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Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards
Written by Olin Coles   
Thursday, 25 February 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD7 Motherboard
Intel Core i7: Platform
Intel X58-Express Platform
Gigabyte X58A Features
GA-X58A-UD7 Specifications
eXtreme Hard Drive (X.H.D)
Gigabyte X58A-UD7 Components
BIOS and Overclocking
Motherboard Testing Methodology
EVEREST CPU Benchmarks
Maxon CINEBENCH Results
PCMark Vantage Test Results
HD-Tune Pro Benchmarks
Far Cry 2 Benchmark
Power Consumption Results
Tylersburg Refresh Final Thoughts
Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD7 Conclusion

Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD7 Conclusion

Although our rating and final score are made to be as objective as possible, please be advised that every author perceives these factors differently at various points in time. While we each do our best to ensure that all aspects of the product are considered, there are often times unforeseen market conditions and manufacturer changes which occur after publication that could render our rating obsolete. Please do not base any purchase solely on our conclusion, as it represents our product rating for the sample received which may differ from retail versions.

Benchmark Reviews begins our conclusion with a short summary for each of the areas that we rate. The first is performance, which considers how effective the Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD7 X58-Express SATA-6G motherboard performs in operation against direct competitor products. Graded on a scale of 1.0 to 10, the Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD7 receives a score of 9.25 when compared against the other products in its related category. CPU benchmark performance was usually higher than first-generation X58 motherboards, even with the exact same settings applied. DDR3 system memory bandwidth was above-average for the X58A-UD7, but overall system performance was slightly better than others. The Marvell SE9128 SATA 6Gb/s controller performed extremely well, and was certainly better than Intel's ICH10 controller, but firmware and driver updates will keep Marvell motherboard solutions closely approximate to each other. SuperSpeed USB-3.0 functionality is made possible by the NEC D720200F1 chip, although the market has yet to respond with storage devices optimized for the new specification.

Performance is further enhanced by utilizing SLI/Triple-SLI and CrossFireX/TriFire video card sets for high-performance graphics. Overclockers can use either quick or expert settings to reach their optimal clock speeds, and BIOS options are superior to others we've tested lately. Only socket LGA1366 X58-Express motherboards support Intel's Extreme Edition (EE) Core-i7 processors, and according to Intel's roadmap the future code-named "Gulftown" six-core Westmere chip will be included with support on the Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD7 motherboard. At the time of this writing firmware version F5 already includes Gulftown processor support, along with numerous system memory enhancements. Version F6 firmware is already available to further improve memory compatibility.

Contrary to previous motherboard products they've offered, Gigabyte has really toned-down the color effects on their X58A-UD7. A blue mainboard hosts baby-blue and white plastic components with dark-nickel plating on heat-pipe rods. Overall the motherboard looks a lot more serious than past iterations, which means that hardware enthusiasts can begin to take Gigabyte more seriously as well. 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.

Gigabyte_GA-EX58A-UD7P_Motherboard_Kit.jpg

Much like their original X58-Express motherboard series, Gigabyte has achieved near-perfect component layout on their GA-X58A-UD7 motherboard. It would be great to have more space between PCI-Express slots, but you'll need an extended-ATX form factor to accomplish that. Motherboard construction is outstanding, and Gigabyte has truly established themselves as a potential industry leader for mainboard manufacture. All of the SATA ports are turned sideways, which allows full access to them even with large video cards installed. Six DDR3 memory module banks are located far enough away from the socket for better access to them and unrestricted cooling for the processor. The low-profile chipset coolers surrounding the processor will ensure that aftermarket CPU coolers are not obstructed, plus the Hybrid Silent-Pipe 2 module can be attached onto the X58 Northbridge heatsink for improved chipset cooling. Alternatively, the X58 Northbridge can also be added into a liquid-cooling circuit for maximum cooling performance and a more stable system overclock.

In terms of functionality the Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD7 offers everything that previous X58-Express motherboards delivered, plus it adds third-generation SATA 6Gb/s and SuperSpeed USB-3.0 support. The Marvell-SE9128 chip used on the GA-X58A-UD7 is presently the only SATA 6Gb/s controller to offer RAID functionality, giving Gigabyte an edge over other manufacturers that choose the Marvell SE9123 chip, but also excels in single-drive performance as our test results have shown. Eight-channel high-definition audio and dual-Gigabit Ethernet adapters compliment the platform, along with 24GB total DDR3 memory capacity. Intel's X58-Express chipset receives 32 total PCI-Express link lanes, but when you consider that the SATA6G and SuperSpeed USB 3.0 take up to six PCI-E lanes there's only one place to borrow them from: graphics. With the Marvell and NEC controllers enabled in a single card configuration there are still sixteen link-lanes remaining for PCI-Express graphics bandwidth, which is more than enough, but a dual-card set would be reduced to 16+8 since these controllers require the remainder. For most gamers, this isn't going to make a difference because they're using only one or two video cards anyway, but triple-card sets may experience a small performance penalty.

