Board features (cont’d) and layout
With Gigabyte targeting the EP45-UD3P towards hardware enthusiasts on a budget, the board has many aspects you expect on a high-end motherboard, but to keep price down Gigabyte doesn’t go completely all-out like they do on their really ultra high-end DQ6 motherboards.
For instance, the board supports high-end features like dual Gigabit LAN, FSB speeds of 1600MHz, dual PCI Express graphics, DDR2 speeds as high as 1366MHz, eSATA, heatpipe cooling, and the Ultra Durable 3 features we mentioned on the first page, but Gigabyte uses a six-phase power design instead of the 8+4 power phase design (12 effective) used on their ultra pricey flagship motherboards.
You can also see this on the cooling system Gigabyte implemented. Gigabyte’s flagship boards feature all-copper heatpipe cooling for the North and South Bridge of the system chipset, with dual heatpipes used to cool the North Bridge and 12-phase power circuitry. In comparison Gigabyte employs a single nickel-plated aluminum heatpipe on EP45-UD3P. This heatpipe cools the North Bridge as well as some of the MOSFETs powering the CPU.
Again, these compromises are made to keep the price of the motherboard down: currently this motherboard sells for $130 on Newegg, and $110 after mail-in rebate. In comparison, Gigabyte’s flagship P45 motherboard, the GA-EP45 Extreme sells for $245 and $215 after rebate. Considering all the goodies UD3P ships with, including CrossFire support, Gigabyte has put together a very impressive package for $110.
In terms of the motherboard’s layout, Gigabyte has done an excellent job with the design of the EP45-UD3P. Gigabyte provides plenty of room around the CPU socket for oversized CPU coolers, while there’s also plenty of room between the PCI Express graphics slots for dual-slot cards like the Radeon 4870 to fit with enough room between them for optimal airflow. Two slots (one PCI slot and one x1 PCIe slot) separate the two PCI Express graphics slots.
Those of you with multiple SATA drives will also appreciate the layout of the SATA ports. None of them interfere with the PCI Express graphics slots. Even with very long graphics cards like the GTX 280 and Radeon 4870 X2, you’ll have no problems hooking up your SATA drives to the motherboard’s 8 SATA ports.
Overall we couldn’t find a single issue with the EP45-UD3P’s board layout.
For expansion the board is also well equipped. Out back you’ll find eight USB 2.0 ports, digital audio outputs (both coax and optical), 6 audio jacks, dual RJ-45 Ethernet ports, dual IEEE-1394a Firewire ports, and PS/2 mouse and keyboard ports. Gigabyte also includes an external 2-port eSATA header inside the motherboard’s packaging.