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X58 for the Masses: Gigabyte's EX58-UD3R & EX58-UD4P
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Date: Apr 16, 2009
Section:Motherboards
Author: Robert Maloney
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Introduction

Many positive commentaries have been written about Intel's current flagship Core i7 processors and its companion X58 Express chipset, due to the solid performance gains offered by the platform. In addition to the increased performance offered by Core i7 processors though, the X58 chipset also brings with it native support for ATI CrossFireX and NVIDIA SLI multi-GPU technologies--provided support is available in the BIOS--as well as support for the flexible triple channel memory controller integrated into the Core i7.  What might be concerning for some, however, is the overall cost of putting together all of the components we just mentioned.  Currently, the cheapest Core i7 out there, the 920, will run you about $280, which is a huge savings over the 940 at about double that price and the Extreme Edition 965 at a cool $1K. DDR3 memory has really come down in price, thankfully, so picking up a three sticks of RAM is certainly not as pricey as it may have been when the Core i7 launched.  And obviously graphics cards pricing is all over the map these days.

But, it all starts with the motherboard and most of the X58-based offerings out there are not cheap.  Simply put, being the latest and greatest always commands a premium and it doesn't help when there's no real competition (on the chipset level at least) to help keep prices in check.  Thus, we were very eager to test a couple of Gigabyte's latest X58 Express based motherboards that are priced much more competitively than many of the other X58 boards currently on the market.  Gigabyte may have sacrificed a little here or there to get to a lower price point, but with the five X58-based boards they have in their line-up currently, there should be a board to fit just about everyone's needs.

Are these new motherboards still worth the investment versus competitive offerings?  That's what we're here to find out...

     

Gigabyte EX58-UD3R & EX58-UD4P Motherboards
Specifications & Features

Processor Support 
 Support for an Intel® Core™ i7 series processor in the LGA 1366 package
 L3 cache varies with CPU

Chipset
 North Bridge: Intel® X58 Express Chipset
 South Bridge: Intel® ICH10R 
   
Memory 
 4x 1.5V DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 16 GB of system memory (UD4P has 6x for 24MB)
 Dual/3 channel memory architecture
 Support for DDR3 2000+/1333/1066/800 MHz memory modules 
   
Expansion Slots 
 2x PCI Express x16 slots, running at x16 (PCIEX16_1/PCIEX16_2)
* 1x PCI Express x8 slot, running at x8 (PCIEX8_1) (UD4P ONLY)
 1x PCI Express x4 slot
 1x PCI Express x1 slot
 2x PCI slots 
   
Storage I/O
ICH10/R 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

GIGABYTE SATA2 chip:
 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 IT8720 chip:
 1x floppy disk drive connector supporting up to 1 floppy disk drive

Multi-GPU Support
Support NVIDIA 3-Way SLI™ / ATI CrossFireX™ Technology (ATI CrossFire only on UD3R)
   
Audio
 Realtek ALC888 codec (UD4P uses ALC889A)
 High Definition Audio
 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
* Support for Dolby® Home Theater (UD4P ONLY)
 Support for S/PDIF In/Out
 Support for CD-In
Sound Blaster X-Fi MB utility (30-day trial version)

LAN

  Realtek 8111D chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)

IEEE-1394
 T.I. TSB43AB23 chip
 Up to 3 IEEE 1394a ports (1 on the back panel, 2 via the IEEE 1394a brackets connected to the internal IEEE 1394a headers) 
 
USB
 Integrated in the South Bridge
 Up to 12 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (8 on the back panel, 4 via the USB brackets connected to the internal USB headers)
Back Panel I/O Ports
 1x PS/2 keyboard port
 1x PS/2 mouse port
 1x coaxial S/PDIF Out connector
 1x optical S/PDIF Out connector
 2x IEEE 1394a port (1 on UD4P)
*1x clearing CMOS switch (UD4P ONLY)
 8x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
 1x RJ-45 port
 6x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out/Rear Speaker Out/Side Speaker Out/Line In/Line Out/Microphone) 
 
Internal I/O Connectors
 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
 3x system fan headers
 1x power fan header
 1x North Bridge 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 headers (UD4P has 2)
 1x power LED header
 1x chassis intrusion header
 1x serial port header (UD3R ONLY)
 1x clearing CMOS jumper (UD3R)
power and reset switch ONLY on UD4P
 
