Gigabyte GA-X58-USB3 review
A reasonable price for an X58 board, and with a solid range of features
Review Date: 3 Dec 2010
Reviewed By: Mike Jennings
Price when reviewed: £101 (£119 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
The imminent arrival of Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors means the current generation of LGA 1366 motherboards will soon be behind the curve. Consequently, prices are dropping: both Foxconn’s Flaming Blade GTI and Gigabyte’s new GA-X58-USB3 cost just £101 exc VAT.
That’s cheap for an X58 part, then, but the Gigabyte doesn’t look like a budget board. There are six DIMM slots, for instance, for up to 24GB of DDR3 RAM – twice as much as the Flaming Blade GTI can handle in its three DIMMs. There are three PCI-Express x16 slots, with two running at full speed and the third restricted to x4, and a single PCI slot alongside a trio of PCI-Express x1 slots.
Six SATA/300 sockets handle storage and, despite the lack of SATA/600, should provide enough bandwidth for the fastest SSDs currently available. The backplate has six USB 2 and two USB 3 ports, but no eSATA. An eight-pin CPU power connector provides enough juice for Intel’s top-end chips, and there are five fan connectors scattered around the board, including one with power management.
The bottom of the board houses three USB 2 headers, one of which is powered – handy for charging mobile phones and other portable devices. While there are the usual S/PDIF and HD Audio connectors they’re awkwardly placed, with the audio jumper sitting between the backplate and a heatpipe.
The price doesn’t stretch to real enthusiast features, with no onboard power switches, LED POST displays or overclocking tools. Even without them the board feels cramped: the processor socket is surrounded on three sides by chunky heatsinks, and the six DIMM sockets are also close by – an arrangement that could prove problematic if you’re trying to fit a sizeable cooler. Those heatsinks also block all but the smallest of expansion cards from being used in the top PCI-Express x1 slot.
The BIOS is better. While the MB Intelligent Tweaker isn’t exclusive to Gigabyte’s dearer boards, it’s still one of the most intuitive tweaking tools we’ve seen. Its offers clock speeds, voltages and temperatures, and the Current Status menu serves up a grid of more detailed information pertaining to each core of your processor and each bank of memory installed in the system. Advanced frequency, voltage and memory options are divided into sensibly ordered menus packed with options, too. That’s the main BIOS draw, with little else of note, but the whole thing is far more navigable than Foxconn’s rambling, outmoded equivalent.
The Gigabyte doesn’t just outpace Foxconn on the software side, though; it’s better throughout. While Gigabyte’s own GA-X58A-UD3R remains an option if you’d like the future-proofed comfort of SATA/600 and a more versatile backplate, the GA-X58-USB3 take its place as our new favourite X58 motherboard.
Author: Mike Jennings
- What's on this week's PC Pro podcast?
- Unlock your Moto X with a "tattoo"
- Samsung continues Tizen OS push with Galaxy Gear "upgrade"
- Killing the Surface Mini hit revenues, Microsoft reveals
- How to report website overblocking and miscategorisation to ISPs
- iPad sales stall as owners "too happy to upgrade"
- Will the next Windows 8.1 update arrive next month?
- BBC Sport comes to Chromecast
- Those parental-control filters? As few as 4% are signing up
- iPhone 6's Apple logo may light up for notifications
- How Google Glass ruined my lunch hour
- Smartphone battery packs: can a USB power pack beat the festival battery blues?
- Windows Easy Transfer – not so "easy" in Windows 8.1
- Formula 1: what a difference virtualisation makes
- Office of the future: comfy chairs and tablets everywhere
- I went to Glastonbury and the only thing that got high was my smartphone
- Meet the robots helping teach children
- PaperLater: would you pay to print the internet?
- Amazon vs Kobo: how much to make the ebook switch?
- Phishing emails: how I nearly got caught out
- Hacking the Internet of Things: from smart cars to toilets
- BlackBerry Passport release date, specs, features, and rumours: when is the new BlackBerry coming out?
- What's changing in the computing curriculum
- Teaching kids to code
- Best free translation apps for iOS, Android and Windows Phone
- Five worst SMB security threats... and how to solve them
- Apple iOS vs Android vs Windows 8 – what's the best compact tablet OS?
- The 12 best tablets of 2014: what’s the best tablet on the market?
- How to free up hard disk space
- Driverless cars: could your next car be driven by a robot?
- How to add in-app purchasing to an iPhone, Android or Windows app
- Remote-control ransomware: TeamViewer and software hardball
- Why laptops with serial ports matter to the Internet of Things
- Make your mobile battery last longer
- Small steps into handling Big Data
- Nexus 5: does it really run stock Android?
- How to get broadband to a garden office
- How to write your company's IT security policy
- Raspberry Pi and Wolfram: a must-have for every child
- Could you get by with Office Web Apps?