Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD6 and GA-P55A-UD4P Review

tacohunter52 - 2009-11-05 18:47:48 in Motherboards
Category: Motherboards
Reviewed by: tacohunter52   
Reviewed on: February 11, 2010
Price: UD6 $249 UD4P $185

Introduction:

The LGA 1156 socket is nothing new, which is not a bad thing. Why? Because it means that users looking to purchase one of the newer i5's or i7's have a lot more to choose from in terms of other hardware. There will be more coolers, more "Optimized" memory, and, last but not least, more motherboards. With all these choices, you should easily be able to find something to suit your needs and that could mean just about anything. If you're looking for something that can accommodate three videocards, you'll be able to find it. If you're looking for a motherboard that features six DIMM slots, you'll be able to find that as well. There are even some boards that use 2-oz of copper in their PCB!  Users looking for higher end products will be pleased to know that motherboard manufacturers have released a multitude of high-end boards. These come with all sorts of features that will keep the board cooler, allow you to overclock faster, or use the Internet without booting into windows. It seems as though every manufacturer has found some way to include something special in their product.

Today I'll be taking a look at two motherboards from Gigabyte. The P55A-UD4P, and it's bigger brother the P55A-UD6. Both of these boards carry Gigabyte's "Ultra Durable 3" branding, so there must be something special about them. How will these boards perform, and what special things is Gigabyte offering? I intend to find out.

Closer Look

As always, let's start with the packaging. Both Gigabyte boards came in very similar boxes. The UD4P used a green theme, while the UD6 used a Blue theme and was slightly bigger. Other than that, the boxes appeared to be pretty much identical. The front featured the motherboards name, and a picture of '333 Onboard Acceleration'.  There are also three boxes telling you what the '333 Onboard Acceleration' is: USB 3.0, USB Power 3X, and SATA 3.0. The back of the box provides the user with even more details of the boards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sides of the box follow the traditional motherboard box theme. Three sides sport the manufacturers logo, as well as the board's name and some minor specs. The fourth side features some more detailed specifications about the motherboard.

 

 

 

Opening the P55A-UD4P's box reveals the board carefully placed in an anti-static bag. The P55A-UD6, on the other hand, is packaged in another box. Not only that, but it is covered in a plastic clamshell. This allows the user to see the board before removing it from its packaging, and it protects the motherboard at the same time.

 

 

The included accessories are what you'd expect from a motherboard. You'll receive four SATA cables, an IDE cable, and a SLI bridge. With the P55A-UD6, you'll also receive some less common accessories. These are an expansion bracket that has two eSATA connectors and one Molex connector. To go with this, you'll receive two eSATA Cables, and a Molex to SATA power adapter.

 

 

Now, let's take a closer look at the boards!

Let's first take a look at the P55A-UD4P. Taking a quick glance we can see that the board has an extraordinarily neat layout. However, digging a little deeper shows us that it's Gigabyte has brought more to the table, then just a neat layout. For instance, the UD4P is fully equipped with Japanese Solid Capacitors, Lower RDS(on) MOSFETs, and Ferrite Core Chokes. Sure, a lot of companies feature similar components, but the P55A-UD4P has something that others don't. This is a 2-oz Copper PCB. That's right! Instead of the usual 1Oz of copper, the P55A-UD4P has two .070mm copper layers. This will give you cooler temperatures, more energy efficiency, and enhanced stability while overclocking (So they say). The back of the PCB is shiny, blue, and sexy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The area around the side of the motherboard closest to the LGA 1156 socket is fairly boring. It did however, have a fan connector! The I/O Panel side of the board, on the other hand, is much more intriguing. It comes fully equipped with everything you'll need. The user will be able to utilize ten USB ports, two eSATA ports, two LAN ports, a PS/2 port, a digital audio port, a FireWire port, and your standard audio ports. Wow, that was a mouthful! The other end of the board is where you'll be connecting the front header ports. It's got pretty much everything we see on motherboards. The one complaint I have here, is that the IDE connector is located in this very area. I absolutely hate this, why? Not because it effects the layout, but because I'm semi OCD and like the IDE connector being right next to the 24Pin connector. Oh well, guess I'll have to get over it! Speaking of the 24-Pin connector, right next to it is a total of eight SATA ports. That should keep you hard drive hungry users happy!