As of late-February 2010 online retailers such as NewEgg sold the Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD7 motherboard for $349.99, with others listed in our price comparison tool. The premium price tag places a lot of responsibility on the X58A-UD7, and the asking price is considerably higher than the other two Gigabyte-X58A motherboard options. After some comparison it appears that the X58A-UD7 is identical to the X58A-UD5 and X58A-UD3R in terms of mainboard and functionality, but differences in chipset cooling or additional network adapter set them apart. Lacking the Hybrid Silent-Pipe 2 module and X58 waterblock option, an otherwise identical GA-X58A-UD5 sells for only $289.99 and seems worth the money. A scaled-down GA-X58A-UD3R is also available for $209.99, but the limited chipset cooling and single NIC might relegate this motherboard to entry-level enthusiasts and gamers.

In conclusion, the Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD7 demonstrated that it can deliver great overall system performance compared to the original X58-Express platform while also adding updated SuperSpeed USB-3.0 and SATA-III 6.0Gb/s functionality. Of course, X58-Express isn't the chipset platform for everyone, and only the serious hardware overclockers and high-power gamers should apply so that features like triple-graphic cards and high-precision overclocks can be enjoyed. The Advanced 24+2+2 Power Phase design with VRD 11.1 support is a welcome addition over the previous X58-series for all of us concerned about wasting electricity at idle, although this feature is now standard in nearly every Gigabyte motherboard of late. Casual gamers and mainstream computer users would be better suited with the high-capable Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD6 motherboard we recently tested, which both offer outstanding performance and value for the Intel P55-Express platform. However, if you're one of the elite few who use an Intel Extreme Edition processor or multiple video cards, then the Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD7 would go nicely with a Crucial RealSSD-C300 SATA-III 6Gbps SSD. If 64-bit Windows-7 is your Operating System of choice, there are several 12GB DDR3-1600 memory kits that will deliver exceptional performance for the density.

Novice and enthusiast overclockers will feel right at home with the well-documented and detailed BIOS options offered on the Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD7. Initial BIOS firmware was not very friendly to several memory kits, but otherwise the F (and now F6) firmware tested in this article was bullet-proof and worked great for eight different sets of memory. Eight total SATA ports will ensure that no drive is left behind (a popular initiative for my SSD collection), but the SATA-III 6Gbps interface will only benefit compatible modern drives that can reach or exceed the SATA-3GB/s threshold. SuperSpeed 3.0 is really the only functional leap over the others, as SuperSpeed USB 3.0 External Storage Products are actually selling. The full depth of proprietary product features adds value to the asking price when you add them up, especially TPM encryption security and the Hybrid Silent-Pipe 2 module or X58 waterblock. Considering the improved real-world performance against existing USB-2.0/SATA-3G X58-Express solutions, enthusiasts can count on top-level system performance with the Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD7 motherboard.

Pros:Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award

+ Only X58 Motherboard with SATA-6G RAID Support
+ SuperSpeed USB-3.0 offers 5Gbps transfer speed
+ Advanced 24+2+2 Power Phase/VRD 11.1 reduces power costs
+ Supports ATI CrossFireX or NVIDIA SLI dual and triple video card sets
+ Supports 24GB of dual-channel DDR3 up to 2000MHz
+ BIOS offers infinite enthusiast overclocking options
+ Japanese-manufactured surface mount all-solid capacitors
+ Blu-Ray/HD-DVD Full-rate audio with DTS connect
+ Marvell 88SE9128 SATA 6Gb/s controller adds forward compatibility
+ 6 Intel ICH10R SATA ports deliver RAID 0/1/5/JBOD
+ NEC-D720200F1 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 controller
+ Hybrid Silent-Pipe 2 improves overclocked system stability
+ 2oz Copper Ultra Durable 3 construction improves cooling and stability
+ BIOS updates are made safe with dual-BIOS

Cons:

- Very expensive 'enthusiast' motherboard solution
- Only 3GB total memory be utilized by 32-bit O/S
- SATA6G/USB3 borrow from PCI-E link lanes

Ratings:

  • Performance: 9.50
  • Appearance: 9.25
  • Construction: 9.50
  • Functionality: 9.75
  • Value: 7.00

Final Score: 9.0 out of 10.

Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.

Questions? Comments? Benchmark Reviews really wants your feedback. We invite you to leave your remarks in our Discussion Forum.


