Gigabyte EX58-UD5 X58 Motherboard Page: 1
Intel's latest chipset is fast becoming very popular despite its cost and in our latest review we get to sample Gigabyte's mid range entry in the form of the EX58-UD5.
The UD5 is a little confusing as the PCB is actually part of the UD3 range having the same 2oz of copper integrated into the circuit board, just like its P45 counterpart. This, along with solid capacitors and Ferrite core chokes make up the 3rd incarnation of Gigabytes 'Ultra Durable' range. The double layered copper PCB claims to lower impedance as well as having the added benefit of dissipating heat which in turn, along with the lower impedance, could increase stability when overclocking.
Where the 5 bit comes in I am not sure but looking at the board's specification it becomes clear that the UD'5' is a higher specified board than both the UD3 and DS4 stable mates. In fact, it appears to be very much akin to the range topping Extreme model save for the extravagant cooling on the chipset, yet costs some £30 less than Gigabytes flagship model. This may well appeal to those who want the best possible performance yet don't wish to have excessive trimmings, least of all pay for them. That said though, as this is an i7compatible motherboard, it has a price tag to match, weighing in at a little under £220, it isn't the exactly the bargain basement we had hoped for but it is the cheapest of the trio we have on test today.
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
1. 4.8GT/s / 6.4GT/s
1. North Bridge: Intel® X58 Express Chipset
2. South Bridge: Intel® ICH10R
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
1. Realtek ALC889A codec
2. High Definition Audio
4. Support for Dolby® Home Theater (Note 2)
5. Support for S/PDIF In/Out
6. Support for CD In
1. 2 x Realtek 8111D chips (10/100/1000 Mbit)
2. Support for Teaming
1. 2 x PCI Express x16 slots, running at x16 (PCIEX16_1/PCIEX16_2) (Note 3)
2. 1 x PCI Express x8 slot, running at x8 (PCIEX8_1) (Note 4)
(The PCIEX16_1, PCIE16_2 and PCIEX8_1 slots support 2-Way/3-Way NVIDIA SLI/ATI CrossFireXTM 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. 2 x JMB322 chips (Smart Backup):
* 4 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (GSATA2_0, GSATA2_1, GSATA2_2, GSATA2_3) supporting up to 4 SATA 3Gb/s devices (Note 5)
* 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
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)
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. 10 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. 2 x RJ-45 ports
9. 6 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out/Rear Speaker Out/Side Speaker Out/Line In/Line Out/Microphone)
1. iTE IT8720 chip
1. ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 24.4cm
Quite a specification which, on paper at least, has both the Asus P6T deluxe and the MSI Platinum beat. Sporting 40 PCIe lanes as well as supporting SLI and Crossfire this board is certainly touting itself as the gamers board but the 10, thats right TEN SATA ports, should satisfy even the most ardent storage freak. Up to 12 USB ports and 3 Firewire ports make up the excellent connectivity available on the EX-58 UD5. On board switches should please the enthusiast. Support for up to 24GB of DDR3 and Dual LAN teaming round of a very complete and feature packed specification.
Let's take a look at the package...
Gigabyte EX58-UD5 X58 Motherboard Page: 2
Packaging & Contents
Although not picked up in the photos very well, the white exterior sleeving features a sparkling prism effect, refracting light. Pleasing to the eye, much more than the flat packaging of previous generation boards, the package has that premium feel to it rather than the 'stack it high, sell it cheap' tactic some manufacturers seem to take.
The front of the box has the UD3 emblem in prime position explaining the details of this feature with the rear of the box goes into much more depth. The remaining hardware and software features of the EX58-UD5 are explained in full on the rear of the package with the specifications labelled on the side of the box.
Removing the outer sleeve we come to a plain inner box containing the both the accessories and motherboard itself. While not excessive the accessories are complete enough to get your rig up and running with the minimum of hassle. 4 SATA cables, an IDE and floppy cable as well as an eSATA cable and bracket make up the storage accessories.
The I/O shield should be familiar to anyone who has owned a Gigabyte board of recent generations, being well laid out and clearly labelled with both text and colour coding. Below we see the manual which is very well written and has clear yet concise diagrams which will help both novice and expert alike.
Gigabyte have very thoughtfully included both an SLI and TRI SLI bridge for the EX58-UD5 which is in contrast to the other boards we have tested recently. However, even though most ATI cards come with a Crossfire bridge, it would have been nice for Gigabyte to also include at least one for those who do not have a bridge for their cards. Not a criticism I can really aim at the Gigabyte as the other SLI board on test, the Asus P6T Deluxe comes with neither SLI or Crossfire bridge, but I feel that this is an opportunity missed nonetheless. A strange inclusion is an extra PCI bracket that doesn't appear to have any use other than for extra ventilation.
Let's move on and take a look at the motherboard itself...