 

 

 

The P55A-UD4P will allow you to use four DIMMs of DDR3 memory. The board supports Dual Channel memory, so you'll need to alternate DIMM slots in order to utilize it. Located right next to the DIMM slots is the 24-Pin power connector. The 8-Pin Auxiliary power connector is located in the motherboards corner, which should help improve wire management. As far as PCI slots you'll be able to use three PCIe X 1 slots, two PCIe X 16 slots, and 2 PCI slots. However, using two standard size videocards will block one of the PCIe X 1 slots, and one of the PCI slots.

 

 

 

I've already mentioned the eight SATA ports, but I didn't mention that they were all angled. This makes it extremely easy to manage/hide wires, unless of course you're rocking a cramped case. In which case, you may have to deal with a rats nest. Located behind these ports is the P55A-UD4P's dual BIOS. To the left of this are two fan connectors. As far as front panel connectors go you'll have your usual offerings. You'll also be able to use two USB connectors, a FDD connector, a LPT connector, a COM port, and an IDE connector. Right above the IDE connector is the clear CMOS jumper, which could come in handy if you're overclocking.

 

 

 

Almost in the center of the P55A-UD4P is the 12 Phase power, and the LGA 1156 socket. For those of you that are still paranoid of the "LGA 1156 socket problem." You'll be pleased to know that the P55A-UD4P uses a LOTES socket.

 

Now let's take a look at the P55A-UD6!

Closer Look

The P55A-UD6 is extremely similar to the P55A-UD4P. They are both branded with Gigabyte's Ultra Durable 3 trademark, plus they're both sexy and blue. This means the P55A-UD6 is equipped with USB 3.0, USB Power 3X, and SATA 3.0. The board also uses the 2-oz copper PCB, which I think is pretty cool. However, the boards are obviously not the same thing, so let's go and find the differences!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In terms of connectivity, the P55A-UD6 matches the P55A-UD4P. It has ten USB ports, two LAN ports, a PS/2 port, a FireWire port, a digital audio port, and the standard audio ports. Looking at the side containing the front panel connectors, we can see a few differences. However, we'll get to that a little bit later. We can again see more differences by looking at the side of the board with the 24-Pin power connector. The remaining side, is nice and empty!

 

 

 

For this next bit let's play a game of spot the difference. Can you see what's different about the P55A-UD6's DIMM slots? If you said there's six of them, then you're correct. I know that some of you are thinking, "Cool triple channel memory!" Sadly this is incorrect. Although the P55A-UD6 has six DIMM slots, it's still uses dual channel memory. When installing memory your first two DIMMs must go into the white slots, which are the 3rd and 5th DIMM slot. I find this a little bit strange, but it works perfectly fine. Below the DIMM slots is the 24-Pin power connector. The 8-Pin Auxiliary power connector is again located in a corner of the motherboard. Another nifty little feature is located near the DIMM slots. This is of course an onboard power switch. These are nothing new, but they're nice to have, especially when benching!

 

 

 

Gigabyte wouldn't give you a power switch without a reset switch. Instead of it being located next to the power switch, the reset switch is located next to the LED debugger. These are both located near the front panel connectors. In terms of PCI slots, the P55A-UD6 is fully loaded! You'll be able to use a total of three PCIe X 16 slots, however these slots run at x16, x8, and x4 respectively. You'll also be able to use two PCI slots, or two PCIe X 1 slots.

 

 

As far as front panel connectors, you'll find that the P55A-UD6 matches the P55A-UD4P. One of the few differences, is that it actually has a clear CMOS button, rather then the clear CMOS jumper. There is also two USB connectors, a COM connector, and an FDD connector. Like the P55A-UD4P, the P55A-UD6 uses a LOTES socket.

 

Closer Look:

The Gigabyte boards came with a ton of drivers and programs. For this reason, Gigabyte made it extremely easy to install everything that you need all at once. Simply insert the DVD and hit install all. Sadly, you will need to individually install each of the programs. However, this is not such a bad thing. On the contrary, this way you'll only be installing the programs you actually want.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first program we'll take a look at is the @BIOS. This is another one of those 'in OS' BIOS updaters, but it gives you a few options. You'll be able to update the BIOS from Gigabyte's servers, from a file, or you'll be able to save down your current BIOS. Speaking of saving BIOS, the P55A-UD4P also came with a program called Face Wizard. No, this is not a Facebook rip off. Instead, it allows you to easily manage BIOS images. For some users, this could be extraordinarily handy.

