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Gigabyte EP45-UD3LR Motherboard

A decent Intel P45-based solution.

December 29, 2009



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The motherboard offers a wide range of proprietary technologies for modern Gigabyte products. One of them is Dual BIOS. Owing to two BIOS chips, a failed flashing attempt or a damaged chip won't stop the motherboard from booting. Proprietary utility @BIOS can be used for convenient flashing right in Windows. The other utility, Easy Tune 6, is used to monitor system parameters, control CPU fan speed, and overclock the system. And finally, the last really useful utility is Dynamic Energy Saver (DES). It allows to disable additional channels in the PWM controller of the voltage regulator depending on the load and take other steps to reduce power consumption



The board offers the standard minimum level of monitoring features in BIOS Setup, it also allows automatic speed control for the CPU cooler and one system fan. It goes without saying that the motherboard provides vast overclocking options, lots of memory modes and timings, and voltage tweaks. Traditionally for Gigabyte, all these settings are grouped in a separate part of BIOS Setup -- MB Intelligent Tweaker (M.I.T.).

The motherboard comes with a minimal bundle: several cables, an IO shield, a printed guide, and a disc with drivers and proprietary utilities.

Features



This motherboard is based on the Intel P45 chipset (P45 Northbridge and ICH10R Southbridge). Besides, the motherboard offers the following extra functions:

  • Integrated 7.1-channel audio based on the 10-channel (7.1+2) Realtek ALC888 HDA codec, front line inputs and outputs, optical and coaxial S/PDIF-Out connectors on the rear panel, and an additional S/PDIF-Out connector on the PCB.
  • Gigabit Ethernet based on Realtek RTL8111C (PCIEx1).
  • IDE based on JMicron JMB368, supporting one IDE (PATA) channel for two devices, including CD/DVD drives.

The integrated audio quality was tested with RightMark Audio Analyzer 6.0 and Terratec DMX 6fire sound card. The final grade was Excellent. The digital S/PDIF-Out supports both popular sampling rates: 44.1kHz and 48kHz.

This IDE controller puts up praiseworthy performance. It had absolutely no problems detecting an optical drive at startup and in Windows, allowing to boot from a CD, etc.

Performance

Testbed configurations:

  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8200 (2.66 GHz, 1333 MHz FSB)
  • Memory: 2 x 1GB Transcend aXeRam TX1200QLG-2GK (DDR2-800 mode, 4-4-4-12-2T)
  • Graphics card: PowerColor ATI RADEON HD 3870, 512 MB
  • HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 (SATA, 7200 rpm)
  • PSU: HiPro W460GC31
  • OS: Windows XP SP2

It'll be a standard comparison this time involving several motherboards with the same chipset or similar.


Test ASUS P5Q Pro (P45) ASUS P5Q-VM (G45) Gigabyte EP45-UD3LR (P45)
Archiving with 7-Zip, min:sec 3:50 3:51 3:56
MPEG4 (XviD) encoding, min:sec 3:05 3:05 3:17
FarCry (Low@640x480), fps 463 457 413
FarCry (Highest@1280x1024), fps 167 167 168
Doom 3 (Low@640x480), fps 247 247 249
Doom 3 (Highest@1280x1024), fps 228 228 230

This isn't your typical result. This motherboard is significantly outperformed in non-game tests and in the CPU-intensive mode of Far Cry. Sometimes the gap reaches 10%, much more than the traditional 2-3%. This situation didn't change, when we ran the tests for the second time, or after we flashed it with the BIOS F5. To all appearances, the processor worked slower than it should have. During the tests, memory contained only a minimum set of processes necessary for normal operation of the operating system, frequencies and timings were controlled with CPU-Z, we used RMClock to monitor throttling. Unfortunately, we failed to determine the reason for such low results. This behavior is most likely demonstrated only by our sample or this very combination of the motherboard, processor, and memory

Conclusions

This motherboard produces a positive impression rather than negative. It cannot boast of extraordinary functionality, but it has the minimum necessary features, it has modern components of really high quality, and it's affordable. However, it's not the best choice for gamers or overclockers, as it has only one graphics slot, preventing from building CrossFire rigs. Besides, the 4-phase voltage regulator and the weak cooling system will not allow to overclock a powerful quad-core CPU.

The motherboard provided by the manufacturer.


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