Back in January while attending CES, I took the opportunity to visit GIGABYTE's demo suite and meet the new team. This was one of the better highlights of attending simply because they've made some great strides over the last two years becoming the fastest growing motherboard manufacturer among the enthusiasts. This is largely in part to their commitment to the enthusiast community.
Many of their past motherboards aimed at enthusiasts on a budget have proven to be extreme performers even without the flashier heat sinks, heat pipes, and LEDs. The P45 and X48 series have been especially nice to put to the test. So, when their EX58-UD3R arrived, it was evident another GIGABYTE winner was possibly in hand. Sure, it's a bold statement. But just have a look.
GIGABYTE EX58-UD3R Features
Most every PC enthusiast knows that Intel's i7 Series Processors are the number crunching monsters of choice. This is especially true for more professional users in need or dreaming of quicker compilation times. For the most part, Intel's I7 Processor launch has been pretty much on que with the arrival of several X58 motherboards and plenty of Triple Channel memory.
Enthusiast motherboards like the Asus P6T Deluxe tend to cost a premium. Couple that with an I7 940 or 965 and your system costs rise quickly. It's not all bad news though. Now that a few months have past, there are even more motherboards and memory kits available to help drive that initial high cost of ownership down. This is one area that GIGABYTE seems to be the foremost expert as this board is extremely impressive.
- 2 oz PCB design with copper cooled quality for lower working temperature
- Supports the newest Intel® Core™ i7 processors in socket LGA1366 with QPI 6.4 GT/s
- Revolution energy saving design with DES Advanced featuring hardware based Dynamic 4-Gear switching
- Supports 3 channel DDR3 2000+ memory
- 2 PCI-E 2.0 x16 graphics interface plus PCI-E x4 with ATI CrossFireX support for ultimate graphics performance
- Unique hardware control IC to provide more precision voltage control
- 100% 50,000 hour lifespan Japanese solid capacitors design
- Patented DualBIOS with dual hardware BIOS protection
- Features high speed Gigabit Ethernet connection
- Home theater quality 8-channel High Definition Audio
There's plenty of features to be had even on this "budget" platform. The significant improvements to GIGABYTE's motherboards are the 2 ounce copper PCB and Dual BIOS. The new PCB helps increase the life, performance, efficiency, and durability under extreme loads. The Dual BIOS will come in quite handy for those who push their board just a little too far. VRD 11.1 is just one of Gigabyte's features of further increasing energy efficiency. In fact, many a previous board tested averaged 40 Watts less power consumption than other competitors. Impressive.
The board also has one of the lower prices for an X58 board of this level running at about $249 US at places like NCIX or NewEgg.
What's in the Box?
Besides this sweet little blue gem, you'll find a couple very detailed user manuals. These are almost infinitely better than the manuals we browsed back in the Socket A and Slot 1 days. We're finally getting better information inside our manuals which is good news for new users. Also inside are the usual extra SATA, IDE, and Floppy cabling. The yellow SATA cables are a good contrast to the blue board and offer a ninety degree connector at one end. You also blue flat IDE and Floppy cables rather than the gray, cheap generic stuff.
The Driver Disc offers an express or manual installation option. The quick way is to choose to install everything and the software will do the rest. A couple reboots and you're done. Or, if you'd rather install only what you want, select the manual tab and pick just the drivers you need.
There are other very helpful programs on the disc. One of those enables the board's VRD 11.1 function to help conserve power. You can also find some utilities that work quite well for maintaining and overclocking your GIGABYTE system. The overclocking utility is called Easy Tune 6. The program is well designed and should be easy enough to understand even for the beginning overclocking enthusiast.