Gigabyte X58A-UD3R: USB 3.0, SATA 6G

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Test Systems, Storage Controller Tests

Test System Configuration Notes: All of our benchmarks were run with RAM SPDs set to Auto and a 1066MHz memory clock. AHCI or IDE mode was configured as noted in specific test scenarios. Because the X58A-UD3R focuses on storage and interface performance, we've chosen to highlight performance in this area rather than strictly relying on a generic test suite.

The fact is, motherboard performance within a given chipset family varies very little these days. When such variances occur, they're either typically within a 1-3 percent margin of error or are the result of subtle manufacturer overclocking. The situation has changed dramatically from what it was 8-10 years ago, when a motherboard roundup could include boards with chipsets designed by ALI, AMD, ATI, Intel, NVIDIA, SiS, or VIA. As if that wasn't difference enough, there were three RAM standards in play over the same time period (SDR, DDR, and RDRAM), and different memory channel configurations within the same socket family. 

Today, instead of seven chipset manufacturers, there's just Intel, AMD, and NVIDIA's fading spectre. With CPU memory controllers now on-die, there are only two "northbridge" functions that meaningfully impact performance:  PCI-E x16 lane configuration and, on an AMD board, the clockspeed and dedicated RAM for the onboard GPU. Of these two, AMD's Fusion products will eliminate the latter in the not too distant future.

We've included some general performance benchmarks that pit the Gigabyte X58A-UD3R against an EVGA X58 SLI Classified, but these results are meant to confirm performance parity between the two products. Our primary interest this time out is in the comparative performance of the X58A-UD3R's peripheral controllers and explore how the board performs under stress. For our USB 3 performance comparisons, we used the Seagate BlackArmor 110PS. When comparing AHCI and IDE performance across controllers, we opted for the highest-performing HDD we have on hand; a WD VelociRaptor 300.

 HotHardware's Test System
 Gigabyte X58A-UD3R
System: 
Motherboards:
Gigabyte X58A-UD3R
EVGA X58 SLI Classified

Processor:

Core i7 920 (2.66GHz - Quad-Core - 2.8GHz Intel Turbo Mode Enabled)

3x2GB Elpida DDR3-133
CL 7-7-7-20 - DDR3-1066
CL 7-7-7-20 - DDR3-1333
CL 7-7-7-20 - DDR3-1333 (12GB)
CL 7-7-7-20 - DDR3-1600 (12GB)

Hard Drive:
WD 1TB Caviar Black (32MB Cache)
WD VelociRaptor 300
Seagate BlackArmor 110PS

Onboard Controllers:
Intel ICH10
Gigabyte GSATA (JMicron 632)
JMicron 632 (eSATA ports)
Marvell 9128 (SATA 6G)

Radeon HD 5970
On-Board Ethernet
On-board Audio

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Catalyst 10.2 drivers.


 

eSATA Remains Relevant, Despite USB 3.0:

eSATA has never been all that popular, but it continues to offer certain benefits that even USB 3 can't match, particularly for high-performance consumer storage arrays. Because eSATA is a native interface—your motherboard has no idea if the attached drives are in a case or in the bathtub—it supports SMART monitoring, RAID, AHCI, and NCQ without the need for a multi-drive enclosure and a controller chip. It's also potentially faster than USB 3 in RAID scenarios; connecting multiple eSATA drives to the same motherboard doesn't split available bandwidth the way a USB controller would.

eSATA enclosures typically require their own power cables, but the standard's benefits can clearly outweigh the drawbacks depending on the sort of external storage solution you're attempting to build.

eSATA has never been all that popular, but it continues to offer certain benefits that even USB 3 can't match, particularly for high-performance consumer storage arrays. Because eSATA is a native interface—your motherboard has no idea if the attached drives are in a case or in the bathtub—it supports SMART monitoring, RAID, AHCI, and NCQ without the need for a multi-drive enclosure and a controller chip. It's also potentially faster than USB 3 in RAID scenarios; connecting multiple eSATA drives to the same motherboard doesn't split available bandwidth the way a USB controller would. eSATA enclosures typically require their own power cables, but the standard's benefits can clearly outweigh the drawbacks depending on the sort of external storage solution you're attempting to build.

 


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