Gigabyte currently holds our A-List crown in both the LGA 775 and Socket AM2+ motherboard categories, so our hopes were high for its first board based on the Core i7’s LGA 1336 design.
It’s tough to make a splash in this market, though: Core i7 only works with Intel’s X58 chipset, so all Core i7 boards have a similar basic design, including three-channel RAM and a high-speed QPI bus.
The Gigabyte does have some great strengths. It boasts 40 PCI Express lanes – eight more than the Asus P6T Deluxe – so you can use its three full-length slots in a 16/16/8 configuration.
With support for both SLI and CrossFireX, this gives immense headroom for high-end gamers.
The EX58-UD5 also supports 4GB modules, so you can install 24GB of RAM across its six slots, running at frequencies up to DDR3-2000 and beyond. Its ten SATA ports and 12 USB connectors are generous, too.
One unusual trick is the ability to team the EX58-UD5’s two Gigabit Ethernet ports into one 2Gb connection: a neat idea, but most of us have difficulty saturating a 1Gb link, and you need another 2Gb device to use it.
Of more practical use is the dual-BIOS system, which can restore your BIOS from a backup; a potential life-saver.
We also liked the LED readout mounted on the board to help you troubleshoot hardware problems, although it’s a shame it uses cryptic hex codes instead of text.
The EX58-UD5’s final claim to greatness is its double-thickness conductive copper layers, which are supposed to offer less impedance than competing boards, lowering internal temperatures and increasing stability.
It’s impossible to realistically verify this, but we’ve been satisfied with the long-term reliability of Gigabyte products before.
All told, the EX58-UD5 is a top-quality board, but it carries a price tag to match. Core i7 is a premium platform, and if you’re buying in at this stage you don’t want a board that will hold you back.
There’s no such thing as a truly future-proof PC; but partner the EX58-UD5 with a fast Core i7 and you’ll be about as close as you can get.
This Review appeared in the February, 2009 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine
Source: Copyright © PC Pro, Dennis Publishing