The X79-UD3 has the exact same styling that we saw on the Z68XP-UD4 motherboard. It has a very nice gun metal finish with black and gun metal accents. This is an ATX motherboard and the only Sandy Bridge-E motherboard that Gigabyte is offering at that form factor as the others are either E-ATX or XL-ATX.
The X79-UD3 uses an 8+2+1 power phase design, which uses Gigabyte’s new 3D Power Technology. This all new, all digital power system provides enthusiast users with exceptional control over the overclocking potential of their motherboard. Gigabyte is the first in the industry to utilize digital memory controllers for not only the Memory, but VTT and VSA, for real-time monitoring and adjusting. Digital memory control allows users to monitor and record DDR power and current in real-time while gaming, overclocking or at idle. Users can also set OVP (Over Voltage Protection) to safeguard your memory, adjust memory Load-line Calibration to fix memory vdrooping for a quicker response time and adjust memory PWM frequency on-the-fly.
A new change on socket 2011 motherboards is the addition of quad-channel memory support. So you will find memory slots on each side of the CPU socket. The X79-UD3 supports up to 32GB of memory running at 2133MHz. Since there is memory on each side of the CPU socket you want to choose your CPU cooler wisely to make sure it will fit. We ended up using the Zalman CNPS12X. On the top left of the board you will find a 4pin CPU power connector and a 3pin fan connector. Moving over a little to the right there is a single 8pin CPU power connector. On the far rights side of the board you have the 24pin ATX power connector and internal USB 3.0 connector. It is nice to see the USB 3.0 connector moved up from the bottom of the board, which is where we saw it on many Z68 motherboards.
Along the right side of the board there are eight SATA connectors, which are color-coded. The white ports are SATA 6GB/s ports and are powered by the Intel chipset. The black ports are SATA 3GB/s ports and are powered by the Intel chipset. The grey ports are SATA 6GB/s and are controlled by the Marvel controller. Along the bottom of the board you have all of your front panel connections. From left to right you have HD audio, COM port, a 3pin fan connector, TPM, three USB headers, two more Marvel controlled SATA 6GB/s ports, case connectors and another 3pin fan connector.
As far as expansion slots go you have four PCI-Express x16 slots, two PCI-Express x1 slots and a single legacy PCI slot. The way the PCI-Express x16 slots work is the PCIEX16_1 slot will always run at x16 speed. The PCIEX16_2 slot will run at x16 speed when two or three cards are installed, but will drop to x8 when four cards are installed. Slots PCIEX8_1 and PCIEX8_2 will always run at x8 speeds. Looking at the I/O panel from left to right you have 2 USB 2.0 ports, legacy PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port, optical S/PDIF out, coxial S/PDIF out, 4 more USB 2.0 ports, 2 eSATA ports, 2 USB 3.0 ports, ethernet port, 2 USB 2.0 ports and audio ports.