BIOS
 2x 8 Mbit flash
 Use of licensed AWARD BIOS
 Support for DualBIOS™
 PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.4, ACPI 1.0b

Special Features
 Support for @BIOS
 Support for Q-Flash
 Support for Virtual Dual BIOS
 Support for Download Center
 Support for Xpress Install
 Support for Xpress Recovery2
 Support for EasyTune (Note 6)
 Support for Dynamic Energy Saver Advanced
 Support for Time Repair
 Support for Q-Share

H/W Monitoring 
 System voltage detection
 CPU/System/North Bridge temperature detection
 CPU/System/Power fan speed detection
 CPU overheating warning
 CPU/System/Power fan fail warning
 CPU/System fan speed control  
 
Form Factor
ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm )


 
 Gigabyte EX58-UD3R Package  Gigabyte EX58-UD4P Package

 GIGABYTE EX58-UD3R

 GIGABYTE EX58-UD4P

 Gigabyte EX58-UD3R Bundle  Gigabyte EX58-UD4P Bundle

Looking at both accessory bundles, we see that both packages contains a driver disk, user's manual, quick installation guide, single IDE and floppy cables, four SATA cables and the rear I/O shield.  It's a completely spartan list of accessories fit for more affordable priced boards.  At a minor step up, the UD4P comes with all of the above, but also includes an eSATA case bracket, one 2-port IEEE-1394a bracket, and 2-way and 3-way SLI bridges.  Of course, saving on accessories means bringing the total cost of the package lower in order to hit certain price points in the market.

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Gigabyte EX58-UD3R Layout & Features



 Gigabyte EX58-UD3R Layout and Features
 High-end performance without the high-end price

At their very core, these two boards are nearly identical in their layouts and features.  However, there's very little that jumps out and grabs your attention, like there is on some of the more extravagant X58 boards we've taken a look at.  In fact, both of these boards ship on relatively standard blue or green PCBs with pastel-colored components, including light blue PCI-E X16 slots, SATA ports and DIMM slots with a smattering of peach and beige-colored items thrown in for good measure.

Gigabyte EX58-UD3R
Gigabyte EX58-UD3R Overview 

There are only four DIMM slots on the EX58-UD3R, although three of them can be used together for triple-channel DDR3 performance and the fourth used for additional memory capacity.  The slots are numbered 1, 3, 2, 4, starting from the CPU socket.  Triple channel users will want to use slots 1, 2, and 4, while dual channel memory owners will likely go slots 1 and 2, or 1 and 4.  At this price point, there's probably few buyers who will go ahead and populate that fourth DIMM slot.  Phase LEDs are placed in this same corner, along with a fan header and the 24-pin ATX power.  The more Phase LEDs that get lit equates to a higher load on the CPU, but to see these LEDs in action Dynamic Energy Saver Advanced must be enabled in the BIOS first.  The 8-pin ATX power is located up in the furthest corner, tucked in quite closely to the heatsink placed in this area.

North Bridge Cooler   South Bridge Cooler   CPU Socket area

Aluminum heatsink   Ultra Durable 3   Voltage Regulation

Their cooling solutions receive slightly different approaches, the final decision of which seems a little puzzling.  All heatsinks on both boards are passive, meaning that the prospective DIY builder needs to provide ample airflow within the chassis by installing and directing the air over the motherboard's components.  Starting with the SouthBridge, low profile heatsinks help cool down the chipset, yet remain low enough so as not to interfere with the sometimes larger graphic cards that will pass directly over them.  Another smaller heatsink is also installed on the set of MOSFETs on the adjacent side of the CPU Socket area.  In the case of all three of these heatsinks, the samples used on the cheaper UD3R are either larger or wider that the ones found on the UD4P, and thus providing slightly better performance.  That being said, there are a larger number of chokes found on the UD4P, which help regulate voltages better, which results in less heat production, so there's a bit of a tradeoff here.

 DIMM Slots   Expansion Slots   Retention Clips

There are only two PCI-E X16 slots on the UD3R.  These complement the 2 PCI-E X1, 1 PCI-E X4, and 2 PCI slots used for adding in third-party cards.  The ICH10/R and GB SATA2 chipset both support RAID setups, with the former providing RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 configurations, and the latter settling for 0, 1, and JBOD.  12 USB ports in total come with the UD3R, eight which are already placed on the back plate, and four more which can be added using the on-board headers and case brackets.

