It seems like ages ago when Intel released the P45 Express chipset. In fact it was just last June, but that is normally an eternity in the personal computer market. After our first look at the chipset, we were not convinced that it could be successful. The P35 Express chipset was mature, less expensive, and a very popular choice for the first time buyer and enthusiast alike. Anyone needing high-end performance for a CrossFire setup had numerous options to choose from with the X38/X48 based motherboards. What seemed like the final nail in the coffin is that board pricing was closer to X38 territory than the P35 and initial performance numbers just did not wow anyone.

Beyond that, it seemed like the upcoming Nehalem platform was getting more press than the P45. Most of us were wondering out loud why anyone would invest in a brand new chipset based on a previous generation processor when the mother of all platforms was getting ready to launch. Not to mention, except for CrossFire capabilities upgraded from x16/x4 on the P35 to a performance friendly x8/x8 setup, what did the P45 really offer?

As it turns out, this chipset had a lot to offer. Of course, the stars seemed to align perfectly for its march to success. After a few rough patches with early BIOS releases, this chipset became the favorite upgrade choice for the enthusiast due to its incredible front-side bus and memory overclocking capabilities. AMD released two of the best value/performance video cards in recent memory with the HD 4870 / HD 4850 video cards and all of a sudden you could run CrossFire on a mainstream board without spending a fortune. Intel pushed this chipset heavily and the motherboard manufacturers started pumping out various models from the low-end $80 market up to the high-end $250 sector. The P45 was everywhere and available at almost any price point - we last counted about 100 different models available from just about every manufacturer in the business.



It’s hard not to get lost in the sea of available models when searching the web sites at ASUS, MSI, Gigabyte, and others. Thanks to aggressive price cuts on the Core 2 series of processors and with the Core i7 platform regulated to the high-end market until the end of this year, the opportunity for the P45’s star to shine brightly continues for the immediate future. Based on recent information from Intel we can expect to see the P45 around until 2011.

One of the industry's leading supporters of the P45 chipset is Gigabyte. At last count, Gigabyte had fifteen P45 motherboards in their lineup. Gigabyte has already released six new P45 second-generation products based on their Ultra Durable 3 technology. We will be taking an in-depth look at the Ultra Durable 3 technology in separate article shortly. In the meantime, today we are reviewing one of the top models in the Ultra Durable 3 lineup, the GA-EP45-UD3P.

This particular board offers CrossFire support in dual x8 mode, native support for DDR2-1366 memory speeds, a revised cooling system, dual PCI-E Gigabit LAN controllers with teaming, and Dolby Home Theater support via the Realtek ALC889a. Add in an integrated TPM data encryption chip, eight SATA ports, Dynamic Energy Saver power management system, and IEEE 1394a support plus several other features and you just bought the kitchen sink with this board. Speaking of buying, the current retail pricing is around $135 and a $20 rebate is available, meaning there is a lot of value packed into this blue wonder board.

Did the Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P impress us? Let’s find out now.

P45 Refresher...
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  • Archeon - Tuesday, February 03, 2009 - link

    I've used this board in my main rig now for about two months. I found this board has ONE major downside, which is not mentioned in this review I think.

    The problem is this: there is one electronics component VERY close to one of the holes which is used to hold to cooler onto the board. You can see the component I mean when you look at the second pic on page 4 (board layout) of this review. It's the hole surrounded by all the caps. If you look closely, you'll see that right above this hole, there's some sort of flat, slightly elevated electronics component.

    Why is this a problem? Because this hole is preventing me from mounting about any other cooler than the stock Intel cooler! I've tried both a Scythe Infinity (Mugen) and Ninja. I simply cannot install these coolers without pushing off the electronics component, which surely would not be a good idea. Even the stock Intel cooler of my old E6600 CPU doens't fit!! (Luckily the stock cooler of my E8500 does!)

    So now I run my rig with the stock Intel cooler, which is a shame since I have such a nice Mugen cooler readily available here, but it just won't fit!!! This is bad board design INHO, nothing less, nothing more.

