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Gigabyte EP45-Extreme Review

Makaveli    -   August 17, 2008
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Conclusion:

Overall, I would have to say that the limited edition Gigabyte EP-45 Extreme is the best motherboard that I've ever used for overclocking. The BIOS was simple to navigate, and Gigabyte's Dual BIOS technology really gives the user some peace of mind knowing that if they screw one BIOS up, another BIOS is right there for them to use. The LED readout is an overclocker's dream, because it allows us to see where the issues are if the system isn't booting. For me, the memory was what was holding my overclocking back. I was able to obtain an FSB speed of 500MHz, which is extremely good, considering four threads of data are being sent through the Northbridge at 500MHz x 7 (3.5GHz). I don't think I've ever hit 500 on a motherboard due to some sort of bottleneck of the CPU or memory. The only downside to overclocking with this motherboard is the fact that you can't unlink the memory and CPU. I can only imagine how far I could push this board if the memory wasn't holding me back. With 1.45v to the CPU, 500MHz x 7 (3.5GHz) seems like it would yield high CPU temperatures, right? Not exactly; I was sitting at a cool 40C idle with air cooling. As you can see, overclocking is definitely this motherboard's forte.

Gigabyte is constantly coming out with new technologies for their motherboards, and they never cease to amaze me. For example, on the EP45-DQ6, Gigabyte includes their UltraTPM, Smart Backup, VRD 11.1, and Dynamic Energy Saver features - to name a few. UltraTPM features an industry high level 2048-bits of encryption for the onboard TPM (Trusted Platform Module), and this key can be stored on a USB drive or in the BIOS. Smart Backup is Gigabyte's plug-and-play hardware RAID that features a total of three independent RAID systems, for both software and hardware RAID. VRD (Voltage Regulator Down) 11.1 is one of my personal favorite technologies, because it allows systems to go into a very deep "Sleep Mode" while consuming less power. Less power consumption equals a lower electricity bill, right? As you can see, Gigabyte is ahead of the industry with their technologies.

Alas, this is not the EP45-DQ6. The EP45-Extreme is a purpose-built product for the enthusiast, kind of like an F40 Ferrari, sporting unique features like the hybrid Silent-Pipe cooling solution for the motherboard. Gigabyte goes several steps beyond the norm for this board; not only does it use a heatpipe matrix to cover all of the heat generating components on the motherboard, there’s also a hybrid water cooling setup that helps remove heat from the Silent-Pipe cooling system. As if that’s not “extreme” enough, there’s a massive, air cooled heatsink that works to cool the hybrid Silent-Pipe by means of convection. If that's still not enough, there are additional features that make this board the "Overclocker’s Dream". Voltage equals heat, and the EP45-Extreme has the answer for that in spades; over-voltage alerts let you know just how close to the edge you are, monitoring the voltages of the Northbridge, Southbridge, CPU, and memory. There’s an overclocking LED to tell you just how extreme your overclock is, and there are temperature alerts for the CPU and Northbridge. Onboard Power, Reset, and Clear CMOS switches provide function and convenience; plus, there’s a Clear CMOS button on the EP45-Extreme’s I/O panel - finally! All of this stuff is great, but the fact that the new DES Advanced software is leaps and bounds better than the old version just makes the EP45-Extreme mean and "green!” The new DES Advanced app even works when you are overclocked. What does this mean? We can now be green when we’re pushing the boundaries of the performance envelope. Coupled with the Ultra Durable 2 construction and component selection, you have a board that is indeed the Overclocker’s Dream! All the tools are there to make your dreams come true, you just have to use them.

This motherboard not only overclocks well and has a lot of cool features, it also performs quite well. This motherboard consistently did a little bit better than the competing P45 motherboard. However, you can still see that this motherboard isn't quite the caliber of the X48 chipset. The stock performance of this motherboard was about what I expected it to be. The only negative that I can think of is the motherboard's layout. If you have a long video card, such as an Nvidia 280GTX, you will lose two of the onboard SATA ports because the video card covers them up. I only use four SATA ports, so I got around this issue, but for some, this could be something to consider. All in all, this Gigabyte EP45-Extreme features great overclocking headroom, an abundance of accessories, and industry leading features, all while delivering the performance you expect from a P45 chipset.

 

Pros:

  • Overclocking headroom
  • Accessories
  • Neat features
  • Extreme cooling
  • Price

 

Cons:

  • Motherboard layout (long video cards cover two SATA ports)
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