|A member of the Funky Media Group|
|Review: Gigabyte X79-UD3 Motherboard|
|Posted by Dexter K.|
|Tuesday, 07 February 2012 23:00|
Page 4 of 8
A Closer Look
Starting out with the backplate area one thing that stands out is the amount of USB ports. You get eight USB 2.0 ports and two USB 3.0 ports. Finally companies have started making boards with enough ports! The eight USB 2.0 ports are all the "3x power" ports which means they are prime for charging phones or other devices.
You also get the standard e-sata, NIC and 7.1 sound connections as well as a single PS/2 port and optical/ S/PDIF Out connections.
One thing I noticed quickly while looking at the board is that if you need to connect fans to your case you will not run out of ports easily since there are five on board. Three of those ports are of the PWM variety so it will be very easy to set fan speeds.
Moving on, you get a whopping ten sata ports so there is no need to worry if you have tons of drives. You can throw any RAID array under the sun at it too should you want a boost from RAID drives. The white ports run at 6Gb/s, while the black and grey ports run at 3Gb/s so if you are running an SSD make sure to connect it to one of those white ports!
An interesting note is that like other Sandy Bridge boards, there is no northbridge per say. There is however a big beefy bridge heatsink on the board covering the X79 chipset. The chip itself only got slightly warm during testing, but if you run multiple video cards make sure that some air gets to the chipset just in case.
The CPU socket area is loaded with MOSFETs and caps which aid in powering the processor. It would have been nice had the socket area been cleared out a bit more for extreme coolers and those with large heatsinks, but it is still better than some other boards out there.
If you thought that the backplate had enough USB ports to last you a lifetime, looking at the bottom of the board will blow your mind. There are connections for two more USB 2.0 ports and another USB 3.0 port. You also get the ability to go oldschool and use a Serial port adapter. For those of us who want to use the front-mounted audio ports Gigabyte has you covered with audio connections for front-mounted ports as well.
Speaking of Audio this board comes with an updated Realtek audio chipset which means it will be better than sound on previous boards. But if you are looking for top of the line sound look for an add-on sound card instead.
If you are used to your board having a Realtek NIC as well there is a welcome change in the way of a gigabit Intel NIC. Intel NIC's are well known for their reliability and good performance so you will not have to worry about a cheaper NIC going out in the future.
The bios is loaded with many features. One of those features is Gigabytes 3D bios, which is actually pretty cool. It is a pop-up display that allows you to look at a portion of the motherboard, say the CPU and it will give you voltages and settings for the cpu area. This is great for people that don't know what the name of something is on a board but want to change a setting in the bios.
I must also mention issues with older versions of the bios and overclocking to high levels. There have been instances of VRMs exploding when running on an older bios. Apparently Gigabyte has fixed that issue with the F7 bios but make sure that you update your board before you try to overclock!
Currently the F8 bios is the version used in testing, this one proved to be the most stable by far. Other bios had many little issues, but this one appears to be rock solid.
Now, on to performance!