 Front-angled SATA ports   Headers and pins   Phase LEDs

Eight SATA ports are found on the end of the board, six blue front-angled ports supported by the ICH10/R with an additional two white ports controlled by the nearby Gigabyte SATA2 chip, which also brings support for the IDE port as well.  The IDE and FDD ports are oriented parallel with the PCI slots and are found pushed to the edge of the board along with a collection of USB, IEEE-1394a, Front Panel and fan headers.  In total, there are 6 fan headers: two 4-pin headers (including the one used for the CPU fan), and four 3-pin headers with one earmarked for a NB fan, although none comes in this setup.

 Realtek ALC888   Gigabyte Dual BIOS   EX58-UD3R Rear Output

On the back panel, we've got PS/2 connections for both keyboard and mouse, optical S/PDIF out and coaxial S/PDIF out, two IEEE-1934a ports, 8 USB 2.0 ports, a single RJ-45 LAN jack, and 6 audio jacks.  Unlike the UD4P, to clear the CMOS you must jump a set of pins on the board, in a relatively accessible area nearby the South Bridge.

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Gigabyte EX58-UD4P Layout & Features



 Gigabyte EX58-UD4P Layout and Features
 Movin' on up

The EX58-UD4P is similar to the UD3R in many respects, but does have a few welcome additions.  LEDs placed around the board display the current load on the CPU and other components with the higher number of LEDs lit equating to the heavier the load conditions.  Whereas the UD3R only displays the load on the CPU (seen in the upper most corner by the DIMM slots), the UD4P has LEDs for not only the CPU load, but the memory as well, with individual voltages and temperature readouts for each.  Of course, having all of these LEDs is only helpful when one either has their case open, or has a windowed side panel, which diminishes their value a little bit.  The UD4P also has a couple of additional power-user niceties such as power and reset buttons directly on the board near the DIMM slots (once again) and a clear CMOS button that can be found on the back, making overclocking missteps a little less of a headache.

Gigabyte EX58-UD4P
Gigabyte EX58-UD4P Overview 

The next most obvious difference from an overall standpoint would be the following: the UD4P has three PEG slots, and thus supports 3-Way SLI or CrossFireX setups, and the 6 DIMM slots that support up to 24GB of DDR3 memory.  The UD3R, on the other hand, comes equipped with only two PCI-E X16 slots and also shaves off two DIMM slots.

North Bridge Cooler   South Bridge Cooler   CPU Socket Area

Aluminum Heatsink   Heatpipe   Voltage Regulation

The heatsinks are secured from the underside of the board for both the NorthBridge and SouthBridge on the UD4P, yet only the NorthBridge in the UD3R.  All of the heatsinks on both the UD3R and UD4P are passive, meaning users will need proper airflow, but the upside is they also do not create any extra noise output.  And all of these heatsinks are relatively low-profile, preventing conflicts with other components or cables.  A single heatpipe leads from the South Bridge to the heatsink placed over the NorthBridge on the UD4P model, but is curiously missing from the UD3R.  From there, another pipe presumably conducts heat away from this area to another aluminum heatsink placed on top of the MOSFETs in the VRM.

DIMM Slots   Expansion Slots   Retention Clips

Power and reset buttons are placed nearby the DIMM slots, and are mostly useful during initial build testing or overclocking, as afterwards you probably won't be sticking your hands into the chassis just to power up your system.  Six DDR3 slots support up to 24GB of memory.  Three full-length PCI-E slots allow for up to three add-in graphics cards to be installed, albeit in a 16X, 16X, 8X configuration, and there is another smaller PCI-E X1 slot good for upgrading your audio to a third-party card such as Creative's X-Fi Titanium.

