When the Gigabyte board first landed on my doorstep, I was amazed at the size of the package. I was eager to rip the box open to see what Gigabyte had included with the board and I was not disappointed. The board is smothered in copper and with the additional HUGE Northbridge cooler it is clear where most of your money has gone in purchasing this board. Suitable for both aircooling fans and watercoolers, this board seems to want to cater for everyone.
Sure enough the board cooled very well but sadly it never really got the chance to get hot enough to be considered useful. Herein lies my confusion with the EP45 Extreme. Managing very little performance over the DS3P, I do wonder why anyone would pay double for this board when the perfectly adequate DS3P gives more or less very similar results. Gigabyte then, seem to be a victim of their own success, releasing such a good budget board makes buying the top end EXTREME board all the more difficult. 'Surely I am missing something' - This is something that played on my mind throughout the testing and writing up the conclusion I think I have finally got it. Wolfdale.
This board was born to have EXTREME voltages slammed through the chipset. The EXTREME Northbridge cooling depicts that excess heat will be developed there. Wolfdales, with their new 45nm fabrication, can reach some EXTREME FSB's but sadly, the Q6600 is not the best for FSB overclocking and is now getting a little tired when compared to the current crop of dual cores. I would bet my bottom dollar this board would scream along with a dual core Wolfdale but for the tried and tested 65nm Quads, I would think very carefully before splashing out so much on a board when there are other, cheaper models that can do the same for much, much less.
- Best cooling on a motherboard to date
- Optional air or watercooled northbridge
- Excellent Packaging
- On board switches
- Hit and miss performance
- SATA port positioning