Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD7 review
It's one for real enthusiasts only, but with both SATA/600 and USB 3, the stratospheric price may just be worth paying
It’s easy to miss amid the stream of letters, but the “UD” in the name of Gigabyte’s top-end boards stands for “Ultra Durable”. We’ve seen that before with the likes of the GA-EX58-UD5, but this new board, the GA-X58A-UD7, takes the concept to a whole new level.
For a start, Gigabyte has included both USB 3 and SATA/600, the first time we’ve seen these features together on a motherboard. Both will be appreciated by enthusiasts, and both offer tantalising speed boosts: the former's transfer speeds will sate the appetite of the fastest SSDs on the market, while the latter is a whole lot faster than USB 2 if you have compatible devices to pair it with.
The rest of the LGA 1366-socketed GA-X58A-UD7 is more mundane but no less versatile. The two SATA/600 sockets and two USB 3 ports are joined by eight SATA/300 connectors and four USB 2 ports. The backplate also features two dual-USB/eSATA sockets, pairs of PS/2 and S/PDIF outputs, FireWire, two Gigabit Ethernet ports and a CMOS reset button. Four PCI Express x16 slots – two running at x16 and two running at x8 – are ready to handle triple-SLI, and two PCI Express x1 and a single PCI slot are also available.
The blue PCB comes with a bevy of tweak-friendly features. A two-digit display shows POST results, and there’s an on-board power button alongside LEDs to indicate CPU and memory voltages, plus temperature levels. Gigabyte has also been generous with the extras in the box: alongside the usual SATA and SLI cables, you get a small bracket that can be fitted to the PCI backplate to provide two additional eSATA ports and a molex power output.
Even the cooling demonstrates more imagination than we’re used to seeing. A large heatsink surrounds Intel’s X58 chipset and is topped off with a water-cooling block but, if you’re not confident with liquid cooling, it can be replaced by the supplied passive cooler instead. It’s a large cooler, designed to exit through the top PCI backplate in the average chassis, so it shouldn’t interfere with all but the largest CPU and GPU coolers.
This level of technical and physical innovation doesn’t come cheap, though. At £213 exc VAT, the GA-X58A-UD7 is more expensive than the GA-EX58-UD5, which shared most of this board's features. The two killers, though, are SATA/600 and USB 3 – for most of us a cheaper board will suffice, but for real enthusiasts and early adopters that small premium will be well worth paying.
|Price ex VAT||£213|
|Price inc VAT||£250|
|Features & Design||6|
|Value for Money||4|
|Motherboard form factor||ATX|
|Motherboard integrated graphics||no|
|Processor/platform brand (manufacturer)||Intel|
|Processor socket||LGA 1366|
|Motherboard form factor||ATX|
|Motherboard chipset||Intel X58|
|South bridge||Intel ICH10R|
|Number of Ethernet adapters||2|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|Audio chipset||Realtek ALC889|
|CPU power connector type||8-pin|
|Main power connector||ATX 24-pin|
|Memory sockets total||6|
|Internal SATA connectors||10|
|Internal PATA connectors||2|
|Internal floppy connectors||2|
|Conventional PCI slots total||1|
|PCI-E x16 slots total||4|
|PCI-E x8 slots total||0|
|PCI-E x4 slots total||0|
|PCI-E x1 slots total||2|
|USB ports (downstream)||6|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||1|
|Electrical S/PDIF audio ports||1|
|3.5mm audio jacks||6|
|Extra port backplane bracket ports||2 eSATA, 1 power|
Diagnostics and tweaking
|Motherboard onboard power switch?||yes|
|Motherboard onboard reset switch?||yes|
|SATA cables supplied||3|
|Molex to SATA adaters supplied||0|
|IDE cables supplied||1|
|Floppy cables supplied||0|