Front-angled SATA ports   Pins and headers   Phase LEDs

Both boards utilize front-angled SATA ports - 6 coming from the ICH10/R and an additional two ports supported by the nearby Gigabyte SATA2 chip.  We also noticed a few solder points between these connectors where even more ports could have been installed using another controller from JMicron, as found on the higher-end EX58-UD5 and EX58-EXTREME.  Front panel pins are bracketed within a plastic placeholder and thankfully the pin assignments are printed directly nearby.  USB and IEEE-1394 headers are placed nearby along the edge of the board, 2 Firewire connectors on the UD4P and one on the UD3R.  Each board comes with a floppy drive port put high in the far corner, yet very close to the final slot which may hinder installations one way or the other.

Realtek ALC889a   Gigabyte Dual BIOS   EX58-UD4P Rear Output

Audio chips also differ slightly.  While Realtek provides both chips, the UD3R ships with the ALC888 CODEC and the UD4P gets the upgraded ALC889a, which has a significantly better signal-to-noise ratio and supports Realtek's proprietary loss-less content protection technology that protects pre-recorded content while still allowing full-rate audio enjoyment from DVD audio, Blue-ray DVD, or HD DVD discs.  The rear output offers similar options, although the configuration of which differs a bit.  The major difference between the two stems from the addition of the Clr CMOS button on the UD4P.

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BIOS Options & Overclocking Results

On the Post Screen, the first thing you should see with both boards are the model number and BIOS version.  Pressing F12 here will select a boot device without having to follow the preset order (if applicable).  Hitting the <END> key will go straight into the Q-Flash Utility, which gives users the ability to update the BIOS from a USB Thumb drive. Updating the respective BIOSes changed the Initial Display options from PEG 1, 2, 3 to a more descriptive and user-friendly PCI-E X16-1, X16-2, X4-1.

Flashing the EX58-UD3R   BIOS Flash Completed   EX58-UD3R Main BIOS

Standard CMOS   Advanced CMOS   Integrated Peripherals

Gigabyte uses an AWARD BIOS, with the following main sections: M.I.T., otherwise known as the Motherboard Intelligent Tweaker - more on that later, Standard CMOS Settings, Advanced CMOS Settings, Integrated Peripherals, Power Management, PC Health, and then options to load failsafe or optimized settings, as well as function keys designed to save or load up to eight profiles.  Many of these areas have been seen time and time again, and there's very little to comment on.  For example, you'll set your system date and time in the Standard CMOS Settings, toggle Advanced CPU Features and set your primary display based on the expansion slot under Advanced CMOS Settings, and configure your list of onboard devices or power-saving functions under Integrated Peripherals and Power Management, respectively.

 Power Management   PC Health Status   EX58-UD4P Main BIOS

M.I.T. had additional features mostly geared towards overclocking a system, such as being able to change the clock ratio and frequency, deciding whether or not you want to enable 1, 2, 3, or all of the cores on the Core i7 CPU, and setting up thermal monitoring.  C.I.A.2 is an option that takes overclocking out of your hands to some degree, as it will automatically adjust the CPU settings to maximize performance.  Increases from 5% to 19% can be gained depending on the CPU load.  Finally, there is an additional item called Performance Enhance, with Standard, Turbo, and Extreme options available.  However, there is no information here, or in the manual, that truly explains what these settings mean.  Builders using quality parts will probably aim for Extreme, but if stability suffers it's suggested to kick back to Turbo, and even as far as Standard, especially when overclocking.

These two boards also support Intel's Turbo Boost technology.  Per Intel: As an independent and complimentary feature, Intel Hyper-Threading Technology (Intel HT Technology) along with Intel Turbo Boost Technology increases performance of both multi-threaded and single threaded workloads. Intel Turbo Boost Technology is activated when the Operating System (OS) requests the highest processor performance state (P0).The maximum frequency of Intel® Turbo Boost Technology is dependent on the number of active cores. The amount of time the processor spends in the Intel Turbo Boost Technology state depends on the workload and operating environment, providing the performance you need, when and where you need it.

Any of the following can set the upper limit of Intel Turbo Boost Technology on a given workload:

    * Number of active cores
    * Estimated current consumption
    * Estimated power consumption
    * Processor temperature

When the processor is operating below these limits and the user's workload demands additional performance, the processor frequency will dynamically increase by 133 MHz on short and regular intervals until the upper limit is met or the maximum possible upside for the number of active cores is reached. Conversely, when any of the limits are reached or exceeded, the processor frequency will automatically decrease by 133 MHz until the processor is again operating within its limits.

