Gigabyte EP45-UD3P Review
As every PC hardware enthusiast knows, the quest to build the perfect PC is an ongoing effort that never truly ends. We enthusiasts strive to get that extra 20MHz when overclocking, or shave five degrees off CPU, GPU, and case temps.
This in turn has fueled a myriad of companies who design products that are custom tailored for enthusiasts. Memory companies like OCZ bin the fastest modules with the tightest timings for use in their high-end memory modules, leaving the ordinary modules for use in their generic memory products; while companies as large as Intel offer Extreme Edition CPUs for enthusiasts who desire no-limits overclocking.
In the motherboard realm, companies like Gigabyte also offer products geared for the enthusiast crowd. Their motherboards were the first to ship with dual BIOS protection, while eSATA is another feature Gigabyte has offered on their high-end motherboards for years. Gigabyte was also the first motherboard manufacturer to go beyond the traditional 3-phase power design, first offering their external DPS (dual power system) power modules over five years ago with select high-end motherboards. Gigabyte’s latest motherboards now feature 8+4 power circuitry, for a grand total of 12 effective power phases.
Now Gigabyte is back with another first. Their Ultra Durable 3 (UD3) line of motherboards incorporate two ounces of copper for each of their board’s power and ground layers on the PCB; traditionally manufacturers have used one ounce of copper per layer. In theory, by doubling the amount of copper, heat from the CPU and other components can be dispersed more effectively across the UD3 motherboard, helping to reduce temps for the underlying system components installed in the PC.
When compared against a traditional motherboard with just one ounce of copper, Gigabyte claims their UD3 board runs up to 50 degrees Celsius cooler in the area surrounding the CPU, one of the biggest hotspots on the motherboard.
Theoretically with lower temps enthusiasts should have a little more headroom for overclocking, although often times these new high-end motherboards are so overbuilt with such high-quality components that the CPU itself becomes the bottleneck when OC’ing rather than the motherboard. A perfect example is the X38 platform. Technically the chipset wasn’t designed for 1600MHz FSB operation, but motherboard manufacturers like Gigabyte did such a good job with their X38 boards that they actually fully backed their products for use at 1600MHz speeds.
Like previous Ultra Durable Gigabyte motherboards, the UD3 boards continue to support features like the use of all-solid Japanese capacitors, ferrite core chokes, and lower resistance MOSFETs. These features help ensure board longevity and stability as well as reducing EMI interference. Gigabyte also equips their higher-end UD3 boards with goodies such as copper-based heatpipe cooling, CrossFire support, and dual Gigabit LAN.
The motherboard we’re reviewing today, the EP45-UD3P is Gigabyte’s flagship Ultra Durable 3 motherboard. It’s loaded with all the goodies we just mentioned, plus more.