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Comments 

 
# Smart TPM initialization problemJohn Berthoty 2010-03-18 14:34
Tried to initialize, got an error: InvalidArgument=Value of '-1' is not valid for 'index'. Parameter name: index

Any clues anyone?
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# RE: Smart TPM initialization problemOlin Coles 2010-03-18 14:41
You should take this question to our forum, where there are more people avialable to respond. You should also include more information, such as your O/S, software version, and steps taken.
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# RE: Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD7 MotherboardLeibritz 2010-04-09 10:09
none MB utilizes more than 3GB of memory on 32-bit Windows...
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# SATA-II and SATA-III Raid 0 SupportBill 2010-04-16 14:47
(1) Are there two SATA controllers on the motherboard, one for SATA-II and one for SATA-III ?

(2) Either way, will the respective SATA controller support Raid 0 for two SATA-II SSD storage devices ?
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# Answered in the article...Olin Coles 2010-04-16 14:51
"There are two eSATA ports available with a 4-pin Molex power connector between them for a total of two eSATA ports. In regards to standard integrated SATA ports, the X58A-UD7 motherboard offers six Intel ICH10R (colored blue) Southbridge ports capable of RAID-0, 1, 5, and 10. Along side these ports are four SATA-6.0 connections supplied by the Marvell 88SE9128 controller (colored white) which support RAID-0, 1, and JBOD."
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# RE: Answered in the article...Bill 2010-04-16 14:56
Perfect! Thanks for the information :)
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# ProlimaTech MegahalemsDustin 2010-04-21 14:38
Did the ProlimaTech Megahalems fit with the included mobo cooler which takes up a pci express 1.0 slot?
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# No problemsOlin Coles 2010-04-21 14:59
The Hybrid SilentPipe is positioned below the Northbridge, if you choose to use it. This add-on is nowhere near the CPU, and doesn't get in the way of any heatsinks I've tested.
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# ThanksDustin 2010-04-21 15:05
Thanks for the fast response. I'm a big fan f your work :)
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# SATA 6.0Gb HDDTinus Pruis 2010-05-14 13:34
Hi, on the GA-X58A-UD7 with the I7-Core.. which SATA port do I connect my 2TB Barracuda HDD (7200) with Windows 7? On SATA 0 or SATA 6 where the 6.0Gb connection I think should be connected?
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# RE: SATA 6.0Gb HDDOlin Coles 2010-05-14 13:40
Hello Tinus: Although the Barracuda XT's are SATA-6G compatible, you won't see a difference. The X58A-UD7 motherboard offers six Intel ICH10R (colored blue) Southbridge ports capable of RAID-0, 1, 5, and 10. Along side these ports are four SATA-6.0 connections supplied by the Marvell 88SE9128 controller (colored white) which support RAID-0, 1, and JBOD.
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# RE: SATA 6.0Gb HDDTinus Pruis 2010-05-14 14:14
Hi Olin, thank you for your quick response.. hmm ~ sorry but you are going way over my head..
iaw. I can connect my hdd on SATA 0 and the DVD-rom on SATA 1? Won't make a difference, cause I also don't run any RAID configuration..
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# RE: RE: SATA 6.0Gb HDDOlin Coles 2010-05-14 14:16
Conntect them to any of the ports, and you'll be fine. Ideally the hard drive should be on one of the white ports, and everything else on blue.
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# TempSobo 2010-06-01 14:48
Hi everyone !
My i7-930 cpu is at 60*C temperature in idle with no OC and box cooler, what can i do ?
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# Best CPU Cooler PerformanceOlin Coles 2010-06-01 15:44
@ Sobo: You need to read our "Best CPU Cooler Performance" articles located in the Cooling section from the main menu of this website.
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# crossfiremartin 2010-06-19 05:29
is there is a problem to make crossfire with this motherboard + HDD with sata 3 - because i read 1 of pci x16 slots start working at x8 when sata 3 and another story with fps drop at half when this sata 3 is working with 1 vga at this slot(x16 who drops at x8)
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# RE: crossfireOlin Coles 2010-06-19 08:11
Martin: your question has already been answered in this review, as well as in the user comments.
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# RE: RE: crossfiremartin 2010-06-20 09:32
well first -thank you for the answer
second - i didnt made my question exactly correct - yes i can read there its possible and 'no problem ' but i cant find any real time test with high end crossfire/sli configurations + sata 3 HDD ,thats why i asked
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# RE: Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD7 Motherboardleo 2010-07-21 20:54
hay alguna que sea parecida a esa y que este un poco mas barata para un i7 920
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# RE: RE: Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD7 MotherboardOlin Coles 2010-07-21 20:59
Este es un producto para overclockers serios, pero hay modelos mucho más asequible.
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# RE: Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD7 Motherboardleo 2010-07-21 21:05
entonces esta es para overlockers.igual gracias porque me escribis en español.
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# MrSheps 2010-08-01 01:01
Is trim supported by the GA-X58A-UD7 in raid0 with 2 OCZ vertex2e ssd drives.
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# Not In RAIDBruceBruce 2010-08-01 05:58
TRIM is currently not supported by any SSDs in any RAID configuration. It is not strictly a function of the Motherboard, more like an alliance between the Southbridge, device drivers, the OS, and the firmware on the SSD.
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# RE: MrOlin Coles 2010-08-01 07:06
It doesn't matter what motherboard you use, TRIM is an O/S and SSD function. On the Intel ICH10 controller, it's my understanding that TRIM only works with the Intel Rapid Storage Driver when used in a RAID array.

