While each of Gigabyte’s P45 boards has definite positives and negatives, in the wider view, they’ve got a very impressive array of options here for consumers looking to buy an Intel P45 based motherboard. Even better is that these four boards don’t even represent half of their nine boards which are currently shipping based on this chipset, not to mention the similar G45 based platforms which have just started shipping as well. Basically, no matter what your needs and/or price point, it’s likely that Gigabyte has a board which will work for you.
Of the four boards we’ve looked at today, if pressed to purchase one, we'd likely opt for the EP45T-DS3R, which is their mid-range platform with DDR3 memory support. It’s reasonably priced at $175, showed itself to be a terrific overclocker, showed excellent performance, and it doesn’t have any of the excess features which are nice, but may go unused by many. It’s not the most visually stunning board, but it gets the job done without any hassles.
If money was not an option, the EP45T-Extreme platform is our pick, as this board is completely over the top – in both good and bad ways. The cooling system on this motherboard is excessive, but isn’t all fluff, as we were able to reach our highest overclocking levels on this board. The optional water-cooling support is nice if you have the additional gear needed to hook it up, but even without this, you can have a superbly cooled (and silent) motherboard by using the other cooling components. Again, the board’s feature set isn’t too excessive to introduce problems, but gives you everything necessary for a modern high-end gaming rig.
Somewhat disappointing was the EP45-DQ6, Gigabyte’s rather expensive DDR2 platform. While the board is certainly an impressive release from a technical perspective, just cramming on the maximum amount of onboard components does not make for an excellent motherboard. Gigabyte’s ultra-packed PCB with custom PCI Express bridge will certainly wow some, as will its quad Gigabit Ethernet support and 12 x SATA-II ports, but when it comes down to it, performance was basically on par with our much less expensive EP45-DS3L platform , and overclockability was not as good as expected, considering its custom cooling system.
The inexpensive EP45-DS3L P45 DDR2 platform is just plain affordable. At $100, it’s an inexpensive route to the Intel P45 chipset, and you won’t get much else beyond the basics offered by the P45/ICH10R chips. It didn't overclock well, and you can’t run CrossFire or RAID, but it handles the basics just fine. It’s quiet, has lots of I/O connectivity for its price, and it still supports a full 16 GB of memory. It’s hardly the most exciting motherboard out there, but the EP45-DS3L gets the job done and doesn’t claim to be something more than it is, and we’re just fine with that.
Gigabyte EP45T-Extreme P45 (DDR3)
Gigabyte EP45T-DS3R P45 (DDR3)
Gigabyte EP45-DQ6 P45 (DDR2)
Gigabyte EP45-DS3L (DDR2)