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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  • GhettoFly - Tuesday, February 03, 2009 - link

    I'm guessing the 1250 kit you guys managed to clock at 1300 was Corsair's TWIN2X2048-10000C5DF. I have a set of those, but haven't tested with my UD3P yet; however I got my Geil DDR2-1160 C4 kit up to DDR2-1333 C5 on this board with only 2.48V using the 1333 OC profile: http://i4memory.com/f90/gigabyte-ep45-ud3p-memory-...">http://i4memory.com/f90/gigabyte-ep45-ud3p-memory-...
    This board is too much fun!
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Wednesday, February 04, 2009 - link

    Yes, it is the Corsair kit and it was an early review sample to boot. Corsair sent us a new SPD and I managed to hit 1333 this morning at 2.50V on it, so I can report that 1333 is stable on this board now after a few runs of Crysis and PCMark Vantage. :) Reply
  • GhettoFly - Wednesday, February 11, 2009 - link

    It just seems a bit odd advertising DDR2-1366+ OC capabilities when the ICs needed for such clocks (D9GMH/GKX) are EOL :p Reply
  • x86 64 - Sunday, February 15, 2009 - link

    I'm still seeing some around and very cheap compared to what they used to be. You can pick up two 2x1GB (4GB) kits of PC2-10400 or PC2-9600 for under $275-$300 US.

    I think there are third party manufacturers who are still making the D9GMH\GKX, etc, because companies like Cellshock (now recently defunct) and Team Group (active) are still selling both of the most popular flavors of D9. Team is very big in Asia so it's not like they are some small niche company like Cellshock moving a small quantity of old stock. All of Team Group's Xtreem memory (not the "Dark" branding) is either GMH or GKX. How else to explain the constant flow of Micron D9 IC's to certain companies? Could there be that much stock still left over in Asia where they are selling them this long after they were discontinued?? I would be surprised.

    Reply
  • GhettoFly - Sunday, February 15, 2009 - link

    It has to be old stock of the ICs at least; when you look at the codes on the ICs themselves (not the D9Gxx code, but like 7KD22) I'm pretty sure the first number indicates the year of manufacture, 7 being 2007, 6 being 2006, etc. I haven't see any Micron RevD chips that have those codes staring with 8 even on sticks with a 2008 production date, for example my Geil 1160 C4 and Team Xtreem 9600 kits, the ICs on both have that code starting with a 7. Reply
  • Mr Roboto - Wednesday, February 18, 2009 - link

    I don't know what the number is on the IC's themselves but you can check the manufacture date of your memory using a monitoring program like Everest.

    I have a set of Team's and using Everest they say the 14th week of 2008 as the date or manufacture.

    Whether or not the IC's were made then or the modules themselves is debatable.
    Reply
  • x86 64 - Sunday, February 15, 2009 - link

    I think you might be right. I just pulled the spreaders off my Team 1200Mhz and sure enough it starts with a 7. I hope they don't run out anytime soon because it's so much fun to push this stuff :)

    It's weird, this has to be the first time in a long time that I'm happy with "last generation" hardware. I just don't see the benefit of i7 and DDR3 right now. I'm enjoying the rock solid P45, excellent inexpensive dual and quad Penryn's and dirt cheap high performance memory. I'd rather buy double the current hardware then spend the same amount for an entry level i7 system and get a 20% increase in performance. I'm sure the i7 will make a great server or HPC but I'm not impressed to much with the desktop parts. We need some multithreaded applications first. Software is seriously lagging.

    I'll wait for the die shrink and in the mean time stick with my DDR2 and D9GKX\GMH :)
    Reply
  • x86 64 - Sunday, February 15, 2009 - link

    Also here's a picture of a TG kit from a review at XBit Labs from the summer of 2007 and it's marked with a 6 which would be in line with the markings on the recent chips, just one year back.

    http://www.xbitlabs.com/images/memory/team-xtreem/...">http://www.xbitlabs.com/images/memory/team-xtreem/...
    Reply
  • GhettoFly - Wednesday, February 18, 2009 - link

    Looks like I have to eat my words about no D9 being manufactured in 2008, these are powering the G.Skill 2GBHK sticks I got in today.
    http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showpost.php?p...">http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showpost.php?p...
    Reply
  • Glenn - Tuesday, February 03, 2009 - link

    Great article Gary! I have built approximately 10 systems so far with this board or it's single PCIe X16 twin UD3R, and the "C" version with the DDR3/DDR2 slots. My experiences with each are just as pleasing as you have reported. My own system is the C version with a Q9550 slightly overclocked to 3.4GHz. I am excited to see the followup on the Ultra Durable 3 technology.

    I am equally or even more excited that you are testing the support of Gigabyte and other manufacturers. I have built over 100 systems using gigabyte P35/G35 and now P45/G45 boards in the past year and a half and I honestly nearly quit using them over some issues with the G45 board when it was first released. It wasn't even close to stable but subsequent bios'es corrected all my complaints. I could get no response from Gigabyte during that time and was pretty pist off! Interestingly enough, I just about switched all my builds to Asus, but I was reminded of past problems with them on my first P45Q build when I went to download the newest drivers! Why does a multibillion dollar company like Asus insist on having a dog-assed slow website that is so painful to negotiate? At times during the day, one can't even get a page to open without timing out! And it's been that way for years! Gigabyte! You owe Asus a "save" on that one! Kudos to Anands crew for taking up these frustrations with the mfgs! Great article!
    Reply

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