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Gigabyte P55-UD4P

Enthusiast P55: Eight LGA 1156 Boards Between $150 And $200
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Gigabyte’s P55-UD4P tops its class-leading UD3R with added features so dearly missed in the cheaper part, such as PCIe 2.0 x8 bandwidth for the board’s second x16-length slot, FireWire, and a second Gigabit Ethernet port that supports high-bandwidth teaming mode.

Gigabyte even upgrades its P55-UD4P to Realtek’s ALC889A audio codec, compared to the UD3R’s ALC888. Yet, we were a little surprised to see the same voltage regulator on both models, a finding that points to the high-value overclocking capability of the cheaper part. And while buyers of the UD4P might appreciate an extra sink designed to aid VRM cooling, that extra sink limits the upper PCIe x1 slot to cards no more than 3” long.

Unlike its less-expensive sibling, the well-equipped P55-UD4P points all of its internal SATA ports forward to ease installation under extra-long graphics cards. This design often requires a larger or more modern case for added connector clearance near its internal drive bays, but buyers in the enthusiast market don’t typically use old, cheap cases anyway. Both models use the same combination of JMB363 and JMB362 controllers for Ultra ATA, SATA, and eSATA support.

A row of legacy connectors along the bottom edge includes serial, parallel, and floppy interfaces. These “freebies” are functions of the Multi I/O controller present on most boards, but Gigabyte is one of the few companies not afraid to include the physical connections in spite of calls by a very vocal few to “clean up” boards by leaving off parts that other builders may still need. Most important of the connections is the floppy interface often required for adding AHCI or RAID drivers during a Windows XP installation, though those who need it still face the daunting task of tracking down an extra-long floppy cable to reach an external drive bay that’s likely over a foot away.

BIOS

Gigabyte’s overclock settings are all found in sub-menus of its MB Intelligent Tweaker main menu. The main menu also shows several key readings such as base clock and CPU temperature.

The Advanced Frequency sub-menu contains base clock and PCIe frequencies, plus CPU, chipset, and DRAM ratios. Gigabyte adds drive strength and clock skew controls for advanced overclockers.

The P55-UD4P’s Advanced Memory sub-menu repeats the memory-multiplier setting and includes a few custom memory profiles that work in addition to XMP. Setting “DRAM Timing Selectable” to “Quick” allows both channels to be configured from the timing menu of a single channel.

“Auto” mode for individual timings allows tuners to adjust only the most familiar settings.

Another sub-menu provides all the basic voltage controls, including the important Uncore setting (labeled QPI/Vtt Voltage below), and adds advanced controls such as DRAM termination and reference voltage.

The P55-UD4P has enough room to store up to eight overclocking profiles onboard, and also allows profiles to be exported to attached drives.

Accessories

PCIe pathway switching makes the P55-UD4P a viable choice for SLI and CrossFire, so Gigabyte adds an SLI bridge. CrossFire bridges are typically included with compatible graphics cards, though a few Gigabyte-branded Radeon cards lack this important accessory.

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