Overclocking the Gigabyte X58 boards
Getting out what you put into it

Within M.I.T. is where we would find all of the tools we needed to overclock the boards.  The CPU Clock Ratio for our Core i7 920 CPU is locked in at 20x, although we can enable Base Clock (BCLK) Control to unlock the frequency adjustments.  The BCLK frequency ranges from 100 to 1200 MHz, even though we will be testing only a short section in between.  By default, the Core i7 920 runs at 133 MHz, and past experience with this processor has shown us that we can get to 200 MHz with a few tweaks to the voltages and other BIOS settings.  So, we set out by raising the BLCK 5MHz at a time, but also lowered the Performance Enhance from Extreme to Turbo (and later Standard) as suggested on the BIOS screen.  Memory frequency is also updated in real-time, and to keep the speeds within expected values, we switched the ratio in the System Memory Multiplier field from AUTO to 6.0.

Motherboard Intelligent Tweaker   Advanced CPU Features   BLCK - CPU Frequency

We immediately shot past 3.20 GHz but at a 185 MHz BLCK we hit out first roadblock - we could get into Vista but none of our benchmarks would complete.  Applying a little extra voltage for the memory helped us here although we would have to bump the CPU Voltage shortly thereafter at 190 MHz.  We found that 1.5V was necessary to stabilize things.  From here on, we had a mighty struggle to even squeeze out a few more MHz.  CPU and DRAM voltages were raised to just under warning levels and we bumped up the QPI and IOH voltages as well with hardly any difference.  Raising the latter two voltages actually seemed to do us more harm than good as the board would go into a vicious re-booting cycle.  Lowering the Performance Enhancement settings for the system and dropping Command Rate to 2T for the memory still resulted in memory dumps, BSODs, and the like.  Our final overclocking result stood at 192 MHz, which comes out to 3.84 GHz for the CPU.  Not as high as previous attempts, but nothing to be ashamed of on a board not considered for the high-end market and using nothing more than the stock Intel cooler.

 Advanced DRAM Settings   Performance Enhance   Voltage Settings

With mostly everything else amongst the two boards being the same, we jumped into an aggressive overclock on the UD4P and met with a quick failure.  We backtracked just a bit to a 175 MHz BCLK with the memory divider again set at 6.0, and this time got into Windows.  Moving forward, however, proved to be more of a challenge than what we encountered on the UD3R.  We were hoping that the UD4P would allow us to push things a bit further, but that didn't turn out to be the case.

 EX58-UD3R Overclocked Results

 EX58-UD4P Overclocked Results

 EX58-UD3R Overclocking Results
FSB: 192 MHz  CPU: 3.84 GHz

 EX58-UD4P Overclocking Results
FSB: 176 MHz  CPU: 3.52 GHz

The reality is that the UD4P fell short.  Using the same voltages and BIOS settings that we had used successfully on the UD3R had no effect, and we finally had to settle for a 176 MHz BCLK, well off of our previous mark.  Of course, in overclocking, your mileage may vary and we just might have had a temperamental UD4P sample here, but we still remain a bit surprised that we weren't able to come up with better results all things being equal.

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Testing Setup & SANDRA Benchmarks

How we configured our test systems:  When configuring our test systems for this article, we first entered their respective system BIOSes and set each board to its "Optimized" or "High performance Defaults". We then saved the settings, re-entered the BIOS and set the memory for DDR3-1066 with 7-7-7-20 timings. The hard drive was then formatted, and Windows Vista Ultimate was installed. When the Windows installation was complete, we updated the OS, and installed the drivers necessary for our components. Auto-Updating and Windows Defender were then disabled and we installed all of our benchmarking software, defragged the hard drives, and ran all of the tests.

 HotHardware's Test Systems
 Intel Inside

Motherboards:
Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD3R
Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD4P
MSI Eclipse
ASUS Rampage II Extreme

Processor:
Intel Core 2 i7 920
(2.66GHz - Quad-Core) 

RAM:
3x1GB Qimonda DDR3-1066
CL 7-7-7-20 DDR3-1066

Components:
GeForce 8800 GTS 512
Onboard Ethernet
Onboard Audio

Hard Drive:
Seagate Barracuda 7200.10
7,200 RPM SATAII

OS / Drivers
Windows Vista Ultimate
INTEL INF Update v9.1.0.1007
NVIDIA Forceware v175.19



SiSoftware SANDRA 2009 SP1
Synthetic Benchmarks

We started off our testing with SiSoftware's SANDRA 2009, the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. We ran three of the built-in subsystem tests that partially comprise the SANDRA 2009 suite on the test motherboards (CPU Arithmetic, CPU Multi-Media, and Memory).