    Apart from this issue, I absolutely love this board: rock solid, and all the features I need (and then some!)
    Reply
  • The0ne - Tuesday, February 10, 2009 - link

    Looks like an oscillator to me and it does appear to sit too close to the locking hole. However, the photo might be deceiving my eyes. But judging from the pics alone I'm pretty sure my Artic Freezer 7 fan wouldn't fit on there. The clips will hit the component as well. However, my fan does sit fine in my EP45-DS3R but it's a bit different board. Reply
  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, February 03, 2009 - link

    Hmm, that is odd as the reviews seemed to say that most of the common high-end coolers had no problem. I have the Xigmatech 120mm Rifle cooler and it installed with no clearance issues (pushpin pieces of $hit are another story). Is it that you want to mount the cooler in a specific orientation and it won't work, or that there is no way that any direction would work? Reply
  • Archeon - Wednesday, February 04, 2009 - link

    No specific orientation. It didn't work in either way. I even bought [url=http://www.scythe-eu.com/en/products/pc-accessory/...">http://www.scythe-eu.com/en/products/pc-accessory/...]Scythes CPU Cooler stabiliser[/url] in the hope that would work, but again, no go... Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Tuesday, February 03, 2009 - link

    and I have to say, this board is the best I've ever owned. Tons of features and ports, (including two PS/2 ports for you KVM users, yes, I'm talking to you ASUS) a great layout, loads of BIOS options, rock-solid stability --about the only things I could nitpick about are Gigabyte's funky color scheme, and perhaps not having right-angle front-mounted SATA ports. Both very minor details. It's working well with two 4GB DDR2 modules and a Q6600.

    I'd recommend this board to anybody, it's a quality part. Thanks for the review, AT.
    Reply
  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, February 03, 2009 - link

    I just built a rig using the R (single GPU) mobo and have had some problems upgrading my rig from an old 80gig PATA drive to a new 320gig SATA drive. Here is my problem:

    -I installed Vista 64bit on the new rig with my old 80gig drive and then decided I wanted to rebuild my old rig (replaced everything but case and HD) using the old drive. I need to clone my 80gig onto my 320gig so I can swap the old drive out. Problem is when I connect the SATA drive using the 90 degree elbow SATA cable that says HD, it is not recognized in windows. I can find it in the device manager, and it says it is working properly, but there is no way to copy/format/etc. to it?

    I've tried using both the 6 orange SATA ports, and also the 2 purple ports (I don't know if there is a difference here or not), but no luck. Should I try a no 90degree elbow cable? I'm unfamiliar with SATA tech and so wonder if the 90degree cable designates the SATA drive as master, and I need to have it as a slave? When I go into the bios BOTH drives come up as MASTER, but seem to be on different channels so I didn't think this was an issue.

    Sorry to take this off topic but I spent a couple hours this past weekend and got nowhere.


    I have another issue that seems to be related to some power saving thing with this board. Before I turned off the power saving features in the bios it would seem to randomly not like to start from a cold boot (I'd have to turn it off and on, or restart if it got to the bios screen). It almost seemed like it was cutting power too quickly on shutdown and startup. Most of the issues seem to have gone away since I turned off the power saving functions, but I still get some squirly things happening when turning on for the first time. I'm currently using optimized defaults in the bios so it's not a wierd overclocking issue.

    Thanks for the advice.
    Reply
  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, February 03, 2009 - link

    Wanted to mention this is with the latest chipset drivers and the F7 bios. I LOVE the online bios update. No more floppy flashes for me! Reply
  • Mr Roboto - Sunday, February 15, 2009 - link

    Yeah, that's an old Gigabyte feature. When I used it on my old AMD based GA-K8U-939 it worked flawlessly then. People rip on Gigabyte's BIOS support and complain about bad flashes but I've NEVER had any of those problems with them.

    However on less popular boards BIOS support is slow.
    Reply
  • Glenn - Tuesday, February 03, 2009 - link

    I suggest you review the owners manual and make sure which SATA controller you are connected to and ensure that it is properly set in the bios for your configuration. I suspect you have whichever controller you are connected to, to AHCI or Raid and it isn't recognized. I know it's confusing until you get used to it, but SATA doesn't use the old master slave ...! Reply
  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, February 03, 2009 - link

    Wanted to also add I tried both the G-SATA (purple connectors) and the standard orange Intel ones with no effect. It wasn't until I quit and removed the SATA drive that I thought to try the non 90 degree elbow one that says HDD on the cable. Can you comment on whether there are specific SATA cables that denote HD's or whether they just had the 90 degree bend to facilitate placement in the case without stressing the connectors (I have read many complaints on breaking off). Reply

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