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Seven $260-$320 X79 Express Motherboards, Reviewed

Gigabyte’s UEFI remains unchanged from our previous review, with the same over-abundance of features and menus to set just about anything an overclocker desires. Gigabyte says the F4 revision we used includes over-current protection for the CPU voltage regulator, while the later F7 revision recently proved itself in a recent record-breaking overclock.

Gigabyte even burns a little space by breaking some items into unnecessary submenus, while providing others with redundant locations. Ratio settings found in the Advanced Frequency Settings menu are, for example, also found in the submenus of each component they refer to.

Though most motherboards have trouble setting our CPU to multipliers beyond 36x, we were still able to get 4.5 GHz from the X79-UD3 using 36 x 125 MHz. Gigabyte made these settings easier to achieve by allowing higher Intel Turbo Boost ratios to be reduced. It's worth noting, though, that the “Real Time CPU Ratio Control in OS” option that sets all ratios simultaneously triggers the bug in our CPU when it's enabled.

Gigabyte’s Advanced Voltage Control submenu gets tedious, with several sub-submenus that appear overloaded, and others that should have probably been folded into a combined page. We can understand why, for example, the 3D Power Control submenu is set apart:

Two pages of settings adjust everything from loadline calibration to PWM frequency on both the CPU core and DRAM. The X79-UD3 even extends memory current protection settings to per-channel levels, though we’re not sure why anyone would want to have lower limits on one channel than another.

While CPU voltage, DRAM voltage, and PCH voltage are all necessary settings in an overclocking board, spreading these across three menus simply complicates navigation.

Setting DRAM Timing Selectable to “Quick” in the Advanced Memory Settings submenu allows all channels to be set simultaneously. Meticulous experts can also set each channel individually.

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