Gigabyte EX58-UD5 review

£206
Price when reviewed

Gigabyte currently holds our A List crown in both the LGA 775 and Socket AM2+ motherboard categories, so our hopes were high for its first board based on the Core i7’s LGA 1336 design. It’s tough to make a splash in this market, though: Core i7 only works with Intel’s X58 chipset, so all Core i7 boards have a similar basic design, including three-channel RAM and a high-speed QPI bus.

Gigabyte EX58-UD5 review

Still, the Gigabyte does have some distinctive strengths. It boasts a whopping 40 PCI-Express lanes – eight more than the Asus P6T Deluxe we saw last month – so you can use its three full-length slots in a 16/16/8 configuration. With support for both SLI and CrossFire X, that gives immense headroom for high-end gamers.

Memory capacity is exceptional too. The EX58-UD5 supports 4GB modules, so you can install 24GB of RAM across its six slots, running at frequencies up to DDR3-2000 and beyond. Its ten SATA ports and twelve USB connectors are generous as well.

One particularly unusual trick is the ability to team the EX58-UD5’s two gigabit Ethernet ports into one 2Gb connection: a neat idea, but most of us have difficulty saturating a 1Gb link, and of course you need a second 2Gb device to use it. Of more practical use is the dual-BIOS system, which can restore your BIOS from a backup in case of real trouble; a potential life-saver.

We also liked the LED readout mounted on the board to help you troubleshoot hardware problems, though it’s a shame it uses cryptic hex codes instead of text as with MSI’s high-end boards. The similarly-priced Asus has a whole external display module for monitoring system information.

The EX58-UD5’s final claim to greatness is its double-thickness conductive copper layers, which are supposed to offer less impedance than competing boards, lowering internal temperatures and increasing stability. It’s impossible to realistically verify this claim, but we’ve been satisfied with the long-term reliability of Gigabyte products in the past.

All told, the EX58-UD5 is a top-quality board, bristling with premium features, and unsurprisingly it carries a price tag to match. But Core i7 is a premium platform right now, and if you’re buying in at this stage you don’t want a board that’ll hold you back. There’s no such thing as a truly future-proof PC; but partner the EX58-UD5 with a fast Core i7 and you’ll be about as close as you can get.

Details

Motherboard form factor ATX
Motherboard integrated graphics no

Compatability

Processor/platform brand (manufacturer) Intel
Processor socket LGA 1366
Motherboard form factor ATX
Memory type DDR3
Multi-GPU support yes

Controllers

Motherboard chipset Intel X58
Number of Ethernet adapters 2
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
Graphics chipset N/A
Audio chipset Realtek ALC889A

Onboard Connectors

CPU power connector type 8-pin
Main power connector ATX 24-pin
Memory sockets total 6
Internal SATA connectors 10
Internal PATA connectors 1
Internal floppy connectors 1
Conventional PCI slots total 2
PCI-E x16 slots total 3
PCI-E x8 slots total 0
PCI-E x4 slots total 1
PCI-E x1 slots total 1

Rear ports

PS/2 connectors 2
USB ports (downstream) 8
FireWire ports 1
eSATA ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 1
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 1
3.5mm audio jacks 6
Parallel ports 0
9-pin serial ports 0

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