Gigabyte EX58-UD3R X58 Motherboard Page: 1
Introduction
 
 Gigabyte were one of the first motherboard manufacturers to take advantage of Intel's latest X58 chipset with the formidable (and current editors choice) EX58-UD5. Along with the range topping Extreme (which is a clone of the UD5 but with fancy cooling) and the mid-range EX58-UD4P we reviewed here, Gigabyte also have a budget board in the form of the EX58-UD3R which we have for review today.
 
The UD3R is aimed toward the entry level of the market and despite costing a pint of lager over £150, the UD3R is certainly one of the cheapest X58 motherboards out there today. As with the UD4P, the UD3R is a stripped down version of the flagship motherboards, each having less features as we slip down the scale. That isn't to say the UD3R isn't a capable motherboard, far from it. Being Crossfire compatible as well as having RAID capabilities, 8 SATA ports, twin 16x PCIe 2.0 slots, 8 USB ports (expandable to twelve), things are not quite as clear cut as you may think. Budget board maybe but it's certainly not lacking in features.
 
Sporting a similar Dynamic Energy Saver to it's high end brother, the UD3R has hardware based dynamic four-gear switching as opposed to the UD5's 6 Gear switching. The UD3R also features the confidence building 'Dual-BIOS' technology which automatically recovers BIOS data when the main BIOS has crashed or failed a flash due to improper BIOS updating. For those who do not like to delve into a motherboards BIOS, Gigabyte also include EasyTune6 which allows the monitoring and tweaking of system components in a windows environment.
 
Here's what Gigabyte had to say about there entry level motherboard:
 
The EX58-UD3R is the latest X58 Series motherboards of GIGABYTE, designed from the ground up to unleash the awesome power of Intel’s new Core i7 processors. Equipped with a host of new features including the new QPI interface, 3 channel DDR3 support, CrossFireX™ support, Ultra Durable 3 (Classic) technology and the industry’s most extensive range of overclocking features, the EX58-UD3R is bringing excitement back into the high performance motherboard industry.
 
 
Specification
 
The following specification was taken directly from the Gigabyte website:
 
CPU
Support for an Intel® Core™ i7 series processor in the LGA 1366 package
Go to CPU Support List for the latest CPU support )
L3 cache varies with CPU
QPI
4.8GT/s / 6.4GT/s 
Chipset
North Bridge: Intel® X58 Express Chipset
South Bridge: Intel® ICH10R
Memory
4 x 1.5V DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 16 GB of system memory (Note 1)
Dual/3 channel memory architecture
Support for DDR3 2100+/1333/1066/800 MHz memory modules
(Go to Memory Support List for the latest memory support list.)
Audio
Realtek ALC888 codec
High Definition Audio
2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
Support for S/PDIF In/Out
Support for CD In
LAN
1 x Realtek 8111C chips (10/100/1000 Mbit)
Expansion Slots
2 x PCI Express x16 slots, running at x16 x16
(the PCI Express slots conform to PCI Express 2.0 standard.)
1 x PCI Express x4 slot
2 x PCI Express x1 slot
2 x PCI slots
Storage Interface South Bridge:
6 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (SATA2_0, SATA2_1, SATA2_2, SATA2_3, SATA2_4, SATA2_5) supporting up to 6 SATA 3Gb/s devices
Support for SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10
GIGABYTE SATA2 chip:
1 x IDE connector supporting ATA-133/100/66/33 and up to 2 IDE devices 2x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (GSATA2_0, GSATA2_1) supporting up to 2 SATA 3Gb/s devices
Support for SATA RAID 0, RAID 1 and JBOD
iTE IT8720 chip:
1 x floppy disk drive connector supporting up to 1 floppy disk drive
IEEE 1394
T.I. TSB43AB23 chip
Up to 3 IEEE 1394a ports (1 on the back panel, 2 via the IEEE 1394a brackets connected to the internal IEEE 1394a headers)
USB
Integrated in the South Bridge
Up to 12 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (8 on the back panel, 4 via the USB brackets connected to the internal USB headers)
Internal I/O Connectors
1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
1 x floppy disk drive connector
1 x IDE connector
8 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors
1 x CPU fan header
3 x system fan headers
1 x power fan header
1 x North Bridge fan header
 1 x front panel header
 1 x front panel audio header
 1 x CD In connector
 1 x S/PDIF In header
 1 x S/PDIF Out header
 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
 1 x IEEE 1394a headers
 1 x serial port header
 1 x power LED header
 1 x chassis intrusion header
 1 x clearing CMOS jumper
Back Panel Connectors
1 x PS/2 keyboard port
1 x PS/2 mouse port
1 x coaxial S/PDIF Out connector
1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
2 x IEEE 1394a port
8 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
1 x RJ-45 ports
6 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out/Rear Speaker Out/Side Speaker Out/Line In/Line Out/Microphone)
I/O Controller
iTE IT8720 chip
H/W Monitoring
System voltage detection
CPU/System/North Bridge temperature detection
CPU/System/Power fan speed detection
CPU overheating warning
CPU/System/Power fan fail warning
CPU/System fan speed control (Note 2)
BIOS
2 x 16 Mbit flash
Use of licensed AWARD BIOS
Support for DualBIOS™
PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.4, ACPI 1.0b
Unique Features
Support for @BIOS
Support for Q-Flash
Support for Dual BIOS
Support for Download Center
Support for Xpress Install
Support for Xpress Recovery2
 Support for EasyTune (Note 3)
Support for Dynamic Energy Saver Advanced
Support for Time Repair
Support for Q-Share
Bundle Software
Norton Internet Security (OEM version)
Operating System
Support for Microsoft® Windows Vista/XP
Form Factor 
ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 24.4cm
 