 

 

The final three programs that were included with the program are the DMI Info Viewer, the Easy Tune 6, and the Gigabyte Raid Manager. The DMI Info Viewer allows you to see.., well.., system info. The Raid Manager, again, has a name that perfectly describes what it does. It allows you to manage any RAID arrays you may have running. The Easy Tune 6 is a bit more complicated. This program will allow you to easily overclock your rig. You'll be able to switch between three preset overclocks, or adjust the settings manually. However, you will still need to restart whenever you make any changes.

 

 

Now let's take a look at the BIOS.

Closer Look:

It's time to take a look at where all the magic happens. In other words, the BIOS! Like all BIOS, there is a main menu page. From here you can select different categories, each containing settings you'll be able to adjust. The first section we'll be looking at is the Standard CMOS Features. In this section you'll be able to adjust date and time, view information about IDE and SATA devices, and you'll be able to tell the system what to halt on during startup.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next up, we've got the Advanced BIOS Features. Under this section you'll be able to change slightly more advanced features. These include changing boot priority and enabling the flash screen on startup. You'll also be able to enable S.M.A.R.T., which can prove to be extremely useful. Another useful feature in this section is the ability to back up a BIOS image to the HDD. The following two sections are Integrated Peripherals, and Power Management. Both sections will allow you to adjust things that fit their respective names. For instance, in Integrated peripherals, you'll be able to adjust the SATA controller, the eSATA controller, or manage G-SATA RAID settings. In Power Management you'll be able to adjust things such as Power On By Mouse, or Power On By Keyboard.

 

 

 

The final section is PC Health Status. Here you'll be able to view things such as temperatures and voltages. The two BIOS password sections simply open a red box. In this red box you'll input the password you'd like to use. Or you can do what most of us do, and just not use a BIOS password.

 

Closer Look:

Next up we're going to take a look at the most important section of the BIOS, the MB Intelligent Tweaker. In this section, we'll be able to adjust everything needed to push our hardware to it's full potential. Our first option is something we don't usually see on motherboards. It is called M.I.T. Current Status, and it shows you the current status of your hardware. You'll be able to view information such as BCLK and QPI frequencies, as well as your multiplier and memory speeds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next section is titled Advanced Frequency Settings. You should be able to guess what you'll be able to adjust in this section, but just in case you can't, you'll be able to adjust settings needed to control hardware frequencies. Most of your overclocking will be done in this section. In it you'll be able to adjust the Multiplier, the BCLK, the QPI Clock Ratio, and a few other vital settings. Right under the Advanced Frequency settings are the Advanced Memory settings. Here you'll be able to adjust the memory multiplier and timings.  Next up, we've got the advanced voltage control which, you guessed it, allows you to adjust voltages. Under voltage control is a section labeled Miscellaneous Settings you'll be able to enable Isochronous Support, and Virtualization Technology.

 

 

 

Now let's take a more detailed look at how we can adjust these settings. Right at the top of the list is the CPU multiplier. This can be adjusted by entering a number with your keypad. Under the multiplier is the Advanced CPU Core Features. This section isn't as important as the voltage and frequency controls, but it will prove to be an important section when overclocking. Here you'll be able to Enable Turbo Boost, C1E, EIST, the Thermal Monitor, and a few other features. You'll also have the ability to enable/disable CPU cores.

 

 

You won't be able to do much in terms of changing the QPI clock ratio. You'll have the choice of setting it at X32 or X36. Another feature that doesn't give you a whole lot of options is the BCLK Control. You'll be able to Enable/Disable the ability to adjust the BCLK, however, I'm sure most of the members here would leave it enabled. The next two settings up are the Extreme Memory Profile, and the System Memory Multiplier. The Extreme Memory Profile will allow you to select a memory profile, and the System Memory Multiplier will allow you to set the memory multiplier. Seems simple enough!

 

 

Like most boards, the P55A-UD4P and UD6 will let you set the PCI Frequency. You won't be able to manually enter the numbers, but rather select from a list. Some users may find the C.A.I.2 to come in handy. It will allow you to select from a few different profiles. After you've made your choice, it will "automatically adjust computing power to maximize performance". If what we've seen so far isn't enough tweaking for you, why not adjust the CPU and PCI Clock Drives? You will once again be able to select from a list of settings.

 

 

 

The last setting we'll be able to mess with in the Advanced Frequency Settings is the CPU Clock Skew. Once again you'll be able to select from a list of settings. Now let's get into the Advanced Memory Settings. Our first option up is the X.M.P. which you will be able to Enable or Disable. I find that I have more control of the memory when the X.M.P. is set to disabled, however, other users might enjoy using it. You'll find that you're once again given the option to adjust the System Memory Multiplier, but if you don't want to do that you could always set the performance to Standard, Turbo, or Extreme.

