Gigabyte lists an impressive range of six models of LGA1366 Core i7 motherboards that use the Intel X58 chipset. Most of these models are priced in a narrow range from £189 to £235 with the EX58 Extreme off in the distance at £289. This puts the GA-EX58-UD4P square in the middle of the regular models in terms of price, yet the list of features looks very impressive.
The feature that shapes the layout of the UD4P is the three graphics slots that support both CrossFire and SLI. The primary graphics slot has a full 16 lanes of PCIe 2.0 and if you plug in a second graphics card it also gets 16 lanes. Add a third graphics card and the bandwidth to the second slot is divided such that the second and third slots each get eight lanes of PCI Express. This is the main difference between the UD4 and UD4P models as the UD4 has dual graphics and three PCI slots.
There are two more PCI Express slots located above the graphics slots that offer x1 and x4 support as well as two PCI slots that are positioned between the graphics slots and which are likely to be blocked by the graphics cards.
In addition there are six memory slots that support up to 24GB of triple channel DDR3-2100 memory, eight SATA ports (six on the ICH10R Southbridge and two on an add-in controller), one Firewire, and eight USB 2.0 ports on the I/O panel. Curiously enough there are no brackets in the package to take advantage of the USB and Firewire headers but most high-end cases include a selection of ports so that shouldn't be a problem.
The layout of the board is slightly unconventional as the floppy and IDE connectors are located at the foot of the board while the power and reset micro buttons are positioned outboard of the memory slots next to the main power connector. This is a neat arrangement if you plan on using a SATA DVD drive as the SATA connectors are laid down and feed the cables away from the board with the minimum of fuss.
The heat pipe system snakes across the motherboard and connects aluminium coolers on the Southbridge, Northbridge and six phases of the 12-phase power system. The other six phases have a separate cooler, as though another couple of inches of heatpipe would have broken the bank. Perhaps it all depends on the bank in question. Change up to the UD5 or Extreme models and you get a more substantial cooling system but we are confident you will be happy with the system that is employed on the UD4P. During our testing we didn't use any case fans and the temperature of the chipset cooler was stable at 45 degrees C.
Gigabyte puts an emphasis on the construction of its latest motherboards both in respect of the Ultra Durable 3 components and also the doubling of the amount of copper that is used in the board. We like Ultra Durable 3 and feel that it makes Gigabyte motherboards very similar to high-end models from Asus however we also feel that the DrMOS components used on MSI motherboards such as the X58 Platinum are even better.
The doubling of the amount of copper in boards such as the UD4P sounds impressive and the motherboard is certainly very stiff but it is impossible to judge whether that is thanks to the use of a 70 micron layer of copper instead of the usual 35 microns. Similarly we can tell that that the UD4P is very cool in operation but that has been true of every Core i7 motherboard that we have seen to date.