A Closer Look
The only real sign that the EP45T-DS3R isn't what I'd consider a mainstream motherboard is the chipset cooling. No heatpipe cooling here, but the NB cooler is relatively large. It is a full sized board as opposed to the EP45-DS3L. The coloring is a nice pastel theme.
There are numerous ferrite chokes, large capacitors, and MOSFETs located around the CPU cooler, to catch a little extra wind from the CPU cooler.
There are two full sized PCI-E slots, the blue one is x16, and the peach one is x8. Like the P35, the P45 doesn't support multiple x16 slots, I guess anyway, since Gigabyte's upper end P45 boards are similarly configured.
Note at the bottom of the board, between the CD1 port and the COM1 port, the small chip. That is the TPM, or security chip, used for Gigabyte Ultra TPM. More on Ultra TMP here.
Besides not having heatpipe chipset cooling, the only other concession to cost-cutting I see on the EP45T-DS3R is the lack of a second SATA controller, the board has only the six SATA ports controlled by the Southbridge. We see here one of Gigabyte's cool features, dual BIOS, the two CMOS are located below the Southbridge.
The CCMOS pins are located next to the 4-pin chassis fan connector. It is interesting that Gigabyte puts the capability of a PWM chassis fan in their economy motherboards. There is no jumper to CCMOS, just take a screwdriver or your own jumper and short the pins. This was a little scary the first time I saw it, but after using it, you realize how much easier it is that trying to reach in the confines of a case and try to manipulate a jumper. Though the BIOS is "crash-free", allowing the system to restart at default settings while allowing you to see your previous settings, CCMOS is occasionally necessary when memory timings are too tight.
The EP45T-DS3R supports up to 16 gigs of DDR3-memory. It will handle up to DDR3-1900 though overclocking is necessary to get that speed.
The 24-pin connector is where it should be, along the rear edge of the motherboard. Above the 24-pin are 6 LEDs, to show what phase Gigabyte's Dynamic Energy Saver Advanced is in. DES Advanced works with Intel Enhanced SpeedStep to take the CPU to a lowered state during idle periods, then takes the processor to an even lower state, saving energy. More information about DES Advanced is found here.
We find the last cost-cutting measure in the I/O panel, no eSATA found here. There are a pair of PS/2 ports, eight USB ports, optical and coaxial S/PDIF, 4-pin and 6-pin IEEE 1394, and HD Audio.
Looking at the bundle, it too is commiserate with the boards position on the price scale, somewhere between a typical Gigabyte upper-end and economy bundle. Included are IDE and floppy ribbon cables, four SATA cables, two very nice SATA/4-pin Molex power adapters, I/O shield, eSATA expansion bracket (connect to one of the six SATA connectors), installation booklet, a well written and illustrated user's manual, driver disk, and a few cool case badges.
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