 

 

 

The last setting in the Advanced Memory Settings is the Selectable DRAM Timings. Your options will be AUTO, QUICK, or EXPERT. Now let's move on to the voltage control. Every setting in this section will allow you to select from a list of settings. The only exception to this is the Load Line Calibration, which can be enabled or disabled. The two Miscellaneous settings can also be disabled or enabled.

 

 

Now let's take a look at how these babies perform!

Specifications

P55A-UD4P

 
 
 
 
CPU:
  • Support for an Intel® Core™ i7 series processor/Intel® Core™ i5 series processor in the LGA1156 package (Go to GIGABYTE's website for the latest CPU support list.)
  • L3 cache varies with CPU
Chipset:
  • Intel® P55 Express Chipset
 
 
 
 
 
 
Memory:
  • 4 x 1.5V DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 16 GB of system memory
  • Dual channel memory architecture
  • Support for DDR3 2200/1600/1333/1066/800 MHz memory modules
  • Support for non-ECC memory modules
  • Support for Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) memory modules
 
 
 
Audio:
  • Realtek ALC889 codec
  • High Definition Audio
  • 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
  • Support for Dolby® Home Theater
  • Support for S/PDIF In/Out
  • Support for CD In
 
 
LAN:
  • 2 x RTL8111D chips (10/100/1000 Mbit)
  • Support for Teaming
  • Support Smart Dual LAN
 
 
 
 
Expansion Slots:
  • w*1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16)
  • *1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x8 (PCIEX8) (The PCIEX16 and PCIEX8 slots conforms to PCI Express 2.0 standard.)
  • 3 x PCI Express x1 slots
  • 2 x PCI slots
 
 
Multi-Graphics Technology:
  • Support for ATI CrossFireX™/NVIDIA SLI technology
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Storage Interface:
Chipset:
  1. 6 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (SATA2_0, SATA2_1, SATA2_2, SATA2_3, SATA2_4, SATA2_5) supporting up to 6 SATA 3Gb/s devices
  2. Support for SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10
Marvell 9128 chip:
  1. 2 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors (GSATA3_6, GSATA2_7) supporting up to 2 SATA 6Gb/s devices
  2. Support for SATA RAID 0
JMB362 SATA2 chip:
  1. 2 x eSATA 3Gb/s connectors on the back panel supporting up to 2 SATA 3Gb/s devices
  2. Support for SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, and JBOD
iTE IT8213 chip:
  1. 1 x IDE connector supporting ATA-133/100/66/33 and up to 2 IDE devices
iTE IT8720 chip:
  1. 1 x floppy disk drive connector supporting up to 1 floppy disk drive
 
 
 
IEEE 1394:
  • T.I. TSB43AB23 chip
  • Up to 3 IEEE 1394a ports (2 on the back panel, 1 via the IEEE 1394a bracket connected to the internal IEEE 1394a header)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Internal I/O Connectors:
  • 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
  • 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
  • 1 x floppy disk drive connector
  • 1 x IDE connector
  • 6 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors
  • 2 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
  • 1 x CPU fan header
  • 2 x system fan headers
  • 1 x power fan header
  • 1 x PCH chip fan header
  • 1 x front panel header
  • 1 x front panel audio header
  • 1 x CD In connector
  • 1 x S/PDIF In header
  • 1 x S/PDIF Out header
  • 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
  • 1 x IEEE 1394a header
  • 1 x serial port header
  • 1 x parallel port header
  • 1 x clearing CMOS jumper
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Back Panel Connectors:
  • 1 x PS/2 keyboard or PS/2 mouse port
  • 1 x coaxial S/PDIF Out connector
  • 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
  • 2 x IEEE 1394a ports
  • 8 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
  • 2 x USB 3.0 ports
  • 2 x eSATA 3Gb/s ports
  • 2 x RJ-45 ports
  • 6 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out/Rear Speaker Out/ Side Speaker Out/Line In/Line Out/Microphone)
I/O Controller:
  • iTE IT8720 chip
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
H/W Monitoring:
  • System voltage detection
  • CPU/System temperature detection
  • CPU/System/Power fan speed detection
  • CPU overheating warning
  • CPU/System/Power fan fail warning
  • CPU/System fan speed control
 
