Gigabyte GA-P55-UD6 Reviewccokeman - October 22, 2009
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When run at stock speeds there really is not a lot of distinction between the GA-P55-UD6 and the other P55 based boards that it was compared against. That's not a bad thing when you sit down and look at it. It means that whatever board you get, you can be assured of a certain level of performance. This lack of stratification of results makes it easier to choose a board based on the feature set if you will not be overclocking, although I can't see why you wouldn't, with the fact that the utilities included with most enthusiast grade motherboards nowadays make it a no-fuss proposition. By using the included Smart Quick Boost utility, included in the Smart 6 bundle, on the GA-P55-UD6, you can punch up the clock speeds with the click of an icon. The Smart Quick Boost utility delivered a 3.84GHz clock speed with the click of the icon or just over 900MHz worth of increase, just by choosing the Twin Turbo option. The Turbo and Faster options delivered clock speed increases, but, as you can imagine, they were not as dramatic as the Twin Turbo option. The 3.84GHz clock speed is about 100Mhz higher than the utilities on the Maximus III Formula and MSI P55-GD65 delivered (at 3.7GHz), but the OC Genie is still by far the easiest to use option with the Gigabyte running a close second. The Core i7 870 used in this review is a bit picky when it comes to running higher clock speeds over 4.2GHz, but can run up to a 215 to 218 bclock with stability as long as you keep within the clock speed limitations of your CPU. I was able to get a clock speed of 4.22Ghz stable on this board, which is about where it maxes out for Prime 95 stability, not on just the GA-P55-UD6, but on every board I have tested. Performance at stock clock speeds, as you might have guessed, compares nicely with the rest of the comparison boards. This is really the expected outcome of the testing. With the same installed components you will end up with performance in an identical envelope, much like with the Intel X58, X48, and P35 based motherboards I have looked at. The two things that stuck out like a sore thumb for me were, first, the fact that if you push the limits and need to hit the Clear CMOS button you have to open up the chassis to get to it. Why is this a downside? The vast majority of people have their system mounted in a case, not on a tech bench. Only once did I need to use it, but it's still a pain to have to open the case up. Maybe I'm just a little spoiled at this point! The other thing that I found was a problem was when testing a set of double-sided memory modules during my overclocking testing. I found that 1MHz over 800MHz meant I could not even pass Memtest 2.11, no matter what voltage was used or how far I relaxed the timings. Slap in a set of single-sided modules and there wasn't any problem. Even though this was found by accident, it does raise a concern about compatibility. But if you are not overclocking, it's not a problem. Gigabyte states that the UD6 supports up to 16GB of memory but with six slots you have to use modules of different sizes to reach 16GB. Using 2x4GB with 4x2GB would fill the slots to the 16GB capacity, but any other way you under or overshoot the maximum capability.
Gigabyte has included a set of utilities that are functional and provide value to the package. Easy Tune 6 is a great overclocking and monitoring utility, Dynamic Energy Saver 2 is powered by the Intersil hardware controller offering and is a great way to manage the energy consumption of your system, easily reducing the carbon footprint. Smart 6 is a group of utilities that add functionality to your system for overclocking, reducing boot times, monitoring system activity, and the ability to manage the times you want the system available. Gigabyte's Ultra Durable 3 construction allows the motherboard to operate at a lower thermal threshold, while beefing up resistance to ESD damage due to the use of the 2-oz copper power and ground layers in the PCB. The 24-phase power circuit allows the current load to be spread across more "phases" keeping the circuits cool while increasing efficiency. DES2 really comes into its own using the additional phases. Although nice, I was not able to push my CPU any further than any of the other boards, but was able to keep the voltage a tad bit lower when at the maximum clock speed. The heatsinks used on the GA-P55-UD6 are, if nothing else, beefy and stayed cool during operation. One thing that surprised me was the fact that the UD6 still has both a PATA and FDD connection. More so, the use of the FDD connection since most high end boards no longer come with this drive connection. At least its still here on the GA-P55-UD6.
Gigabyte has put together a package that will work for both the Extreme overclocker as well as the person looking for a good solid board with a ton of features. The GA-P55-UD6 does everything well and comes in at a price point indicative of its capabilities and features that puts it at the upper end of the spectrum.
- Ultra Durable 3 Construction
- SLI/CrossfireX support
- Backward Compatibility
- 3 Year Warranty
- No External CMOS Reset
- Double Sided DIMM Overclocking