Gigabyte EX58-UD4P ReviewRHKCommander959 -
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Finally, the motherboard itself is up to bat. Gigabyte for a long time has been known to make stable motherboards that usually look like Crayola helped with the design. This design is absent of many of the colors that used to grace the older boards, and in my opinion is nearly perfect here minus the few oddballs like the Orange Dream popsicle slots. Had they been a color that didn’t stick out so badly, this board would look spectacular. This board is much more serious looking, however. The five heat sinks dotted along the motherboard should also help in overclocking, especially the chipset, which can make or break high overclock attempts. The rear of the motherboard is standard, the CPU socket with back plate, but the North and South bridges also have them, and use screws with springs rather than the old pushpin method. This will definitely help temperatures out, and the back plates help keep the motherboard from bending under the pressure created by the screws.
The Northbridge heat sink is screwed in, and uses springs to even out pressure - keeping the heat sink level and with plenty more pressure than the old pushpin method. A Gigabyte faceplate covers both the Northbridge and power regulation heat sinks. A heat pipe snakes through from the power regulation all the way to the Southbridge.
The pushpins are saved for the cooler-running power regulation circuits. The top two heat sinks, as well as a small one by the Northbridge, both use pushpins - and could possibly benefit some from being screwed in, but manufacturing costs would increase; the heat released does not justify this measure however, since it runs cool already.
The I/O panel offers a variety of support, especially with the eight USB, single Gigabit LAN, a Clear CMOS button for easy CMOS reset, PS/2 ports, IEEE 1394, and SPDIF ports. A CMOS jumper, along with the CMOS battery, reside between the SATA and Southbridge heat sink, and below are Southbridge voltage indicator LEDs.
The two DualBIOS chips lay in the bottom corner of the motherboard, near the front of the expansion slots. Adjacent to them is the Ultra TPM encryption chip. Beneath the Southbridge lies the Gigabyte SATA II chip, which adds another two SATA ports and an IDE port to the motherboard.
The expansion slots consist of two PCI slots, and five PCI Express Slots. Two of the PCI-E slots are x16, the lower orange is really only wired for x8, and the top orange is an open-ended x4. The single x1 slot is a tight fit near the heatsinks and heat pipe, so usage would be limited, but it is still nice to have another slot. The open-ended x4 slot is a nice detail to see here, because it means that any card can be installed here, even a 16x card, a folders joy since in the past people would have to manually cut the end of the slot to allow a full-sized card here. Mixed with the fact that the board is built on the PCI-E 2.0 standard and the bandwidth doubles, making the x8 slot perform similarly to an x16 on the older PCI-E1.1 boards.
The front panel connection area is nicely laid out with print on the circuit board directing users to the appropriate color-coded pins for the given connections. The positive pin is also marked on each connection. Eight SATA ports are featured on this board, the white port for Gigabyte SATA (which also brings the IDE support) with RAID 0/1 and JBOD, the other six from the Southbridge with options of RAID 0/1/5/10.
The motherboard has two USB and two FireWire connections to allow for either an expansion slot or front panel device; a cap protects the IEEE 1394 pins. The yellow is reminiscent of the older Gigabyte boards, but is small so it does not skew the overall scheme by much. Above the orange slot is the TSB43AB23 chip which provides the IEEE 1394. For users who test boards outside of cases, or do not have power switches, as in overclocking competitions and just general testing, the fact that there are power and reset buttons on-board are very nice. Both are located on the top right corner near the RAM slots, with the two buttons being dissimilar in that a nice LED button is used for the power, with a small standard electronics button for the reset. Two rows of LEDs – the shorter of which is for frequency, while the longer is for the power phase – wedge between and above the buttons for user indication.
With the motherboard eye candy over, let's plug it in and see what the driver disk has on it.