 
BIOS:
  • 2 x 16 Mbit flash
  • Use of licensed AWARD BIOS
  • Support for DualBIOS™
  • PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.4, ACPI 1.0b
Form Factor:
  • ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 24.4cm

 

P55A-UD6

 
 
 
CPU:
  • Support for an Intel® Core™ i7 series processor/Intel® Core™ i5 series processor in the LGA1156 package (Go to GIGABYTE's website for the latest CPU support list.)
  • L3 cache varies with CPU
Chipset:
  • Intel® P55 Express Chipset
 
 
 
 
Memory:
  • 6 x 1.5V DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 16 GB of system memory
  • Dual channel memory architecture
  • Support for DDR3 2600+/2200/1600/1333/1066/800 MHz memory modules
  • Support for non-ECC memory modules
  • Support for Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) memory modules
 
 
 
Audio:
  • Realtek ALC889 codec
  • High Definition Audio
  • 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
  • Support for Dolby® Home Theater
  • Support for S/PDIF In/Out
  • Support for CD In
 
LAN:
  • 2 x RTL8111D chips (10/100/1000 Mbit)
  • Support for Teaming
  • Support for Smart Dual LAN
 
 
 
Expansion Slots:
  • 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16_1)
  • 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x8 (PCIEX8_1) (The PCIEX16_1 and PCIEX8_1 slots conform to PCI Express 2.0 standard.)
  • 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x4 (PCIEX4_1)
  • 2 x PCI Express x1 slots
  • 2 x PCI slots
Multi-Graphics Technology:
  • Support for ATI CrossFireX™/NVIDIA SLI technology Technology (The PCIEX16_1 and PCIEX8_1 slots only.)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Storage Interface:
Chipset:
  1. 6 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (SATA2_0, SATA2_1, SATA2_2, SATA2_3, SATA2_4, SATA2_5) supporting up to 6 SATA 3Gb/s devices
  2. Support for SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10
Marvell 9128 chip:
  1. 2 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors (GSATA3_6, GSATA3_7) supporting up to SATA 6Gb/s devices
  2. Support for SATA RAID 0
JMB362 chip:
  1. 2 x eSATA 3Gb/s connectors (eSATA/USB Combo) on the back panel sup- porting up to 2 SATA 3Gb/s devices
  2. Support for SATA RAID 0, RAID 1 and JBOD
iTE IT8213 chip:
  1. 1 x IDE connector supporting ATA-133/100/66/33 and up to 2 IDE devices
iTE IT8720 chip:
  1. 1 x floppy disk drive connector supporting up to 1 floppy disk drive
 
 
 
 
USB:
Chipset
  1. Up to 12 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (8 on the back panel, including 2 eSATA/USB Combo, 4 via the USB brackets connected to the internal USB headers)
NEC chip
  1. Up to 2 USB 3.0/2.0 ports on the back panel
 
IEEE 1394:
  • T.I. TSB43AB23 chip
  • Up to 3 IEEE 1394a ports (2 on the back panel, 1 via the IEEE 1394a bracket connected to the internal IEEE 1394a header)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Internal I/O Connectors:
  • 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
  • 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
  • 1 x floppy disk drive connector
  • 1 x IDE connector
  • 6 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors
  • 2 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
  • 1 x CPU fan header
  • 3 x system fan headers
  • 1 x power fan header
  • 1 x Chipset fan header
  • 1 x front panel header
  • 1 x front panel audio header
  • 1 x CD In connector
  • 1 x S/PDIF In header
  • 1 x S/PDIF Out header
  • 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
  • 1 x IEEE 1394a header
  • 1 x serial port header
  • 1 x clearing CMOS button
  • 1 x power button
  • 1 x reset button
 
 
 
 
Back Panel Connectors:
  • 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
  • 1 x coaxial S/PDIF Out connector
  • 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
  • 2 x IEEE 1394a ports
  • 6 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
  • 6 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
  • 2 x eSATA/USB Combo connectors
  • 2 x RJ-45 ports
  • 6 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out/Rear Speaker Out/ Side Speaker Out/Line In/Line Out/Microphone)
I/O Controller:
  • iTE IT8720 chip
 
 
H/W Monitoring:
  • System voltage detection
  • CPU/System temperature detection
  • CPU/System/Power fan speed detection
  • CPU overheating warning
  • CPU/System/Power fan fail warning
  • CPU/System fan speed control
 
