iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Gigabyte P55A-UD6 Motherboard

A fine example of the company's new LGA1156 series.

April 12, 2010

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The motherboard is based on the Intel P55 chipset (P55 PCH) and has the following additional controllers:

  • Integrated audio based on 7.1+2-channel Realtek ALC889 HDA codec, full-quality HD DVD and Blu-ray output, frontal I/O, optical and coaxial S/PDIF-Out on the rear panel, S/PDIF-Out for HDMI-equipped graphics cards;
  • Dual Gigabit LAN based on Realtek RTL8111DL (PCIe x1) supporting certain enterprise features;
  • SATA 6Gb/s based on Marvell 88SE9128 (PCIe x1), two SATA150/300/600 ports (white), RAID 0, 1;
  • USB 3.0 based on NEC µPD720200F1 (PCIe x1), two ports (blue) on the rear panel;
  • PATA based on iTE IT8213F (PCI), two IDE/PATA devices, including CD/DVD drives;
  • SATA 3Gb/s based on JMicron JMB362 (PCIe x1), two Powered eSATA (or, as Gigabyte calls it, eSATA/USB Combo) on the rear-panel;
  • FireWire based on Texas Instruments TSB43AB23 (PCI), two ports on the rear panel (6 and 4-pin), one on the motherboard.

It's interesting that Marvell initially readied a combined 88SE9123 supporting both SATA 6Gb/s and PATA. But due to numerous complaints on the PATA part they had to release an updated revision. The "update" means they disabled the PATA block and rolled out a different chip series, of which 88SE9128 is the top-end solution.

And since Intel abandoned PATA (not completely, though) and there were no free PCIe lanes, Gigabyte added a simple PCI controller from iTE.

We tested the integrated audio solution in the 16-bit/44kHz and 16-bit/48kHz modes using RightMark Audio Analyzer 6.0 and a Terratec DMX 6fire sound card.

Test 16-bit/44kHz 16-bit/48kHz
Frequency response (40Hz to 15kHz), dB: +0.02, -0.06 +0.02, -0.06
Noise level, dB(A) -90.7 -90.9
Dynamic range, dB(A) 90.8 91.1
THD, % 0.0015 0.0016
THD + noise, dB(A) -84.3 -84.5
IMD + noise, % 0.0079 0.0075
Channel crosstalk, dB -90.5 -89.9
IMD at 10 kHz, % 0.0080 0.0074
Overall grade Excellent Excellent

The codec performed typically well. However, the results of P55-UD6 were a bit better, though.

The rear panel didn't change much. Two USB 2.0 were replaced with two USB 3.0 ports. The two freed chipset ports are not used at all. Gigabyte considered the existing ports were enough already, not worthy of increasing the cost price by adding another header. The wasn't any free space on the rear panel anyway.


The new motherboard series from Gigabyte is a good example of the splendours and miseries of the P55 chipset. On the one hand, LGA1156 is a decent general-purpose platform. On the other hand, any effort to make anything original out of it results in compromises. However, solving issues like that is a good chance for motherboard makers to show what they are capable of. Motherboards released in recent years were kind of simple in terms of circuitry. Competition in the top-end segment boiled down to adding as many peripheral controllers as possible. Now motherboard manufacturers have to solve more difficult problems. And since they do it in different ways, we have products we can actually compare.

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