Gigabyte GA-P55 UD3R Reviewccokeman -
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Intel's Socket 1156 processors, the Core i5 and Core i7 8 series, were released just short of two months ago, as a way to offer the Nehalem architecture at a lower price point than the socket 1366 offerings, that offer substantial performance advantages over AMD's offering. There is no doubt that the price of entry for a socket 1366 system can put the performance out of range for the masses. Lower CPU prices, lower motherboard prices and only dual channel memory drops the cost even further, making the technology available to everyone. At launch, you would have been hard pressed to find an X58 socket 1366 motherboard for less than $250, and even now performance X58/1366 boards are still in the $300+ range. Enter the P55chipset and motherboards, and $250 is about the maximum price point - with many capable boards for substantially less. That is what leads us to the Gigabyte GA-P55-UD3R. With a price of just $139 it offers a good feature set at a reduced price.
Having recently looked at the Gigabyte GA-P55-UD6, the top of Gigabyte's performance ladder, I am anxious to see what the GA-P55-UD3R brings to the table. This P55 offering from Gigabyte, the GA-P55-UD3R, does not have all the bells and whistles, but does offer plenty of options to get the job done. Like the UD6, the UD3R is part of the Ultra Durable 3 lineup and features 2-oz copper layers in the PCB for lower impedance, improved voltage stability, and cooler operating temperatures. For component selection on Ultra Durable 3 motherboards, Gigabyte is using Japanese solid capacitors, Ferrite core chokes and Lower RDS(on) mosfets to make the design good enough for Gigabyte to offer a three year warranty on the board in the US and Canada. Let's see if the price impacts the performance and ability to reach a good overclock!
The front panel of the box is not as packed full of information as the P55-UD6, but still gets the message across. The big highlights are the three year warranty for customers in both the US of A and Canada, the Ultra Durable 3 construction, and the Smart 6 software package. Part of the Ultra Durable 3 construction is the use of 2-oz copper ground and power layers in the PCB. The one thing that stands out is the absence of any mention of a Multi GPU strategy. The rear panel goes into detail on the Ultra Durable 3 construction and details some of the included software. The Multi GPU strategy is mentioned on the top right side of the rear panel, and it seems that only ATI's CrossfireX solution is supported. The socket 1156 processor support is listed front and back, to make sure you do not purchase the wrong Core i7 processor or motherboard.
Once the box is open, you don't have a whole lot going on. The bundle looks to be about what is expected with a board that falls into the lower end of the Gigabyte P55 hierarchy. That's not to say you don't get a decent bundle. You get what's needed to get the board up and running as well as the documentation for the board and software.
The bundle of accessories that comes with the GA-P55-UD3R is enough to get you connected and running. You get the basics, as you should with any motherboard these days. But with a $139 board, you won't get all the goodies that come on the higher end boards. You get the documentation in the form of the manual, an installation guide, driver disk, and a manual for the Smart 6 software suite. For connectivity, you get a total of four SATA cables, two of which have 90-degree ends, while all of them have locking tabs to prevent the cables from pulling out. An 80-conductor PATA cable is included, since the drive technology is still sold and in use by the masses. You will also notice that there is not a bridge connector included with this board, since SLI is not supported and ATI video cards usually come with the connector.
Let's take a look at the P55-UD3R and see just what it has to offer. Don't let the slim bundle fool you as this board has some serious performance credentials.