Event Coverage

Gigabyte’s Motherboard Showcase at Computex 2012

By Kenny Yeo - 5 Jun 2012

Gigabyte’s Motherboard Showcase at Computex 2012

Motherboards Galore from Gigabyte

We were invited to a special preview of Gigabyte’s latest motherboard at Computex 2012 at a VIP suite on the 36th floor of Taipei 101. Inside, we had a close look at some of the latest Gigabyte has to offer. And one of the key highlights behind Gigabyte’s new motherboards is Ultra Durable 5 technology.

Introducing Ultra Durable 5

For many years now, Gigabyte has been implementing Ultra Durable technology on both their motherboards and graphics cards. To begin, Ultra Durable technology is the use of better quality capacitors, core chokes and MOSFETs to help improve overall power efficiency, thermal characteristics and stability.

With Ultra Durable 4 - the fourth generation of this technology - what Gigabyte has implemented on their motherboards and graphics cards with Ultra Durable over the years include things like all solid Japanese capacitors and lower resistance MOSFETs for better power efficiency and lower operating temperatures; double the amount of copper in the motherboard so that PCB impedance is reduced and heat gets distributed away more efficiently from critical areas of the board; DUALBIOS in case the main BIOS fails; and anti-surge ICs to protect the motherboard from sudden surges in power delivery.

Now, however, Gigabyte is updating their motherboards and graphics cards with their latest fifth-generation Ultra Durable 5 technology. Ultra Durable 5 includes all the abovementioned niceties from Ultra Durable 4, but with one crucial improvement, a single package, single silicon design MOSFET design.

Ultra Durable 5 introduces a new single package design MOSFET capable of handling up to 60A of current. Gigabyte also claims to be the only motherboard manufacturers to be using this high-end MOSFET.

Traditionally, MOSFET designs have been using a multi-chip design consisting of a driver IC, a high-side MOSFET and two low-side MOSFETs. With Ultra Durable 5, Gigabyte is using an all-new single package, single silicon design from a company called International Rectifier. Called the PowIRstage IR3550, this new single package design can deliver up to a whopping 60A of current and also provides much cooler VRM temperatures, increasing overall efficiency and longevity of the motherboard.

Lastly, motherboards equipped with Ultra Durable 5 technology can be easily recognized by the "UP" in their naming system rather than the more familiar "UD", which means that the motherboard is using the older Ultra Durable 4 technology.

The new single package MOSFET magnified.

Comparing the new single package design (right most) with traditional MOSFETs, we can see that it runs significantly cooler. 

Thunderbolt-enabled Motherboards

Thanks to the new Ivy Bridge processors and 7-series chipset, we are seeing an increase in numbers of Thunderbolt-enabled motherboards and devices. At the special showcase, we were also introduced to Gigabyte’s Thunderbolt-enabled Z77 motherboards. You can check out our earlier article to find out more about the boards, but Gigabyte’s initial push for Thunderbolt connectivity is pretty impressive since the boards come with dual Thunderbolt ports which can support to up 12 Thunderbolt devices (6 devices to each port) through daisy-chaining.

Workstation-class Motherboards

Gigabyte also took the chance to introduce their two new workstation-class motherboards, the GA-X79S-UP5 WIFI and the GA-X79S-UP5. Compatible with Intel’s LGA 2011 Xeon processors, these two motherboards are based on Intel’s C606 chipset and boasts really high-end features such as eight SAS connectors and 8 DIMM slots for a maximum of 64GB of memory. We’ve talked about these two new motherboards in an earlier article so be sure to check it out.

New Z77 Flagship Incoming

Although still under development, this is the GA-Z77X-UP7. Slated to be their new flagship Z77 motherboard, this board will feature a mind-boggling 32 phase VRM design, using this new PowIRstage IR3550 MOSFET. Apart from that, the board will also have other high-end features such 4-way CrossFireX or SLI multi-GPU support, a WIFI and Bluetooth 4.0 expansion card and Dual LAN ports (Intel + Killer Technology Ethernet controllers).

Still in development, this will be the ultimate Z77 motherboard from Gigabyte when it is released.

Does anyone really need a 32 phase VRM design? Probably not. But it is really cool? Definitely!

Gaming Motherboards

On display were also Gigabyte’s Sniper motherboards, designed specially for gamers. Though not entirely new, these high-end motherboards are a clear demonstration of Gigabyte’s continued commitment towards providing solutions for gamers.

The G1.Sniper 3 is a massive E-ATX form factor motherboard that has everything a gamer would need. The highlight of this board, however, has got to be its support for up to 4-way CrossFireX or SLI. Another unique feature of this board is the inclusion of Creative’s quad-core audio processor and also the use of special Nichicon audio capacitors. Furthermore, the section of the motherboard which houses all the audio ICs are specially shielded to prevent distortion and ensure the best possible audio quality. Also, the G1.Sniper 3 features dual Ethernet LAN ports, one of which is provided for by a Killer Technology (formerly known as BigFoot Networks) E2200 Ethernet chip, which ensures the best and lowest latency possible for online gaming.

If you are serious about gaming, you will want to pick up the G1.Sniper 3.

Another motherboard worth mentioning is the G1.Sniper M3 is micro-ATX form factor of the above mentioned G1.Sniper 3. Because of its smaller form factor, it lacks certain features of the G1.Sniper 3, but it is still a formidable gaming motherboard. Despite the compact form factor, dual-CrossFireX or SLI is still possible and the board also has the same Core3D quad-core audio processor with special shielding for the audio components on the board. One thing worth mentioning is that it only has a single Ethernet port and Gigabyte decided to forgo offering one from Killer Technology on this board because, as we’ve learnt, certain online competitions prohibit contestants from using it as it provides an unfair advantage.

What we like to call the "Baby Sniper", the micro-ATX G1.Sniper M3 packs a lot of gear into a compact form factor.

Final Thoughts

Gigabyte has unveiled a pretty impressive lineup of motherboards at Computex 2012 which we think will delight enthusiasts and mainstream users. The new Thunderbolt-enabled motherboards are featured packed and with dual Thunderbolt ports that can support a maximum of 12 Thunderbolt devices, users can rest assured that the motherboard can probably support more Thunderbolt devices than they will ever need.

The two workstation-class X79S motherboards are probably beyond what most users and even hardcore enthusiasts would need, but they do offer an interesting alternative to your traditional workstations. With it, one could customize their workstation to your exact specifications with your exact choice of components, and this freedom of choice is certainly refreshing.

Innovative design and the use of quality components above everything else - this is the message that Gigabyte is trying to drive home at Computex 2012.

Lastly, the two Sniper motherboards are clear indications that Gigabyte knows exactly what its customers want. The two boards have everything a hardcore gamer would need. One might wonder why was Thunderbolt omitted and, without getting too technical, it has to do with the way Thunderbolt is enabled and the fact that it requires the integrated GPU component of the processor to be enabled as well, thereby interfering with complex multi-GPU setups that are supported by these motherboards.

To end, we were told by Gigabyte that rather than spend money on frivolous marketing campaigns, they rather put their money behind into R&D and provide the best quality components for their users. And judging from what we’ve seen at their VIP suite at Taipei 101, we should be seeing plenty of good things coming from Gigabyte is the coming months.

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