 As you can see, Gigabyte have only very slightly trimmed some of the excess fat from the UD3R's bigger brother, the UD4P. The most significant difference is the omission of two DDR3 ram slots. Having just 3+1 ports might affect those wishing to utilise huge amounts of DDR3 but for the average user 6+GB is ample.
 
Let's take a closer look at the motherboard itself... 


Gigabyte EX58-UD3R X58 Motherboard Page: 2
Packaging & Appearance
 
Let me begin by apologising for the poor state of the packaging. The box arrived from another review site who saw fit to plaster stickers over the front of the box in a 'Custom' attempt to derail this review as they know we don't just take a couple of shots of the motherboard and expect that to be enough, we go much deeper than that. Also, the clumsy oafs at that magazine also bent three pins on the motherboard. Luckily for us most enthusiasts know what a shower of buffoons they are so I'll leave it there.
 
The front of the packaging goes along the same lines of previous EX58 motherboards from Gigabyte with white box embossed with the main title across the front along with the obligatory Intel emblems. Being part of the Ultra Durable 3 range, those who have read reviews from the UD range will already know that 2oz of copper is used in the PCB. Couple this with solid capacitors and RDS(on) MOSFETs and you have a long lasting, efficient motherboard. The Ultra Durable feature is explained in much greater depth when we flip the box over to its rear.
 
front rear
 
The accessory list is sparse with just 4 SATA cables, an IDE and FLOPPY ribbon cable, back plate and 3 motherboard manuals. Note the lack of SLI connectors. Despite this Gigabyte have confirmed that this motherboard will now support SLI as standard with the latest BIOS update. The motherboard back plate is of typical Gigabyte design, clearly labled and colour coded for ease of use.
 
accessories backplate
 
The main board adopts the theme of the EX58 range being a sky blue/white design with matching blue PCB. This is a much improved design over previous Gigabyte motherboards but there is still a nod to the past with the odd coloured port that stand out like a sneezing man on his way back from Mexico. The rear of the board is nothing different from the rest of the Gigabyte range but it's still nice to see the inclusion of a motherboard back plate for the Northbridge.
 