BIOS:
  • 2 x 16 Mbit flash
  • Use of licensed AWARD BIOS
  • Support for DualBIOS™
  • PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.4, ACPI 1.0b
Form Factor:
  • ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 24.4cm

 

Features:

P55A-UD4P

P55A-UD6

All information on this page courtesy of: http://www.gigabyte.us/Products/Motherboard/Products_Spec.aspx?ClassValue=Motherboard&ProductID=3250&ProductName=GA-P55A-UD4P and http://www.gigabyte.us/Products/Motherboard/Products_Spec.aspx?ClassValue=Motherboard&ProductID=3242&ProductName=GA-P55A-UD6

Testing:

From what we've seen so far, the P55H-A isn't the best board in town. However, a judgment cannot be passed until it has gone through the entire OCC Benchmarking Suite. This includes a series of synthetic and real world benches that will allow us to accurately size up the P55H-A. I will be testing both motherboards at stock settings, and then with the CPU overclocked. I will use the following hardware and comparison boards.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Motherboards:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked Settings: (P55A-UD4P)

At first I had a lot of trouble overclocking with this motherboard. Part of it was because I was not used to how the BIOS was organized, however I soon overcame that challenge. Another problem I had, was my hardware was being finicky with the multiplier of 19, which is usually not the case. For some reason these newer chips like odd numbered multipliers, so I decided to stick with a multiplier of 21 rather then staying with the beloved 20. I began by increasing the FSB in increments of 10, and then increasing the voltage when needed. I also tried to run my memory as close to 1600MHz as I could. For this reason I would occasionally have to adjust the memory multiplier, which was extremely easy to do. I was surprised because, on every other 1156 board I've used, I've only been able to get my i5 to around 4.1Ghz. With the UD4P, I was able to push slightly above 4.3GHz. Not to shabby! I'm sure with a bit more tweaking one could do some serious damage with this board.

 

Overclocked Settings: (P55A-UD6)

Overclocking on the P55A-UD6 was almost the same as with the UD4P. In fact, I originally tried using the same settings, however this didn't actually work. In fact, any attempt at using the higher multiplier with a FSB above 200MHz would result in an instant bluescreen. I ended up dropping the FSB down to 190MHz and the multi to 20. I would then increase the FSB in increments of 5 until I again reach instability. This hit at 210MHz. At this point I decided to decrease the FSB by 1MHz until I had regained stability, and could last a good 8 hours of Prime95. I like my memory to run at its designated speeds, and I found that a multiplier of 8 brought it the closest to 1600MHz.

Benchmarks:

  1. Apophysis
  2. WinRAR
  3. Office 2007 Excel Number Crunch
  4. POV Ray 3.7
  5. PCMark Vantage Professional
  6. Sandra XII
  7. ScienceMark 2.02
  8. Cinebench 10
  9. HD Tune 2.55
  1. Far Cry 2
  2. Crysis Warhead
  3. BioShock
  4. Call of Duty: World At War
  5. Dead Space 
  6. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II
  7. Left 4 Dead
  8. 3DMark 06 Professional
  9. 3DMark Vantage

Testing:

The first part of our testing will be the system specific benchmarks.

 

Let's get started with Apophysis. This program is used primarily to render and generate fractal flame images. We will run this benchmark with the following settings:

 

The measurement used is time to render, in minutes, to complete.

 

  

 

 

 

 

Lower is Better

 

WinRAR is a tool to archive and compress large files to a manageable size. We will use 100MB and 500MB files to test the time needed to compress these files. Time will be measured in seconds.

 

ZIP:

 

Lower is Better

 

RAR:

 

Lower is Better

 

Both the P55A-UD4P and the P55A-UD6 performed spot-on with the competition. We did see some very small improvements with the P55A-UD6, but not enough to call it better then the others. We saw some decent improvements with the overclocks as well.

Testing:

Office 2007 Excel Big Number Crunch: This test takes a 6.2MB Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and performs about 28,000 sets of calculations, including many of the most commonly used calculations in Excel. The measure of this test is how long it takes to refresh the sheet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower Is Better

 

POV Ray 3.7: This program features a built-in benchmark that renders an image using Ray Tracing. The latest versions offer support for SMP (Symmetric MultiProcessing), enabling the workload to be spread across the cores for quicker completion.

Higher Is Better

 

PCMark Vantage x64 is used to measure complete system performance. We will be running a series of tests to gauge performance of each individual motherboard to see which motherboard, if any, rises above the others.

