Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P Ultra Durable 3 Motherboard

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Home PCs have reached a new plateau recently with the much heralded release of the Core i7 processor from Intel, which goes hand-in-hand with the X58 Express chipset and the motherboards built upon it.  Although the Core i7 does borrow technology from earlier CPUs, there are some major changes including placing all four cores on a single die, adding the memory controller directly to the die thereby foregoing the Northbridge, and having said memory controller able to support triple-channel DDR3.   Early adopters will be pleased with their performance, as we pointed out in our release piece just a few short weeks ago, but as all major updates go, this requires not only a good deal of money up front, but some patience as well, as kinks get ironed out with the new technologies.


Today, we take a step back from the Core i7 to look at one of the motherboards from Gigabyte's new Ultra Durable 3 line, the EP45-UD3P.  As its name suggests, this board is based on the current mainstream chipset offering from Intel, the P45 Express.  Although we've covered this ground before, most recently with our look at two recent offerings from MSI, it's helpful to remember that the P45 is closely related to the X48 Express with support for Core 2 Duo and Quad processors as well as DDR2 or DDR3 RAM.  What that means for most people is that the EP45-UD3P, as well as other P45 boards, makes for a great upgrade without breaking the bank.  We'll get into the UD3P part of the name, and its ramifications a bit later, but for now here's a look at the specifications and bundle.

Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P
Specifications and Features

• Support for Intel Core™ 2 Extreme / Quad / Duo CPUs
• Also supports Intel® Pentium® Extreme Edition / Intel® Pentium® D / Intel® Pentium® 4 Extreme Edition / Intel® Pentium® 4 and Intel® Celeron® processors in the LGA 775 package
• L2 cache varies with CPU 
• North Bridge: Intel® P45 Chipset
• South Bridge: Intel® ICH10R Chipset

Front Side Bus
1600/1333/1066/800 MHz           

Main Memory
• 4 x 1.8V DDR2 DIMM sockets supporting up to 16 GB of system memory
• Dual channel memory architecture
• Support for DDR2 1366+*/1066/800/667 MHz memory modules

South Bridge:
• 6x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (SATA2_0, SATA2_1, SATA2_2, SATA2_3, SATA2_4, SATA2_5) supporting up to 6 SATA 3Gb/s devices
• Support for SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10

• 1x IDE connector supporting ATA-133/100/66/33 and up to 2 IDE devices
• 2x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (GSATA2_0, GSATA2_1) supporting up to 2 SATA 3Gb/s devices
• Support for SATA RAID 0, RAID 1 and JBOD

iTE IT8718 chip:
• 1x floppy disk drive connector supporting up to 1 floppy disk drive

Expansion Slots
• 1x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16
• 1x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x8
 (The PCIEx16 and PCIEx8 slots support ATI CrossFireX technology and conform to PCI Express 2.0 standard.)
• 3x PCI Express x1 slot
• 2x PCI slots  

• Realtek ALC889A codec
• High Definition Audio
• 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
• Support for Dolby Home Theater
• Support for S/PDIF In/Out
• Support for CD-In

• T.I. TSB43AB23 chip
• Up to 3 IEEE 1394a ports
 (2 on the back panel, 1 via the IEEE 1394a bracket connected to the internal IEEE 1394a header)

• 2x Realtek 8111C chips (10/100/1000 Mbit)
• Support for Teaming

ATI CrossFire
Supports ATI CrossFire graphics cards (x8, x8)

On-Board Peripherals
• 1x 24-pin ATX main power connector
• 1x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
• 1x floppy disk drive connector
• 1x IDE connector
• 8x SATA 3Gb/s connectors
• 1x CPU fan header
• 2x system fan headers
• 1x power fan header
• 1x front panel header
• 1x front panel audio header
• 1x CD In connector
• 1x S/PDIF In header
• 1x S/PDIF Out header
• 2x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
• 1x IEEE 1394a header
• 1x parallel port header
• 1x serial port header
• 1x power LED header
• 1x chassis intrusion header

Back Panel I/O Ports
• 1x PS/2 mouse port
• 1x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
• 1x optical S/PDIF Out connector
• 1x coaxial S/PDIF Out connector
• 8x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
• 2x IEEE 1394a ports
• 2x RJ-45 ports
• 6x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out/Rear Speaker Out/Side Speaker Out/Line
• 2x 8 Mbit flash
• Use of licensed AWARD BIOS
• Support for Dual BIOS
• PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.4, ACPI 1.0b

Hardware Monitoring
• System voltage detection
• CPU/System temperature detection
• CPU/System/Power fan speed detection
• CPU overheating warning
• CPU/System/Power fan fail warning
• CPU/System fan speed control

• 30.5cm(L) x 24.4cm(W) ATX Form Factor
9 mounting holes

Gigabyte's EP45-UD3P ships in a box that is more focused on features than fancy graphics and imagery.  Primarily highlighted are the components making up their Ultra Durable 3 Technology, including 2oz. of copper embedded in the PCB, 50,000 hour rated Japanese capacitors, Lower RDS(on) MOSFETs, and ferrite core chokes.


Inside the box we found a user's manual, another manual regarding Trusted Computing, and yet another multi-language hardware installation guidebook.  The last of these is a guide written in 25 languages that quickly covers the basics from installing the CPU or RAM to connecting drives and assorted cables.  The main manual is all you'll really need as it covers the same ground, but in more detail.  Finally, the Ultra TPM manual is a step-by-step description of how to set up encrypted folders on your PC using hardware-based encryption.  Drivers and applications arrive on a single DVD for both Vista and XP users.  Along with the device drivers, Norton IS, Easy Tune 6, G.O.M. (Gigabyte's Online Management Utility) and Ultra TPM Security software are included.

Two case badges, one each for promoting Gigabyte and Dolby Digital Audio, are thrown in with the cables.  There are four orange SATA cables, 2 completely straight while the other two have angled connectors.  Blue ribbon IDE and floppy cables and a colored/labeled I/O shield make up the rest of the basic items.  An additional bracket with external eSATA data and power ports connects to two open SATA ports on the board, and gets equipped with eSATA power and data cables.  Overall, nothing too fancy outside of the external SATA equipment.

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