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VIDEO REVIEW: Gigabyte EP45-UD3P motherboard!

#1
Here is the first half of our very first REAL video review of a piece of hardware, in this case the one of the newer P45 chipset boards from Gigabyte Technologies.

In the first half (split into 4 youtube videos) we take a look at the retail packaging for the GA-EP45-UD3P, the accessories it comes with, and finally a close-up look at the board and it's features themselves.

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3iocDVjp7c"]YouTube- Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P Review - December, 2008 - Part 1[/ame]

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_Roiuxjadw"]YouTube- Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P Review - December, 2008 - Part 2[/ame]

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUpqYcQGX9U"]YouTube- Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P Review - December, 2008 - Part 3[/ame]

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhdqIk63sIA"]YouTube- Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P Review - December, 2008 - Part 4[/ame]


In the second batch of videos we take a closer look at the TPM chip and the Dual BIOS system on the GA-EP45-UD3P motherboard. We also run into a problem mounting our massive Tuniq Tower CPU cooler which is quickly cured with some HOT SEXY DREMEL ACTION! In the end we get the board running and have a look at the BIOS options, and then dig in for some overclocking madness!

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRbGW3L9QwM"]YouTube- Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P Review - December, 2008 - Part 5[/ame]

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WuXYN5fav0I"]YouTube- Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P Review - December, 2008 - Part 6[/ame]

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9t8_erohtTU"]YouTube- Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P Review - December, 2008 - Part 7[/ame]

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLYomwzEkcs"]YouTube- Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P Review - December, 2008 - Part 8[/ame]

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTY3HFCWNY0"]YouTube- Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P Review - December, 2008 - Part 9[/ame]
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#2
This was mainly meant to be a video review, but I'll also suppliment it with some good old reading material and photos for those of you who don't want to watch me tinker with a motherboard for an hour. :p



[Image: ep45-ud3p%20006.JPG]

[Image: ep45-ud3p%20008.JPG]



In this video review GAMEBEAT has a look at Gigabyte's GA-EP45-UD3P motherboard. Gigabyte Technologies has been in the motherboard manufacturing business for over a decade and has been populating the market with enthusiast level boards for almost as long. Over the past few years the company has garnered a lot of attention from the enthusiast level crowd with it's LGA775 enthusiast boards based around the various Intel chipsets. Things got rolling with the GA-P965 series which were famous for having stellar overclocking abilities while being priced relatively low when compared to top tier competitor boards from manufacturers like Asus and DFI. Roughly a year later we saw the release of Intel's P35 chipsets and again Gigabyte released several boards based on it which were received with much glee by the enthusiast community. Of particular acclaim was the Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L (and later the GA-EP35-DS3L) which offered impressive overclocking performance for under $100. Gigabyte of course offered pricier models like the P35-DS3R which offered more features and better chipset cooling but the real gem was the DS3L given it's low price. Soon newer versions of the P35 Giigabyte boards were released (EP35) with new 'Ultra Durable' badging, supposedly offering all Japanese solid capacitors as well as low resistance inductors for the power supply circuitry all making for a stable and overclockable board.

Late in 2007 the P45 chipset was announced by Intel and it wasn't very long until Gigabyte had their first run P45 boards out on e-tailer shelves. The first P45 boards were essentially 'refreshes' of the earlier P35 boards and were available at many pricepoints from the $100 GA-EP45-DS3L to ultra expensive GA-EP45-DS4. Gigabyte continued it's 'Ultra Durable' branding until late this past summer when it announced something NEW.

The Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P and GA-EP45-UD3R motherboards are new revamped motherboard designs based around the powerhouse Intel P45 / ICH10R combo. These boards seemed aimed squately at the value oriented enthusiast who wants every last cent to count. Since their release barely two months before this writing these boards have made lots of ripples in the enthusiast crowd. Check the popular hardware forums and you'll find multi-page long threads dedicated to the EP45-UD3P/R filled with posts praising it for it's overclockability, price, and feature-set. Being a fan of the previous P35 generation of Gigabyte boards I just had to try this beast out for myself. $120 and a few days later Newegg has one at my doorstep.


