11-Way P45 Motherboard Shootout

EP45-DQ6 Onboard Devices

Gigabyte GA-EP45-DQ6 (Revision 1.0)
Northbridge Intel P45 Express
Southbridge Intel ICH10R
Voltage Regulator Twelve Phases
BIOS F10a (07/16/2008)
333.3 MHz (FSB1333) 333.4 MHz (+0.02%)
Clock Generator IC2 9LPRS914EKL
Connectors and Interfaces
Onboard 2x PCIe 2.0 x16 (Modes : One x16, One x8)
2x PCIe x4, Open Ended (Accepts x16 Cards)
1x PCIe x1
2x PCI
2x USB 2.0 (2 ports per connector)
3x IEEE-1394 FireWire
1x Serial Port header
1x Floppy
1x Ultra ATA (2 drives)
10x Serial ATA 3.0Gb/s
1x Front Panel Audio
1x CD-Audio In
1x S/P-DIF Out
2x Fan 4 pins (CPU/System)
2x Fan 3 pins (Chassis)
1x Internal Power Button
1x Internal Reset Button
1x Internal CLR_CMOS Button
IO panel 2x PS2 (keyboard + mouse )
2x Digital Audio Out (S/P-DIF Coaxial, Optical)
4x RJ-45 Network
8x USB 2.0
6x Analog Audio Jacks (8-ch out, Mic+Line In)
Mass Storage Controllers
Intel ICH10R 6x SATA 3.0Gb/s (RAID 0,1,5,10)
Gigabyte SATA2 (by Jmicron) PCI-E 1x Ultra ATA-133 (2-drives)
2x SATA Host for SteelVine Controller
2x Silicon Image Sil5723CNU SATA 4x SATA 3.0Gb/s (RAID 0, 1, Cascading)
Network
4x Realtek RTL8111B PCI-E Quad Gigabit LAN with Teaming
Audio
Realtek ALC889A HD Audio Codec 7.1 + 2 channel Multi-Streaming Output
Texas Instruments TSB43AB23 PCI 3x IEEE-1394a (400 Mbit/s)

Gigabyte uses all six of the ICH10R’s PCI Express lanes for a single x1 slot and five onboard devices.

Gigabyte’s port panel is filled with USB and Gigabit Network connections, but that means it lacks several other key elements such as eSATA and FireWire. Few users will have eight USB 2.0 devices that they want to be plugged into the back, and we’d have preferred to see a couple of these ports moved to a third front-panel header. At least the full set of audio connections is provided, with digital optical and digital coaxial connections, plus enough analog channels to support 7.1 surround output, line-level input, and a stereo microphone simultaneously.

We didn’t mention that the number of internal Serial ATA ports totaled ten on the previous page because four of these are meant to be used with included eSATA breakout cables. Of course they can still be used internally, but the four we speak of now have a couple other things in common. Two Silicon Image SIL5723 “SteelVine” port multipliers connect the four ports to two SATA links supplied by the Gigabyte SATA2 controller. That means that each drive pair relies on a single 3.0 Gb/s link, and that each pair will appear as a single SteelVine drive to the chipset and OS. Furthermore, both SteelVine controllers are limited by the SATA2 controller’s PCI Express x1 interface to only 250MB/s, which is a significant handicap for RAID 0 configurations of more than two drives.

SteelVine controllers have a few additional features, such as drive cascading and hardware RAID 1/0 capability, as we discussed in our technical analysis

Gigabyte uses PCI Express to provide the best possible performance to four Realtek RTL8111C Gigabit Ethernet controllers. The first two are easy to find at the EP45-DQ6’s rear edge.

The fourth Gigabit network controller is located beneath the chipset-to-VRM heatpipes. Due to the high number of onboard devices Gigabyte had to get stealthy with the third controller, hiding it beneath the battery ! All four controllers can be combined in teaming mode for network speeds of up to four gigabits per second.

The Texas Instruments TSB43AB23 three-port IEEE-1394 FireWire controller is hidden with a little less stealth beneath the extended portion of the x16 length, x8 mode secondary graphics card slot.

Gigabyte uses the Realtek ALC889A to provide eight channel output (7.1 surround) with separate headphone channels for audio multi-streaming. The codec is rated at an impressive 107db signal-to-noise ratio.

Summary
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55 comments
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  • nickchalk
    Where are the lower price P45 M/B ?
    Asus P5Q pro is out for €110 and P5Q deluxe for €165 the price difference is about 70$ in Greece.
    1
  • nihility
    51 pages... You won't be upset if I read just the last 3 pages right?
    5
  • Proximon
    I suppose I can get some good from having read this. Did you get paid by the word? Maybe next time you could just put together a complete features chart so that we can have some convenient comparison? You know, so someone could go to a chart and see at a glance which boards had eSATA or firewire, or 8 USB.
    1
  • JPForums
    I'd rather have the overabundance of information than a lack of information. Presentation could use a little refining (I.E. comparison charts and the likes), but having the relevant information available at least is a good thing.
    5
  • Anonymous
    the introduction and specifics are nice, the comparision isn't. so, why don't you test with an 8500 or qx9650? 6850 are outdated... and a mobo handling a c2d doesn't mean it can handle a quad too, see P5K for example (it stinks when it comes to a q6600).
    1
  • Crashman
    procithe introduction and specifics are nice, the comparision isn't. so, why don't you test with an 8500 or qx9650? 6850 are outdated... and a mobo handling a c2d doesn't mean it can handle a quad too, see P5K for example (it stinks when it comes to a q6600).


