Overclocking: Get The Performance Of A Core i5 From Core i3

Gigabyte's P55A-UD7 Motherboard

We looked at this motherboard in March when we analyzed the performance impact of different PCI Express implementations, because bandwidth-intensive peripherals like USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gb/s controllers can be bottlenecked on many board designs.

The P55A-UD7 is Gigabyte’s LGA 1156 flagship, and it implements a PCI Express switch capable of distributing bandwidth dynamically across all available 16 PCI Express lanes even if you technically require more bandwidth.

We based our overclocking tests on this motherboard because of its luxurious component lineup that not only includes a long feature list, but also a strong and flexible voltage regulator circuit that can access up to 24 phases. Paired with Gigabyte’s philosophy of using a generous amount of copper (called Ultra Durable 3) and a solid heat pipe solution, this makes one of the best platforms for intense overclocking. We took the board from a 133 MHz base clock all the way past 200 MHz. In earlier overclocking tests, we learned that this board can actually go higher, so we know that the processor is acting as our frequency, not the motherboard.

I’ll quickly summarize this board's most impressive features. Three of the four x16 PCI Express slots can run graphics cards, and both AMD's CrossFireX and Nvidia’s 3-way SLI are supported (Ed.: bear in mind that you probably don't want to use more than two graphics cards; any more than one card requires dividing 16 lanes of PCI Express connectivity between devices). Gigabyte accommodates memory speeds up to DDR3-2600. Not least of all, this motherboard offers future-facing USB 3.0 and two SATA 6Gb/s ports.