First Looks: Gigabyte EX58-UD4P
Intel's latest CPU architecture, Nehalem, has been released for a couple of months now but as it belongs to the high-end enthusiast segment, it's still far from mainstream adoption. That's not stopping motherboard vendors from launching numerous versions of the Intel X58 chipset that's part of this new platform. Gigabyte's EX58-UD4P is one such example.
Double your Copper
One of the main features of this Gigabyte board is its Ultra Durable 3 technology (hence the UD in its model name), which is a fancy term for basically having twice the usual amount of copper found in the motherboard PCB. According to Gigabyte, doing so improves power efficiency, thereby reducing heat issues as more copper will lower circuit impedance. Certainly, based on our previous experience with an Ultra Durable 3 board from Gigabyte, the board will run relatively cool.
Other features that add to the 'Ultra Durable' theme include Japanese solid capacitors rated at 50, 000 hours and ferrite core chokes.
The Gigabyte EX58-UD4P is based on the Intel X58 chipset with ICH10R Southbridge. What that means is it supports the latest Core i7 processors using the new LGA 1366 socket and has a tri-channel DDR3 memory controller for up to 24GB of memory. As part of the X58 chipset, multi-GPU configurations are no longer a choice of either ATI's CrossFireX or NVIDIA's SLI. There's support for both, with up to three PCIe 2.0 x 16 graphics cards too.
Meanwhile the board also comes with twelve USB 2.0 and eight SATA 3.0Gbps ports, so no worries about storage. For audio, you can count on having Dolby Home Theater support from its Realtek ALC889A HD audio CODEC.
The Gigabyte Package
All motherboard vendors nowadays have their own proprietary features and 'technologies' to distinguish their products from their rivals and Gigabyte is no different. The EX58-UD4P comes with the company's Advanced Dynamic Energy Saver that leads to improved power savings with a responsive automatic power phase switching system.
There's also an onboard TPM module with a 2048-bit encryption key that we find oddly included for such an enthusiast class product. Most users probably have no need for such a feature outside of work. Finally, there are two BIOS onboard for greater security in case of BIOS corruption.
The Core i7 platform is not exactly cheap even if the lower-end Core i7 processors are quite competitively priced by themselves. The relatively higher cost of DDR3 memory is one factor, while the motherboards themselves are quite pricey too. Hence, it's no surprise that the Gigabyte EX58-UD4P costs around S$465 alone. However, that already makes it one of more affordable Core i7 motherboards in the market now, so if you're going down this route, it's worth taking a look.