After unleashing the most expensive motherboard on the world with its UD9, which we reviewed here, Gigabyte has the UD7 in store for its P67 generation. No bets on whether there will be a P67 based UD9 in the future, but the Gigabyte P67A-UD7 is a sure thing. And it is a heavy board too. We held the ATX Gigabyte P67A-UD7 on one hand, with the ASUS Maximus IV Extreme which is an Extended ATX board on the other and they both felt quite similar in weight. A check with our electronic scale showed that the Gigabyte was in fact heavier by 100g.
That's likely due to Gigabyte's well-known Ultra Durable 3 feature, which doubles the amount of copper in the PCB (and increases its weight). Like the other new Gigabyte boards this generation, the vendor has gone with a matte black PCB. Coupled with the gray, black and gold highlights on this UD7 board, it reminds us of audio cards with their gold plated connectors and such.
Looks aside, its enthusiast billing means that it gets the full spectrum of Gigabyte's proprietary technologies, which are too numerous to list here and mostly familiar to enthusiasts. The board supports a decent number of SATA ports, with both eSATA and FireWire retained despite the entry of USB 3.0. Gigabyte has the same number of USB 3.0 ports in total as the ASUS Maximus IV Extreme with 10. The difference is in the configuration, as the UD7 comes with only six are at the rear, with four coming as onboard headers.
Like the ASUS, Gigabyte has gone with the NF200 controller for its 2/3-way multi-GPU configuration. Overall, there are four PCIe slots for your graphics cards but only two PCIe 2.0 x16 slots have the full 16 lanes, while the other two have 8 lanes each. These two 'x8' PCIe x16 slots each share bandwidth with one of two proper x16 slots, so installing any card in these slots will reduce the lanes on the corresponding x16 slots to x8. Hence, 3-way would end up being x16/x8/x8.
The impression we get from this board is that there isn't anything new compared to its existing P55 boards. With the exception of having more SATA 6Gbps and USB 3.0 ports, that is. The layout does seem much improved, though that's more from the removal of older interfaces like IDE and floppy freeing up more PCB space. While it would be a bit unfair to compare this Gigabyte board to the ASUS a page earlier, it is indeed pretty tame in terms of enthusiast features. Perhaps Gigabyte is saving them for a more extreme board. Of course one could make the argument that the ASUS Maximus IV Extreme is a tad excessive.
The lack of any UEFI BIOS on this board also contributes to this impression that Gigabyte is merely replicating its technologies from the previous generation and giving it a superficial facelift. While we have no doubts that the performance would be up to its usual standards, we have some doubt on whether this board has enough to persuade prospective buyers. Features-wise, there is plenty, but there doesn't seem anything particularly new this time round. Perhaps Gigabyte already debuted most of its utilities and features in the previous generation and has little more to add this time round. Well, for all we know, the less fancy approach by Gigabyte could also mean it has concentrated on delivering what matters most, which may mean a more competitive offering. All this is speculation at the moment, but come early next year, we'll find out how much of it is true.