Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P - P45 at its Finestby Gary Key on February 3, 2009 12:15 AM EST
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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.
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Nickel020 - Saturday, February 14, 2009 - linkGary,
many people including someone who posted here in the comments have the problem that the board won't boot in dual channel but everything is perfectly stable in single channel and the RAM sticks have all been verified to be working.
Did you experience this problem when reviewing the board? The standard Gigabyte tech support guy has no clue how to fix this problem :( Could you maybe contact someone at GB to see if they're aware of this issue and if there is a fix for it?
Would be great if you could do that!
Nickel020 - Saturday, February 14, 2009 - linkI've been working on it and it seems that the RAM runs fine in single channel mode and slots 1 & 2.
Trying DIMM clock skew now to check whether this may fix it.
GhettoFly - Wednesday, February 11, 2009 - linkDFI's UT P45-T2RS isn't getting a lot of press coverage, but it's making some noise on enthusiast forums. Given Anandtech's excellent articles in the past on DFI boards, I was just curious if you guys planned to take a look at it, or was this Gigabyte the last P45 board you're going to review?
The0ne - Tuesday, February 10, 2009 - linkI have the EP45-DS3R and it performs very well. I have the Q6600 up to 3.42Ghz with ST 800Mhz memory. OC much better than the dead IP35E MB it replaced and I had thought I bought a lower performing board since it cost me $95 at frys :)
Believer - Monday, February 9, 2009 - linkI'm personally having major issues with this board and with my set of 4x2048MB OCZ Reavers.
But then I don't receive cherry-picked products or have a hot-line to their tech support either.
Reading up on a quite a few tech forums now have shown me I'm far from the only one with similar issues too.
I suffer from the endless reboot cycling, the inability to boot with 4 memory modules installed and nonworking dual-channel support at either default, fail-safe or optimized BIOS settings.
Upgrading BIOS to F7 didn't solve anything either.
In order to get anything booted up I need to first install only 1 memory module, change in BIOS with upped Voltages to the MCH and DRAM, lower the FSB and/or memory to 800 and up the latencies.
With such a change I can boot with all 4 of my Reavers installed.
I have a friend with this board and Reaver memory too, and he can't OC the board the slightest without it crashing... not even slightly past the default PC2-1066 memory speeds, with FSB 333. But he doesn't have the other basic memory issues I'm having though. His and mine CPU temperature readings are low into the 30ish degree Celsius area too.
Oh, and I might add I'm into my second RMA of the board without much of an improvement. The 2 boards showed two very different kind of memory issues though. But my memory runs just fine as long as I install them one and one, or 2 without dual channel config, I've stress tested them endlessly on default settings like that without problems.
Anyone with similar issues that know what could be the fault?
I have not get any response from Gigabyte's own tech support regarding this. Me and a few others with similar issues are being ignored on one of their own official support threads. That's service...
I'm having a tech support from OCZ to help me sort out the problems too however, but he's leaning that it would seem to be my boards fault... again.
Seem like third RMA might be getting closer.
... or I sit and drum my fingers waiting for Gigabyte to finally address the issues.
Jynx980 - Friday, February 13, 2009 - linkMine wouldn't even boot up. The CPU fan would not spin. A couple of other people on the Newegg reviews mention this problem also. How long did it take you to get your RMA approved? Mine is still "open" after a week. Tech support was ok. It took a couple of days but they did respond. Also haven't heard anything about the mail in rebate, and that's been about a month. I sent in a mushkin rebate on the same day to the same rebate center and I already have gotten the check.
syseng - Friday, June 12, 2009 - linkGigabyte is obviously having financial problems. After 4 months, I do not have the rebates for my motherboard or graphics card. The companyhandling the rebates said Gigabyte has not released rebate checks in "quite a while". Resellers like Newegg should just drop them if they are not going to honor their commitments.
Isme - Thursday, December 3, 2009 - linkGigabyte has had "financial" problems for 15 years. Quality has varied from time to time though it has usually been cases of bad engineering rather than bad workmanship.
I think the "financial" problems aspect is that they are just cheap skates who intend that if anyone gets shafted on a deal it won't be Gigabyte. That is to say that direct exchanges have never been pleasant for private individuals. You really want to be buffered through a retailer or wholesale who is doing mass returns...or be an important reviewer...or just very patient.
Believer - Monday, February 9, 2009 - linkCorrect that, I just got a generic response from one of Gigabyte Tech Support.
Looks like they're trying to pin-point it to the memory modules as no ordinary combination of 2 memory pairs are ever specifically supported to work together.
Isme - Thursday, December 3, 2009 - linkHmmm...does that mean the board really only supports a single dual channel pair? That would mean the other 2 slots are basically there is nice looking decoration only.
Or was that response simply saying that Gigabyte never tested the motherboard with all 4 slots filled with off-the-shelf memory rather than hand-picked laboratory measured memory modules? Thus their answer could be more accurately paraphrased "we haven't got a clue and its your problem now sucker". With the whole overclocking fad I can sort of see this as a corporate answer (HObbyist know as much as we do and are willing to spend time -- so why should we waste our time providing a solution).
Still it would be nice if they proved their claims using at least a couple sets of stock hardware in an non-overclocked configuration BEFORE releasing and advertising to the general public.