The P55-USB3 is Gigabyte’s entry-level USB 3.0 offering for Intel’s P55 chipset. Despite this, that doesn’t mean that it’s light on features. In fact, it supports the same 2-ounce copper PCB and Smart 6 features present on Gigabyte’s pricier P55 boards, as well as offering support for up to 8 SATA drives – the P55 chipset drives six of them, while two additional SATA drives are supported by Gigabyte’s own SATA2 controller. Gigabyte’s DualBIOS feature is also supported, as is CrossFire, although as we’ll explain later this may not be the board for you if CrossFire support is important.
As its name implies though, it’s most important feature is USB 3.0, with NEC’s USB 3.0 controller used to provide support. The NEC controller can power up to two USB ports, which are colored blue to distinguish them from the board’s USB 2.0 ports driven natively by the P55 chipset. You’ll find ten USB ports on the back plate of the motherboard, which is a really nice number considering this board’s price point. As a result though Gigabyte chooses not to include a USB header inside the board’s packaging, so if you want to populate the board with more USB devices you’ll have to recycle one from another board or shell out for a new one yourself.
Like Gigabyte’s other motherboards with USB 3.0 support, the USB ports on the P55-USB3 support Gigabyte’s 3X USB power boost feature. As a result, both the USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports on the P55-USB3 are capable of supplying three times more power than traditional motherboards. In the case of the USB 2.0 ports, Gigabyte’s latest boards provide up to 1500 milliamps of power, versus the standard 500mA, while their USB 3.0 ports support up to 2700mA.
With more power per port, you can run power-hungry devices through one USB port instead of two. Many external USB hard drives for instance require two USB ports, one port is dedicated for data transfers, while the second is used solely for powering the device. With Gigabyte’s latest boards, you can run that same hard drive through just one USB port.
We’ve tested this feature out with an old external USB 2.0 Kingwin drive we have and it works flawlessly – instead of needing two USB cables for the drive to operate, it runs perfectly with just one.