P55-UD6 (no room for SB X-Fi Titanium and ATI 5870 on PCIe 16 slot)


Hi folks..

Can any one advise me on how much performance loss I will incurr when using a Sapphire HD5870 Vapour X on the PCIe x8 slot in a Gigabyte P55-UD6 motherboard?

I have just been building a Gaming Rig from scratch an i5 750 based PC from scratch (thanks to Bilbat for his SATA advice) but have no available PCIe slot to fit the Soundblaster X-FI Titanium card and keep my HD5870 in the PCIe x16 video slot.

The HD5870 covers the PCIe slot below it (double height card) and the only other PCIe slot available is next to the X55 chipset cooler and this blocks all but the mini PCIe cards from use.

I assume i will have to move the HD5870 down to the PCIe x8 slot and install the X-Fi above it ?
I want the X-Fi card for gaming as it has EAX 5 and i much prefer the sound quality compared to on board sound chip.

With the HD5870 in the x8 slot, will this impact a lot on video performance ?

Have bench marked my rig in the x8 slot on 3D Mark 06 (1280 x 1024 res) and this scores 23,850 @ 3.8Ghz / 4GB RAM / XP 32 Pro
Is this score to be expected ? Was using the Turbo boost option, will use bios in future to reach 4Ghz.

I'm annoyed with myself that I didnt check the mobo restrictions 1st, before ordering the X-Fi soundcard.
I'm assuming that the X-Fi carnt be fitted in the blue PCIe slots?

Any advice would be helpfull.
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  1. Hello and welcome to the forums :)
    The difference isn't really much unless you play at very high resolutions with all eye candies.
    3DMark isn't the best way to judge the graphic's power but your score is good,and in games you will be fine(unless as i said you play at a very high resolution)
  2. Assuming a P55A, your sound card should be good in either of the lower blue slots - PCIeX slots are 'down-compatible': an X4 card has to work in X16, X8, and X4 slots; an X1 in any PCIeX slot... When the system 'wakes up', the PCIe controller logic 'negotiates' with the hardware to determine 'who wants to use what' [:isamuelson:8]
  3. :cry:

    Thanks for the feedback so far.

    Unfortunately, I want to play at high res and with all the bells & whistles; hence the upgrade to HD5870 & i5 750 @ 4Ghz
    I use a Dell 2707WFP monitor (27" @ 1980 x 1200).

    The motherboard is a Rev: 1.0 P55-UD6 (not the USB 3 / SATA 3) board.

    So the sound card will fit in the blue slots ok... no smoke ? :whistle:

    I assume that if i do use one of the lower slots, that the top x16 lane slot will be then throttled back to x8 ?
    Or does that not happen unless the "blue slot" is fitted with a card that has more pins than the PCIe x1 soundcard?

    Just annoying that such a well specced mobo should have a PCIe x1 slot next to the chipset cooler (virtually un usable) and the other directly under the PCIe x16 slot.
    Considering the number of PCIe 16 /8 /4 slots and normal PCI slots on the mobo, its a pity that the two PCIe x1 slots could have been better positioned ?

    Will any of the SATA channels be effected by me using the PCIe 16 slot for the HD5870 and one of the lower PCIe x8 or x4 slots for the sound card? I could put all the HDDs (x4) and my Optical drives (x2) on the Intel 55 (white) SATA controllers. That would be 6 SATA devices in total.. this wouldnt swamp the SATA channels would it? (Two of the HDDs would be in RAID 0, one in AHCI as System boot drive and the remainder in AHCI mode for a "Data" drive.

    Is there an idiots guide to setting up an AHCI / RAID floppy disk to pre-install the motherboard drivers, as i have tried using the guide in the manual, but I get a floppy disk full error when i use the command line in DOS. I will be using Win 7 64bit version.

    Any advice is welcome.
  4. OK then for that resolution,although 16x is faster but you still will be fine with 8x
  5. Alternativly, he could upgrade his sound card to an ASUS/Auzentech model...

    Also, no soundcard requires more then a PCI-E x 1 slot, and I'd have to imaging at least one of the slots remains open...
  6. gamerk316 said:
    Alternativly, he could upgrade his sound card to an ASUS/Auzentech model...

    Also, no soundcard requires more then a PCI-E x 1 slot, and I'd have to imaging at least one of the slots remains open...

    Unfortunately the lay out of the PCI-E x1 slots on the P55-UD6, precludes you using the 1st one (blocked by the chipset cooler) and the 2nd slot is directly under the PCI-E x16 video slot, which is not much good for a double height card (ie most of todays modern ones!).
    Take a look at the mobo layout @ http://www.gigabyte.com.tw/Products/Motherboard/Products_Overview.aspx?ProductID=3158

    I had looked at thethe Asus/Auzentech cards, but i bought the X-Fi Titanium as it had the I/O front break out box.
    Looks like i may have to sell it on or return it for the Auzen X-FI™ Prelude 7.1 soundcard (Soundblaster 3rd party licensed technology) as it also has EAX 5 as desired. No front I/O though :cry:

    Does anyone know that if i fit the Xi-Fi Titanium card in the lowest blue PCIe x 4 (x1) slot on the mobo, whether the PCIe x16 slot (i have the HD5870 installed) will be slowed down to x8 ?
  7. The lowest slot is exactly where you want it! I'll try to simplify:

    PCIe hardware 'channels' are 'bifurcatable' (bifurcate simply means 'to split in half'...) - here's a picture from the 5520 (the Xeon equivalent of an X58) chipset datasheet:

    This is done by soft 'strapping' registers, which can be set 'on the fly'. If you have a sixteen lane channel, you can use it as two eights, or an eight and two fours, or an eight, a four, and four ones - but you can never have more than the original sixteen (duh!), and it always acts in even 'splits' (you can't have two sixes and a four!)... The other complication is that there is a seperation of 'physical' and 'electrical' PCIe specs; 'physical' is the slot size, length, and the number of little contact 'fingers' contained; 'electrical' is the actual 'lane width' available from the 'split'; the only rule here is that the physical must be at least as big as the electrical - i.e., a 'physical' sixteen can, say, be only eight 'electrically', but an 'electrical' sixteen must be contained in a full-length sixteen 'physical'...

    In your system block diagram, your PCIe layout is detailed; some of your PCIe comes from the CPU itself (red), some from the IOH (P55-green); note, especially, the little printed or's:

    Now, here is the board layout, with the same slots (and devices, in the case of the SATAs) similarly color-coded:

    So you see, the PCIe1's, and the single 4, have nothing to do with the top two x16/2x8 'split'; if you were to disable the eSATAs, and leave the x1 slots empty, you could get a single x4 from the bottom slot; but as soon as you either enable the eSATAs, or plug anything into an x1 slot, that P55 'channel' 'degrades' into four x1's (which is all you need...)!!
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