Gigabyte is typically one of the most loyal Intel partners, when it comes to chipsets. While they don’t solely produce Intel motherboards, when Intel does release a new chipset, Gigabyte is almost always there to produce several products on any given chipset. Most often, we’ll see low-end, mid-range, and high-end products, that are usually enough to satisfy the entire spectrum of the market. With Intel’s new P45 chipset though, Gigabyte has simply gone off the deep end.
At the time of writing this, a quick scan at Gigabyte’s website reveals that the company is currently mass producing nine different motherboards based on the Intel P45 chipset. Even for a company of Gigabyte’s size, that is an ambitious undertaking, although it does speak volumes about how popular Gigabyte believes Intel’s new chipset will be. It also showcases how flexible Intel’s new chipset is, as Gigabyte is offering a plethora of boards with DDR2 or DDR3 interfaces, depending on your budget and preferred memory type. While having tons of selection is great for a potential buyer, let’s face it, it can be a little overwhelming for some to choose the correct board out of nine which are all fairly similar. Gigabyte’s board naming schema doesn’t quite help either, as even enthusiasts will stare at you blankly when asked to describe the differences between a GA-EP45-DS4P and a GA-EP45C-DS3R.
However, we’re here to help. Gigabyte has sent over four of their new P45 boards and we're going to show them all to you right here. We’ve got both their high-end and low-end DDR3 based P45 boards, along with their high-end and low-end DDR2 boards. This will provide us with a clear and concise overview of what type of performance and features you’ll be getting at difference price points. We’ve got a lot of questions to answer, such as finding out the performance differences between DDR2 and DDR3 P45 platforms, how features like copper heatpipe cooling and twelve phase power help overclocking, and how power consumption differs between high-end, ultra-packed motherboards compared to trimmed down, minimalist boards.
On the low-end, we have Gigabyte’s EP45-DS3L for DDR2 based systems along with the EP45T-DS3R for DDR3 based systems. On the high-end, we have the much more exciting EP45-DQ6 platform for DDR2 based systems, and for the high-end DDR3 landscape, we have the crème de le crème of Gigabyte’s P45 lineup, the EP45T-Extreme. The low-end boards have simple aluminum alloy coolers and few perks, whereas the high-end boards are lavish, featuring complex arrays of heatpipes, diagnostic functions, piles of I/O connectivity and multiple graphics card expansion slots. Of course, all these extras don’t come free, so it’s our job to tell you if all of them are really worth your hard-earned money. Let’s get started.
|Gigabyte EP45T-Extreme||Gigabyte EP45-DQ6||Gigabyte EP45T-DS3R||Gigabyte EP45-DS3L|
|Target||Enthusiast DDR3||Enthusiast DDR2||Value DDR3||Value DDR2|
|CPU Support||Socket-775, Dual/Quad, 65nm/45m||Socket-775, Dual/Quad, 65nm/45m||Socket-775, Dual/Quad, 65nm/45m||Socket-775, Dual/Quad, 65nm/45m|
|FSB Support||800, 1066, 1333, 1600 MHz||800, 1066, 1333, 1600 MHz||800, 1066, 1333, 1600 MHz||800, 1066, 1333, 1600 MHz|
|Chipset||Intel P45 / ICH10R||Intel P45 / ICH10R||Intel P45 / ICH10R||Intel P45 / ICH10|
|Peak Memory Speed||DDR3-1900||DDR2-1200||DDR3-1900||DDR2-1200|
|Peak Memory Capacity||16 GB DDR3||16 GB DDR2||16 GB DDR3||16 GB DDR2|
|PCI Express Slots||1 x PCI Express 2.0 x16, 1 x PCI Express 2.0 x8, 1 x PCI Express x4, 1 x PCI Express x1 Slots||1 x PCI Express 2.0 x16, 1 x PCI Express 2.0 x8, 2 x PCI Express x4, 1 x PCI Express x1 Slots||1 x PCI Express 2.0 x16, 1 x PCI Express 2.0 x8, 3 x PCI Express x1||1 x PCI Express 2.0 x16, 4 x PCI Express x1|
|PCI Expansion Slots||3 x 32-bit PCI Slots||2 x 32-bit PCI Slots||2 x 32-bit PCI Slots||2 x 32-bit PCI Slots|
|Storage||6 x Intel ICH10R SATA-II/300 RAID||6 x Intel ICH10R SATA-II/300 RAID, 4 x Silicon Image SATA-II/300 RAID||6 x Intel ICH10R SATA-II/300 RAID||6 x Intel ICH10 SATA-II/300|
|Audio||Realtek ALC889A, 8 Channel Analog, 7.1 Optical/Coaxial S/PDIF Digital, Dolby Home Theater||Realtek ALC889A, 8 Channel Analog, 7.1 Optical/Coaxial S/PDIF Digital, Dolby Home Theater||Realtek ALC889A, 8 Channel Analog, 7.1 Optical/Coaxial S/PDIF Digital, Dolby Home Theater||Realtek ALC888, 8 Channel Analog, 7.1 Optical/Coaxial S/PDIF Digital|
|Networking||2 x Realtek 8111C PCI Express x1 Gigabit Ethernet Ports||4 x Realtek 8111C PCI Express x1 Gigabit Ethernet Ports||2 x Realtek 8111C PCI Express x1 Gigabit Ethernet Ports||1 x Realtek 8111C PCI Express x1 Gigabit Ethernet Port|
|I/O Ports||12 x USB 2.0 Ports, 3 x Firewire 400||12 x USB 2.0 Ports, 3 x Firewire 400||12 x USB 2.0 Ports, 3 x Firewire 400||12 x USB 2.0 Ports|
|Cooling Features||Copper Heatpipe Northbridge and Southbridge Cooling, VRM Cooling||Copper Heatpipe Northbridge and Southbridge Cooling, VRM Cooling, PCIe Bridge Cooling, SATA Controller Cooling||Aluminum Alloy Heatsink Northbridge and Southbridge Cooling||Aluminum Alloy Heatsink Northbridge and Southbridge Cooling|
|Energy Saving Features||Dynamic Energy Saver Advanced, 12-Phase Power||Dynamic Energy Saver Advanced, 12-Phase Power||Dynamic Energy Saver Advanced, 6-Phase Power||Dynamic Energy Saver, 4-Phase Power|
Gigabyte definitely makes it clear with their retail packaging which boards are high-end and which are intended for the budget buyer. The EP45T Extreme and EP45-DQ6 platforms both come wrapped in shiny retail boxes which include flip-out covers that showcase various features about the board. As you can also see, Gigabyte is awfully proud of its Dynamic Energy Saver technologies, as it takes prominent placement on three of the four boxes.