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

Gigabyte X58A-UD3R: USB 3.0, SATA 6G

2 thumbs up

Gigabyte X58A-UD3R
A Closer Look 

 

The Gigabyte X58A-UD3R in all its glory. The board's layout is clean and uncluttered and we like the white/blue color scheme. Gigabyte rather thoughtfully stuck two PCIe x1 slots at the top of the board, allowing enthusiasts with thicker/non-standard video card coolers to make use of an x1 peripheral.

 

 

 

The board's backplate. Unlike some manufacturers, Gigabyte is still including both PS/2 ports. Optical and coaxial S/PDIF ports are provided along with a CMOS-clearing button.

Let's talk for a second about the group of yellow ports. The top left and right ports are both for FireWire 1394a, aka FireWire 400. Many camcorders and small devices use the smaller, four-pin connector on the right, while HDD enclosures are more likely to use the larger six-pin connector on the left.

Below those we have a pair of standard USB 2 ports. The bottom two ports are nifty, hybridized USB2/eSATA ports.  Both types of cables fit easily and Windows 7 had no trouble recognizing and configuring the attached hard drive. Switching from one interface to the other, even without rebooting, is not a problem. 

Finally, there's the standard group of audio ports and the two new, blue USB 3 ports. These will handle a USB 2 device just fine if you plug one in, but they're the only two ports on the board that support the higher transfer speeds.

  

Above we've got a larger photo on the mainboard and two different perspectives on the CPU socket. There's plenty of room around the socket—heatsink clearance is not a problem—but the mounting hole near the northbridge-mounted heatpipe is annoyingly hard to reach when attaching standard heatsinks.

 

Save for that one annoying tight spot, CPU mounting is a cinch. The entire board uses solid-state capacitors—it's been seven years since Taiwanese manufacturing defects led to an epidemic of unexpected motherboard failures, but solid capacitors have become a marketing bullet point meant to convey superior construction.

 

 



Above, it's all hot southbridge action. From the left we have the board's Gigabyte-branded SATA controller (actually made by JMicron), the southbridge's modest heatsink, and the single IDE port. Above middle shows how the curved SATA ports allow for longer, higher-end GPUs without blocking or interfering with the SATA cables themselves. Finally, there's the NEC USB 3 controller just to the left of the northbridge and above the first x1 PCIe slot.

With three separate drive controllers, it's important to know which chip controls which ports. The blue ports—ports 0-5—connect to the Intel ICH10R. The first set of white ports from the right (ports 6 and 7) connect to the Marvell 9128 SATA 6G chip. Finally, the last two ports, 8 and 9, are handled by the Gigabyte SATA2 chip.

Taken as a whole, the layout works quite well for us. There aren't any surprises, but there aren't any random oddities from overenthusiastic northbridge coolers or ports jammed in odd places, either.

Article Index:

1 2 3 Next
0
+ -

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

0
+ -

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.

0
+ -

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.

0
+ -

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

 

0
+ -

ASUS Rampage III x58 is an excellent motherboard.

0
+ -

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.

0
+ -

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.

0
+ -

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.

0
+ -

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.)

0
+ -

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

1 2 3 Next
Login or Register to Comment
Post a Comment
Username:   Password: