Gigabyte EX58-UD4P X58 Motherboard Page: 1

 

Introduction

It's been a while now since we reviewed Gigabyte's first X58 motherboard and one which I was very impressed with, the EX58 UD5. Since then we have reviewed a number of motherboards from the ever popular Asus P6T to the High Performing DFI T3eH8. None of those boards however, could match the all round abilities of the UD5, especially for the price. So then, what can the UD4P, Gigabytes latest offering bring to the table? Well, for a start it is cheaper than the UD5, it's still a feature packed board and as we will see, it has only forsaken a few features of the UD5 which you may or may not miss.

Priced between the UD5 Extreme and the budget DS3R, the UD4P is the latest performance X58 motherboard based on Intel's Skt1366 configuration and one of seven motherboards hailing from the Taiwanese company.  All of the boards from Gigabyte are cut down versions of the range topping UD5 Extreme. The UD4P has a slightly different PCIe configuration, sporting 2x16 PCIe ports which drop down to 1xPCI16 and 1x8 when the third (orange) 8 speed PCIe port is used. The UD5 however retains the full 16 lanes of PCIe 2.0 goodness when the third slot is used. In contrast the UD3R has 2 full size PCIe ports so does not allow 3-way SLI/CrossfireX. The UD4P also has less SATA ports than the UD5 but as it already has 8 SATA ports only the storage hoarders should be concerned.

The UD4P does however have a feature which the UD5 does not and that's the Ultra TPM encryption capability. The TPM (Trusted Module Platform) allows users to secure their files, preventing any unauthorised access without the keys stored on the USB stick. Being much more secure than software based encryption, TPM is perfect for users who might have what some might say 'sensitive information' on their PC. These keys can also be backed up in the BIOS should you be the forgetful type. Once the key's are stored on the USB stick they are then erased from the PC preventing anyone from accessing your protected files without the key. Simply unplugging your USB key locks up the files and renders them unusable until the USB key (and therefore the keys) are re-inserted.  Thankfully Gigabyte include full instructions for this procedure with a separate manual.

Being part of the Ultra Durable range, the UD4P features quality components which provide better cooling, greater efficiency and enhanced signal quality. This, along with lower EMI (Electromagnetic Interference) provides greater stability allowing for higher overclocks.

Here's What Gigabyte have to say about the EX58-UD4P:

The EX58-UD4P is the latest high performance 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, 3 Way SLI™ and CrossFireX™ support, Ultra Durable 3 technology and the industry’s most extensive range of overclocking features, the EX58-UD4P is bringing excitement back into the high performance motherboard industry.

