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Gigabyte EX58-UD3R

X58 On A Budget: Seven Sub-$200 Core i7 Boards
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With three FireWire ports, four DIMM and seven expansion slots, Gigabyte’s EX58-UD3R almost resembles a high-end Core 2-class part. Its Core i7-compatible LGA 1366 socket tells a different story, however.

Those four memory slots are somewhat of a distraction on a triple-channel motherboard. The EX58-UD3R manual claims that triple-channel mode still operates with four DIMMs installed, though.

Both PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots support full bandwidth, and Gigabyte even provides an open-ended connector on its x4 slot. The real-time clock battery unfortunately prevents insertion of anything longer than an x4 card in that open-ended slot. It’s frustrating that the X58B-A and FlamingBlade don’t have this type of slot while the EX58-UD3R does, since the other two boards have room for longer cards on the x4 interface while the EX58-UD3R does not.

Another point on the subject of expansion slots is that the x1 slot is blocked by the X58 Express northbridge heat sink, making what appears-to-be a seven-slot motherboard in theory become a six-slot motherboard in practice, at least until someone produces a three-inch long PCIe x1 card that’s worth installing.

Windows XP users who need to load RAID drivers from floppy during installation will find that yet another manufacturer relegates its floppy header to a bottom-rear-corner position. We could also complain that the Ultra ATA connector is too low on the motherboard to support upper bay optical drives, but Ultra ATA has become far less relevant than Windows XP.

Remaining connectors are well-placed, including the front-panel audio header immediately forward of the rear audio jacks.

Gigabyte puts its extra SATA ports up front, rather than provide eSATA. This allows builders to choose between front-panel eSATA jacks or an SATA to eSATA breakout plate. But anyone willing to jump ahead to the accessory photo will notice that the EX58-UD3R doesn’t include the SATA to eSATA breakout adapter that has recently become a Gigabyte value-add.

BIOS

BIOS clock, timing, and voltage ranges can be found on Page 17’s overclocking comparison.

Gigabyte’s MB Intelligent Tweaker menu provides access to a wide range of clock and voltage controls suitable to meet the demands of most overclockers.

Advanced Clock Controls include drive strength and clock skew.

Advanced DRAM features include an “XMP Profiles” setting that doesn’t appear to work the way we expected, but we’re perfectly capable of configuring memory manually. Memory timings are adjustable per-channel, but anyone looking to save a little time will still find per-timing automatic settings.

Advanced voltage controls include the now-popular (among manufacturers) DRAM reference voltage settings, though we’re not sure how many users require these.

Accessories

Like most motherboards in the $200 X58 class, the EX58-UD3R’s installation kit could be just as easily described by what it doesn’t include. Only the basics are found here, and Gigabyte’s signature SATA to eSATA adapter will be sorely missed by anyone who wanted eSATA on this motherboard.

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