Tom's Hardware's 2009 Gift Guide: Part 1, For System Builders

Motherboard: Gigabyte P55A-UD6

www.giga-byte.com
$249
By: Ed Tittel

If you’re looking for an excellent motherboard for your LGA 1156-based processor, and the Asus Maximus III Formula also covered in this guide doesn’t have the feature set for which you're looking, consider the Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD6 instead.

This solid platform costs about the same as the Asus model, but it offers support for USB 3.0 and 6.0 Gb/s SATA, as well as a raft of other features. Just one word of warning if these advanced features appeal: the controllers for both capabilities tie into the motherboard’s (and thus, CPU’s) integrated PCI Express. Using one or the other, or both, drops your primary graphics card transfer rate to x8. If you then decide to run in CrossFire or SLI mode, the USB and SATA controller get their connectivity from P55 instead, cutting total throughput to each in half.

If you can live with this limitation, there’s a lot to like about Gigabyte's P55-based flagship, though. It works with both LGA 1156-based Core i7 and i5 processors, and its six DDR3 slots support up to 16GB of system memory. "Six slots?" you ask. That's right. Although the Lynnfield-based processors only feature dual-channel memory controllers, Gigabyte is able to expose four slots on one channel and two on the other, giving you a little more room to upgrade if you opt for our recommended 8GB kit today.

The board's Realtek ALC889 audio codec supports up to eight channels (7.1) of high-def audio, including Dolby Home Theater. The dual Realtek RTL8111D GbE LAN chips support teaming and Smart Dual LAN to boost your bandwidth above 1 Gb/s on switched Gigabit Ethernet networks.

You’ll also find a boatload of ports and slots on this motherboard. It includes three x16 PCI Express slots (slot two tops out at x8 and slot three at x4 signaling rates), plus two PCIe x1 slots, and two conventional PCI slots. You can use the motherboard with either ATI CrossFire or Nvidia SLI (bearing in mind that slot one will slow to x8 signaling and USB 3.0/SATA 6 Gb/s interfaces run at half-speed, but still significantly faster than USB 2.0). There are six SATA 3 Gb/s connectors, and the board includes built-in support for RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10. There are two 6 Gb/s SATA connectors with built-in support for RAID 0 (not many 6 Gb/s drives are available just yet, but we should see plenty hit the market next year, including revamped SSDs that can really exercise this capability). Those who need to use legacy devices will appreciate continuing support for an IDE connector that handles ATA-133/100/66/33 for one or two drives. You’ll also find an integrated floppy disk controller as well.

Another nice touch about this motherboard: lots of fan headers: six in all, including a power fan, three system fans, a chipset fan, and a CPU fan. Rear panel connectors include a single PS/2 mouse/keyboard port, coaxial and optical S/PDIF audio outs, two FireWire ports, six USB 2.0/1.1 and six USB 3.0/2.0 ports, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, and a full complement of analog audio outputs.

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    Top Comments
  • FoShizzle gets the Freudian slip of the day award
    23
  • She would make a far better Christmas present than hardware components... ;)
    22
  • Bet shes likes a good overcocking.
    21
  • Other Comments
  • Anytime you mention eyefinity, be sure to mention that ONE MONITOR MUST EITHER BE ON DISPLAYPORT OR ON AN ACTIVE DISPLAYPORT ADAPTER (not just any displayport adapter, but one that uses supplemental power). If people don't know this. They are in for a rude surprise. Also, if using a displayport to hdmi or dvi active adapter for eyefinity, make it the middle monitor.
    -4
  • She would make a far better Christmas present than hardware components... ;)
    22
  • I think she should be on the gift guide, I can certainly bet most of us would rather have her then anything on here :)
    -2
  • Does she come with the retail version of the i7?
    9
  • Obviously I meant to say i5 but seriously, why isn't there an edit button?
    -10
  • I would like she to bring me the gift! :)
    -7
  • Bet shes likes a good overcocking.
    21
  • overclocking*
    11
  • FoShizzle gets the Freudian slip of the day award
    23
  • Sarah, you make christmas better for us(tech geeks) each year.
    :P
    5
  • 1898Obviously I meant to say i5 but seriously, why isn't there an edit button?


    All your posts you make on the feedback page here can been found in the forum. If you want to edit your post here simply go the review comments (found here) forum, find this article and find you post and click on the quick edit button just and make the changes.
    15
  • I don't understand why you recommend a 1.65v RAM kit at 1600 when you can have 1600 speeds at 1.5v with other kits, for a lower price. G.skill ripjaws, for example.
    4
  • The power supply, really, 850w for $179 and it;s only an 80+, not 85+?

    Sure, it's got 6 8pin connectors... but it onl;y has 850w... an 8pin + 6pig GPU, like the 5890 Toms just recently reviewed, can handle 280w. That means 3 of those alone exceeds this PS performance, not even including any other components...

    1: not modular. 2: too many connectors. 3: not 85% + rated. 4: about $40 too high of a price for what it DOES have.
    -7
  • well, i saw all the pages only because of her!! i actually use toms hardware from long time ago and never registed, i did now only to comment hehe :P
    4
  • Why do I get thumbs down vote when all I do is try and help the guy? Some of you are a bit trigger happy.
    4
  • Is it wrong for me to want to spank her with my keyboard?
    11
  • JeanLucAll your posts you make on the feedback page here can been found in the forum. If you want to edit your post here simply go the review comments (found here) forum, find this article and find you post and click on the quick edit button just and make the changes.

    Wow, thanks! Didn't know we could do that. Finally!
    3
  • Would of been better without the woman in the pics, cant get a good view of the hardware. Besides that my wife is better looking :P
    -13
  • DigitalkrymeWould of been better without the woman in the pics, cant get a good view of the hardware. Besides that my wife is better looking

    WOW! really?!!
    -3
  • JeanLucAll your posts you make on the feedback page here can been found in the forum. If you want to edit your post here simply go the review comments (found here) forum, find this article and find you post and click on the quick edit button just and make the changes.


    Well golly gosh! That's so convenient. In the next iteration, see if you can add more steps.
    -1