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Gigabyte X79-UD3 – Your Affordable X79 Motherboard

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  • Gigabyte X79-UD3 – Your Affordable X79 Motherboard

    Gigabyte X79-UD3 – Your Affordable X79 Motherboard
    When I looked at Gigabyte’s X79 line-up, I saw that this UD3 will be some sort of their entry level board targeting the people who want to use the latest offering from Intel. It got me curious and luckily, I was given a chance to try and play with it.
    Upon opening the box, I saw a visually appealing board. The color combination done by Gigabyte on this board is really cool. It’s almost a PURE black motherboard which I know most people will love. Most computer chassis nowadays usually come with a clear side panel and this board will surely get some attention if you put this in one of those chassis.

    This board is part of the Ultra durable family from Gigabyte. You can see that all the capacitors used are the solid capacitors which offers a longer life span compared to the ordinary capacitors being used in other boards.

    The CPU socket is pretty big. This board will support Sandy Bridge E which has a 2011 pin count. You will also need to follow the guide in securing the processor as 2 retention locks are needed to ensure the CPU is properly in place.

    The board supports the Quad channel RAM configuration. 2 RAM slots are placed on each side of the socket to enable the quad channel configuration.

    The VRM’s are cooled by the heatsink and the design done was enough to dissipate the heat generated.

    The PCH (Platform Controller Hub) was under this heatsink which I think is large enough to keep it running under good temperature on daily use.

    Four PCIe x16 slots are also present in the board. But I think the usable slots will only be 3 if you plan to use the headers beneath the lsat PCIe x16 slot. There are also 2 PCIe x1 which you can probably use if you are using single video card and planning to put maybe a pciex1 tv tuner. There is also one PCI slot present in the board and if you still have those legacy cards or maybe a POST card (if you want to see what’s happening in your system during boot) can be attached to this board.

    The board comes with 10 SATA ports. The 2 white ones are SATA 6 Gbps and the 4 black ones are 3 Gbps. These are controlled by Intel X79 chipset while the Gray connectors are being controlled by the Marvell Chip.

    This board comes with Intel gigabit network controller which in my opinion is better. The board also comes with a built-in sound using realtek ALC898. This realtek chip supports up to 7.1 channel output and capable of playing Blu-ray as long as you have the correct codec.

    There are 4 USB3.0 being offered by this board. 2 are located at the rear I/O while the 2 are supposedly for your front panel. Fresco chip is the one providing the USB 3.0 connectivity. A header was provided by Gigabyte for you to hook up the USB 3.0 from the chassis to the motherboard. Unfortunately this board doesn’t come with the 3.5 bay USB 3.0 header like what is included in its big brother UD7. So if your chassis doesn’t have USB 3.0, better check online or at retail stores. I’m sure you can buy the UBS 3.0 which you can attach in the 3.5 bay.

    There are a lot of USB 2.0 on the board: 6 via header and 8 are actually in the rear I/O. I am certain it Is very difficult to run out of USB slots on this one as compared to the boards from the early days wherein there are only 4-6 total USB connectors.

    The rear I/O of the board. As I said earlier there are 8 USB 2.0 given. There are 2 USB 3.0 available in the back, again with the help of the Fresco chip. The 2 blue connectors at the bottom of those USB 2.0 connectors are actually for eSATA. This is with the help again of a Marvell chip. The board comes with a ps2 port in which you can connect your keyboard or mouse. On the audio side, the board as I said supports 7.1 channel and an optical out and coaxial SPDIF are also present.

    Gigabyte wants to ensure that people will not have any issues with their BIOS. Guess what? Even with just a UD3, they provided dual bios as well. This is for the end user’s peace of mind. If ever the main BIOS gets corrupted, the backup bios will kick in to flash the main BIOS.

    BIOS Setup – UEFI the next Generation BIOS
    Booting up the system you will see the transparent cube like the box of the board and pressing Delete keys will enter the BIOS setup. Succesful entry to the BIOS will give you this screen

    As you go thru the areas of the motherboard, it will actually tell you which portion you are in and you can actually do the tweaking from there. By the way, they added AERO effect as well.

    For those people who are used to the conventional BIOS, no need to worry as Gigabyte has done another good job on this one. Pressing ESC on your keyboard will give you the conventional BIOS setup. The color maybe different but hey it’s the same thing!

    Testing and Setup

    Below are the components that I will be using to do some tests on the board:
    1. Gigabyte X79-UD3 Motherboard
    2. Intel 3960X 2011 Processor ES
    3. Ripjaws Z 1600 9-9-9-24 1.5V RAM
    4. HX1000W corsair PSU
    5. XSPC RASA 750 Water cooling kit (With a little creativity you can fit the 1366 bracket!)
    6. Kingston SATA 2 SSD.
    7. Gigabyte GTX 560 Video Card.
    Stock setup and overclocked system will be tested on this board.
    Super PI 1M ( Stock VS Overclocked )

    Super PI 32M ( Stock VS Overclocked )

    3DMark06 ( Stock VS Overclocked )

    3DMark Vantage ( Stock VS Overclocked )

    3DMark 11 ( Stock VS Overclocked )

    Cinebench ( Stock VS Overclocked )

    Sandra Memory Read ( Stock VS Overclocked )

    Sandra Memory Write ( Stock VS Overclocked )

    Sandra Memory Copy ( Stock VS Overclocked )

    Conclusion :
    Considering the x79 board is more a daily use board, I was amazed with what it had to offer. Overclocking wise, I was not able to hit the 4.65Ghz that I have reached in UD7 but 4.5Ghz is definitely not a letdown. The layout of the PCIe is already good for a 2 – 3 video card setup which should be enough for your computing and gaming needs. ALC898 should be good enough for listening to music, watching movies or even playing your favorite games. Those 10 SATA ports are also sufficient for you to plug-in several hard drives and dvd rom drives. The 14 USB 2.0 and 4 USB 3.0 slots are a lot! I am not expecting ordinary users to complain about needing more USB ports! The new BIOS interface will be loved by ordinary and inexperienced users while the “old” BIOS setup that still exists is definitely the overclocker’s friend.
    The bottom-line, this motherboard should be the “affordable” board for people who want to move to the Sandy Bridge-E platform.