Specifications

CPU
1. Support for an Intel® Core™ i7 series processor in the LGA 1366 package
(Go to CPU Support List for the latest CPU support )
2. L3 cache varies with CPU
QPI
1. 4.8GT/s / 6.4GT/s
Chipset
1. North Bridge: Intel® X58 Express Chipset
2. South Bridge: Intel® ICH10R
Memory
1. 6 x 1.5V DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 24 GB of system memory (Note 1)
2. Dual/3 channel memory architecture
3. Support for DDR3 2100+/1333/1066/800 MHz memory modules
Audio
1. Realtek ALC889A codec
2. High Definition Audio
3. 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
4. Support for Dolby® Home Theater
5. Support for S/PDIF In/Out
6. Support for CD In
LAN
1. 1 x Realtek 8111D chips (10/100/1000 Mbit)
Expansion Slots
1. 2 x PCI Express x16 slots, running at x16 (PCIEX16_1/PCIEX16_2) (Note 2)
2. 1 x PCI Express x8 slot, running at x8 (PCIEX8_1) (Note 3)
(The PCIEX16_1, PCIE16_2 and PCIEX8_1 slots support 2-Way/3-Way NVIDIA SLI/ATI CrossFireX technology and conform to PCI Express 2.0 standard.)
3. 1 x PCI Express x4 slot
4. 1 x PCI Express x1 slot
5. 2 x PCI slots
Storage Interface South Bridge:
1. 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
2. Support for SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10
GIGABYTE SATA2 chip:
1. 1 x IDE connector supporting ATA-133/100/66/33 and up to 2 IDE devices
2. 2x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (GSATA2_0, GSATA2_1) supporting up to 2 SATA 3Gb/s devices
3. Support for SATA RAID 0, RAID 1 and JBOD
iTE IT8720 chip:
1. 1 x floppy disk drive connector supporting up to 1 floppy disk drive
IEEE 1394
1. T.I. TSB43AB23 chip
2. 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
1. Integrated in the South Bridge
2. 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. 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
2. 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
3. 1 x floppy disk drive connector
4. 1 x IDE connector
5. 8 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors
6. 1 x CPU fan header
7. 3 x system fan headers
8. 1 x power fan header
9. 1 x North Bridge fan header
10. 1 x front panel header
11. 1 x front panel audio header
12. 1 x CD In connector
13. 1 x S/PDIF In header
14. 1 x S/PDIF Out header
15. 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
16. 2 x IEEE 1394a headers
17. 1 x power LED header
18. 1 x chassis intrusion header
19. 1 x power switch
20. 1 x reset switch
Back Panel Connectors
1. 1 x PS/2 keyboard port
2. 1 x PS/2 mouse port
3. 1 x coaxial S/PDIF Out connector
4. 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
5. 1 x IEEE 1394a port
6. 1 x clearing CMOS switch
7. 8 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
8. 1 x RJ-45 ports
9. 6 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out/Rear Speaker Out/Side Speaker Out/Line In/Line Out/Microphone)
I/O Controller
1. iTE IT8720 chip
H/W Monitoring
1. System voltage detection
2. CPU/System/North Bridge temperature detection
3. CPU/System/Power fan speed detection
4. CPU overheating warning
5. CPU/System/Power fan fail warning
6. CPU/System fan speed control (Note 4)
BIOS
1. 2 x 8 Mbit flash
2. Use of licensed AWARD BIOS
3. Support for DualBIOS™
4. PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.4, ACPI 1.0b
Unique Features
1. Support for @BIOS
2. Support for Q-Flash
3. Support for Virtual Dual BIOS
4. Support for Download Center
5. Support for Xpress Install
6. Support for Xpress Recovery2
7. Support for EasyTune (Note 5)
8. Support for Dynamic Energy Saver Advanced
9. Support for Time Repair
10. Support for Q-Share
Bundle Software
1. Norton Internet Security (OEM version)
Operating System
1. Support for Microsoft® Windows Vista/XP
Form Factor
1. ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 24.4cm

An Impressive specification to say the least. Raid RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10 is available on the Intel controller and Gigabyte have also managed to cram a floppy port on the board for good measure which is a rarity these days. This, along with dual PS/2 ports should ease the monetary burden of upgrade for those clinging to yesterdays hardware.

Let's take a look at the aesthetics of the Gigabyte EX58-UD4P...



Gigabyte EX58-UD4P X58 Motherboard Page: 2

Packaging & Appearance

As with the Gigabyte EX58-UD5 (reviewed here), the UD4P is packaged in a white box with a holographic weave effect. The front of the box is plastered with emblems and advertisements of the features of the motherboard. Taking pride of place though is the Ultra Durable badge informing the prospective buyer that the EX58-UD4P has 2oz of copper in the PCB, Japanese solid capacitors Lower RDS(on) Mosfets and Ferrite core chokes. Flipping the box over we see that the features are explained in greater depth. Despite the UD4P being a mid range board it's as feature packed as any high end board on the market at the moment.

