced with the neatly packaged accessory kit. It's generous, with four SATA cables, two straight and two 90 degrees, an eSATA bundle that includes all the internal and external cable required for two eSATA hookups, a color coded I/O panel, the requisite stickers, and a decent quality manual to boot. There is an extra manual on the Trusted Platform Module, which is good, because there looks to be lots of different ways of messing it up.
Like other Gigabyte motherboards, bright colored plastics paired with brilliant metals do the trick for maximizing appearances. I've already shared my undying affection for all things anodized and dipped in blue die, so it's no surprise that I'm impressed by the overall visual appeal of the board.
The Ultra Durable 3 package offers a comprehensive set of enhancements to make sure this Gigabyte product exceeds all expectations for reliability. High-quality CPU power components with ferrite core chokes, low rDS MOSFETs, low ESR solid capacitors, and those impressive double-thick layers of copper for the power and ground planes all support the claim that this is one of the best constructed motherboard Benchmark Reviews has seen to date.
There are a few sacrifices made, based on the capabilities of the P45 Express chipset. It only accommodates one full 16-lane PCI Express 2.0 graphics port; once you go to CrossFireX it reduces the bandwidth down to 8x for each card. This isn't going to be very impressive to a hard core gamer with dual 4870X2 video cards that need a high performance PCI-E slot. You do get one full-speed lane, so single card graphics are unaffected, but CrossFireX is not would it could have been. Still, you can't blame the board for NOT being something it wasn't designed to be. That's 3 ½ negatives of bad English just to say, "It's better than it's meant to be, don't complain."
Motherboards, while getting much better at offering everything a person could ever want, have also gradually gotten to be more expensive as well. Long gone are the days of high-end mainboards costing less than $100. At the time of this writing, NewEgg lists the GA-EP45-UD3P motherboard for $134.99, with a $20 manufacturer's rebate reducing the cost even further. If the EP45-UD3P isn't available at NewEgg, use our price comparison tool to shop against other merchants. This is a bargain price for a mid-level motherboard, especially one that is as well-specified as this. Good quality motherboards are not going to be cheap, and I hope Gigabyte is reaping the financial fruits from raising their product lines well above the bargain bin.
I think the market has already spoken on this particular piece of hardware: it's pretty much a legend in its own time. Can I put my finger on one or more features or performance characteristics that have made it such a rousing success in the overclocking set? No, not really; any more than I can tell you why Kate Winslet is a Hollywood star, and Angelina Jolie is, well....Angelina Jolie. That one eclipses the other is patently obvious, but there is no repeatable set of measurements that can tell you why. There are no reasons why the Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P should not stand out in the crowd like it does, but that's not the same sort of analysis, is it? Someone famous once said: "Success is its own reward." I think this product is as clear cut an example of that adage as any. It's a winner!
+ Outstanding BIOS - designed for overclockers!
- Only one PCI Express 16-lane (16 GBps) interface
Final Score: 9.2 out of 10.
Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.
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