 

It was a clean sweep of SANDRA's CPU performance testing for the Gigabyte duo, as the UD3R and UD4P jockeyed about for which of the two boards would come out on top in each test. Memory performance was as expected, with results that matched up with a reference X58 board, for the most part.

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PCMark Vantage and 3DMark06


Futuremark PCMark Vantage
Simulated Application Performance

We then ran our test motherboards through PCMark Vantage, Futuremark’s latest system performance metric built especially for Windows Vista. PCMark Vantage runs through a host of different usage scenarios to simulate different types of workloads, including High Definition TV and movie playback and manipulation, gaming, image editing and manipulation, music compression, communications, and productivity. Most of the tests are multi-threaded as well, so they can exploit the additional resources offered by multi-core CPUs.

 

Starting with the overall score, the ASUS Rampage II Extreme came out on top, followed closely behind by each of the Gigabyte X58 boards with the UD3R enjoying a slight lead over the UD4P.  However, if we look at a case by case study of the individual suite tests, we see that the UD4P and UD3R are mostly evenly matched with each board "winning" three of the suites.  We also noticed that both of the Gigabyte boards typically outscored both ASUS' and MSI's boards, especially in the Communications and Gaming suites.

Futuremark 3DMark06 CPU Testing
Synthetic DirectX Gaming

3DMark06's built-in CPU test is a multi-threaded DirectX gaming metric that's useful for comparing relative performance between similarly equipped systems. This test consists of two different 3D scenes that are processed with a software renderer that is dependent on the host CPU's performance. Calculations that are normally reserved for your 3D accelerator are instead sent to the CPU for processing and rendering. The frame-rate generated in each test is used to determine the final score.

 

In stark comparison to the PCMark Vantage results, the two Gigabyte X58 motherboards did not fare as well with 3DMark's CPU performance module.  To be fair, the UD4P held its own against the others, running merely a few points behind the MSI Eclipse and ASUS Rampage II Extreme.  It was the EX58-UD3R that found itself in the lowest position, well behind all three of the other boards in our review.

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Cinebench and POV-Ray Rendering



Cinebench R10
3D Rendering

Cinebench R10 is an OpenGL 3D rendering performance test based on Cinema 4D. Cinema 4D from Maxon is a 3D rendering and animation tool suite used by 3D animation houses and producers like Sony Animation and many others. It's very demanding of system processor resources and is an excellent gauge of pure computational throughput. This is a multi-threaded, multi-processor aware benchmark that renders a single 3D scene and tracks the length of the entire process. The rate at which each test system was able to render the entire scene is represented in the graph below.

 

Single-threaded results in Cinebench were mostly an equal matching of the X58 boards, with the EX58-UD3R being the sole exception.  It's score in this test was 100-140 points higher than the others.  Similarly, the multi-core tests were also skewed heavily in the UD3R's favor.  The UD4P wound up somewhere in between the UD3R and the two "high-end" boards from ASUS and MSI.

POV Ray Performance
Details: www.povray.org

POV-Ray, or the Persistence of Vision Ray-Tracer, is an open source tool for creating realistically lit 3D graphics artwork. We tested with POV-Ray's standard included benchmarking model on all of our test machines and recorded the scores reported for each.  Results are measured in pixels-per-second (PPS) throughput.

 

POV-Ray Rendering followed the same pattern as Cinebench's multi-threaded testing.  The additional gains that the Intel Turbo Boost technology provided the Gigabyte duo resulted in scores 100 points (for the UD4P) and 140 points (for the UD3R) higher than the other two boards.  Overall, that's a 4-5% increase in rendering performance demonstrated in these two benchmarks.