board front board rear
 
The CPU socket area is a little cluttered with plenty of capacitors and chokes to insulate should extreme cooling be your weapon of choice. Air cooling on the other hand should present no issues, even with the use of over sized tower coolers. Perhaps the most striking part of the motherboard are the memory slots. Rather than support twin triple channel memory, Gigabyte have opted to use just four memory slots supporting a maximum of 16GB (when 4GB modules become available). With 6GB being the sweet spot for everyday computing on X58, there is little need for 6 memory slots. While certain applications will certainly take advantage of 12GB+, this board would be better suited to someone who wants to purchase a fast triple channel kit and given that this board officially supports up to 2.4Ghz of bandwidth, it would be rude not to!
 
cpu memory
 
The PCI area has two 16x PCIe 2.0 slots capable of Crossfire (and possibly SLI via BIOS flash), 2x PCIe x1 speed, 1xPCIe x4 speed and two standard PCI ports. Below this is a floppy drive connector which is a rarity on motherboards today. To the left of the PCI area we find a COM port, Firewire port and 2 USB ports. At the edge of the motherboard are the colour coded motherboard headers. Sadly no 'quick connectors are included as with other manufacturers which is a shame as this is a simple but useful feature. Those more astute out there will also be wondering where the on board power, reset and CMOS reset switches are. Sadly, this board is also missing this feature.
 
PCIe USB
 
One area which I was impressed with was the I/O back plate. 8 USB ports, 2 Firewire along with PS/2 ports for both keyboard and mouse are there for your connectivity needs. For audio there are S/PDIF in/out ports along with the usual 7.1 3.5mm audio jacks fed by the ALC888 codec. Another feature which is most unusual for a budget board is the inclusion of 8 SATA ports, six on the ICH10R controller capable of RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10 along with a further two on the Gigabyte SATA2 controller capable of 0, 1 and JBOD.
 
backports SATA
 
The coolers on the UD3R are all aluminium and the Northbridge (read QPI bus) and left hand MOSFET cooler have covers, the uppermost MOSFET cooler and Southbridge do not. All are coloured in a very fetching gun metal grey with the NB and left MOSFET cooler attached by short a copper heatpipe.
 
NB mosfet
 
The two heatsinks which are not covered are of a similar design using short thick fins rather than the fragile thin fins we are used to seeing on motherboards. While this is an attractive design I can't help feeling this design is not as effective due to the reduced surface area available to dissipate the heat created by said components. All of the heatsinks apart from the QPI bus are attached to the motherboard via plastic spring loaded pushpins while the QPI bus is held fast via the much better screw method.
 
mosfet2 SB1  
 
Removing the heatsinks was a cinch and while the NB cooler was a firmly attached using a cement like material, it soon wiggled free. I would however, liked to have seen a better, less permanent paste used rather than the very hard material I found. Despite this, the mount was very good and should not need replacing.
 
 
The Southbridge is the standard ICH10R chip used in all of the X58 motherboards we have tested thus far at OC3D and as with most other motherboards, the method of heat transfer was via thermal pads for both the SB and MOSFET coolers, all of which appeared to make good contact with the components.
 SB cooler
 
So then, while the EX58-UD3R has some obvious omissions from its stablemates, these omissions might not necessarily be features you need or will miss. It's hard to pass judgement on whether the missing features will be detrimental to the board as the price has inevitably been cut to compensate for this loss.
 
Hopefully, this will be the last of the features sliced from the EX58 UD3R's armoury but before we take a look at the motherboards performance, let's take a look at the BIOS... 


Gigabyte EX58-UD3R X58 Motherboard Page: 3
BIOS Features
 
Like the packaging, the POST page is near identical to other motherboards in the Gigabyte range. Before we crack on with the motherboards BIOS features, I thought it best to update the BIOS to the latest version (F5). This can be easily done thanks to Gigabytes Q-Flash feature which allows the motherboard to be flashed via a USB pen drive. Simply download the latest BIOS from the Gigabyte website, unpack it to a formatted pen drive, hit F8 on post and everything else is pretty much automatic save for a few on screen prompts.
 
frontpage 
 
With the latest BIOS installed I headed straight for the Motherboard Intelligent Tweaker section (M.I.T) where all of the overclocking features of the motherboard can be found. The M.I.T section is nigh on identical to the M.I.T sections of the UD3R's stablemates with all of the main features neatly stacked in a logical order.
 