For future reference the board I reviewed in this video was the GA-EP45-UD3P. Gigabyte also offers a GA-EP45-UD3R which is pretty much the exact same board but without the extra PCI x16 slot for crossfire support (you get an extra PCI slot instead). There are no other appreciable differences between the two models. Last I checked the two boards were selling at literally $5 within one another so unless you need the extra PCI slot I would just grab the crossfire model.


[Image: ep45-ud3p%20003.JPG]

The GA-EP45-UD3P is an attractive board donned out in typical Gigabyte colors sporting a blue PCB and brightly colored RAM and PCIE slots. Components are well layed out for the most part with nothing too exceptional. Power connector locations are in the usual spots and do not interfere with anything. The GA-EP45-UD3P offers a jaw dropping array of features for a $120 board, some of which are:
  • 2 x PCIE 2.0 x16 slots which are crossfire (ATI/AMD) capable. These slots switch to x8 mode when used in a crossfire configuration but that should not affect performance at all with today's graphics cards.
  • 8 x SATA 2.0 ports with full RAID support. The board also comes with a special expansion slot cover to allow you to use 2 of these SATA ports as ESATA connections.
  • 12 x possible USB 2.0 ports (8 available immediately on the rear of the board, 4 more via headers on the motherboard)
  • 3 x Firewire (IEEE1394a) connections (2 at the rear, one more onboard motherboard header)
  • Onboard Realtec ALC988 audio with Dolby Digital home theatre output (optical and coax out on the rear of the board)
  • Gigabyte's patented 'Dual BIOS' system keeps a spare BIOS onboard in case the main BIOS gets corrupted (bad flash protection)
  • TPM security / encryption chip onboard for enhanced drive security
  • Advanced heatpipe cooling for P45 chipset and power regulation circuitry
  • Ultra Durable 3 design


The UD3 in the model name notes another new feature of the GA-EP45-UD3P, and that would be Gigabyte's new 'Ultra Durable 3' design specification.

'Ultra Durable 3' is Gigabytes continuing attempt to cater to the enthusiast community. The main features of UD3 boards are:
  • Thicker copper layers in the PCB. Gigabyte claims that they are using new 2oz copper layers in their PCB while other enthusiast level boards only have 1oz layers. Gigabyte says this leads to a cooler running motherboard since the copper can wick away the heat from vital components faster than before. This feature is the main addition that differentiates UD3 from the earlier 'Ultra Durable' specifications.
  • All Japanese Solid Capacitors. The EP45-UD3P is constructed with all Japanese made solid capacitors with no old style electrolytic capacitors onboard. Solid caps provide much longer life and heat resistance than the old style electrolytic caps, and Japanese companies make the best capacitors. This is a welcome change from motherboards of the past which would often die prematurely from bursting or leaking electrolytic capacitors.
  • New power regulation circuitry with lower resistance inductors and cooler running MOSFETS. The power regulation circuitry on your motherboard is the lifeline that keeps your CPU running and allows you to overclock. Good power = good overclocking stability and reliability.

[Image: ep45-ud3p%20009.JPG]
[Image: ep45-ud3p%20007.JPG][Image: ep45-ud3p%20005.JPG][Image: ep45-ud3p%20010.JPG]
[Image: ep45-ud3p%20012.JPG][Image: ep45-ud3p%20011.JPG]

[Image: ep45-ud3p%20013.JPG]



The GA-EP45-UD3P went into my cramped Antec SOLO case rather well, but that's not to say we didn't have issues. In particular the EP45-UD3P and my Tuniq Tower CPU cooler did not seem destined for each other. The hold down bracket for the Tuniq Tower would not fit on this board because the blue MOSFET heatsinks interfered with it's placement. This was solved in about 5 minutes with a Dremel, but these issues with third party coolers are something buyers should be aware of before purchasing the board (or a cooler). To date I know of only two heatsinks that have issues with the GA-EP45-UD3P and those are the Tuniq Tower and a Xigmatek model which eludes me right now.

The Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P joined my existing hardware along with 4 sticks of G'Skill PC6400 DDR2 memory rated at 800mhz at 1.8 to 1.9v with 5-5-5-15 timings. The entire stack of hardware for my system is as follows:

CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 (lapped) 2.6ghz stock speed
CPU Cooler: Tuniq Tower w/ stock Tuniq fan
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P (Obviously)
RAM: 4 x 2GB G'Skill PC6400 DDR2 5-5-5-15 @ 1.8v
HDDS: 3 x Western Digital WD6400AAKS
Optical: Samsung SH-203B 20X SATA DVD-R/RW
Video: eVGA Geforce GTX280 Vanilla
Audio: Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Fatal1ty Professional PCI
Power: Corsair TX750 750 watt single rail PSU

Once I had the rig together I was off and overclocking in no time. Gigabyte gives you a plethora of overclocking options in the BIOS "M.I.T. Overclocking" menu - almost such that someone inexperienced could be scared off the whole overclocking idea. You're offered options to adjust every voltage you could possibly think of and can also adjust reference values. The BIOS is an enthusiast's dream!

Something else of note: Some of you may be familliar with Gigabyte's 'CMOS profiles' facility that has come with their boards since the 965 chipset. These 'CMOS Profiles' allow you the end user to save all of your BIOS settings in 'slots' in the CMOS onboard memory. That means that should you ever push your overclocks too far and need to reset the CMOS with the onboard jumper you will instantly be able to restore all of your BIOS settings from any of these 'slots'. But Gigabyte has improved the facility with it's latest boards and BIOS versions, now allowing you to actually save these profiles to removable media such as a hard drive, USB drive or memory card, or floppy diskette. This is handy because should you ever update (flash) the BIOS to a new version you will then have the ability to restore your CMOS values from removable media. Pretty damned cool!

As I've said the overclocking facilities are very powerful with the GA-EP45-UD3P, and I was quickly able to boot my Core 2 Quad Q9450 at 3.2ghz stable without even so much as a voltage tweak. I just changed the FSB to 400mhz (8x400mhz = 3200mhz) in the BIOS and restarted... BAM. Within the next couple of days playing with the overclocking in my spare time I had the machine up to 3.5ghz stable (15+ hours of Prime95). That's one of the overclocks you see in the video review. A day later I had the board and CPU running at 3.6ghz perfectly stable, and that's where it's sat for the past week and a half. The machine is not only fast as hell but it's solid as a rock. Impressive. In fact the only thing really holding me back is heat... my Q9450 is one of the first steppings and as a result runs awfully close to 70 degrees celsius under load at 3.6ghz. Who knows what she could do on water... :eek:



So if you watched the videos you would know that I've been using the GA-EP45-UD3P for a few weeks now. What is my opinion on the board? I think it's AWESOME... in fact I'd go so far as to say it's one of the better boards I've ever owned throughout my 15 years building PCs. Quite frankly I have NEVER seen another motherboard that packs in so many features and yet costs around the $100 mark after rebates. For $100 and some change you get a motherboard I would honestly expect to pay at least $200 for, and I'd be happy to pay it. Fully featured and an overclocking monster, what's not to like?

It's not often a motherboard like this comes along - I suggest if you're thinking of buying a socket 775 board for your Core 2 Duo or Core 2 Quad you consider the Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P. It's quite simply BADASS HARDWARE.
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#3
How to overclock with the EP45-UD3P (Originally recorded February, 2009 but I don't think I ever posted it here):

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaE9C1Vhqfo"]YouTube- How to overclock the Gigabyte EP45-UD3P (Pt.1)[/ame]

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjhkAvjxgMs"]YouTube- How to overclock the Gigabyte EP45 UD3P Pt 2[/ame]

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9QGtNJPsdQ"]YouTube- How to overclock the Gigabyte EP45 UD3P Pt 3[/ame]

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53VLrfXmg7A"]YouTube- How to overclock the Gigabyte EP45-UD3P (Pt.4)[/ame]

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_QR8g7g6Jg"]YouTube- How to overclock the Gigabyte EP45 UD3P Pt 5[/ame]

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zi-yM-uxdpA"]YouTube- How to overclock the Gigabyte EP45-UD3P (Pt.6)[/ame]
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#4
Last year Gigabyte introduced a cheaper built revision of the GA-EP45-UD3P and it uses a completely different BIOS layout and from what I've seen doesn't overclock as well. Here is my take:

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Yn6mpHLolU"]YouTube- Mi Vida Loca - 4-17-2010 - Newer Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P Rev. 1.6 - My thoughts[/ame]
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#5
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0i8cKS6eeNM"]YouTube- Mi Vida Loca - 4-16-2010 - Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P & Q9450 14 Months Later[/ame]
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