I have to tell you though, SSDs aren't HDDs. You don't need RAID-0, and you'll notice no real-world difference like you would with a HDD.
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# OlinJJ 2010-09-30 17:33
While TRIM is a function of the OS, the SSD must support the functionality. TRIM cannot be passed to drives in a RAID array. TRIM also does not require the Intel Rapid Storage Driver.

AHCI performance is, however, affected by the IRSD. You will get a noticable increase in performance with AHCI on AND using the updated IRSD. There is currently no way to make TRIM work with RAIDed drive members.
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# RE: OlinOlin Coles 2010-09-30 18:03
Sorry to correct you, but TRIM actually is possible on SSDs in a RAID array. They have to be on an Intel ICH controller, and you have to use the Intel Rapid Storage Driver.
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# AlsoJJ 2010-09-30 17:38
Though SSDs are not HDs, there in fact IS a huge difference in performance with RAIDed SSDs. The real issue is, unless you are using a dedicated PCIe RAID card (not the onboard ICHxx RAID solution which uses the SATA bus), your crazy fast SSD RAID will be limited by the 250 MB/sec SATA II bottleneck. Two Crucial Real SSDs would reach more than 500 MB/sec on a PCIe RAID card solution.

Would you really know the difference between 250 and 500 MB/sec when you're opening IE, Word, or any day-to-day application? Probably not. For applications that benefit from multiplication of throughput rates... yes, you would. Again, TRIM would be out the window in that configuration.
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# Motherboard recommendationNag 2010-10-29 20:34
May I trouble you to recommend a Gigabyte X58 motherboard?

Main use: cpu-intensive, computational. memory or HDD i/o is not an issue.

My constraints:
1. cpu = i7 950
2. stable motherboard--no overclocking, no fancy features, must be reliable and durable with most kinks ironed out, good thermal features.
3. 6 memory slots: prefer to start with 12GB (3 x 4GB)--again speed is not a constraint--with a max of 24GB.
4. Summers are hot--45C
5. Prefer one eSATA port and USB 3.0 Do not care about SATA 3. Perhaps you can recommend one MB wihout eSATA, USB 3.0 being a constraint and one MB with eSATA and USB 3.0.

Thanks
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# RE: Motherboard recommendationOlin Coles 2010-10-30 09:11
Hello, thanks for posting but this is really a question for our forum. The quick answer is that X58 is intended for SLI/CrossFire video card sets, and would be 'overkill' for your needs. Because of the processor, I recommend any of the lesser-expensive X58 options. Nearly all will feature eSATA and USB 3.0, and SATA-6G is merely an option. Take a look at NewEgg, and sort by price.
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# Sata 3.0Oni 2011-03-01 15:44
Guys i want to Connect my 250 gb HDD to the 6gb/s how do i do it i know its a stupid question but is it possible to increase the data transfer I have 1 HDD

My PC
Core I7 930 O.C. ar 3.4 ghz
Gigabyte X58 A UD7
Hitachi 250gb HDD
2x 250 GTS SLI
Gigabyte Odin Pro 550 PSU
Report Comment
 
 
# RE: Sata 3.0Olin Coles 2011-03-01 15:46
Don't bother. SATA 6Gb/s connections are only useful for drives designed to reach past 3GB/s, and your hard drive only offers 1GB/s speeds. Only the newest SSDs are able to make use of the extra bandwidth.
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# Dualdavid wisotsky 2011-03-27 09:24
I just came off a dual zeon tiger board thinking I would go faster with this 4 core 3.2
I was very disappointed with this board. Stalls and makes allot of hard drive noise So i shut off paging helped a little
Then i shut off power saving features and it seems to really help
I think the default starves the CPU
If you have good cooling do it
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