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Gigabyte GA-X79-UD3 Socket 2011 Motherboard

Gigabyte X79-UD3For the gamer there is the great G1.Assassin2, for the bencher there is the X79-UD7 and for the enthusiast there is the X79-UD5. But for those that are a little bit more budget minded there is the X79-U3. At about $260, the UD3 has quite a bit of wanted features like SLI/X-Fire support, high quality components and decent overclocking abilities. Just what one would want without having to broke the bank.

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Gigabyte X79-UD3

Gigabyte X79-UD3For the gamer there is the great G1.Assassin2, for the bencher there is the X79-UD7 and for the enthusiast there is the X79-UD5. But for those that are a little bit more budget minded there is the X79-U3. At about $260, the UD3 has quite a bit of wanted features like SLI/X-Fire support, high quality components and decent overclocking abilities. Just what one would want without having to broke the bank.

Introduction to the Gigabyte GA-X79-UD3 Socket 2011 Motherboard

The launch of the latest AMD chipset, the 990FX just a few months ago bought us once again into an area where there would a ton of motherboards to test and write about. Its time like this that most reviewers, testers, benchers and bloggers really enjoy doing what they do. Yes, the time spent to get the article done in a meaningful time is a little tedious but it is still fun.

Now, it is Intel’s turn to unleash some new tech on the market. With the not so-hot performance of the AMD Bulldozer, it is up to Intel to provide us with the performance numbers we want in an upgrade from our old tired out systems. The X79 chipset was just released a couple of months ago with some pretty decent performance numbers but at a cost that many would have to wait for next mainstream chipset.

Many motherboard manufacturers like Gigabyte are well aware that many of us are not willing to pay an arm and a leg to get the next generation set of goodies. Yet, they can do nothing about the price of the CPU itself but they can sure do something about the pricing of the motherboards. Gigabyte on launch rolled out a series of motherboards that covers every sector of computer users based on the X79 chipset.

For the gamer there is the great G1.Assassin2, for the bencher there is the X79-UD7 and for the enthusiast there is the X79-UD5. But for those that are a little bit more budget minded there is the X79-U3. At about $260, the UD3 has quite a bit of wanted features like SLI/X-Fire support, high quality components and decent overclocking abilities. Just what one would want without having to broke the bank.

Specifications

CPU
  1. Support for Intel® Core™ i7 processors in the LGA2011 package
  2. L3 cache varies with CPU

(Please refer “CPU Support List” for more information.)

Chipset
  1. Intel® X79 Express Chipset
Memory
  1. 4 x 1.5V DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 32 GB of system memory
    * Due to Windows 32-bit operating system limitation, when more than 4 GB of physical memory is installed, the actual memory size displayed will be less than 4 GB.
  2. 4 channel memory architecture
  3. Support for DDR3 2133/1866/1600/1333/1066 MHz memory modules
  4. Support for non-ECC memory modules
  5. Support for Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) memory modules

(Please refer “Memory Support List” for more information.)

Audio
  1. Realtek ALC898 codec
  2. High Definition Audio
  3. 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
  4. Support for Dolby® Home Theater
  5. Support for S/PDIF Out
LAN
  1. 1 x Intel GbE LAN (10/100/1000 Mbit)
Expansion Slots
  1. 2 x PCI Express x16 slots, running at x16 (PCIEX16_1, PCIEX16_2)
    * For optimum performance, if only one PCI Express graphics card is to be installed, be sure to install it in the PCIEX16 slot.
  2. 2 x PCI Express x16 slots, running at x8 (PCIEX8_1, PCIEX8_2)
    * The PCIEX8_2 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIEX16_2 slot. When the PCIEX8_2 slot is populated, the PCIEX16_2 slot will operate at up to x8 mode.
    (All PCI Express x16 slots conform to PCI Express 3.0 standard.)
  3. 2 x PCI Express x1 slots
    (All PCI Express x1 slots conform to PCI Express 2.0 standard.)
  4. 1 x PCI slot
Multi-Graphics Technology
  1. Support for 4-Way/3-Way/2-Way AMD CrossFireX™/NVIDIA SLI technology
    * The PCIEX16 slots operate at up to x8 mode when 4-Way/3-Way AMD CrossFireX™/NVIDIA SLI is enabled.
Storage InterfaceChipset:

  1. 2 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors (SATA3 0/1) supporting up to 2 SATA 6Gb/s devices
  2. 4 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (SATA2 2/3/4/5) supporting up to 4 SATA 3Gb/s devices
  3. Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10
    * When a RAID set is built across the SATA 6Gb/s and SATA 3Gb/s channels, the system performance of the RAID set may vary depending on the devices being connected.