Box Front box back

Removing the outer sleeve and opening the plain white reinforced box we come to the accessories of the motherboard. Gigabyte include an I/O shield, 4x SATA cables, e-SATA cables, IDE and floppy cables as well as a small (dual) and large (triple) SLI bridge. Aside from the obligatory driver CD and manual, Gigabyte also include 3 other manuals for you to peruse should you need further instruction on setting the motherboard up for the first time.

accessories manuals

I/O shield SLI

The motherboard itself is very similar to the UD5 but there are a few discreet differences. The colour scheme is the much improved blue/white affair but Gigabyte have still seen fit to throw a little extra colour into the mix with couple of orange PCIe slots. The only other ports that really stick out like a sore thumb are the USB ports. It's a crying shame that the whole board could not be matched up to one colour scheme as the blue/white is very attractive, spoilt only by the orange and yellow ports. Still this is a far cry from the days of the rainbow coloured Gigabyte boards of old so they are to be applauded for that.

board front board back

The CPU socket area is very cluttered thanks to the 12 Phase power delivery. All of the chokes are ferrite core ensuring stable clean power is supplied to the CPU even under the highest load conditions, this along with solid capacitors should also ensure that the motherboard will still be going strong long after the socket has become obsolete. The six memory slots support triple channel DDR3 up to a maximum of 24GB.

socket area memory slots

Onto the PCIe area and we find that from top to bottom there are: PCIex1, PCIex4, PCIe 2.0 x16, PCI, PCIe 2.0 x16, PCI and PCIe 2.0 x8. All of the 16/8x PCIe slots are CrossfireX/SLI compatible and both the blue slots will provide the full 16 lanes. However, when a third card is added to the bottom slot then the second blue slot along with the orange slot drop down to 8 lanes. At present this has very little effect on todays GPUs as there is no requirement for 16 lanes on PCIe 2.0. 8x PCIe 2.0 provides roughly the same bandwidth of PCIe 1.1 x16 so this is a bit of a none issue. Perhaps only the dual GPU cards would be hindered by 8 lanes but as these cards can't be run in Tri configuration this is a none issue.

The UD4P is missing 2 SATA parts that it's bigger brother has however, as they are on the Gigabyte SATA2 controller I doubt they will be missed too much, especially as the board still has 6 SATA ports on the Intel ICH10R controller and a further 2 on the Gigabyte SATA2, not to mention the eSATA ports available.

 PCIe SATA

The I/O area of the boards has plenty (8) USB ports, a single Gigabit LAN port, 7.1 audio courtesy of 6x 3.5mm jacks, S/PDIF, Firewire and 2 PS/2 ports. There's also a handy CMOS reset button allowing the user to reset the BIOS should the settings create instability. Toward the bottom of the board there are two USB sockets and a further two fire wire ports. The motherboard header area is colour coded to ensure ease of connection but sadly no quick connector is provided. Above these is an IDE port that while rapidly becoming obsolete is still frequently used by those with older hardware.

I/O shields USB

The UD4P features 2 BIOS chips that can recover a corrupt flash with the redundant BIOS chip re-flashing the corrupt one should the need arise. Next to these chips is a floppy drive port. While the floppy port is rarely used for anything other than a BIOS flash these days, some people swear by this method of BIOS flashing and are reluctant to try any other method. To the top right of the board is a power on/off and reset switch. I would liked to have seen the reset switch be something more than a tiny little button as it can be fiddly to use. Never the less it's great that Gigabyte have considered those who run motherboards out of the box so to speak.

Dual BIOS LED's

Removing the Aluminium heatpiped which snakes along the motherboard was a relatively simple affair with the two Mosfet coolers being a push pin design and the QPI (NB) and Southbridge held fast by spring loaded screws. This design ensures that there is a near perfect mount and thanks to the generous amount of paste used the mount was indeed very good. The Mosfets transfer heat by the means of thermal tape which again is the perfect material for the uneven surfaces of the Mosfets.

