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Gigabyte P55-UD3 Motherboard

Decent and affordable.

November 16, 2009



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Gigabyte is probably a champion in the number of proprietary utilities and technologies. We never tire to be amazed at the rich fantasy of people, who can grow an idea of a new "technology" from a minor issue and proceed to its software implementation. For example, motherboards with Intel P55 have given us AutoGreen -- now we can put a computer to sleep by pressing a button on a mobile device connected to a computer via Bluetooth! Speaking of only useful proprietary utilities (in our opinion, a proprietary utility must be "tied" to a motherboard on a hardware level, to be a true proprietary solution), there are two and a half programs. @BIOS counts as a half. This utility can download the new BIOS versions from the official web site and flash them right in Windows -- its implementation is up to the mark, but it's an exotic task for most common users of motherboards.



Among the other two proprietary utilities we can mention the second version of Dynamic Energy Saver. For one, the program visualizes disabled channels in the voltage regulator, when the load is reduced (it's the Intersil PWM controller that does disabling), and it can also turn off corresponding LEDs on the PCB. For two, it calculates the amount of energy conserved by switching to a power saving mode -- the main sources here are a CPU switching to the standard idle mode C1 and EIST. For three, this utility allows to configure power saving modes and switch between them. By its ideology and options it's almost a full counterpart of ASUS EPU-6 Engine. But Gigabyte also suggests slowing down the processor with chipset throttling.



We have absolutely no gripes with EasyTune 6. It's an excellent program with a sane interface, which provides tons of reference low-level system information (it replaces CPU-Z) and advanced monitoring. Besides, it allows to flexibly configure smart fans. Overclocking features go without saying: a simple choice of presets for moderate guaranteed overclocking; rapid increase of the base frequency with automatically raised voltages; dynamic overclocking with adjustable aggressiveness of the algorithm; fully manual mode, where you can specify desirable values down to megahertz and milliwatts. These utilities are really worth the fuss with the bundled DVD.

We've already come across Gigabyte's marketing obsession to describe its proprietary technologies in groups of six -- 6-Dual Miracle, 6-Quad -- sometimes at the cost of evident wrench. P55-based motherboards bear this mark as well, featuring a set of technologies called "Smart 6." Functionality of this technological set was described in detail in our P55-UD6 review. Here we'll only mention that most these technologies are neither unique (being implemented in many third-party software products) or useful. Only Smart DualBIOS may be of some practical interest. Alas, quantity does not always transform to quality.



We have nothing to say about the P55-UD3 bundle: the most interesting thing about it is its box and a good printed guide translated into several languages. Plus a couple of SATA cables, an IDE cable, an IO shield, and a software DVD.

Features



Nothing fancy, but still it offers ten USB ports, like other Gigabyte's recent motherboards.

This motherboard is based on the Intel P55 chipset. You can read about its features in the corresponding review. Besides, the motherboard offers the following extra functions:

  • Integrated audio, based on the 10-channel (7.1+2) HDA codec Realtek ALC888 (modern Mid-End solution), 7.1-channel audio, front line ins and outs connector, optical (Toslink) and coaxial S/PDIF-Out jacks on the rear panel, and S/PDIF In and Out connectors on the PCB.
  • Gigabit Ethernet (Realtek RTL8111D, PCIEx1) 10/100/1000 Mbps.
  • IDE/SATA-II controller based on the JMicron JMB363 chip (PCIEx1) supporting one IDE (PATA) channel (two devices) including CD/DVD drives, and two SATA300 ports supporting RAID 0 and 1.

The integrated audio quality was tested in 16 bit 44 kHz mode using RightMark Audio Analyzer 6.0.5 and the Terratec DMX 6fire sound card. The total grade is Excellent in both 16 bit, 44 kHz and 16 bit, 48 kHz modes.


Test 16 bit, 44 kHz 16 bit, 48 kHz
Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB +0.02, -0.04 +0.02, -0.03
Noise level, dB (A) -92.2 -92.3
Dynamic range, dB (A) 92.1 92.3
THD, % 0.0008 0.0009
Harmonic distortion + noise, dB(A) -85.6 -85.6
Intermodulation distortion + noise, % 0.0073 0.0071
Channel crosstalk, dB -90.6 -90.9
IMD at 10 kHz, % 0.0073 0.0069
General performance: Excellent Excellent

Digital S/PDIF-Out supports both popular sampling rates -- 44.1 kHz and 48 kHz. Realtek drivers provide no additional multi-channel audio technologies (DTS/Dolby) for this motherboard, although there is a standalone Dolby Control Center package (for Windows Vista only). Unfortunately, this application crashed in our case, so we cannot describe what useful features it bestows on this motherboard.

JMicron JMB363 is a widespread solution, and we have learned at first hand that it has no problems with PATA support (as modern chipsets from Intel lack this feature). In this case we can only confirm that 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.

Conclusions

Drawing a bottom line under our today's review, we can say that we liked this motherboard and the Gigabyte P55-UD3 family in general. Competent PCB design, high-quality electronic components, a necessary minimum of peripheral slots -- we cannot demand more from a budget motherboard, really. We are only a little confused by the strong attachment to the past. Socket 1156 is a progressive platform for top processors, and there will hardly be many users having Core i7 CPUs and COM peripherals or LPT printers. Still, motherboards of this family, starting from Gigabyte P55-UD3, look quite up-to-date. As for numerous PCI ports, well, aren't many users dreaming exactly of this? Besides, P55-UD3/R/P motherboards may be a popular choice for high-performance PCs just because they are affordable, not because of specific features.


The motherboard provided by the manufacturer,
Apogee GT memory modules provided by Chaintech.

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Page 1: Introduction, design

Page 2: Software, features, conclusions



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