bios MIT
 
Opening up the CPU feature page, we find that all of the usual X58 refinements are here including Intel's Turbo boost Technology which effectively overclocks the CPU when placed under load conditions. While this is not a unique feature of the UD3R, it is nice to see it prominently displayed as opposed to being hidden away as with some other motherboards I have come across.
 
cpu features QPI
 
Back to the front page we see that QPI link speed can be adjusted here or as part of the QPI & Uncore features which again opens up a separate window. Settings can be altered in a number of ways, either by the +/- keys, entering the value directly or via the menu method. Navigating the BIOS pages is done in the usual manner via the use of the arrow keys and TAB.
 
Uncore bclk
 
The advanced clock control section is not as complex as one might believe with the Base clock control mirroring that on the front page. PCIe frequency along with Clock Drive and Skew values can also be set in this area. The Performance enhance feature of the UD3R alters the memory sub timings to increase performance automatically or to slacken said timing off a little to help stabilise the system.
 
performance
 
The memory multipliers (dividers) range from x6 to x18 giving an abundance of possible frequencies available depending on your chosen base clock. I would prefer to see the actual frequency displayed in the menu rather than the multi used but this is a minor point as the frequency is displayed in the main menu when you return. Each channel of the memory can be tweaked independently of each other which is a nice little feature allowing one to mix and match ram.
 
memory multi mem timings
 
If playing with sub-timings is your bag then the Gigabyte should satisfy your cravings with plenty of settings available for you to tweak until your heart's content. Once you are bored playing with the numerous timings, you can then move on to the business end of the overclocking section and the one section which could quite easily fry your expensive hardware should you get carried away with the numerous voltages available. Gigabyte do however, give a healthy reminder of what they deem to be a safe (yellow), risky (magenta) and deadly (red) colour coded readouts.
 
subtimings voltages
 
Once you have saved your settings, you can then view the set voltages and the resulting temperatures in the PC Health section and if all is to your pleasing then you can save those settings to the hidden Save/Load Profile page which allows up to eight profiles to be saved and then reloaded which is great news for those who get fed up of re-entering the same mundane settings over and over again!
 
health profiles
 
So, as you can see, the EX58 UD3R has an identical BIOS to the more expensive motherboards and while the settings are perhaps not as complex as say a DFI motherboard, everything is there and should keep Pro's and novices alike happy.
Let's move on to out test setup where we begin to put some of these settings to the test... 


Gigabyte EX58-UD3R X58 Motherboard Page: 4
Test Setup
 
To ensure that all reviews on Overclock3D are fair, consistent and unbiased, a standard set of hardware and software is used whenever possible during the comparative testing of two or more products. The configuration used in this review can be seen below: 
 
Processor: Intel Core i7 920 (2.66Ghz)
Motherboard: Gigabyte EX58-UD3R
Memory: 6GB Corsair DDR3 @ 8-8-8-24 1600Mhz
Graphics Card: NVidia GTX280
Power Supply: Gigabyte Odin 1200W
CPU Cooling: Stock Intel Cooling
Hard Disk: Hitachi Deskstar 7K160 7200rpm 80GB
Graphics Drivers: Geforce 180.60 CUDA
Operating System: Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate x64 SP1
 
During the testing of the setup above, special care was taken to ensure that the BIOS settings used matched whenever possible. A fresh install of Windows Vista was also used before the benchmarking began, with a full defrag of the hard drive once all the drivers and software were installed, preventing any possible performance issues due to leftover drivers from the previous motherboard installations. For the 3DMark and gaming tests a single card configuration was used.
 
memory clearence heatsink clearance
 
As you can see from the pictures above, clearance should not be an issue for either over sized CPU heatsinks or memory modules. With the UD3R only catering for four memory slots there is plenty of room around the modules should you wish to add additional cooling. Looking at the memory area, I can only assume Gigabytes reason for not including six memory slots was a cost cutting exercise as this is a sparse area of the motherboard with only a couple of capacitors obstructing the area.
 