 

Once again, the to Gigabyte boards scored about the same as every other board. This is pretty good, especially because you'll be able to choose a board based on its features, and not have to worry about it performing horribly.  When overclocked, the motherboards demonstrated some pretty huge improvements.

Testing:

SiSoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful. For this benchmark, I will be running a broad spectrum of tests to gauge the performance of key functions of the CPUs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Processor Arithmetic

 

Multi-Core Efficiency

 

Memory Bandwidth

 

Memory Latency

 

Cache and Memory

 

File System

 

Physical Disks

 

Power Management Efficiency

 

Once again, we see both boards performing exactly the same as the competition. The overclocks gave some sort of performance increase in each of the benchmarks.

Testing:

ScienceMark tests real world performance instead of using synthetic benchmarks. For this test, we ran the benchmark suite and will use the overall score for comparison.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

  

 

 

Higher is Better

 

CineBench is useful for testing your system, CPU and OpenGL capabilities using the software program CINEMA 4D. We will be using the default tests for this benchmark.

 

Higher is Better

 

HD Tune measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers.

 

Higher is Better

 

 

Lower is Better

 

Neither the P55A-UD4P or the P55A-UD6 were able to increase HDD performance in HDTune. This, once again, leaves us with similar performance to the competition. The overclock provided decent increases in performance.

Testing:

Far Cry 2:

Featuring a new game engine named Dunia, this game looks to be another one to stress your video card. Built specially for Far Cry 2, this engine allows for real-time effects and damage. This next generation first-person shooter comes to us from Ubisoft, surprisingly - not from Crytek. The game is set in a war-torn region of Africa where there is a non-existent central government and the chaos that surrounds this type of social environment. If you have seen the movie Blood Diamond, you know the setting. Ubisoft puts the main storyline of the game into focus with these statements: "Caught between two rival factions in war-torn Africa, you are sent to take out "The Jackal," a mysterious character who has rekindled the conflict between the warlords, jeopardizing thousands of lives. In order to fulfill your mission you will have to play the factions against each other, identify and exploit their weaknesses, and neutralize their superior numbers and firepower with surprise, subversion, cunning and, of course, brute force." In this Far Cry game, you don't have the beautiful water, but instead the beauty and harshness of the African continent to contend with. Most games give you a set area that can be played through, while Ubisoft has given the gamer the equivalent of 50km2 of the vast African continent to explore while in pursuit of your goals. The settings used are just a few steps below the maximum in-game settings and offer a good blend of performance vs. visual quality.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

The two Gigabyte boards performed on par with the competition. When overclocked we saw a few FPS increase, which isn't too shabby.

Testing:

Crysis Warhead is a standalone expansion pack situated in time with the storyline of the original Crysis. As Sergeant "Psycho" Sykes, you have a secret mission to accomplish on the far side of the island. Along the way there are EMP blasts and Aliens to contend with, as you hunt down the KPA chief. This game uses an enhanced version of the CryEngine 2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In just about every resolution the Gigabyte boards performed exactly the same as the competition. The overclock made almost no difference in performance.

Testing:

BioShock is one of the creepier games you can play. The building of a perfect Utopian society undersea gone horribly wrong. Its inhabitants driven mad with the introduction of tonics and genetic modifications. Now Rapture is just a shadow of its former glory with little girls looting the dead of what little they have left while being shadowed by guardians known as "Big Daddies". It is a demanding game that will make your hardware scream for mercy. This first-person shooter allows for an infinite number of weapons and modifications to provide a unique experience each time it is played. The environment, as well as the storyline, will wrap you up for hours on end.

 

Video Settings:

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bioshock shows a bit more performance variation between boards than other benchmarks. Here we see the Gigabyte boards performing toward the top of the chart, but not at the top. The overclocks provided some minor increases in framerates.

Testing:

Activision's Call Of Duty: World at War goes right back to the bread and butter of the franchise - WWII FPS action. In this rendition, you start off in the South Pacific and move through a series of missions that flip back and forth between the Russian front and the island hopping advance toward the Imperial Japanese homeland. Included is a mission on Peliliu Island, arguably one of the more difficult and costly battles in the Pacific theater. The gameplay in the single player mode is rather short, but the game makes up for this shortcoming in online gameplay. If you thought COD4 looked nice, this game is amazing with the graphics maxed out playing at a large resolution. This game just may be my reason to move to a 30-inch monitor. I will use Fraps to measure a section of gameplay in the Semper Fi map on Makin Island to compare performance of these video cards.

