Gigabyte X58A-UD3R: USB 3.0, SATA 6G - HotHardware

Gigabyte X58A-UD3R: USB 3.0, SATA 6G

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The past few years have been very kind to Gigabyte; the company's shipments have increased to the point that it's now approximately tied with Asus in terms of volume shipments. Part of the reason for the company's good fortune is its decision to aggressively align its higher-end motherboards, both in terms of price and available features. Gigabyte has put a major push behind USB 3.0, and claims to have purchased one million of the three million USB 3.0 controllers NEC has shipped thus far.

The X58A-UD3R we're reviewing today is a good example of Gigabyte's competitive product positioning. The board's feature loadout is excellent given its ~$200 price point—the question we'll be looking to answer is whether or not the company cut any corners to hit its target.


Gigabyte X58A-UD3R Motherboard
Specifications & Features
Processor and Chipset
Based on Intel X58/ICH10R chipset
Supports Intel Core i7 Processors

Memory
6 x DIMM, Max. 24 GB, DDR3 2000(O.C.)*/1866(O.C.)*/1800(O.C.)*/1600(O.C.)/1333/1066 ECC,Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory
Triple channel memory architecture
Support Intel Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
   
Expansion Slot
4 x PCIe physical x16
1 x PCI
2 x PCIe x1

SLI / Video Card Configurations*:
Single Card: Slot 1 (x16)
SLI/Crossfire: Slots 1 & 3 (x16, x16)
Tri-SLI/TriFire: Slots 1, 3, & 4: (x16, x8, x8)
QuadFire:  Slots 1-4: (x8, x8, x8, x8)
   
Storage I/O
Intel ICH10R controller
6x SATA 3 Gb/s ports
Intel® Matrix Storage supporting SATA RAID 0, 1, 10, and 5

Marvell 9128 SATA 6G Controller
2x SATA 6Gb/s Ports (RAID 0 + RAID 1)

Gigabyte SATA2 (JMB362)
1x IDE (ATA133)
2x SATA 3Gb (RAID 0 / RAID 1)

JMicron JMB362
2x eSATA USB/eSATA external ports
   
Integrated Peripherals
1 x Realtek 8111D  Gigabit LAN
Realtek ALC889, 7.1-Channel High Definition Audio
Multi-Streaming
Jack-Sensing
Front Panel Jack-Retasking
Coaxial / Optical S/PDIF out ports at back I/O
12 USB 2.0 ports
   
Multi I/O
1 x PS/2 Keyboard
1 x PS/2 Mouse
2 x USB 2.0/eSATA
4 x USB 2.0/1.1
2 x USB 3.0/2.0
2 x IEEE1394 (FireWire 400)
1 x Clear CMOS
1 x S/PDIF Out (Coaxial)
1x S/PDIF In (Coaxial)
1 x LAN(RJ45) port
6 x Audio
  

Special Features
@BIOS
Q-Flash
Xpress BIOS Rescue
Download Center
Xpress Install
Xpress Recovery 2
EasyTune
Dynamic Energy Saver 2
Smart 6
Auto Green
eXtreme Hard Drive
Q-Share

Internal IO
24-pin EATX Power connector
8-pin ATX +12V Power connector
1 x Floppy Drive
1 x IDE Drive
1 x CPU Fan Header
3 x System fan header
1 x fan header
1 x North bridge fan header
1 x front panel header
1 x front panel audio
1 x CD-In
1 x S/PDIF In
1 x S/PDIF Out
2 x USB 2.0 Headers
1 x IEEE1394 / Firewire 400

Accessories
Anti-Virus Software (OEM version)
Adobe Acrobat Reader
Firefox 3.5

 
ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.5 cm )

  • Supports NVIDIA 2-Way and 3-Way SLI technology
  • Supports ATI CrossFire (2-way/3-way listed, quad support implied)

The X58A-UD3R packs all the standard features we'd expect from an LGA1366 motherboard, its six RAM slots, support for multiple video cards, and its plethora of USB 2.0 ports are all checked boxes on the usual list. Where the UD3R stands out is its storage capabilities, the board sports 10 SATA ports, an ATA port, and two combination USB 2.0/eSATA ports. Toss in the USB 3.0 ports and the X58A is capable of handling up to 16 hard drives at (or very near) native interface speeds. That's before we count external enclosures connected via USB 2.0, FireWire, or through the use of add-on cards.


Average Bundle, Excellent Documentation:
The included cables and various items are bog-standard (we dislike the lack of eSATA cables) but we want to take a moment to compliment Gigabyte's manual. When you've been building computers for a decade or more it's easy to overlook the importance of a well-written guide. Happily, Gigabyte didn't. The X58A-UD3R's manual weighs in at 125 pages, nearly all of them useful.