To guarantee a broad range of results to best evaluate the motherboards performance, the following benchmark utilities were used:
 
Synthetic CPU Test
• Sisoft Sandra 2009
• PassMark CPU test
• SuperPI 1m, 8m, 32m

Memory Test
• Sisoft Sandra 2009
• Everest 4.60

File Compression & Encoding
• Sisoft Sandra 2009
• 7-Zip File Compression
• River Past ViMark

Disk I/O Performance
• HDTach 3.0.4.0
• Sisoft Sandra 2009

3D / Rendering Benchmarks
• Cinebench 10
• 3DMark 05
• 3DMark 06
• 3DMark Vantage

3D Games

• Crysis
• Far Cry 2
• Call of Duty 4
Overall System Performance
• PCMark Vantage
 
 
Power Consumption

Power consumption is an aspect often forgotten when it comes to enthusiast motherboards but in todays climate, with rising utility bills special consideration needs to be taken when choosing you components as over a period of time, one components can prove to be much more expensive than another over its lifetime. Power consumption was measured at the socket using a plug-in mains power and energy monitor. Idle readings were taken after 5 minutes in Windows. Load readings were taken during a run of 3DMark Vantage.
 
 
 
 
Overclocking

Here's a couple of the obligatory CPU-Z screenshots at stock:
 
stock memory
 

Using a respectable Vcore of 1.40v set in the BIOS, the remainder of BIOS voltage settings were left in their stock state to ensure equality throughout the testing. Here's what I managed out of the motherboard:
 
pi 
 
As with the majority of motherboards on test, specifically the other Gigabyte motherboards, the UD3R topped out with a maximum overclock of 4.2GHz, confirming my earlier suspicions that this is indeed a CPU limitation rather than a motherboard. There have however, been a few boards which have surpassed this value slightly but by no great margin.
 
BIOS recovery was very good, with the motherboard resetting itself back to stop settings but withholding the failed settings in memory for you to adjust slightly rather than resetting the whole BIOS. This is a good little feature of the Gigabyte boards which saves both time and patience when attempting those high clockspeeds. On no occasion was I required to use the on-board jumper to reset the BIOS which is an achievement in itself as the Gigabyte boards were by far the best at recovering from failed overclocking attempts.
 
Vdroop was minimal with 0.024v differential when under load, despite having loadline calibration enabled. Vdrop was pretty much none existent at 1.4v set in the BIOS.
 
Returning the Gigabyte EX58-UD3R and the CPU to their stock settings I then ran the standard suite of benchmarks and compared the boards performance to a number of other X58 motherboards. Let's see how it got on...   


Gigabyte EX58-UD3R X58 Motherboard Page: 5
 
SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility capable of benchmarking the performance of individual components inside a PC. Each of the benchmarks below were run a total of five times with the highest and lowest scores being discarded and an average being calculated from the remaining three.
 
 
 

 


SuperPI is the benchmark of choice for many overclockers. It's lightweight to download and can give a quick indication on how good a system is at number crunching. Once again, testing was performed a total of 5 times, with an average being calculated from the middle three results.
 
 
 

 


PassMark is a popular benchmarking suite which test all aspect of PC hardware.The CPU test examines Mathematical operations, compression, encryption, SSE, 3DNow! instructions and more. Each CPU test was performed a total of 5 times, with an average being calculated from the middle three results.
 
 
 
Results Analysis
 
The UD3R performed below par throughout the number of CPU tests. SuperPi was a definite weakness for the motherboard though scoring below average in all of the iterations as was Passmarks CPU tests, mirroring the UD4P's score.
 
Let's see if the different memory setup affects performance in our memory benchmarks... 


Gigabyte EX58-UD3R X58 Motherboard Page: 6


SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility capable of benchmarking the performance of individual components inside a PC. Each of the benchmarks below were run a total of five times with the highest and lowest scores being discarded and an average being calculated from the remaining three.

 
 
 
 


Everest is in many ways similar to Sisoft Sandra. Focusing mainly on software and hardware information reporting, Everest also comes with a benchmark utility suitable for testing the read, write and latency performance of the memory subsystem. Each of these benchmarks were performed a total of 5 times with the highest and lowest scores being discarded and an average calculated from the remaining three.
 