Gigabyte EX58-UD5 X58 Motherboard Page: 3
Board Layout & Appearance
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.
I'm not normally a fan of coloured heatsinks but the ones on the UD5 certainly look the business. Gunmetal grey fins with cobalt blue covers ooze class and with the heat pipes connecting up the four major heat sinks I have little doubt that the fantastic looks are matched by good performance.
Removing the heatsinks was a very simple affair as the basic but effective push pins were easily accessible and a quick pinch together allowed us access to the major chips on the motherboard. The Northbridge no longer has the task of controlling memory operations or FSB and as such, theoretically should run much cooler than previous generations but that hasn't stopped Gigabyte and indeed other manufacturers from continually improving the efficiency of motherboard cooling. No 'secret' chip on the Southbridge this time around, instead what we see is the now aging ICH10R chip providing control for the six blue Intel SATA ports, with the Gigabyte chip sitting just below.
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...
Gigabyte EX58-UD5 X58 Motherboard Page: 4
Gigabyte are renowned for making quality, if somewhat basic BIOS', so I was interested in seeing if the advent of X58 had changed this outlook.
The front page, while interchangeable to the standard POST boot up screen is nothing special, much the same as the majority of BIOS settings apart from the Motherboard Intelligent Tweaker (M.I.T) section so we will be concentrating on this section for today's review.
It's a good job Gigabyte provide an extensive manual as the settings can look a little daunting to the uninitiated. Those coming from Socket 775 will be lost at first as the most common settings from that setup are replaced by settings such as Bclk (BaseClock) QPI and Uncore settings. Once you get your head around these new features the overclocking is relatively straightforward. Clock ratios are a lot higher than the old socket with a maximum 20x multiplier on Intel's entry level chip which can be boosted to 21 thanks to the Intel Turbo Technology (think opposite of Intel Speedstep and you get the picture).
Intel QPI (QuickPath Interconnect) is fully tweakable thanks to the Gigabyte BIOS. Along with the link speed, the Uncore frequency and Isochronous support can also be adjusted. Uncore refers to all the on-die features that have nothing to do with computing engines however adjusting this setting can dramatically affect stability so use with caution.
The Bclk frequency, in its most basic form is the FSB of old, and when combined with the CPU Multi will give you the CPU clockspeed. The stock setting for the Bclk is 133Mhz but this can easily be increased to a little over 200 if the CPU multi is adjusted slightly along with the prerequisite voltage increases. Clock Drive and Clock Skew settings can be found in the Advanced Clock control section of the M.I.T but for the purposes of this review these settings were left in their stock state.
Having all that bandwidth at your disposal thanks to Tri-Channel Memory would be a waste if it could not be tweaked to further increase performance. Here is where the Gigabyte boards comes into its own with a wide range of settings available that can be adjusted for each individual channel should you wish. The multipliers range from 6 to 18 which should be plenty to get the most out of your kit.
Gigabyte thoughtfully provide you with the means to suck up enough electricity to power a third world country. The voltage settings below are insane and while Gigabyte are applauded for allowing the use of such crazy settings, extreme caution should be used for any setting that sits in the 'Red'. Finishing off the BIOS section is the health monitor which, as with the rest of the BIOS, is very thorough providing the user with an array of temperatures and fan controls.
Once you have all your desired settings in place you can back them up to one of 8 profiles or even to removable media should you wish. These settings can then be reloaded at a later date using the same format. Flashing the BIOS to the latest version was trouble free and self explanatory, just unzip the downloaded BIOS to a USB stick and enter Q-Flash when in BIOS or upon POST and then follow the on screen instructions. Simplicity at its finest!
With a great looking board, a well thought out BIOS complete with a massive array of options, I am thus far blown away with the improvements Gigabyte have made over previous generations with the EX58-UD5. I have never really been a fan of Gigabyte boards, mainly due to the odd colour scheme and awkward BIOS but the UD5 has changed all that. A couple of obstacles remain though before I pledge my allegiance to the Gigabyte cause - overclocking and benchmarking....
Gigabyte EX58-UD5 X58 Motherboard Page: 5
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-UD5
Memory: Corsair Dominator @ 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.
To guarantee a broad range of results, the following benchmark utilities were used:
Synthetic CPU Test
• Sisoft Sandra 2009
• PassMark CPU test
• SuperPI 1m, 8m, 32m
• Sisoft Sandra 2009
• Everest 4.60
File Compression & Encoding
• Sisoft Sandra 2009
• 7-Zip File Compression
• River Past ViMark
Disk I/O Performance
• HDTach 126.96.36.199
• Sisoft Sandra 2009
3D / Rendering Benchmarks
• Cinebench 10
• 3DMark 05
• 3DMark 06
• 3DMark Vantage
• Far Cry 2
• Company of Heroes
Overall System Performance
• PCMark Vantage
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.