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Gaming Benchmarks

 

Low-Resolution Gaming: ET:  Quake Wars and Crysis
Taking the GPU out of the Equation

For our next set of tests, we moved on to some in-game benchmarking with ET Quake Wars and Crysis. When testing processors and motherboards in these games, we drop the resolution to 800x600 and reduce all of the in-game graphical options to their minimum values to isolate CPU and memory performance as much as possible. However, any in-game effects, which control the level of detail for the games' physics engines and particle systems, are left at their maximum values, since these actually do place some load on the CPU rather than GPU.



Games do not get the same treatment as the rendering benchmarks, however, with both of Gigabyte's boards quickly falling to the bottom two slots in the Quake Wars testing, and staving off last place in Crysis (with the MSI Eclipse earning that dubious honor).  Frame-rate variances between the two Gigabyte boards were mostly negligible, which makes sense seeing as how there is very little different in their respective makeup.

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LameMT MP3 Encoding and Power Consumption

 

LAME MT MP3 Encoding Test
Single and Multiple threaded Audio Encoding 

In our custom LAME MT MP3 encoding test, we convert a large WAV file to the MP3 format, which is a popular scenario that many end users work with on a day-to-day basis to provide portability and storage of their digital audio content. LAME is an open-source mid to high bit-rate and VBR (variable bit rate) MP3 audio encoder that is used widely around the world in a multitude of third party applications.  We created our own 223MB WAV file and converted it to the MP3 format using the multi-thread capable LAME MT application in both single and multi-threaded modes. Processing times are recorded below, listed in seconds. Shorter times equate to better performance



Typically, we rarely see any major differences when testing boards of the same chipset paired with the same CPU.  So, we were a bit surprised when both of Gigabyte's boards fared better in both the single and multi-threaded encoding tests.  We suspect the performance boost option in the BIOS had an effect ehre - when one or more of the cores aren't being used, the ones being used can get a boost in the form of a higher multiplier.  That boost in speed allows these two boards 1-2 seconds faster than the competition.  

Total System Power Consumption
Tested at the Outlet

We'd like to cover a few final data points before bringing this article to a close. Throughout all of our benchmarking and testing, we monitored how much power our test systems consumed using a power meter. Our goal was to give you all an idea as to how much power each configuration used while idling and while under a heavy workload. Please keep in mind that we were testing total system power consumption at the outlet here, not just the power being drawn by the processors alone.

 

We also found that the power consumption of each board was much less at idle than the competition - on the range of 10-14 Watts.  Power consumption under load conditions, however, was much more on par, with only the ASUS Rampage II Extreme eclipsing 250W.

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Performance Summary and Conclusion



Performance Summary: We have to commend Gigabyte for creating these two relatively affordable X58-based boards. Because virtually all of the performance-related BIOS options which are inherent in all of Gigabyte's X58 boards from the Extreme all the way down to the UD3R are left intact, both boards are able to hange with boards from ASUS and MSI that cost nearly double the price.


GIGABYTE EX58-UD3R & EX58-UD4P
Gigabyte's EX58-UD3R and EX58-UD4P offer users a good number of features, without the exorbitant prices that higher-end boards usually demand.  For most folks, running three sticks of DDR3 in Triple Channel mode for either a 3GB or 6GB setup will suffice, and we would be hard pressed to name too many of our friends who are running 3-Way SLI or CrossFireX combinations.  If 3-Way SLI is your thing, however, you will need to steer away from the UD3R and invest in the UD4P instead.  The on-board cooling solutions aren't as expansive as competing offerings, but with the money saved you could go out and buy an extra fan or two and mount them in your case for the same effect. 

We do appreciate that Gigabyte has taken all prospective Core i7 upgrade users into account with their full line of X58-based offerings.  Their boards run from the simple to the sublime, with a few stops in between.  Those looking for a simple and less expensive path to Core i7 performance would do right to choose the Gigabyte EX58-UD3R, as it is one of the cheapest X58 boards we could find (currently just over $200).  If high-end gaming is more your style, then check out the EX58-UD4P, which allows you to go with either ATI or NVIDIA 3-way multi-GPU configurations, depending on which way the prevailing winds are blowing.  Either way, Gigabyte has got you covered.

 

•  Great performance vs. price ratio
•  Two of the least expensive X58s out there
•  Decent tuning options in each BIOS
•  Not extreme overclocker friendly
•  Bare essentials included with each board
•  Just adequate cooling on board




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