    Tom's Hardware wants the performance of current articles to reflect that of recent articles, so a "standard test platform" was chosen a while ago. It will get updated, but probably not before the new socket becomes widely available.
    2
  • zenmaster
    I would have liked to see something such as a P35 and an X48 as controls to help analyze the P45 Performance.

    In otherwords, What is the P45 Gaining me over the older P35.
    What would I gain by going to the X48. (Or Lose)
    3
  • Crashman
    zenmasterI would have liked to see something such as a P35 and an X48 as controls to help analyze the P45 Performance.In otherwords, What is the P45 Gaining me over the older P35.What would I gain by going to the X48. (Or Lose)

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/intel-p45-chipset,1961.html
    0
  • johnbilicki
    The first 17 pages were filled with nothing but junk from ASUS. Do us a favor: don't even bother featuring or *MENTIONING* anything for any reason from a company that refuses to RMA 200-400 dollar brand new motherboards with anything other then used and usually broken junk. It destroyed my enthusiasm for the article.
    -6
  • dobby
    nickchalkWhere are the lower price P45 M/B ?Asus P5Q pro is out for €110 and P5Q deluxe for €165 the price difference is about 70$ in Greece.


    the p5q PRo is a p43 board, i should know i have one
    -1
  • dobby
    johnbilickiThe first 17 pages were filled with nothing but junk from ASUS. Do us a favor: don't even bother featuring or *MENTIONING* anything for any reason from a company that refuses to RMA 200-400 dollar brand new motherboards with anything other then used and usually broken junk. It destroyed my enthusiasm for the article.


    if you RMA through your Vendor then you get a new one, which BTW most big vendors dont even check to see whether the part is broken.

    also this article is good, way better than other recent articles especially mac orinated ones) what would be good though is a big summary table. also if the charts where updated.
    2
  • Anonymous
    "the p5q PRo is a p43 board, i should know i have one"

    Funny, so do i and it's a p45.
    3
  • Shadow703793
    You forgot the EP45-DS3L. :( . Also why include cr@ppy brands (ie JetWay) any ways?
    1
  • Crashman
    johnbilickiThe first 17 pages were filled with nothing but junk from ASUS. Do us a favor: don't even bother featuring or *MENTIONING* anything for any reason from a company that refuses to RMA 200-400 dollar brand new motherboards with anything other then used and usually broken junk. It destroyed my enthusiasm for the article.


    Lies. The first two motherboards were from ASRock. The two companies are not the same, regardless of any ties they may have.
    1
  • Crashman
    nickchalkWhere are the lower price P45 M/B ?Asus P5Q pro is out for €110 and P5Q deluxe for €165 the price difference is about 70$ in Greece.


    There are low-priced P45's in there. The ECS only cost $110 US, which, given the weakness of US currency, is cheap.
    0
  • Crashman
    Shadow703793You forgot the EP45-DS3L. . Also why include cr@ppy brands (ie JetWay) any ways?


    NO motherboards were "Forgotten". Everyone got a chance to submit up to two motherboards, Gigabyte sent one. Jetway send one. Any of the other brands you disliked that were in the review, were there because everyone got an equal shot.
    1
  • jerreece
    johnbilickiThe first 17 pages were filled with nothing but junk from ASUS. Do us a favor: don't even bother featuring or *MENTIONING* anything for any reason from a company that refuses to RMA 200-400 dollar brand new motherboards with anything other then used and usually broken junk. It destroyed my enthusiasm for the article.


    At least you have a completely unbiased view of this...

    I haven't read through the entire article. I actually skipped to the Conclusion first to see what board was rated as best (frankly that's important to me). Unfortunately, I see the second best, third best, but I'm having a hard time identifiying what Tom's calls the 1st best. It is not clearly stated.
    1
  • cruiseoveride
    that msi rocks ass. my next board.
    0
  • johnbilicki
    ASRock is a subsidiary of ASUS hence their RMA policies are likely to emulate that of ASUS.

    Don't give me a thumbs down for sticking up for consumer rights. Thumb my comments down if you LIKE getting used and often broken replacements for your $200+ brand new though malfunctioning/broken boards.

    Another problem ASUS seems to create is that it is usually the only company that builds motherboards for the GOOD AMD socket chipsets leaving us to wait for only a very select few (1~3 780A and nForce 4 true 16X SLI are examples) motherboard choices. This is *NO* different then how Dell used to use proprietary parts to lock you in. I LIKE choice and I expect ANY part regardless of it's price to have a NEW replacement for a RMA so long as it's covered under warranty.

    So long as they play politics this way and try to sucker people I will speak up for the less informed enthusiasts. Let's not forget Gigabyte busting ASUS *AND* having a couple articles featured on this very site about it earlier this year.

    My favorite is the Gigabyte board based on features. The article was interesting though what is with the inconsistencies? For example some motherboards have images of the IO panel while others do not. Still it was a good read.
    2
  • jimmysmitty
    ^I will agree with you on that part but when it comes to good quality, performance and extra features I have never had a problem with Asus. I of course have been lucky enough to never have one break one me.
    0