iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Gigabyte P55-UD6 Motherboard

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Package contents

Despite the top status of the motherboard, it does not come with an outstanding bundle to say the least. We can only compliment the company for its SATA cables with metal latches, but we expect no less from a top model. There are four cables in the bundle -- two regular ones and two cables with L-shaped connectors (that is you can use only 40% of SATA connectivity without buying additional cables). What concerns multi-GPU configurations, the motherboard offers only a single flexible SLI bridge -- CrossFire will have to be arranged on your own.

Pay attention to the proprietary kit to plug eSATA and SATA drives without using the standard eSATA ports (which are not always enabled). This kit consists of three cables and one bracket. Along with two eSATA ports, it can also supply power via the molex connector. It's a useless decoration, if you want to plug normal hard drives. However, it allows to plug/unplug hard drives without enclosures -- the kit includes two eSATA-SATA cables and a power cable that turns this model into two SATA power connectors. It's an original way to use ten internal SATA connectors.

There is also a PATA cable, and that's it: a floppy cable and brackets for a serial port, USB and FireWire are optional. It's fair to say that you will hardly need them for the latter two types of ports, because enough of them are already installed on the rear panel.

The bundled DVD includes a standard set of utilities for Ultra Durable motherboards plus some bonuses. As we have already mentioned, there is a nice bundle of utilities, both proprietary and third-party programs (which take up an entire DVD, as their total size exceeds 2.5 GB). EasyTune for system monitoring, fan speed control, etc; Face-Wizard for BIOS splash screen editing; Q-Share for convenient file sharing in a local area network; @BIOS to download the latest BIOS version at the Gigabyte server and flash it; and Gigabyte Online Manager for remote monitoring of the configuration, and Xpress Recovery 2 to save and restore the system partition of a hard drive (unlike special utilities for disk images, this one can work only with one partition and requires unpartitioned space at the end of the primary drive). Third-party utilities include Norton Internet Security, Kaspersky Anti-Virus, COREL MediaOne, full version of WinZip, and Roxio Buzz. Besides, P55-based motherboards are also bundled with another set of small utilities (later on, it may appear for models on other chipsets). They require special hardware support, so the manufacturer proudly calls it a hardware and software complex Smart6. Figure 6 in the title indicates the number of utilities in this bundle. Smart QuickBoot allows a computer to wake up and go to sleep faster. Smart QuickBoost is a typical application to overclock the FSB by 7 MHz, 17 MHz, or 27 MHz (it may please novice users, but experienced overclockers will only laugh at this BCLK increase). On the contrary, Smart Recovery is a very useful utility: this program backs up data in real time, it supports scheduling and up to 60 of data copies (that is you can roll back to two months, if you back your data up every day). There is another interesting utility -- Smart DualBIOS. As capacity of each BIOS chip has grown to 16 Mbit (there are two such chips), there appeared an opportunity to store small chunks of user data there. Two lists are currently supported: up to 12 login/password pairs (for example, to access certain web sites) and important data with description (there is also a feature to remind users about upcoming events). What are its advantages versus data storage in files or special utilities? It's safer -- files can be accidentally deleted, but access to the user area of flash chips is granted only via this utility protected by a password. Smart Recorder just saves information about power ons/offs and about access to files. Smart TimeLock is useless, if only one user has access to a given computer. However, this utility may come in handy to limit access to a computer for children. It's no secret that children always want to prolong their time at their computers, even though it's limited for health reasons. And this program allows to specify a certain period of time, when it's allowed to use a computer (for example, two hours on work days and three hours on weekends), and to limit its usage time (for example, you can prohibit to power on a computer at working hours on work days, so you can be sure that your child won't engage into questionable activities, when you are at work).

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Page 1: Introduction, design

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