3 x Marvell 88SE9172 chips:

  1. 4 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors (GSATA3 6/7/8/9) supporting up to 4 SATA 6Gb/s devices
  2. 2 x eSATA 6Gb/s connectors on the back panel, supporting up to 2 SATA 6Gb/s devices
  3. Support for RAID 0 and RAID 1
USBChipset:

  1. Up to 14 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (8 ports on the back panel, 6 ports available through the internal USB headers)

2 x Fresco FL1009 chips:

  1. Up to 4 USB 3.0/2.0 ports (2 ports on the back panel, 2 ports available through the internal USB header)
Internal I/O Connectors
  1. 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
  2. 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
  3. 6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
  4. 4 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors
  5. 1 x CPU fan header
  6. 4 x system fan headers
  7. 1 x front panel header
  8. 1 x front panel audio header
  9. 1 x S/PDIF Out header
  10. 3 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
  11. 1 x USB 3.0/2.0 header
  12. 1 x serial port header
  13. 1 x Clear CMOS jumper
  14. 1 x Trusted Platform Module (TPM) header
Back Panel Connectors
  1. 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
  2. 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
  3. 1 x coaxial S/PDIF Out connector
  4. 8 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
  5. 2 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
  6. 2 x eSATA 6Gb/s connectors
  7. 1 x RJ-45 port
  8. 6 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out/Rear Speaker Out/Side Speaker Out/Line In/Line Out/Microphone)
I/O Controller
  1. iTE IT8728 chip
H/W Monitoring
  1. System voltage detection
  2. CPU/System temperature detection
  3. CPU/System fan speed detection
  4. CPU overheating warning
  5. CPU/System fan fail warning
  6. CPU/System fan speed control
    * Whether the CPU/system fan speed control function is supported will depend on the CPU/system cooler you install.
BIOS
  1. 2 x 64 Mbit flash
  2. Use of licensed AMI EFI BIOS
  3. Support for DualBIOS™
  4. PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.6, ACPI 2.0a
Unique Features
  1. Support for @BIOS
  2. Support for Q-Flash
  3. Support for Xpress BIOS Rescue
  4. Support for Download Center
  5. Support for Xpress Install
  6. Support for Xpress Recovery2
  7. Support for EasyTune
    * Available functions in EasyTune may differ by motherboard model.
  8. Support for Smart 6™
  9. Support for eXtreme Hard Drive (X.H.D)
  10. Support for ON/OFF Charge
  11. Support for Cloud OC
  12. Support for 3TB+ Unlock
  13. Support for TouchBIOS
  14. Support for Q-Share
Bundle Software
  1. Norton Internet Security (OEM version)
Operating System
  1. Support for Microsoft® Windows 7/Vista/XP
Form Factor
  1. ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 24.4cm
Remark
  1. Due to different Linux support condition provided by chipset vendors, please download Linux driver from chipset vendors’ website or 3rd party website.
  2. Most hardware/software vendors may no longer offer drivers to support Win9X/ME/2000/XP SP1/SP2. If drivers are available from the vendors, we will update them on the GIGABYTE website.

 

Closer Look

To begin the X79-UD3 is one of just four motherboards by Gigabyte to support the Intel socket 2011 processor. And at any rate I am sure you will see quite a few more to be released. The series consist of G1.Assassin2, UD7, UD and other test board today, the UD3. Granted the UD3 is the lowest of the four models but it does pack several features that will be looked for in a motherboard of this type. Support for overclocking, big time gaming and the all important stability. And because Gigabyte is so proud of their new offering they are backing the series with a five year warranty.