 
 
 
Results Analysis

Memory performance in the Sisoft Sandra benchmarks showed some bizarre results. Despite testing, retesting and double checking the BIOS settings, the same scores were repeated time and again. Everest however showed there was little difference between all of the motherboards on test.
 
Let's see how the boards perform in our Hard Drive benchmarks... 


Gigabyte EX58-UD3R X58 Motherboard Page: 7
 
HDTach is a free hard disk benchmarking program from SimpliSoftware. This benchmark is not only capable of producing results on hard disk access times but also CPU usage required during disk access. The "Long bench" was run a total of 5 times with the highest and lowest results being omitted and an average calculated from the remaining 3 results.
 
 
 
 
 
 
SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility capable of benchmarking the performance of individual components inside a PC. Each of the benchmarks below were run a total of five times with the highest and lowest scores being discarded and an average being calculated from the remaining three.
 
 

 
Results Analysis

The hard drive results were neither startling nor dissappointing. This is not surprising as all of the boards on test take advantage of Intel's ICH10R controller.

Let's see how the motherboard performs with our multimedia benchmark suite...


Gigabyte EX58-UD3R X58 Motherboard Page: 8


SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility capable of benchmarking the performance of individual components inside a PC. Each of the benchmarks below were run a total of five times with the highest and lowest scores being discarded and an average being calculated from the remaining three.
 
 
 

 
 
ViMark is the latest addition to the OC3D motherboard testing process and a relatively new benchmarking application in general. Designed to take the inaccuracies and guesswork out of measuring the time taken to encode video files, ViMark produces easily comparable and consistent results for encoding raw video into Windows Media, Quicktime and Gif formats. As always, a total of 5 benchmark runs were performed with the highest and lowest scores removed and an average calculated from the remaining 3 scores.
 
 
 

 
 
7-Zip is an open source Winzip-style file compression utility that has the ability to compress and decompress many file formats including its own .7z compression scheme. 7-Zip also comes complete with its own benchmarking utility for gauging the compression and decompression speed of the system that it is installed on.
  
 

 
Results Observations

Again, there was little to separate all of the motherboards on test. The UD3R did however score towards the higher end of the leaderboard in the encoding tests but slipped back during the compression/decompression tests.

Let's move on to our 3D Benchmarks...


Gigabyte EX58-UD3R X58 Motherboard Page: 9
 
 
Cinebench 10 is a benchmarking tool based on the powerful 3D software Cinema 4D. The suite uses complex renders to gauge the performance of the entire PC system in both single-core and multi-core modes. Testing was performed a total of 5 times with the highest and lowest results being omitted and an average created from the remaining 3 results.
 
 
 

 
 
3DMark is a popular synthetic gaming benchmark used by many gamers and overclockers to gauge the performance of their PC's. All 3DMark runs were performed a total of 5 times with the highest and lowest results being removed and an average calculated from the remaining 3 results. Also included are the CrossfireX results to give an indication of how 8x PCIe lanes perform.
 
 
 
 
 
Results Analysis

The EX58-UD3R performed very well in the synthetic 3D benchmarks, finishing in the top quarter throughout the testing. Cinebench was a particularly good performance with the UD3R coming close to top spot in all of the tests I ran.
 
Let's see how it gets on in our run of real world gaming...


Gigabyte EX58-UD3R X58 Motherboard Page: 10
 
Crysis is without doubt one of the most visually stunning and hardware-challenging games to date. By using CrysisBench - a tool developed independently of Crysis - we performed a total of 5 timedemo benchmarks using a GPU-intensive pre-recorded demo. To ensure the most accurate results, the highest and lowest benchmark scores were then removed and an average calculated from the remaining three.
 


 
Call of Duty 4 is a stunning DirectX 9.0c based game that really looks awesome and has a very full feature set. With lots of advanced lighting, smoke and water effects, the game has excellent explosions along with fast game play. Using the in-built Call Of Duty features, a 10-minute long game play demo was recorded and replayed on each of the GPU's using the /timedemo command a total of 5 times. The highest and lowest FPS results were then removed, with an average being calculated from the remaining 3 results.
 