Gigabyte has diagrammed and documented the board's components, BIOS features, and bundled utilities and provided a step-by-step (and screenshot-by-screenshot) how-to on setting up a RAID array or installing an appropriate AHCI driver for Intel's ICH10, the JMicron controllers, or the onboard Marvell 9128 SATA 6G chip. The manual wraps up with a brief tutorial on configuring surround sound speakers; anyone who's curious can take a peek at the digital version
here.

We can't say for certain if Gigabyte has provided this level of documentation for all its current motherboards, but this is precisely the sort of value-added feature that can make a practical difference to anyone whose nervous about building a system. Bravo.

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Looks Cheap. It cost 209.99 at newegg.com; however, it doesn't support 1600 Mhz Memory Module.

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I have got this. I have 1600Mhz module running in it. It works great. I originally had 2000Mhz modules in but 1 of the modules died and the shop I got it from had no replacement, so I decided to downgrade.

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I will say this I have owned or installed for close friends and family 4 Giga boards. I have found them to be no matter there cost solid motherboards. A Motherboard that is solid and updated regularly with good components is the most important thing in a system, and that is followed by the PSU as well as the environment (Case/Ventilation/airflow) it is in! My board in the system I am currently on is a Gigabyte X58A-UD5, on which i have not had a single issue since receiving it. The components, cooling, capacitors, ports etc on the board are solid high quality all the way around. I also like the fact Giga is a primary Intel research design and implementation partner as well as the way they are structured and run down to their employee relations (Which I have researched), they are a very solid company of whose components I am proud to own.

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Joel,

Kudos for doing a thorough comparative performance analysis of the Intel,  Marvell, and JMicron controllers.

One constructive criticism is that I very much liked your focus at the outset: "given its ~$200 price point—the question we'll be looking to answer is whether or not the company cut any corners to hit its target".  However, I think the review strayed from this perspective by benchmarking it against an EVGA classified and not a similarly priced ~$200 board.  And though you return to addressing the price-point comparison in the summary, it wasn't the focus of the review.

Regards, jturnbull65

 

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ASUS Rampage III x58 is an excellent motherboard.

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Id say what has been kind to Gigabyte has been their ability to provide reliable boards. Many people love them since they rarely have RMA issues.

The quality is there, and the price is always right.

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This is the equivalent (with upgraded port speed and the Nehalem CPU) of the Gigabyte board I have, the P55-UD3R. I've been quite satisfied with it after having problems with an Asus motherboard; it's been a while since I did the research on it, but I remember a good explanation of why you don't need memory that runs over 1333 MHz (1600 for overclockers). Perhaps someone can find that article.

I liked the heavier-weight copper substrate, since that's one of the things that leads to power stability and signal integrity. However, the "Smart 6" suite of utilities was more or less useless; it includes such things as parental time control and a backup that only backs up to the same HD as the source. I suppose the dual BIOS would be good in case of emergencies, but I've never had occasion to use it.

What I'd hope for, though, would be (a) more SATA 6G ports and (2) a way to differentiate them. It appears that most manufacturers that offer 6G give two ports to that interface; now, admittedly I'm wollgathering (all my drives are 3G) but I can easily imagine a build that uses three or more 6G devices. I hope that the future will bring more of the faster ports to these midrange boards.

 

@Joel (below):

Even so; however, in the days when SATA v1 (which I suppose we should call "SATA 1.5G") was new, two ports were thought to be enough. Now, people complain about needing more than the eight that seems to be the X58/P55 standard. I have no doubts that SSDs will continue to decrease in price, until even the people here who've been making excuses give in, and that the speed will continue to push and exceed the 3G interface speed.

So, all in all, while I wouldn't mind having the controllers (perhaps I forgot to state that I have nothing in the way of either 6G or USB 3.0 hardware... yet), I can imagine that two 6G ports will seem very limiting, and sooner rather than later. How (and how well) the board designers deal with it, well... that's up to the benchmarkers to tell us.

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ClemSnide:

There are only two SATA 6G ports because the Marvell controller only supports two ports (see the page I wrote detailing the controller). You wouldn't *actually* want four ports off that one controller. Since it's hanging off a single PCIe x1 link, it only offers 400MB/s of bandwidth. That's plenty for two devices, although two high-end SSD's could still theoretically hit the limit.

Four hard drives could easily hit the wall at 100MB/s. Two ports is fine, given that:

1) The ICH10 is still a bit faster than the Marvell

2) Two high-end (and extremely expensive) SSDs will saturate a PCIe Gen 2 x1 link.

3) Four high-end HDDs (and quite expensive) HDDs will saturate a PCIe Gen 2 x1 link.

4) Since no HDD can actually sustain transfer rates high enough to benefit from SATA 6G, you're better off just plugging these into the Intel controller.

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Clemsnide:

Forgot one bit. Double the ports means double the controller chips, which increases board complexity and 'business' in that area by quite a lot. In order to create a RAID link between devices, the two chips would have to communicate by some sort of bridge (or else all RAID communication would have to be handled in software.)

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This board is an improvement over the first gen X58-UD3R which only had 4 memory slots.

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