Strange to many of us is the location of the DIMM slots. No longer are all the slots located on the right corner of the motherboard which traditional has come to show us. Even number of slots are now located on each side of the CPU socket. In this case there are two on each side. Many of the mid to high-end motherboards will be equipped with three or four on each side. Due to a possible 25GB/s bus potential the X79 chipset now supports quad-channel memory addressing.

This particular motherboard supports a total of 32GB of DDR3 memory including 1066/1333/1600/1866 and 2133MHz modules. But one has to remember that the new processors have an integrated memory controller that is native to 1600MHz. So, anything above comes from the overclocking process.

The X79 chipset is only intended for socket 2011 processors like the 3960X and the 3930K. And with this being said new cooling hardware will need to be used. We have received several press releases of companies like Thermaltake and Noctua offering new mounting systems for some of their already made coolers.

With the CPU socket surrounded by DIMM slots and other components that may cause concern for those that want to use bigger coolers. We will take a more in depth look at this later. The UD3 uses an 8 phase power system to deliver reliable power to the CPU. And being part of the Ultra Durable 3 line-up the board uses all Japanese capacitors, lower RDS MOSFETS and ferrite core chokes. All benefiting you in various areas like lower overall operating temp of the motherboard, less wasted power and stability.

For a lesser end motherboard the UD3 has quite a few PCIe slots. There are two x16 and two x8 bandwidth slots which are all PCIe 3.0. Below the first and second longer slots are two x1 slot. And for legacy purposes there is a single PCI slot. For those wanting multi-GPU configurations the UD3 does support SLI and Crossfire up to 4-way.

In need of storage support look on further. The UD3 has a total of ten SATA ports. Starting from the right the two white ports is SATA III (Intel X79), four black ports are SATA II (Intel X79) and four gray ports are SATA III and controlled via a Marvel 88SE9172 controller. The Intel based ports support RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10 while the Marvel units support RAID 0 and 1.

The UD3 also gives you all the small comforts of the more expensive motherboards. There is a total of five fan header to control more than the minimum amounts to keep a system cool and air properly circulating. The AUX CPU power connector is located where behind the VRM and phase heat sink.

And speaking of heat sinks the UD3 has a total of two; the above mentioned one as well as one for the PCH. We have seen before launch that a number of motherboards are using active cooling on the PCH. But not in this case we assume the reason is overall overclocking that can be done on this board.

  • PS/2 (mouse/KB)
  • 10x USB ports (8x USB 2.0 & 2x USB3.0)
  • 2x eSATA (Marvell 88SE9172)
  • 1x LAN port (Intel)
  • 7.1 channel audio (Realtek ALC898)

Testing

Test Hardware:
Motherboard: Gigabyte X79-UD3
Processor: Intel Core i7 3930K
Ram: Crucial Ballistix 16GB (XMP Profile 1)
Video Card: ASUS Nvidia GTX 560 Ti 448 Cores
HDD: Hitachi 1TB
Power: Thermaltake Tough Power XT 850 (Sponsored by Thermaltake)
Case: NA
Cooling: Scythe Yasya
OS: Microsoft Windows 7 64-bit
Thermal compound: Arctic Silver 5

 

Results

wPrime
wPrime is a leading multithreaded benchmark for x86 processors that tests your processor performance by calculating square roots with a recursive call of Newton’s method for estimating functions, with f(x)=x2-k, where k is the number we’re sqrting, until Sgn(f(x)/f'(x)) does not equal that of the previous iteration, starting with an estimation of k/2. It then uses an iterative calling of the estimation method a set amount of times to increase the accuracy of the results. It then confirms that n(k)2=k to ensure the calculation was correct. It repeats this for all numbers from 1 to the requested maximum.

Futuremark PCMark Vantage
3DMark Vantage is a PC benchmark suite designed to test the DirectX10 performance of your graphics card. We’ve been making 3DMark for over 10 years, with each new edition using the latest 3D technology to determine real-world performance.

