The EP45-UD3R with its sexy dark blue PCB is a far cry from its khaki predecessors and sports some exciting looking chipset cooling in the form of blue metallic Northbridge, Southbridge and MOSFET heatsinks.
USA Computers has a soft spot in our cold bitter heart for Gigabyte. They have been around since the dawn of time (well it seems that way) and whether you are a hardcore enthusiast or a bright-eyed noob, they have the board that suits your needs.
Then there is the reliability, Gigabyte motherboards are like Toyota and they just keep going until one day you decide you need a new one. Oft have members of the IT support fraternity opened up an old P3 or P2 to find a khaki colored Gigabyte buried beneath layers of dust.
The motherboard boasts a healthy array of I/O ports on the rear; 8 USB 2.0, S/PDIF, 2 IEEE 1394a ports, gigabit Ethernet and 8 channel audio. Surprisingly the EP45-UD3R only has one PCI-E x16 slot and in a world where much cheaper motherboards are equipped with two or more this seems like a bad move. There could be method behind this madness when looking at Gigabyte's new found obsession with overclockers, many of whom would never spring for two cards when they could overclock the crap out of one. Gigabyte then, has made this motherboard for one purpose, to give overclockers a motherboard that dreams are made of.
Mounting large CPU coolers is easy since the heatsinks are kept low profile. The DIMM slots are so dose to the PCI-E x16 slot that you can barely get the RAM out while you have the GPU in place. On the more serious side of business, the EP45-UD3R boasts a FSB capable of 1600MHz which happily accommodated a QX9770 that was selected for the job. The BIOS is beautiful; an overclockers dream, rich with voltage and frequency options. The FSB happily hit 500MHz with no fuss but unfortunately our DDR2-800 RAM let us down severely. The system would not boot into Windows with a 550MHz FSB. With the 500MHz FSB and an 8x multiplier our Intel QX9770 happily booted at 4GHz and whistled its way through our benchmarks.
Gigabyte touts this motherboard as being better at overclocking and more durable over time with 24/7 overclocking. The reason according to Gigabyte is because this motherboard features 2 ounce layers of copper in the PCB instead of the usual 1 ounce which Gigabyte think makes the motherboard a giant heatsink. Time will tell, if this board and extra copper will make the Hall of Fame, though one has to point out the lack of power, reset and clear CMOS switches on the motherboard itself or even a clear CMOS button on the rear I/O panel which could be rather annoying for a serious overclocker.
Convenience aside, while the bundle lacks anything but the most necessary of accessories, what else does an enthusiast need? It is truly a niche product with massive potential for the right market and a perfect example of Gigabyteís brilliant new strategy of targeting overclockers.
So far the results say this is a good motherboard but whether 2 ounce copper is anything more than a gimmick is yet to be proven.
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