A Closer Look
The Gigabyte X58-UD4P is the middle of the road Gigabyte X58 board out of the five that they offer. The only differences that I can see between it and the two more expensive boards are nicer SB coolers and an extra pair of SATA ports, and a waterblock NB cooler on the most expensive. They also have a heatpipe extending to the uppermost power supply heatsink, and a second LAN port. All three have a pair of PCI-E x 16 slots and an x8 slot, all three support both SLI and CrossFire, and all three support 24 gigs of memory. So unless you are watercooling or running a huge RAID array, this is probably the bang-for-the-buck Gigabyte X58 motherboard.
The very first thing I noticed about this motherboard came even before I opened the box. This thing is heavy! I thought maybe there was something unusually heavy in the bundle, but after a little investigation, I found that Gigabyte has designed a totally new PCB. (printed circuit board) Most people have never thought about what goes into the PCB itself, it is several layers sandwiched together, including two layers of copper sheeting. Gigabyte has doubled the thickness of the copper layers, lowering impedance (resistance) in the circuits which lowers overall temperature and increases component life, and providing greater heat dissipation throughout the board, also lowering overall temperature. Gigabyte also uses new specially designed lower RDS(on) MOSFETs that have lower power consumption during the switching process, also reducing overall board temperature.
There are no differences immediately noticeable between an LGA 1366 and an LGA 775 CPU slot, we have lots of ferrite chokes and large solid Japanese-made capacitors. There are differences though, there are many more pins in the CPU socket, and the CPU cooler holes are farther apart. Be aware that you cannot use a cooler designed for LGA 775 processors on an LGA 1366 motherboard without some kind of adapter. I assume that most of the cooler companies have designed such adapter kits, I know that Noctua has a kit to convert all of their previous coolers for i7 use.
We have lots of PCI slots here. There are three full PCI-E slots, the upper two running in x16 and the bottom one running in x8, the max allowed by the X58 chipset. As I’ve already mentioned, this board supports both SLI and CrossFire, also a feature of the X58. I suspect that we will find only one or the other supported on economy models, if there is such a thing.I don’t think I ever saw an economy X48 motherboard.
As I mentioned, this board is shy a pair of SATA ports compared to the more expensive Gigabyte X58 boards. The blue SATA ports are controlled by the SB, and support RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10. The other pair is controlled by the Gigabyte SATA controller, and support RAID 0, 1, 5, and JBOD.
All of the internal connectors are along the edges of the motherboard, where they should be for cable management. Of note is the IEEE 1394 ports, they are covered with caps. Gigabyte’s mobo color scheme has the internal USB ports yellow in color, most companies use blue. Gigabyte’s IEEE 1394 ports are a periwinkle color.pretty close to blue. I read somewhere that you can trash your USB devices if you plug them into a USB port that has been connected to an IEEE 1394 port, and I can assure you, that is very true.I killed an SD card reader, my Flash Voyager, and damaged the USB capabilities of my favorite camera that way. Anyway, Gigabyte has thoughtfully covered the IEEE 1394 ports for morons like me that don’t pay enough attention to the instructions.
The CCMOS jumper is a pair of pins next to the battery that is intended to be shorted by a metal object. I nearly missed it altogether, but it really isn’t necessary. Gigabyte’s crash-free BIOS and Dual BIOS work well to keep you from having to clear the CMOS due to a failed overclock. I find that the only time you’ll get a full lockup is when the memory timings are too tight. If you do need to CCMOS, there is a button on the I/O panel.
Here we have the six triple-channel memory slots, supporting up to 24 gigs of DDR3 memory, as supported by the X58. Man.that is a lot of memory slots. Near the memory slots are onboard power and reset switches, for the enthusiast that bench-tests their mobo, tests their water cooling with the rig outside of the case, or for someone who happens to need one or the other while inside the case.
On the I/O panel we have PS/2 mouse and keyboard ports, optical and coaxial S/PDIF, IEEE 1396, a CCMOS button, six USB ports, a pair of eSATA ports, a LAN port, and HD Audio. Missing is a second LAN port, one of the few concessions to cut costs on this board. You know, I never used multiple LAN ports until recently.now I kind of miss them when they aren’t there.
The rear of the board is fairly bare, save four MOSFETS, backplates for the NB and SB heatsinks, and a shield protecting some of the CPU socket components.
The bundle is about what is expected with a mainstream motherboard, we have an eSATA bracket, one of Gigabyte’s nice Molex/SATA power adapters, ribbon cables, and four locking SATA cables, two with 90 degree ends. A nice addition to the bundle is a pair of SLI bridges, and a pair of eSATA cables. There is the driver disk, a well written and illustrated instruction manual, and a detailed TPM manual. There is a PCI bracket included that I have no idea what it is for. All I can figure is that it could support a heavy video card, or something to do with running multiple video cards. Maybe I’ll find out later.