At this year's Computex, behind closed doors, Gigabyte shared with us plans for its upcoming P55-based motherboard lineup. Not surprisingly, the company's strategy looks a lot like the approach it took with P45 and then X58: using as common a PCB as possible, design motherboards that, from the top down, slowly shed features as they drop in price, but never sacrifice core functionality.
This is an approach that has helped Gigabyte see quite a bit of success in the past several generations of product design, and one that I've pointed out to other vendors when they've asked my opinion on what Gigabyte was doing right.
The above image shows five boards, from the entry-level EP55-UD3R to the upper-end EP55-UD5. Between them, Gigabyte covers most of its bases, with 6 Gb/s SATA across the board, along with dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, CrossFireX/SLI multi-card support, DDR3 memory, and onboard FireWire (Update: Gigabyte let us know that SATA 6 Gb/s will not make it onto the company's P55 motherboards and will instead emerge with its X58 motherboard refresh. Additionally, it has been reported that Asus scrapped plans for 6 Gb/s SATA on its P55 lineup as well).
Notably missing, though, is the flagship, Gigabyte's P55-UD6. But although the platform wasn't in Gigabyte's documentation, the board exists and might just tempt enthusiasts waiting to see how Core i5 fares against i7, Core 2 Quad, and AMD's Phenom II.
In the pages that follow, we'll take you on a tour of the P55-UD6, plus another of Gigabyte's boards destined to hit a lower price point (but still enable many of the same features as the decked-out UD6.