Gigabyte surprised us by providing a motherboard produced in Taiwan, rather than mainland China. We remember the days when this implied higher quality, so that label stuck in our head throughout testing. It’s also the only motherboard to feature a matte black (rather than glossy) finish on the PCB.
Another surprise was the lack of IEEE-1394 FireWire. This editor hasn’t even seen a FireWire device since 2008, so the savings of precious motherboard real estate would be a good enough excuse to get rid of it even before we consider its added cost. Yet, Gigabyte has always loved FireWire, and this is the same company that made us live with rear-panel parallel ports until mid-2007. The sudden swing towards modernization is somewhat refreshing from a company that’s better known for longevity.
Gigabyte is the third company to add the front-panel USB 3.0 connector first introduced by ASRock and reportedly developed by Intel. This is a good sign for case companies that have been waiting for a standard to emerge. Gigabyte is also one of the few companies to offer RAID support on its eSATA ports.
Two PCIe x16 slots use automatic lane switches to change from single-x16 to dual-x8 mode whenever a card is added to the lower slot. That second slot is also three spaces from the first for improved cooling to the upper card. The “missing” third slot offered by some competitors would have been limited to x4 transfers, so Gigabyte left if out in favor of legacy PCI (bottom) and PCIe x1 (top).
The P67A-UD4’s 14-phase voltage regulator screams “made for overclocking” louder than the custom colors and heat sinks ever could, though anyone who likes to show off with both looks and performance will enjoy all of these updates.
One thing that hasn’t been updated is the front-panel audio connector, which follows Gigabyte’s tradition by being placed forward of the I/O panel’s jacks. This allows front-panel cables to reach from nearly any direction, even if the cable was made too short for competing boards. The design also makes hiding the cable much more difficult, but many of the builders on this site enjoy the design’s improved functionality in spite of quibbles over form.
Gigabyte’s final surprise is the elimination of its supersized cable kit. An SLI bridge and four SATA cables are probably enough for most enthusiasts, but those who prefer CrossFire must make sure they pick a card that includes its own bridge connector. Cost cutting here potentially allows features like RAID support for the eSATA controller to exist within the P67A-UD4’s intended price class, but the lack of any front-panel USB 3.0 bay adapter will be sorely missed by builders who cannot wait for cases to adopt the new internal interface already presented on this board.