Gigabyte GA-P55 UD3R Reviewccokeman -
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The GA-P55-UD3R is designed for use with both Intel's Core i5 and 8 series Core i7 socket 1156 processors. The board is built around the Intel P55 Express chipset and is one of eleven P55 boards currently in Gigabyte's arsenal. This board features Ultra Durable 3 construction. What is this, you ask? It is the use of better components to build a more efficient, cooler running, longer lasting motherboard. Japanese made Solid Capacitors, Ferrite core chokes, Lower RDS(on) Mosfets, and 2-oz copper ground and power layers in the PCB are all parts of the design. The front side of the board shows that the PCH has been relocated to where the Southbridge chipset used to reside, with the heatsink assembly only interconnected at the VRM heatsinks. The back side of the board is unpopulated, except for the back side of the CPU retention bracket.
The I/O panel on the GA-P55-UD3R contains plenty of connectivity options. To start, there is a combination Keyboard/Mouse PS/2 port, topped with two of the ten USB 2.0 ports on the I/O panel, Optical and Coaxial S/PDIF, two eSATA ports in yellow, one RJ-45 LAN port and the Realtek 7.1 sound jacks. For expansion slots, you have a total of seven. There are two 16x PCIe 2.0 slots, the top one operates at 16x electrically, while the second runs at 4x. CrossfireX is the only Multi GPU solution supported on this board. There are a total of four PCI slots and a single 1x PCIe up above the 16x PCIe slot. The front panel sound header is located right behind the I/O panel HD sound ports. One thing missing, that has almost been standard on performance motherboards, is a Clear CMOS button on the I/O panel. It is surprising that Gigabyte chose not to go this route on the few boards in their P55 line up.
Along the bottom of the board, you have added connectivity in the form of a COM port for diagnostics, a Parallel port, Floppy drive port, two USB 2.0 headers, and the front panel connection header. Right above the USB headers are the Dual BIOS ROM chips and the clear CMOS jumper.
The right hand side of the board is where you find the SATA connectivity. You get a total of eight SATA 3Gbps ports on the GA-P55-UD3R. The six blue ports are controlled via the Intel P55 PCH controller and support Raid 0,1,5 and 10. The two white ports are controlled by the Gigabyte SATA2 chip and support up to two drives in Raid 0, 1 and JBOD. The SATA2 controller also handles the IDE port with up to two drives supported. Something that is a little disappointing is that the PCH controlled SATA ports are not laid out on the edge of the board. Rather, they are standing right up where a larger video card will cover the ports. I'm guessing that Gigabyte is counting on more people using this board in a single GPU configuration with the secondary PCIe slot only running at 4x. Next to the IDE port, you have the 24-pin ATX power connection. At the top of the board, next to the right hand DIMM slot, you have the power phase LEDs to give you an indication of how the power phases are being used.
There are a total of four DIMM slots that support up to 16 GB of DDR3 2200/1333/1066/800 memory modules in a dual channel configuration. I was easily able to top 1000MHz with the DDR3 1600 modules I tested in the UD3R. The top of the board doesn't have much in the form of connections besides the fan header and 8-pin auxiliary power connection.
The CPU socket area is quite a bit less crowded than the P55-UD6, since it only has a 10-phase VRM. After reading some of the online buzz about sockets burning up in some high end boards wearing Foxconn sockets, I checked this one out after some extended Prime 95 testing with 1.425+ volts and have not found any sign of burnout on the pins or on the CPU. The issue seems to be from a lack of contact in a poorly built socket. I have read rumors of a socket change but have nothing concrete at this time.
The heatsink package on the P55-UD3R covers the PCH and the the power circuits around the CPU socket. The heatsinks are held in place with push pins in lieu of being bolted down. The VRM heatsinks are interconnected using a heatpipe while the PCH heatsink is a stand alone piece. The color scheme used on the heatsinks matches the board so they do not look out of place and are beefy enough to do the job of cooling down the components. These heatsinks are something that will be needed when I put the screws to it.
That's a look through what the GA-P55-UD3R has to offer in terms of the hardware, but the question remains, just how will it stand up performance wise to the P55-UD6 as well as some of its contemporaries?