People expect big things when a product gets labeled "EXTREME", and today we take a quick look at Gigabyte's latest offering for overclocking enthusiasts, the GA-EP45T-EXTREME.
A glance at the motherboard's key highlights quickly reveals that Gigabyte isn't fooling around; when they say "EXTREME", they mean it.
Based on the Intel P45 and ICH10R chipset, this board comes with a horde of features that may seem excessive: CrossFire support for up to three ATI graphics cards, dual PCIe Gigabit LAN ports, elaborate heatsinks including a water cooling block, a whole slew of expansion slots, connectors (including three FireWire 400 expansion ports), and several LED status indicators for the overclocking crowd.
More importantly however, what makes this motherboard a step up from the rest are the efforts Gigabyte took to ensure it runs extremely cool. Apart from the all copper heat pipes and heatsinks, the GA-EP45T-EXTREME can also be water-cooled. Furthermore, it comes with a huge kitchen-like apparatus that Gigabyte calls the "Hybrid Silent-Pipe", which acts as a massive radiator, constantly drawing in cool air. Drawing a page from their graphics card coolers, especially their Silent-Pipe II version, Gigabyte has now incorporated this idea to mount their Hybrid Silent-Pipe cooler that attached on to the Northbridge cooler.
However, this feature comes at a price. As seen in the photos, this expansion-slot hogging cooler is a pretty big piece of equipment and fixing it on to the motherboard will take up quite a bit of the board's real-estate. As such, its installation would render the PCIe x1 slot unusable. The PCI slot just after it is still useable, but barely when considering that the primary PCIe x16 slot is next to it. So more likely than not, these both of these expansion slots would be wasted.
Also, we noticed that the DIMM slots are located a tad too much to the left. This might pose a problem especially if you have a large graphics card installed, because installing or removing memory modules in the future might require you to remove your graphics card first. On casual functional testing, the DIMM slots are still useable with the graphics card installed, but things can get complicated when the system is setup within a casing.
Thankfully, the GA-EP45T-EXTREME redeems itself with several useful features. The overclocking community would definitely appreciate the various LED alerts that come with the motherboard. Of note are the OC-Alert LED and TMP-Alert, which indicate the overclocking level/temperature of the CPU and Northbridge components respectively, all in a visual manner. We'll save more details for the actual review, but here's a parting snapshot of the board to keep your mouth watered:-
We will be taking this monster into our labs for testing soon, so do watch out for the full review at www.hardwarezone.com.