Here we see the Gigabyte splitting the two other boards on test in the idle consumption test which is a little disappointing given the noise Gigabyte are making about Ultra Durable 3, but it does use the least amount of power when under load. Consideration should also be given to the fact that no software based power saving utilities were used during the testing. Gigabyte's own '6 Gear' power phase switching utility, would no doubt decrease consumption even more which is quite an achievement and the figures above should certainly give the 1kW PSU buyers food for thought.
Using a respectable Vcore of 1.40v, the remainder of BIOS voltage settings were left in their stock state to ensure equality throughout the testing.
The maximum Base Clock I managed was a respectable 200 but, and it is a very big but, this setting was achieved with no further tweaks other than raising the Vcore to 1.4v. Raising the vcore any higher didn't have any affect and in a vain attempt to eek a little more performance out of the little 920 I raised the QPI voltage but sadly neither voltage increase would help stabilise the setup. Perhaps a little more tweaking with the multipliers would gain a higher Bclk speed but for now I was very impressed with a sub 10 second SuperPI run thanks to the Intel TurboTech setting. This increased the multi by one and resulted in a maximum clockspeed of 4200Mhz. All this was on the stock cooler too which couldn't handle the heat of a Prime95 run, reaching temperatures of 90c+ before I called it a day.
Impressive results indeed beating our previous top clocker, the Asus P6T by a solid 200Mhz. There is however a little stick in the mud and that is the failed overclock recovery. From time to time, the UD5 will refuse to power on after a failed overclock resulting in a need to unplug the power supply at the wall socket to get the board to boot up. This is despite there being an on board CMOS rest switch which does do its job, just not every time. I found this quite irritating and hopefully it will be ironed out in future BIOS releases.
Returning the settings back to their stock state and disabling the Turbotech setting we started our suite of benchmarks...
Gigabyte EX58-UD5 X58 Motherboard Page: 6
The three motherboards on test today are inseparable with regards to CPU performance with each scoring well in certain areas but were found wanting in others. All of the scores above show that motherboard choice has little influence on CPU calculations, at least in a 'stock clocked' state.
Let's see if there is anything to separate the board with our run of memory benchmarks...
Gigabyte EX58-UD5 X58 Motherboard Page: 7
Gigabyte EX58-UD5 X58 Motherboard Page: 8
Gigabyte EX58-UD5 X58 Motherboard Page: 9
Gigabyte EX58-UD5 X58 Motherboard Page: 10
Gigabyte EX58-UD5 X58 Motherboard Page: 11
With the Asus P6T Deluxe putting in an impressive performance in the synthetic benchmarks it was hard to imagine the board falling down in the gaming benchmarks. And true to form, the Asus board took the lions share of the tests leaving the MSI and Gigabyte to fight it out for third place.
Let's take a look at the overall performance of the setups on test today...
Gigabyte EX58-UD5 X58 Motherboard Page: 12
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.
PCMark has made quite a good summary of what we have witnessed in today's benchmarking with each board having its strengths and weaknesses. This makes it very difficult to choose one board over another and judging by these benchmarks, the choice would depend on your main use for the PC.
Let's head over to the conclusion where I attempt to put today's testing into perspective...
Gigabyte EX58-UD5 X58 Motherboard Page: 13
Gigabyte have come along way with the EX58-UD5, so much so in fact, that my prejudices have been overturned and that's something that is not easily done. When I first received the board I thought its looks had been radically improved but I believed that this board would be 'all show and no go'. I was wrong.
The EX58-UD5 is a very complete product pushing all the right buttons from its aesthetics through to the scores it made in our suite of benchmarks. Best of all were its overclocking abilities where it out paced both the MSI Platinum and P6T Deluxe by some margin. Add to this both CrossfireX and true Tri-SLI capabilities at a cost cheaper than its competitors and Gigabyte have seemingly done the impossible.
The packaging, while improved could still do with a little work as it is left a little wanting when compared to the other boards on test. The cold boot issue is one that should be easily rectified with future BIOS revisions but other than that I honestly cannot fault the board, especially when you look at the bigger picture.
The motherboard layout is near perfect, as is the BIOS itself and with a plethora of connections available to expand storage capacity and peripheral appliances, every palate is catered for. The on-board diagnostic LED's are a godsend for overclockers as these point to where you are going wrong. Even if you don't care for their functionality, they do look rather nice and would set any windowed case off a treat. Couple this with top draw performance and I do wonder how any other manufacturer is going to possibly better this motherboard. For that, we wait with baited breathe.
I therefore have no hesitation, for the moment at least, in giving the UD5 our distinguished Best in Class award.
- Amazing overclocking ability
- Great looks
- Good cooling
- Fantastic connectivity
- Bargain price in comparison
- Packaging still feels a little basic
- Screw down heat sinks would be better.
- Nada, nothing, zero.
Thanks to Gigabyte for providing the EX58-UD5 for todays review. Discuss in our forums.