I find it a little hard to rate a motherboard that does not neatly fall in an obvious niche, it sometimes is difficult to really determine if the board is a value or not. Is it an expensive economy board, or a not-quite full featured mainstream board?
The Gigabyte EP45T-DS3R creates its own niche. It is nearly a full featured board, lacking only a few items to consider it a mainstream motherboard. It has all of the features I'd expect on a mainstream Gigabyte board, excepting a second SATA controller (which means only six internal SATA ports and no eSATA in the I/O panel) and heatpipe chipset cooling. Some people may miss the extra SATA slots, personally I don't. The bundle is smaller than one of a Gigabyte mainstream board. The lack of these few items means a savings of as much as $90, depending on the mainstream board you are comparing it to.
The EP45T-DS3R has a lot going for it. It supports DDR3-memory, up to DDR3-1900. It has all of Gigabyte's unique features, save Smart Backup. The BIOS is easy to use, and has all overclocking settings on a single page, something all overclocker love to have. It is a decent overclocker, I cranked my E-8400 from 3.0gHz to 3.7gHz. The passive NB cooler kept the Northbridge under 40C during all testing.
I found no issues or problems with the board. It worked well with the original BIOS, and the latest BIOS worked just as well. It was very stable throughout the testing, once I found satisfactory overclock settings.
The EP45T-DS3R sells for $175 at my favorite online retailer. Gigabyte's mainstream P45 boards sell for $250-$265, so if you are willing to do without a few niceties, you can get a good performer and still have a good chunk of change to put on a better processor, memory, or video card. ThinkComputers.org awards the Gigabyte EP45T-DS3R a 9 out of 10 score.
- Good performer
- Passive NB cooler works well
- Most features of a mainstream Gigabyte board
- Some may miss eSATA and the extra SATA ports available with another onboard SATA controller
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- I couldn't get Crossfire to work, but could have very well been the fault of the Catalyst drivers
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