Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P Ultra Durable 3 Motherboard

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 Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P Layout and Features
 Built Strong...Built to Last

Gigabyte's boards are typically more colorfully adorned than most other manufacturers, and the GA-EP45-UD3P is no different.  We've literally got a rainbow assortment of components onboard, with various stickers attached to reinforce some of the more salient points regarding the board's features.


Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P

There are only four fan headers placed on the EP45, one of which is already used up by the CPU fan.  Two more are found on opposite sides of the board along the median, while the last is located between the DIMM slots and the 24-pin ATX power connector - not exactly the easiest location to get to in a fully assembled PC.  The 8-pin ATX power connector is placed at the highest point of the board which is a good placement for normally mounted power supply units as it requires little in the way of cabling, but could cause an issue with cases that have their PSUs mounted along the bottom.

     

Headers are all encapsulated in plastic along the edge including CD-IN, S/PDIF, COM, LPT, Floppy drive, 1394, two sets of USB, and Front Panel pins.  We don't prefer running a floppy cable this far out from the drive, especially flat ribbon cables which can impede airflow, but who still uses a floppy drive anyway?  We're also a bit surprised to see COM and LPT ports on a board this recent, as it's doubtful many new builders will be using them too often.  Clearing the CMOS requires shorting two pins near the front panel header.  With the emphasis that Gigabyte has placed on overclocking the EP45, we figured they might have had an easier accessible button like the kind seen on MSI's or ASUS's boards.

    
     

Red and gold DIMM slots, each signifying a separate channel, are onboard, along with six orange SATA ports controlled by the ICH10/R South Bridge with two more purple ports controlled by the Gigabyte branded SATA2 chip in between them. This chip also controls the IDE connector as well, supporting an additional two IDE devices. Two PCI-E X16 slots are colored in blue and peach, while a Green IDE port is placed nearest the drive cage.  All of these are clearly labeled and use plastic molding to guide the installation, including the front panel headers. 

Seven slots allow for many configurations, including two PCI-E slots for graphic cards one using 16 lanes, the other only eight and both using eight lanes when set up for CrossFire.  Oddly, the retention measures differ between the two slots, with one using a pull-tab and the other having a more secure locking mechanism.  Two of the three PCI-X1 slots are on the right side of the primary graphics slot, yet this still doesn't create enough room to prevent the DIMM slots from running right up an installed video card.  The PCI slots are really crammed in around the other headers.  Although these probably won't get much use in one of today's PCs, if they are and other devices are also connected (LPT, COM, FDD), cabling in this area could be tight.

     
     

The most striking feature is probably the cooling system, a vibrant metallic blue setup that is somewhat subdued compared to the elaborate structures we've been seeing lately.  A passive, low profile heatsink sits over the ICH10/R while a larger one rises above the MCH with a single heatpipe curling away to another heatsink placed by the rear I/O.  Finally, two small finned heatsinks sit directly on and over the MOSFETS surrounding the CPU socket.  These are attached using small thermal pads, but also have retention clips so they won't heat up and fall off later on.  The VRM consists of some low-rise solid capacitors with ferrite chokes stabilizing the power.  The same setup is found in and around the DIMM slots, although a little too close for our tastes.  One fat finger can easily damage the board when inserting or removing memory.

     

Near to the DIMM slots, six LEDs light up to show the current load placed on the CPU as long as Dynamic Energy Saver Advanced is enabled in the BIOS beforehand.  The EP45-UD3P accepts up to 4 DDR2 DIMMs, 16GB in total, and supports dual-channel memory for increased performance.  Along the rear, external connections consists of PS/2 ports for keyboard and mouse, 8 USB 2.0 ports, IEEE-1394a regular-sized and mini ports, optical and coaxial S/PDIF out and dual RJ-45 LAN jacks.  6-in-1 audio jacks are used for supporting 7.1 channel audio.
 

Tags:  Intel, Gigabyte, P45

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