Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R review
A busy board with a hatful of valuable features, and at an affordable price too
Boards equipped with Intel's LGA 1366 processor socket and X58 chipset were once the preserve of enthusiasts with money to burn, but the days of having to spend £200 exc VAT are over: Gigabyte's latest, the X58A-UD3R, includes both of these features for a reasonable £137 exc VAT.
It's the cheapest X58-equipped board we've seen, but the GA-X58A-UD3R doesn't lack in any department. Take the LGA 1366 processor socket, which can house some of Intel's most powerful chips, from the initial run of 45nm Core i7 parts to the recently released 32nm Core i7-980X, the world's fastest six-core CPU.
Sitting alongside the two headline features is support for USB 3 and SATA/600 - two important inclusions that, while of limited use now, will take centre-stage in coming months. The rest of the board is equally well-equipped.
Beside the CPU socket is a bank of six DIMM slots with support for up to 24GB of DDR3 memory running at up to 2,200MHz. That's the most impressive memory support we've seen on a motherboard, but we'd be careful when installing six DIMMs in a system; the close proximity of the slots to the processor socket might lead to difficulty when trying to fit a large CPU cooler.
Elsewhere, there are four PCI Express x16 slots, a pair of PCI Express x1 sockets and a single PCI slot. This line-up isn't quite as impressive as it sounds, however. Two of the PCI Express x16 slots only run at x8 speed so multi-graphics setups are restricted to three cards rather than four and one of the PCI Express x1 slots is so close to the North Bridge cooler that larger cards might not fit.
On the other side of the board is a wealth of storage options. Six SATA/300 ports cater for mechanical hard disks and optical drives, and alongside sit four SATA/600 ports the most we've seen on a single motherboard. At the moment it's a technology only fit for super-fast SSDs, but enthusiasts will certainly appreciate the versatility.
Elsewhere, there are the usual headers and connectors: two USB 2 headers and a single FireWire connector sit beside the front panel connectors, and the board provides room to connect six fans (two four-pin, four three-pin). The eight-pin power connector will appease overclockers too.
Despite the lack of on-board buttons and indicators (aside from a clear CMOS button), the GA-X58A-UDR3 is a relatively cramped slab of blue PCB. The processor socket, for instance, is surrounded on three sides by large heatsinks, and the PCI Express x16 slots won't support dual-graphics systems unless you use the first and third slots, as others are too close together.
The backplate is similarly crowded, although this isn't a problem. As well as two USB 3 ports, there are six USB 2 ports, two of which double up as eSATA sockets, standard and mini-FireWire ports, a pair of PS/2 sockets, both optical and coaxial S/PDIF ports, six audio jacks, and a Gigabit Ethernet socket.
So while it doesn't have the enthusiast traits exhibited by the firm's UD5 and UD7 motherboards, the GA-X58A-UDR3 offers enough to sate all but the most demanding of builders. Couple this with a very tempting price and it's clear the Gigabyte is more than worthy of a Recommended award.
|Price ex VAT||£137|
|Price inc VAT||£161|
|Features & Design||5|
|Value for Money||5|
|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 ICH10|
|Number of Ethernet adapters||1|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|Audio chipset||Intel HD Audio|
|CPU power connector type||8-pin|
|Main power connector||ATX 24-pin|
|Memory sockets total||6|
|Internal SATA connectors||6|
|Internal PATA connectors||1|
|Internal floppy connectors||1|
|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|
|9-pin serial ports||0|
|Extra port backplane bracket ports||none|
Diagnostics and tweaking
|Motherboard onboard power switch?||no|
|Motherboard onboard reset switch?||no|
|SATA cables supplied||2|
|Molex to SATA adaters supplied||1|
|IDE cables supplied||0|
|Floppy cables supplied||0|