Power Northbridge

Sadly, one area which has seen a budget restraint is the heat sink cooler. On the surface, the gun metal grey looks attractive enough but the Aluminium material used is not as good as copper for transferring heat. Hopefully this won't have too much of an effect on the cooling of the motherboard as the thick finned cooler certainly does not have as much surface area as the more expensive Gigabyte boards.

southbridge cooler

So there you have it, a very attractive motherboard with only a few discreet differences between it and the UD5. The packaging could be improved, especially in the way the accessories are packaged as they are simply separated from the motherboard  by a loose layer of cardboard. This is packaging at its most basic and something Gigabyte would do well to change as they are slowly falling behind in this area when compared to other manufacturers. Beauty is only skin deep though and thankfully there has not been too much cost cutting where it counts, the motherboard itself.

Let's take a look at the brains behind the board, the Motherboard Intelligent Tweaker (M.I.T) section of the Gigabyte EX58 - UD4P's BIOS...



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BIOS Features

Starting the board up, the first screen we come across after the VGA has initialized is the Full Screen Logo which in effect is the same as the UD5 albeit a red/pink blur instead of a purple one. The section we are most interested in is the MIT (Motherboard Intelligent Tweaker) as this is where we find all the overclocking options and performance tweaks for the UD4P.

Frontend MIT

Those who are familiar with the Gigabyte BIOS of old will feel right at home here despite the lack of FSB controls. These are replaced with a combination of Base Clock (Bclk), QPI and Uncore controls. For all intents and purposes just adjusting the Bclk will serve most needs, leaving the QPI and Uncore settings on Auto which auto adjusts depending on your clockspeed. All of the major CPU features can be enabled/disabled in it's own section.

Clock ratio CPU features

The BIOS is very user friendly and can be navigated by the arrow keys. Pressing enter on the required setting will bring up a new window as with the QPI Link speed below showing all the available options. To save time if you know your required setting you can simply scroll through them via +/- keys or input the setting directly as with the voltages. One noteworthy point I would make however, is that some settings are repeated depending on which section of the BIOS you are in at that time (See both screenshots below).

QPI Uncore and qpi feartures

The Uncore frequency is adjusted by the means of multipliers with a maximum of x18 available. Once this multiplier is used then the readout is changed to reflect this new value below the adjustment. A ridiculous Base Clock value of 1200 is available should you be an overclocking Deity but the base clock increases/decreases by single numbers for the mere mortals out there.

Uncore Bclk

The Advanced Clock Control section fine tunes some of the motherboards frequencies such as the PCIe bus speed. Clock drives and skew can also be fine tuned in this section too along with C.I.A.2 (CPU Intelligent Accelerator 2) which allows automatic overclock to values of Disabled, Cruise, Sports, Racing, Turbo and Full thrust,overclocking your CPU by 0, 5-7%, 7-9%, 9-11%, 15-17% and 17-19% respectively. Another auto overclocking utility is the Performance enhance setting (Stand, Turbo, Extreme) which Gigabyte claim changes your PC's performance to basic, Good and extreme performance respectively.

advanced clock control performance enhance

As with Uncore and QPI, Memory bandwidth is controlled by multipliers numbered  6 through 18 i.e a 200 Bclk with an 8x Multi will results in your memory running at 1600MHz - simples! (insert Meerkat wink here). Memory timings are very thorough thanks to the Gigabyte method of setting the latency for each individual channel. While only the main 5 options are available, opening up the advanced DDR timings selection allows a multitude of sub-timings for you to fiddle with until the early hours.

memory multi QPI Voltage

The Voltage section is very comprehensive allowing a massive amount of on-board device configuration. Not only that but the serious amount of voltages allowed could very easily damage your components and motherboard so use with extreme caution. Thankfully Gigabyte remind you when you are being a tad ambitious with colour coded warnings, yellow, purple and red depending on the severity of the voltage selected.

