By: Thomas Soderstrom
How does a company like Gigabyte improve on something its buyers already thought approached perfection? By taking its Ultra Durable features to the next level, of course. Ultra Durable 3 uses an extra-thick layer of copper within the PCB to reduce hot spots, increasing efficiency of heat-sensitive components and adding what Gigabyte claims to be a little more stability for extreme overclockers.
Buyers previously considering Gigabyte’s DS3R version will notice that the improved UD3R version actually costs less—and wonder what features they’re giving up? Unlike its predecessor, the GA-EP45-UD3R has only a single Gigabit network port, as the second port is something most buyers never use. More durability and fewer unused features are a boon to cost-conscious consumers. After all, the rest of the board’s features remain robust. You get the P45/ICH10-R chipset combination, support for any Intel Core 2-based CPU, including Core 2 Extremes on a 1,600 MHz front side bus (Gigabyte unofficially adds support for this feature on P45), and four DDR2 memory slots able to take 16 GB running at up to non-standard DDR2-1366 speeds.
Though PCI Express connectivity is limited to a single x16 slot (so pick your graphics card carefully), storage is much more scalable. The board includes six SATA 3 Gb/s ports from Intel’s ICH and two more through Gigabyte’s own re-branded SATA 2 chip. A Texas Instruments controller adds FireWire 400 support, and 12 USB 2.0 ports originate from the Intel southbridge.
With Gigabyte’s Ultra Durable 3 enhancement, the GA-EP45-UD3R is sure to be a hit with frugal overclockers. And there’s nothing wrong with being a frugal buyer for the overclocker on your list.