Gigabyte EX58-UD5 X58 Motherboard
Finally Gigabyte have moved on from the multi-coloured, motherboards of old and replaced it with a much more aesthetically pleasing theme. Sticking with the traditional blue PCB, Gigabyte have replaced the horrid yellow and red DDR slots with some rather cool looking sky blue and white ones. The colour scheme is also passed along to the remainder of the components with only the Orange PCI x4 and bottom x8 slots standing out from the crowd. It is a shame that orange was used rather than more subdued colour as it detracts from the overall colour coordinated look of the board which itself is extremely well laid out.
The rear of the motherboard is relatively clean with only a CPU backplate standing out. Looking closer there are however a few extra chips which, while not likely to interfere with the fitting of any additional backplate are worth noting should you decide to choose alternative methods of cooling.
As with the previous X58 motherboards we have had on test recently, the EX58-UD5 also has 6 DIMM slots with a potential capability of running up to a maximum 24GB. While 24GB is certainly not going to be cheap by any stretch of the imagination, a standard 6GB kit such as the Corsair we reviewed here or the OCZ kits now available should be within reach - unthinkable considering the price of DDR3 upon initial release!
The CPU socket area is very cluttered to the left and uppermost sections thanks to the 12 phase power design of the UD5. This should appeal to the hardcore overclockers among us as the 12 Phase power will help stabilise high voltages providing clean, stable power to the CPU even under the highest load.
The PCI area of the UD5 is as feature packed as the rest of the motherboard and is the only board we have tested thus far which is capable of TRI SLI; albeit in a 16+16+8 configuration. This however is in PCIe 2.0 format which offers greater bandwidth than the previous generation PCIe 1.1 so the 8x PCIe port, while not offering the same amount of lanes as the blue slots, should be more than sufficient for the current crop of GPU's on general release. Two additional PCI slots are nestled between the PCIe slots with a PCIe 4x and 1x sitting uppermost in the layout.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of the UD5 is the cooling, specifically the Southbridge cooler, which while flat with no fins, covers both the Southbridge and Gigabyte's own SATA2 controller. As these chips don't give off excessive heat, the cooler should be enough to dissipate what heat is created which itself is connected to the beefier Northbridge. A 6+4 SATA configuration, 6 on the ICH10R and 4 on the Gigabyte controllers, offer a huge amount of storage possibilities which while hardly required by the enthusiast is still a very welcome addition.
In the same area of the SATA ports is an LED diagnostic display that shows a mixture of letters or numbers depending on the boot process or error encountered which is much more useful than the BIOS beeps of yesteryear. Speaking of LED's, this board is swathed with them which offer so many more diagnostic possibilities than before.
Surrounding the CPU socket area are the numerous LOW RDS (on) MOSFETS which accompany the 12 chokes and solid capacitors which together will provide and then smooth the power delivery to the CPU. This is an increase of the norm on a Gigabyte board and while not quite to the extreme of 16 Phase designs found on Asus boards, 12 should be quite enough for all but the most picky of enthusiasts.
The cooler itself uses a combination of paste and thermal tape which should be sufficient to cool each component adequately. Water blocks, which are a little thin on the ground at the moment, should fit the Gigabyte board easily as the catch holes are clear from any unwanted obstruction allowing for even more extravagant cooling that already adorns the UD5.
So then, a very impressive layout paired with an amazing array of features all topped off with some very attractive cooling. Gigabyte have made tremendous improvements with the motherboard layout and aesthetics so then, let's hope the BIOS has not been forgotten in the evolution.
Let's take a look and find out...