Gigabyte X58A-UD9 and GTX480 Quad Sli Review
Phew. What a rollercoaster ride that was.
There is a little bit to get through here, but there is one thing we have to deal with before we move on, because it colours everything else. The price.
It's available around £450 online. Just stop for a moment and take that in. You can buy a Gigabyte UD7 and a Intel i7 930 for the same money as just this board. So if you're here to see if this is good value, then no it isn't.
But value isn't everything, otherwise we'd all be driving 1 litre diesels and eating cheap beans on cheap bread. Just like a tent from Millets will keep you dry, not everyone wants the basics. Sometimes you want the best. The absolute, no compromise, does it all, best.
Certainly Gigabyte delivers on nearly everything we could desire. Performance is absolutely not an issue. Despite a couple of strange results in our first tests, it consistently beat out the Asus Rampage 3 Extreme using identical hardware. We also saw the highest overclock we've managed to obtain out of our engineering sample 980x. 4.6 GHz using only 1.4v is mightily impressive in anyones books.
The ability of the board to run four cards to their capacity is something barely a handful of boards offer. Those that do certainly don't come with the after-sales comfort that a board from Gigabyte gives us. As our testing showed Quad-SLI isn't really for anyone but the extremely wealthy, but 16x/16x/16x Tri-SLI has absolute performance benefits and would be the kind of system that we all dream of. Certainly having tasted that power we were saddened when Zotac took their cards back.
Connectivity is capably handled by the UD9 too. 10 SATA ports, of which 4 are the SATA 6Gbps variety. Multiple USB2.0 and USB3.0 ports. Hell it even has a Floppy and IDE connector should you bizarrely have some old bit of hardware you want to plug into your motherboard that cost the same as a cheap second hand car.
The accessories packaged with the board are comprehensive to say the least We can't think of anything it doesn't come with that we'd need. The inclusion of three extra stand-offs for those whose cases don't come with eATX support is one of those touches that really shows attention to detail.
In fact what we dislike about the board is brief indeed.
The box is far too gaudy for something in this price bracket. It's priced at the very tip of the enthusiast level and do they, heck do we, need to be told endlessly about the "Unlimited Power" and "333 Support". Yes once is fine, put it on the back by all means.
When all four slots are populated it is much harder to obtain a decent overclock out of the board. Considering that if you've got the wedge to lay down on four graphics cards you're more than likely to want to overclock your CPU too. This is a small thing though because you're also likely to have an Extreme Edition processor and therefore can massage the multiplier, as we did.
The cooling isn't brilliant and you definitely need to have a think about how to keep that northbridge cool if you're on air. If you're on water then your problems are greatly lessened.
Finally there is that price. Even with every single feature you could desire it's still arse-clenchingly expensive. The fact that there are already 40 or 50 quid variances in online price show how much mark up it's getting, which does make the retail price even harder to swallow.
So in short, if you can stomach the initial outlay, the Gigabyte X58A-UD9 is the absolute performance king and because of its huge connectivity will last until you move along to the i8 or whatever comes next. It's an easy winner of our Performance Award.