GIGABYTE X58A-UD7 Motherboard Review

The X58A-UD7 is GIGABYTE\\'s newest entry into the fiercely competitive LGA1366 board arena. The board packs a lot of promise, built on GIGABYTE\\'s tried and true X58 based design with some nice bells and whistles added for that extra bit of appeal including USB 3.0 and SATA III features.

Introduction

GIGABYTE is renowned as a computer component manufacturer, well known for its stable and performance driven products. While its approach to the enthusiast market may be branded as untraditional, GIGABYTE strives to meet the enthusiast crowd's demanding usage trends with innovative and high quality designs. The newest member of the GIGABYTE family seems to continue this trend, with the board conceptualizing a mix of rock solid stability and cutting edge technology.

The GIGABYTE X58A-UD7 motherboard is implemented using the Intel X58 Northbridge and the Intel ICH10R Southbridge chipsets. This chipset combination offers innate support for the following technologies: Intel LGA1366 Core i7 processors (and soon to be launched "Core i9" six-core processors, DDR3 memory operating in Triple Channel mode up to 1333MHz officially, and either NVIDIA SLI and ATI CrossFireX graphics mode using matching video cards.

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The X58A-UD7 was designed with the following integrated devices: 6 SATA II ports (RAID 0, 1, 0+1 and 5 capable) on the Intel ICH10R controller; 2 SATA II ports (RAID 0 and 1 capable) and 1 ATA-133 IDE port on the GIGABYTE controller; 2 SATA 3 6Gb/s ports on the Marvell 9128 controller; 2 e-SATA ports on the JMicron JMB362 controller; 10 USB 2.0 capable ports (6 in rear panel, and 2 onboard headers supporting 2 ports each); 2 USB 3.0 capable ports in the rear panel; 2 Realtek GigE Ethernet ports in the rear panel; Realtek 8-channel HD audio codec with integrated S/PDIF optical and RCA component output ports; integrated power, system reset, and CMOS reset buttons; 2 digit diagnostic LED display; and PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports in the rear panel.

Main Specifications Overview:

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Detailed Mainboard Specification List:

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Packaging

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GIGABYTE chose to keep the box art clear and to the point for the X58A-UD7, with the box front clearly showing the board's various supported technologies on a reflective white background. The following accessories are bundled in with the board: a ribbon IDE cable; SATA drive cables; the rear panel shield; 2-way NVIDIA SLI connectors; the Hybrid Silent Pipe chipset cooling solution; and the normal complement of manuals and drivers discs. The Hybrid Silent Pipe cooling solution screws down on top of the chipset cooler, next to the integrated water block, allowing for very effective air based passive cooling of the onboard heat pipe chipset cooler.

Board Layout

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The X58A-UD7's masterfully designed layout illustrates that GIGABYTE took some time and patience in implementing this board. All major board hotspots are covered by good sized heat sinks, and those are interconnected via an unobtrusive heat pipe cooling solution. In addition, GIGABYTE gives you the option of water cooling the heat pipe cooler via the integrated water block over the Northbridge chipset, or air cooling via the add-on Hybrid Silent Pipe solution. Amazingly enough, there are no real overly tight areas on the board given the sheer amount of devices and technologies GIGABYTE crammed in to this product. While no serial number is cleared marked on the board, the board's revision is located in the upper left corner with the product being tested a revision 0.4 board. As is common place with higher end boards, GIGABYTE used high quality polymer solid-electrolyte capacitors for the X58A-UD7's power needs.

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While the area surrounding the CPU socket looks crowded, the components in close proximity are of a low profile design allowing for use of most any cooling solutions without issue. To secure the CPU cooler to the CPU, GIGABYTE chose to use the standard LGA 1366 4-hole based mechanism. The board's X58 based Northbridge chipset is located to the left of the socket, covered by a large copper heat sink with an integrated water block and space for integration with a passive air cooling solution. The front panel audio header is located to the upper left of the CPU socket, with the SYS_FAN3 header and ATX12V power connector to its upper right. the CPU_FAN header is located to the lower right of the CPU socket.

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The board's DDR3 slots are located underneath the CPU socket and Northbridge chipset, arranged in dual colored sets. Note that the white colored slots are the primary memory slots, with Triple Channel memory mode active with 3 modules placed in like colored slots. The SYS_FAN1 header, PWR_FAN header, 24-pin ATX power connector, and onboard power and reset buttons are located below the DIMM slots.

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The onboard ICH10R Southbridge chipset is located under the massive low profile heat sink spanning the width under the 4 PCI-Express x16 slots. All 10 onboard SATA slots are below the chipset heat sink, with the blue colored SATA 2 slots being controlled by the ICH10R chipset, the middle 2 white colored SATA 3 ports controlled by the Marvell 9128 controller, and the outer 2 white colored SATA 2 ports controlled by the GIGABYTE controller. The CMOS battery is located to the lower right of the chipset, with the onboard ATA-133 port, the 2 digit diagnostic display, and front panel header to its lower left. The USB 2.0 headers, SYS_FAN2 header, and IEEE 1394 header are located just above the front panel header along the left edge of the board.

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GIGABYTE includes a total of 7 card slots on the X58A-UD7: 4 PCI-Express x16 slots, 2 PCI-Express x1 slots, and 1 PCI slot. The onboard floppy port is situated along the outside edge of the PCI slot. The S/PDIF output and CD_IN headers are located directly above the PCI slot, with the S/PDIF input header located above the primary PCI-Express x16 slot.

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The X58A-UD7's rear panel contains the following integrated ports: PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports; a CMOS reset button; 4 USB 2.0 ports; 2 shared e-SATA / USB 2.0 ports; 2 USB 3.0 ports; 1 full sized and 1 mini IEEE 1394 ports; 2 Realtek GigE Ethernet ports; and 6 analogue and S/PDIF optical and RCA component audio output ports. Note that the USB 2.0 ports have yellow colored internals, while the USB 3.0 ports have the purple colored internals.

GIGABYTE EasyTune 6

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For windows based monitoring and overclocking, GIGABYTE chose to package version 6 of their EasyTune software on the install DVD with the version shown being revision B09.1104.1. The application itself has been streamlined when compared to previous versions of the app, with all functionality accessible through a series of tabs across the app pages. By default, the application starts in the Tuner tab, which allows for automated and user controlled manipulation of the various board bus speeds and voltage. The Quick Boost mode is active by default, allowing the user to select from 1 of 3 overclocking scenarios. The Advanced mode allows for full user control of board bus frequencies and voltages, with settings shown similar in nature to those shown in the BIOS.

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The CPU tab shows real time system statistics on the various bus speeds, and well as detailed CPU and BIOS related information. The memory tab shows memory statistics for all onboard slots on a slot by slot basis.

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The Graphics tab shows current core and memory speed for the video card in use, as well as allowing for direct video card based core and memory speed manipulation.

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The Smart tab contains settings for the CIA2 dynamic overclocking chipset, as well as controls for manually setting the CPU Smart Fan temperature thresholds for optimal CPU cooler performance.

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The HW Monitor tab displays statics on all BIOS monitored voltages, fan speeds, and temperatures. This screen also allows for the configuration of alert settings for the monitored fan speed and temperature devices.

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Clicking on the summary icon in the upper right corner of the application display the Quick Summary window, which displays high level information on board device and bus speeds, voltages, and memory.