|Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P DDR2 P45 Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by Bruce Normann - Edited by Olin Coles|
|Sunday, 25 January 2009|
Page 4 of 16
Closer Look: GA-EP45-UD3P
True Confessions: "I'm a sucker for anything blue anodized." Take this new case from Lian Li, for example; one look and I was a goner. So far 80% of the people who see it hate it, with a similar level of passion. But me, all I see is BLUE.... So, notice anything about the Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P? Those heat sinks look like a perfect match for that nice new case, eh? Even the printed circuit board is a nice pleasing shade of blue.
There are a variety of colors used for the various electrical connectors, I count ten different hues. It's reasonably tame, compared to some Gigabyte boards in the past and others from their competitors. The bright colors help me, when I'm lying on the floor in the dark, trying to hook up another HDD to the system and I forgot to grab my (blue anodized) Maglite. To me, the color coding looks functional and well thought out. Here's an example of why I think that; all the non-descript beige connectors are for things that I rarely have to change, or won't use at all, once the motherboard is installed: COM, FDD, PCI, PCI-E x1, ATX-2X12, and ATX-12V-2X4. All the bright colors are used to highlight connections that I will probably need to access on a more regular basis.
One of the primary selling points to the Gigabyte P45 boards is that they officially support Intel's Core 2 Multi-Core and 45nM processors with 1600 MHz front side bus (FSB) speeds. Only the most expensive Intel processors advertise (and certify) this high of a Front Side Bus, but most will support 1600 MHz and higher via overclocking. Indeed, the P45 chipset, and this board in particular, are known for being able to run FSBs over 2400 MHz. These thermal imaging shots show one benefit of the Ultra Durable 3 feature set, a cooler running motherboard, which is one of the reasons it's such an overclocking monster.
The GA-EP45-UD3P offers two PCI-Express (2.0) slots with CrossFireX support. The first PCI Express slot offers 16 lanes of bandwidth, and the second offers 8 lanes. Used together for multiple video cards, the first one throttles back to 8x, to accommodate the 16 lane limit of the P45 Northbridge. While not the most powerful solution out there, it will work well with all mid-level ATI CrossFireX configurations. Hardcore gamers will wish for 16x out of each slot for their dual 4870X2 cards, but I dare say they will not be looking too closely at a mid-level board like this, anyway. There are three PCI Express 1x slot, at least two of them are usable if your video card is of the single slot variety.
The UD3P features the third generation of Gigabyte's Ultra Durable feature set. The combination of premium brand solid capacitors, ferrite core chokes, low rDS (ON) power MOSFETs, and the exclusive use of 2oz copper traces in the power and ground layers of the PCB add up to a cool running, low noise platform for the primary components.
The Silent-Pipe thermal cooling solution covers the P45 Northbridge and one bank of CPU power MOSFETs. The second bank has to make do with a passive heatsink (blue, of course), and the ICH10R Southbridge has a similar, but smaller, passive heatsink mounted on it. Two pairs of DDR2 DIMM sockets are available, color-coded red and orange, and they are located a good distance away from the CPU socket. I was pleased to see this, as my GA-P35-DS3L board had the DIMM sockets too close to the CPU and I always had to squeak the second set of DIMMs in tight up against t he CPU cooler. On this board there is tons of room for even the most over-the-top RAM and CPU cooling schemes.
The back of the GA-EP45-UD3P has nothing more than a single support brace for the Silent-Pipe heatsink mounted on the Northbridge. Early versions of the board came with plastic push-pins for the Northbridge mount, but the heatsink is now more securely fastened with machine screws. Cooling of the Northbridge is an important aspect of this boards reputation; it is known for pushing very high FSB speeds, which is very helpful in extracting the last drop of performance from the cheaper Quad Cores that have lower FSB multipliers.
Now let's take a look at some of the features on the Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P in more detail.