dram features voltages

The PC Health screen is perhaps the one section I was a little disappointed in due to the lack of configuration for the 6 on board fan headers. The fan speeds are either controlled by the motherboard or set to run full tilt. Warning are given should your fan fails which is a welcome inclusion but I wish they had actually considered the fact some fan headers might need extra configuration with true adjustable speeds. A screen missing from other motherboards is the security chip configuration screen (default = disabled). Enabling this screen will allow you to make use of the TDP features of the UD4P.

pc health security chip

Notice I mentioned earlier that Gigabyte remind you of excessive voltages used by colour coding the resultant setting, well they also present a nice little reminder on the save CMOS screen depicting which setting is causing concern. In my case I had set my DDR3 voltage to 1.66v, this reminder would have been welcome were it not for the fact that this board seemed incapable of setting the Vdimm to the recommended value of 1.65. 1.64 or 1.66 were my only choices. Plucking up the courage I decided to risk it for a biscuit and saved the settings regardless.

BIOS Flash

Flashing the BIOS was a breeze and perhaps the best method I have encountered thus far with a motherboard. Simply download the BIOS to your desktop, unpack the contents to a USB stick and on reboot hit F8 which takes you to the BIOS flash screen allowing you to save your current BIOS or flash to a new one. I did not flash the BIOS via windows although Gigabyte do allow for this method. After a number of failed BIOS flashes, I would not recommend using this method, especially when flashing via USB stick is so straightforward.

Well thats about it for the BIOS so I'll move straight on to the Test setup and overclocking section where we will find out exactly how this board performs...



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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-UD4P
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.
 
The memory spacing was ample and should not prevent over sized coolers being fitted. The Gigabyte EX58-UD4P features a multitude of mini LED's that all have a purpose. The Blue LED's near the DDR3 slots signify CPU Frequency with no LED's lit meaning stock - I managed to light all 5 up! Just above these LEDs are 5 green, 4 yellow and 4 blue LED's all in a row. These LED's highlight the amount of CPU Phase Load. Again I managed to load them all up. There are also phase LED's for the memory, Northbridge and South bridge. Below right you can see the NB voltage indicator which cycles through green (safe), yellow (moderate) and red (Thermo-nuclear?). The over sized QPI (Northbridge) cooler meant these LED's were slightly obscured, revealing just the green LED, looking from the side however, showed that the colour was actually red. Maybe it's time I donned that radiation suit!
 
These little LED's are a nice little touch, especially for those who are insistent on using AUTO voltages when overclocking as they give and indication of the level of voltages being used for any given overclock. The majority of these LED's can however, be turned off should you prefer.
 
Mem spacing led 1
 
memory led QPI temp 
 
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.
 
 
 
The Gigabyte EX58-UD4P was exceptional in this department using the lest power when idle and when under load conditions. No software utilities were used either which, thanks to the 6-Gear utility of Gigabyte could lower power consumption even further by altering the power phase of the motherboard.
 
 
Overclocking

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

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:
 
4200 SuperPI
 
Not a bad showing by any means! 4200MHz was the maximum I managed out of the Gigabyte UD5 and despite the UD4P being a slightly cut down version of that board it has managed the same overclock regardless. Vdrop/droop was nothing too much to worry about with a maximum 0.012v droop recorded during testing (loadline enabled). It wasn't all plain sailing though as the stock BIOS gave some pitiful results maxing out at 3.5GHz. However, a BIOS update to the official F7 allowed the overclock above with relative ease. BIOS recovery was mediocre, sometimes it was fine, others, it was not. Memory Multi overclocking tended to result in none boot scenarios which only a CMOS clear would rectify. CPU clocking on the other hand recovered with relative success. Once you have your favoured settings, the Gigabyte BIOS allows you to back it up by creating a settings profile (F11) and returning to this profile at a later date and time should you wish by simply pressing F12.
 
Returning the Gigabyte EX58-UD4P 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...  


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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

No astounding results were to be had with the run of CPU benchmarks. The UD4P scored an average run in all of the tests neither finishing top or bottom. Not a bad results considering the strong competition.
 
Let's see if there is anything to separate the board with our run of memory benchmarks...



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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

Again, nothing startling from the UD4P scoring in the middle sector of the motherboards on test. The UD4P did however, get the best latency score so it remains to be seen if this has a positive effect on the other benchmarks I'll be running today.

Let's see how the boards perform in our Hard Drive benchmarks...


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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 benchmarks are always going to be a close run test with all the boards on test being based on the Intel ICH10R controller. With very little to choose between the motherboards, the UD4P did however manage to out pace a most of the boards on test albeit by a small margin but certainly by nothing 'noticeable' in real world conditions.

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



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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

The UD4P is proving to be a thorn in the top end motherboards sides as they cannot shake off the assault of the Gigabyte motherboard. Indeed on a few occasions the UD4P has led the pack. Sadly, the results could not be mirrored in the compression/decompression tests.

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


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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

Cinebench did not throw up anything unusual but 3DMark was a different story altogether. The UD4P outscored all of the motherboards in all tests and by a fair margin which is a fantastic achievement. I was suspicious of the results but after checking and double checking the driver versions and ensuring nothing funny was going on I had to go by the results I got. Excellent 3D Performance!

Let's see how it gets on in our run of real world gaming...


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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

Despite outperforming all of the boards in 3DMark, the Gigabyte EX58-UD4P could not replicate those results in the real world gaming tests. In fact, for COD4 it showed terrible performance in comparison though that does appear to be a one off as the motherboard performed on a par with the others in Far Cry 2 and Crysis.

Let's take a look at it's overall performance...



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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

While the Gigabyte hardly blew the competition away it did manage to come out on top in 5 of the 6 tests in PCMark Vantage, a feat not managed by any other board previously tested at OC3D. Interestingly, Vantage puts the Gigabyte top of the pile in the gaming result which goes to show you should never fully trust synthetic benchmarks as in real world test the Gigabyte was mediocre. However, as the results above show, the Gigabyte board is a solid performer in all the tests we ran today.

Let's head over to the conclusion where I attempt to put today's testing into perspective...



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Conclusion

It's a rare day indeed when I come across such a well rounded motherboard. All of the other motherboards on test have some failing, be it price, overclocking, aesthetics, cooling etc. The Gigabyte EX58-UD4P hit's the sweet spot in almost everything. It looks the business (but please get rid of those orange and yellow slots!), it's performance is up their with boards costing a third more and it's features, while not quite as extensive as others are useful and not just added for the sake of it.

I was surprised at how similar the UD4P and the UD5 were, the UD5 being our test rig for other components. The UD4P, at a glance looks almost identical to the UD5, it clocks exactly the same and has the majority of the features it's bigger brother has. The BIOS of the two boards are near identical and very easy to use. While they are not as complex as say the DFI, all the main features are there to allow some supreme overclocks. It works well in AUTO configuration too which is a blessing for those unsure about reference voltages and the calculations needed to offset these with VTT etc.

I would have liked to have seen copper cooling instead of the Aluminium used but that would add to the cost of the motherboard and put it into competition with the big boys, thereby defeating the object of this motherboard. Priced around the £200 mark it's by no means cheap but as X58 goes the UD4P is placed in the mid-range sector. However, I think I have shown that this motherboard is capable of punching above it's weight and on occasion placing high end boards firmly on their backsides.

If you are in the market for a feature packed, high performing motherboard that ticks all the right boxes in the mid-range sector, I cannot think of a better motherboard than the UD4P.

 

The Good
- Overclocking
- On board LED's
- SLI/Crossfire compatibility
- Comprehensive accessories

The Mediocre
- Packaging could be better
- Aluminium heatsinks

The Bad
- Orange/yellow slots

 

 

Thanks to Gigabyte for providing the EX58-UD4P for todays review. Discuss in our forums.