SiSoftware Sandra 2011
We are pleased to announce the launch of SiSoftware Sandra 2011, the latest version of our award-winning utility, which includes remote analysis, benchmarking and diagnostic features for PCs, servers, mobile devices and networks.
At SiSoftware we strive to ensure that we give our users the best software experience. We observe the industry, try to predict where trends are going, but more than that: we also come up with new ideas on how to measure performance. SiSoftware works with all major hardware vendors to ensure we can accurately measure, report and present performance in the most accurate and informative way.
A year ago, SiSoftware released Sandra 2010 with full support for Windows 7; in the 18 months since the launch of Windows 7, more than ever before we have seen the line blur between PC and entertainment hubs. Two months ago we released a Blu-Ray benchmark, now we have added a brand-new Media Transcoding benchmark using the new Media Foundation of Windows 7. We have also added yet another benchmark (GP Cryptography) which allows direct comparison of CPU performance (using crypto instruction sets) and GPGPU/GPCPU/GPAPU performance.

Super PI Modded 1.5
In August 1995, the calculation of pi up to 4,294,960,000 decimal digits was succeeded by using a supercomputer at the University of Tokyo. The program was written by D.Takahashi in collaboration with Dr. Y.Kanada at the computer center. This record should be the current world record. (Details are shown in the windows help.) This record-breaking program was ported to personal computer environment such as Windows NT and Windows 95. In order to calculate 33.55 million digits, it takes within 3 days with a Pentium 90 MHz, 40 MB main memory and 340 MB available storage.

Geekbench 2.2.7
Geekbench provides a comprehensive set of benchmarks engineered to quickly and accurately measure processor and memory performance. Designed to make benchmarks easy to run and easy to understand, Geekbench takes the guesswork out of producing robust and reliable benchmark results.

PiFast
PiFast is an easy-to-use package written by Xavier Gourdon to compute p with a very large number of digits. PiFast is avalaible on several platforms, download it from here. PiFast can also compute E and a large family of user defined constants.

Conclusion

The Gigabyte X79-UD3 on the surface looks to be a very solid choice for anyone looking to pair it with the Intel i7-3930 socket 2011 processor. At the time of this writing this motherboard and processor was one of the cheapest around without taking into account rebates and special orders. But besides price, Gigabyte did do a good job of building a very motherboard with a lot of high qualities.

Just a couple of exterior ways we saw Gigabyte cut cost was to first eliminate four of the eight DIMM slots. This here will limit the user when it comes to the max amount of memory supported. But honestly most enthusiasts as well as gamers are truly satisfied with 2x4GB kits. But the price of 16GB kits is dropping to a more subtle price point so there is an option as well. Cooling was another area we saw very little of. Some of the higher end motherboards have large heat sinks along with active cooing to take care of the heat produced by the PCH especially doing overclocking sessions.  The UD3 does lack the number of SATA ports compared to several of the motherboards out there. But the chance of many of us needing to occupy more than ten storage devices is slim.

Enough about what the UD3 doesn’t have and more about what it does have. First, would be the fact it does support multi-GPU setups up to 4-way configurations. This is definitely a way to increase your gaming performance as time goes by. The 8 phase power configuration is first allow for very good stable and reliable power to the CPU, memory slots as well as other areas of the motherboard. Second, it allows for some decent 24/7 overclocks.

And for those that are external storage freaks or have a lot of peripherals that need to be connected to USB ports, you will be glad to know this motherboard has several. A total of ten are present and throwing in the USB headers on the motherboard a whole lot more can be added. And if you plan to add (or have) some form of front panel USB 3.0 device there is even a header on the motherboard to support that.

Even with the overclocking slightly different from the Sandy Bridge processor, the X79-UD3 did a good job on our retail 3930K Sandy Bridge E processor. Our limit with the modest voltage increase to 1.4v resulted in a 4.6GHz very stable overclock.

We feel that the Gigabyte X79-UD3 is worth every penny it cost which is about $230. This is the lowest price range of the X79 lineup from any manufacturer. Matched with the new Intel Core i7 3820 is a match well worth looking into.

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