Packaging & Appearance
When the EP45-EXTREME first arrived at OC3D towers everyone was quite amazed at how big and heavy the package was. Being three times the width of a standard motherboard box and weighing perhaps three times we were very interested in what lay beneath the monolithic package.
The outer sleeve of the box is well designed with the main features displayed on the front of the package. To the rear the feature list is explored in greater depth. Thankfully, Gigabyte have opted to provide a sturdy carry handle making transportation easier although with the weight of the box, a fork lift truck wouldn't seem over the top.
The outer sleeve has a flip over 'page' that, once again delves further into the massive array of features this board possesses. The other side of the box has a cutout showing th board itself behind a plastic cutout Taking the outer sleeve off we are presented with 2 further boxes. One containing the accessories and manuals, the other being the moulded plastic case holding the motherboard itself. All the accessories are there that you would expect from a high-end motherboard package complete with a colour coded I/O backplate.
Now we see why the package is so heavy! It appears Gigabyte have mined half the worlds copper mines to make the motherboard heatpipe cooler. In typical Gigabyte style the motherboard resembles an explosion in a kiddies crayon factory. I have made my feelings clear on Gigabytes choice of colour scheme in past reviews so I will not dwell on the subject this time. The heatpipe however most certainly is lush. Being full copper throughout, it will certainly cool the Mosfets, Northbridge and southbridge chips very effectively and being a part push-pin/screw down type fixing the mount should be perfect.
The rear of the motherboard is a much more somber affair. Using Gigabytes trademark blue PCB there are perhaps two noticeable difference between the EXTREME and standard gigabyte P54 motherboards. Holding the Northbridge and South bridge heatsinks are a set of thin backplates to ensure the motherboard is not bent. Less obvious are the chips on the back of the mosfets. They are far enough away from the CPU HSF mounting holes not to interfere with any CPU backplate but care should be taken when mounting the board in the case as one slip could knock one of those chips off which will cause havoc with the motherboards power regulation.