Settings:

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WAW, once again, shows a bit more performance variation between the boards. This helps us see exactly where the Gigabyte boards fall into place, which is at the top of the charts. Once again, the overclocks only gave us a minor increase in framerates.

Testing:

In Dead Space, as part of the crew of the USG Kellion you are headed on a repair mission to repair a ship in distress. Things go from bad to worse, starting with the crash landing of the seemingly silent and "dead" ship, the USG Ishimuru. Offering a non-traditional, over-the-shoulder viewing angle, the game gets right into the action as soon as the ventilation systems are activated. From there things get worse with the appearance of the Necromorphs. Survival now becomes a primary concern for the primary character Isaac Clarke. Survive and you may find the loved one that was aboard the Ishimuru.

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gigabyte boards must have loved our Dead Space benchmark, because it performed exactly the same as the competition! We saw a few a few extra framerates when the boards were overclocked.

Testing:

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II is a real-time strategy game that is significantly different than its predecessor, with improved AI and an improved physics engine. You can either play single-player in campaign mode, or in a multiplayer game where Microsoft's Live ranking system can be used.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

This may be redundant, but the Gigabyte boards performed on par with the competition. At the lower resolutions, the overclocks actually gave us some significant improvements.

Testing:

Left 4 Dead is a new release from Valve that leaves you as part of a group of survivors in a world where an infection has rapidly turned the populace into a zombie horde. Your goal is to make it to a rescue point, all while fighting what seems like overwhelming odds. Along the way there are safe houses where you can replenish your weapons and health. The movie "I Am Legend" comes to mind to set the stage for this game. But unlike the movie, there are four characters and not just a lone gun and his faithful companion. The horde is not at all like the typical slow walking, foot shuffling zombies. These zombies are quick and work with pack mentality. You have but one job; survival!

Settings:

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once again, the boards performed the same, and once again we saw a decent performance increase with the overclocks.

Testing:

3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest begins. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how these boards fare. The settings we will use are listed below.

 

Settings:

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Futuremark benchmarks we saw all the boards performing very similarly. The overclocks gave us larger scores, which is good, if you're into that kind of thing!

Testing:

Featuring all-new game tests, this benchmark is for use with Vista-based systems. "There are two all-new CPU tests that have been designed around a new 'Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computation.' CPU test two offers support for physics related hardware." There are four preset levels that correspond to specific resolutions. "Entry" is 1024x768 progressing to "Extreme" at 1920x1200. Of course, each preset can be modified to arrange any number of user designed testing. For our testing, I will use the four presets at all default settings.

 Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No surprises here - the Gigabyte boards, once again, performed on par with the competition. We did see some significant improvements with the overclocks as well!

Conclusion

At this time you should be wondering if either of these boards is worth purchasing. The answer is yes, both of these boards would work extraordinarily well in any P55 system. However, you won't be able to decide which board is better simply by how well they perform in benchmarks. Why? Because just about every motherboard performed exactly the same. You'll need to decide what board fits you best by comparing it's features, specifications, an how well it will overclock for you.

We saw that both of these boards are full of great specifications and features. Both boards are capable of USB 3.0, SATA 3.0, and USB Power 3.0. They also both use 2-oz copper PCBs, and were built with the Ultra Durable 3 design.  In fact, the boards are almost identical. One of the main differences is the Phase Power for each board. The P55A-UD4P uses 12 phase power, while the P55A-UD6 uses 24 phase. Another difference between the boards is the PCIe and memory slots. The UD6 has 3 PCIe slots and six DDR3 Dimm slots, while the UD4P utilizes only two PCIe slots and four DDR3 Dimm slots. This tells us that the UD6 is aimed at the slightly higher end user. That's not to say it doesn't have it's quirks! I found putting my DIMMs in the 3rd and 6th slot rather strange.

As far as overclocking goes both boards were great at it. Both boards were able to bring my i5 750 above 4GHz, and the dual BIOS greatly aided in this conquest. I was very surprised to see the P55A-UD4P actually overclock higher then the UD6. Not only that, but a full 200MHz higher. When the boards were overclocked, we saw some pretty big performance increases, which is always good.

In the end, I'd reccomend these boards to anyone who wants to spend the money. That being said, unless you want to use three videocards, you may he happier with the UD4P. It's slightly cheaper, overclocks a little bit better, and offer you more then you need!

 

Gigabyte GA P55A-UD4P

Pros:

 

Cons:

 

Gigabyte GA P55A-UD6

Pros:

 

Cons: