Preview: Gigabyte P55-UD6 (Intel P55)

The Storage Master

The Storage Master

So we've shown you what ASUS and MSI's flagship motherboards would look like from our previous two preview articles here and here . Now it's time for Gigabyte. In fact, we would have had this preview earlier had the package arrived at the right address, but thankfully, this mouthwatering board made it intact to our labs.

To set your expectations of this board in one line, take Gigabyte's top X58 motherboard, trim it a little on the over-the-top features and give it a few enhancements suitable for a newer board and you'll get the Gigabyte GA-P55-UD6 motherboard. Smart and Efficient is the overall theme going for Gigabyte's new lineup of motherboards as you'll soon hear more from us on their new core features that bring out these aspects.

The impressive looking Gigabyte GA-P55-UD6 motherboard. You name it and it will probably have it.

However, not everything has been trimmed from the Gigabyte X58-Extreme brother. Like it, the P55-UD6 sports an extensive storage subsystem and will probably be unparalleled to any other in the market supporting up to 10 SATA 3Gbps ports thanks to three different storage controllers.

Another feature that might seem over the top but will in fact be a norm for all new high-end Gigabyte motherboards is the 24-phase VRM power design. Further discussion with the product managers in Taiwan revealed that it's more of a marketing lingo as it's really still a 12-phase power circuitry design, but Gigabyte doubled the number of chokes (there's normally one choke to each power phase). Therefore, the extra chokes better spread the power loading, thus reducing temperature and improving efficiency. Along with this, the board also comes with the usual Ultra Durable 3 features (2oz copper PCB, ferrite core chokes, solid capacitors and lower RDS MOSFETS).

The two rings of closely stacked chokes around the CPU socket gives rise to the '24-phase' moniker on the GA-P55-UD6. The heat sinks surrounding the CPU socket aren't too menacing and shouldn't pose too much of a problem for CPU cooler installations. Larger overhanging third-party coolers however should beware of the clearance allowed to mount them.

Since the LGA 1156 socket only supports dual-channel memory, this board is confined to that as well. However, unlike some of its close competitors, it went with six DIMM slots instead of the normal four. There is however a downside if you do plan to populate all six slots - the blue slots can only take in single-sided memory. If you're using only four slots, then there are enough memory addressing lines and it doesn't matter if single or double sided memory are used.

The expansion slot array is identical to the MSI P55-GD80 motherboard, which is fine but not better than the ASUS P7P55D Evo. Take note of the floppy connector position though, it may be tough to reach if required.

And here we have the impressive 10 SATA 3Gbps connectors all lined up in our preferred angled position. In the background, you can catch a glimpse of the IDE connector . Hard to imagine who needs that many SATA ports, but it's all here just in case.
I/O connectivity is outstanding as expected with dual FireWire ports, dual eSATA/USB combo ports, dual Gigabit (PCIe based) LAN ports, 8 dedicated USB ports, analog and digital audio connectors.

We received the motherboard with an Intel Core i5-860 (2.8GHz) Lynnfield processor so we wasted no time to get it booted and going with the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus cooler and the usual other components.

The power button on the motherboard received an updated look and feel and is certainly a boon to those setting up open systems.

Here's our system all setup and just booted up.

The splash screen that you'll be greeted with during the POST sequence.

The BIOS is at revision F4a now.