Gigabyte GA-P55-UD6 Reviewccokeman - October 22, 2009
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As you could expect, the layout of the P55-UD6 is pretty crowded. As a full featured board, you have to have room for everything. The board is designed for use with Intel Core i5 and Core i7 socket 1156 processors, and is built around the Intel P55 Express chipset now called the PCH. The 24-Phase VRM design is one of the big selling points of this board. What you see on the back of the board and to the right of the socket is the other half of the MOSFETs for the 24-phase VRM circuit. The GA-P55-UD6 is one of Gigabyte's Ultra Durable 3 motherboards that uses 2-oz copper layers for the power and ground planes, as well as Japanese solid capacitors, Ferrite chokes, and lower RDS(on) MOSFETs to provide a cooler running, more efficient design. The cooling system on the board looks pretty beefy and should keep the board components cool. One thing that is nice to see is that the heatsinks are held in place by screws instead of push pins. Another item is the six DIMM slots, which seem out of place because the socket 1156 processors do not support triple channel memory.
The I/O panel contains a wealth of options on it - with one thing suspiciously missing. As a high end enthusiast class motherboard, you would think a Clear CMOS button would make its way onto the I/O panel but not on this motherboard. I guess the crowd this board is targeted at does not use a case to house the components. So much for what's missing, let's talk about what is here. Starting on the left side, you have a PS/2 port that can be used for either a keyboard or mouse, Coaxial and Optical S/PDIF outputs, a total of ten USB 2.0 ports - with two of the yellow ports being a combination USB/eSATA port that does not need an additional power feed since it comes through the USB portion of the port, two IEEE 1394 ports - controlled by the Texas Instruments TSB43AB23 controller to give you a total of three available counting the internal header, two RJ-45 LAN ports that use Smart LAN technology to prevent downtime by routing the connection through the other port if one jack fails, and, lastly, the High Definition sound ports that offer Dolby Home theater support. For expansion slots, you get a total of three x16 PCIe slots that operate at x16, x8 and x4 from top to bottom with two PCI slots and two PCIe x1 slots. The spacing of the PCIe x16 slots look looks to allow at least one PCI slot to be available with dual GPUs. One thing hidden and out of the way is the front panel audio connection, which is hidden behind the I/O panel sound ports.
Along the bottom of the board, you have more of the connectivity options. From left to right, you have a COM port that is still in use for diagnostic purposes, a fan header, a Floppy drive connection that at this point seems so dated but provides some backwards compatibility and gives the option of flashing the BIOS through a floppy drive instead of a thumb drive, the IEEE 1394 header, two USB headers to bring the total available to fourteen, the front panel header, IDE port and clear CMOS button that resides right between the Front Panel connections and the last USB header.
Turning the corner, you have the Diagnostic LED to help out with troubleshooting a no-POST condition. Next up, you have a total of ten SATA 3Gbps ports. To control these ports, you have a total of three controllers pulling duty. The first two white ports are controlled by the Gigabyte SATA2 controller and support Raid 0/1/JBOD, as well as pulling duty for the IDE port. The second set of white SATA ports are controlled by the JMB362 controller and also support Raid 0/1/JBOD. The last six ports are controlled via the PCH(P55 Chipset) and support SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5 and RAID 10 configurations. Right above the IDE port, you have the reset button in blue. Next, you get the 24-pin ATX power connector to supply power to the board, and you have the six DIMM slots that support up to 16GB of DDR3 2600+/2200/1333/1066/800 MHz memory modules in a dual channel configuration. To get 16GB of memory in six slots, you have to use modules of varying sizes which seems counter productive. Right next to the ATX power connection, you have the power button. While it looks good and is big enough to keep you from hitting something else, it looks strangely out of place when you consider that the Clear CMOS and Reset buttons are down near the bottom corner of the board. The Power Phase LEDs take up residence right behind the ATX power plug, right next to the outermost DIMM slot.
Along the top edge of the board, you have not a whole lot that is interesting, but I'll show what's there. You have a fan header, the heatsink for part of the VRM circuit, and the 8-pin Auxiliary 12V power connection to feed the CPU. The CPU socket area is pretty busy with all of the chokes and capacitors for the 24-phase VRM circuit. The socket used on this board houses 1156 pins and is designed for use with Intel's Core i5 and Core i7 8 series processors. With all the information being passed around the web on the problems with the Foxconn manufactured sockets burning up under severe loads, I will point out that the GA-P55-UD6 I have here has the Foxconn socket. For most users this will not present a problem but for the small minority of enthusiasts that this board is aimed at will be concerned. After all of the 4.2GHz testing I ran, I did not see any issues with the socket assembly, but maybe that means I just did not lean on it hard enough.
The heatsink assembly used on the GA-P55-UD6 appears to be quite robust. It looks much like something you would see on a motherboard that is built with dual chipsets like the X58, ICh10R combination. But what you have here is the lower heatsink covering the GSATA chip, and the PCH is covered under what has been traditionally called the northbridge. The MOSFETs for the power circuit are covered with beefy heatsinks on the top of the board, but not the bottom, as seen at the top of this page. All of the heatsinks are interconnected by a large heatpipe to carry heat to the I/O area, to be dispersed through the back fan assembly of your case.
That about wraps up the tour of the board, so let's get it installed and see how she performs.