Gigabyte X58A-UD3R: USB 3.0, SATA 6G

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Board Design and Layout

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.

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