 
 


Ubisoft has developed a new engine specifically for Far Cry 2, called Dunia, meaning "world", "earth" or "living" in Parsi. The engine takes advantage of multi-core processors as well as multiple processors and supports DirectX 9 as well as DirectX 10. Running the Far Cry 2 benchmark tool the test was run 5 times with the highest and lowest scores being omitted and the average calculated from the remaining 3.
 
 
 
Results Analysis

With the UD3R performing well in the synthetic benchmarks, I have high hopes for it in the real world gaming tests. The motherboard threw up a mixed bag of results, performing the best in Far Cry 2 and worst in Call of Duty IV while Crysis placed it in the middle of the pack.
 
Let's take a look at it's overall performance... 


Gigabyte EX58-UD3R X58 Motherboard Page: 11


PCMark Vantage is the latest benchmarking suite from Futuremark. Differing significantly from their 3DMark suites, PCMark performs a series of benchmarks designed to recreate and benchmark scenarios of a PC being used for everyday tasks. Vantage has a Vista only requirement as it actually relies on several different components from the OS in order to run correctly.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Results Analysis
The EX58-UD3R performed extremely well in the PCMark Vantage benchmark, finishing top in 4 out of the 6 tests. Music and memories were fantastic results putting board costing almost twice as much to shame. It's clear when looking at the results of the tests run today that the UD3R is more than capable of hanging out with the 'Big Boys' and if the results we have seen today are anything to go by those who have purchased the flagship motherboards may well be regretting their decision.
Let's head over to the conclusion where I attempt to put today's testing into perspective... 


Gigabyte EX58-UD3R X58 Motherboard Page: 12
Conclusion
 
Gigabyte cannot be accused of skimping in any area when it comes to catering for the PC enthusiast. The Taiwanese company offers luxurious high-end motherboards to the people who believe that you get what you pay for. They also offer budget motherboards to the price savvy where compromises on features are outweighed by the flagship equalling performance.
 
The EX58-UD3R is one such motherboard, offering performance at the cost of some of the fancy frills that not everyone requires. Sure on-board switches are a godsend (especially to bench testers and reviewers) but in all honesty who uses them once they are installed in a case? Much the same as Motherboard diagnostic LED readouts, CMOS reset switches and the like. Sure they are a 'nice to have' but are they a necessity? If price is a major concern and the one compromise you simply cannot afford to make is performance, then the UD3R is definitely worth considering.
 
Performing very well throughout our suite of benchmarks, the UD3R has shown it is a very capable motherboard and despite it's lack of on-board switches, the areas which matter, such as on-board connectivity and the I/O area, are awash with ports that should support even the most ardent up-grader for years to come. The aesthetics of the board are no different from that of the flagship motherboard, the UD5 Extreme, itself costing £100 more and the packaging while poor in our sample should see that the motherboard reaches you in good condition.
 
If there's one fault I can aim at the UD3R it's that the memory support is a little lacking. I have already stated that 6GB is the sweet spot but that is with today's applications. Who knows what the future holds but you can bet your bottom dollar that memory usage will increase and until 4GB memory modules become the norm, a memory upgrade could prove expensive, negating the money saved on initially buying this budget motherboard.
 
That said, for anyone looking to break into the X58 genre, the EX58-UD3R is an excellent example of bang per buck and Gigabyte will no doubt sell many units to those looking for a performance motherboard on the cheap and rightly so as this motherboard is perhaps the best budget motherboard in the X58 range to date.
 
Update 19/05/2009: SLI compatability is now standard on the UD3R with the latest official BIOS from Gigabyte available for download HERE. Performance score ammended to reflect this change.
 
The Good
- 3D performance.
- Encoding performance.
- The Price.
 
The Mediocre
- Four memory slots may not be enough to future proof the motherboard.
- Sparse accessories.
 
The Bad
- Packaging. This is an area in which Gigabyte need to seriously improve.
 
 
Thanks to Gigabyte for providing us with the EX58-UD3R for today's review. Discuss in our forums.