Gigabyte EP45-EXTREME

Packaging & Appearance

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.
Front back
Side 1 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.
Inner box Cut-out window
Inner Box Accessories
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.
GA-EP45 EXTREME Motherboard back
The socket area is very busy with 12 phase power regulation. With the amount of chokes around the CPU socket it will not be long before manufacturers adopt the DFI method of power regulation with digital PWM. For now though, Gigabytes analogue 12 phase solution is more than adequate to ensure your CPU gets clean and stable power.
The DIMM area is anything but. Bright red and yellow memory sockets hint at which channel is which should you wish to run your memory sticks in dual channel. Up to 8GB of 1200MHz DDR2 is supported which is more than enough for todays applications and this is  provided with 3 phase analogue power delivery. Anyone paying £180 for a motherboard should have the funds available for a suitable 24+8 pins PSU which this motherboard demands.
There is plenty of connectivity provided in the PCI area with 1xPCIe, 3 x PCI and 3 x PCIe 16x (8+8+8). Being crossfire capable in 8+8 configuration it is doubtful the bottom port would be utilised with todays dual slot cards but it is a welcome gesture none the less. As with most modern top end motherboards, Gigabyte have elected to provide on board power and reset switches which illuminate blue when power is attached. This is a great feature as it allows the use of the motherboard outside of a case for either testing purposes or EXTREME benchmarking.
On board diagnostic LED is also provided which is a godsend when trying to decipher why any given overclock has failed or why the motherboard will not boot up. Worthy of note is that if you intend on using a dual slot GPU such as 260/280GTX then this will block all of the SATA ports bar the two sat at a 90 degree angle. This is a poor choice of SATA positioning by Gigabyte. The ports can still be used if you have 90 degree SATA cables but the card will be sat at a slight angle which is less than ideal.
PCI section  Onboard switches
If video editing floats your boat then you will be pleased with the EP45 Extreme as it has 3 on board firewire ports along with 2 USB ports to further the 8 USB ports already situated on the I/O panel. A nice addition to the I/O panel is the inclusion of a CMOS clear switch. As there is no CMOS clear jumper and with the battery situated under the heatpipe assembly this is your only viable option of resetting the BIOS to a stock state. P/S2 mouse and keyboards are still provided for along with SP/Diff outputs. 7.1 Dolby audio 3.5mm analogue ports are also catered for.
USB/Firewaire Side panel
Lets take a closer look at the cooling of the board which deserves a special mention...
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Most Recent Comments

04-11-2008, 08:53:16

That`s one heck of a cooling idea. It`s so simple, it`s crazy that dfi would go for that rediculous (imo) rear mounted solution over something similar to this. Is it as effective.. no idea.

I`m kinda willing to put forward also that these "designed for 45nm" mobos are perhaps doing an injustice to the Q6600. 35/38 series loved it, and sure the 4 series works well with them, but do they make more of the likes of Q9450 ? Perhaps by design. It`d be an interesting study. For sure there does come a point where we need to move on, and to base further reviews on past results, maybe a best pick of I45 & X48 mobos with a Q9450 would be a firm base. No disrespect to the Q6600. These boards are held back using ddr2 also, there`s another arguement for moving on. They need to do something to the setup of the mobo to tone it down for ddr2 use.

Still can`t stop thinking of that cooler.

Sure looks like a decent board. Does better than some in a few aspects and falls behind on other things.

I`d also like to see Biostar, MSI, Foxconn?? and some other less well know mobos get more of a look in (personal choice), the line ups of Gigabyte and ASUS in the sales lists are extremely numerous, to crazy levels imo. In between them we see 1 or 2 from other people and I do wonder if the object of the game is to flood the stores with ur name.

Great review, good mobo, I`d not buy it for £180 tho myself.Quote

04-11-2008, 12:52:35

Cracking review and mental cooling on that thing!

Typo mistake on "Quake 4" graph title. States BIOSHOCK and not Quake 4.Quote

04-11-2008, 14:46:03

Cheers Rasta for your comments, as always they are appreciated.

Originally Posted by name='fusion1275'
Cracking review and mental cooling on that thing!

Typo mistake on "Quake 4" graph title. States BIOSHOCK and not Quake 4.
Fixed, ta!Quote

07-11-2008, 11:16:12

The cooling solution gives me one major worry..... that gypsies may break into your house at night to take and melt the copper down.....theres just too much copper on that thing...jebus I think my house has less copper in it...

Nice looking, shame about the lack-lustre performance....hopefully other companies will follow there lead with the cooling solution, as it is nicely uniqueQuote

08-11-2008, 02:38:56

Funny how the nVidia boards got the worst fps and they are meant for gaming.


Anyway i wouldnt get this board, there is no point of that cooling if the board isnt a capable overclocker.Quote

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