Final Words

The mainstream motherboard market is unbelievably competitive at this time. The breadth and quality of motherboards available in the $85~$135 price range is just remarkable. A lot of this has to do with Intel driving the P45 as the primary chipset of choice for the mainstream user, then backing it up with great processor performance and pricing to boot. AMD is finally back in the game and we will see an expanded rollout of additional performance/value based Phenom II processors shortly.

In a very crowded market space, it is critical that the manufacturers not only offer a compelling product but also back it up with top-flight customer service, technical support, and warranties. We have many compelling products available from a myriad of motherboard suppliers but what we do not have is consistent customer support.

In the effort to drive costs down and compete in an increasingly competitive market, it seems as though customer support has become a lost art. Companies like EVGA get it; they offer the best customer support and warranty in this industry. It is not always perfect, but there are actual human beings interacting with customers on a real-time basis. You might pay a little more for the product, but it is well worth it in our opinion.

We have seen improvements at ASUS, MSI, ASRock, DFI, and GIGABYTE as of late. We still think they all have a ways to go, but it is not as bad as it was a year ago. Of course, it is not as good as it should be either. We have spent the past few weeks discussing this with each company and explaining our retail experience program that is finally ready to launch. We received a mixed bag of opinions but overall the responses were positive and we truly believe each company when it says they intend to improve. We will see as time goes by.

In the meantime, we did a beta test run with the GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3P. We purchased the motherboard from Newegg and tested it with the drivers and BIOS available on the website. We sent GIGABYTE's technical support group various questions over a five-week period and they came through four out of five times. This was a significant improvement over our experiences with GIGABYTE last year. We are still not thrilled with the "fill out a help ticket" and wait for an answer method of technical support. In fact, we will not be as kind in our scoring as time progresses if this does not change. Real-time chat is simple to provide if a company is willing to invest in the necessary support staff, and it can be a great help.

The website page for this board was kept up to date and driver/utility updates have been posted on a regular basis. This is a far cry from last year’s debacle with the 780G boards and we commend GIGABYTE on that improvement. We even received our rebate check within thirty days. Support in the forums is strong for this product and we see very favorable comments about it at various sites. Even if GIGABYTE trips up in technical support, we believe you can count on the user community for a solution. So enough soap box talk, what did we think about the board?

GIGABYTE has produced a stellar product when it comes to the GA-EP45-UD3P. This motherboard has a superior layout, great BIOS, incredible overclocking capabilities, high quality components, and a price that belies its feature set and performance. There are many things to like about this board but we think the layout is special. Just about every slot or connector has been perfectly placed to ensure ease of use and no compatibility problems. Even running CrossFire on the board was easy as all of the SATA ports remain accessible - granted the spacing is tight near the SATA connectors but we could still reach them with the board installed in a case.

Second up is the BIOS and overclocking capabilities of the board. The BIOS is a tweaker’s delight, yet the auto settings will allow a newbie to still extract about 90% of the board’s performance when overclocking. However, we still find ASUS' BIOS layout to be more informative and user friendly. The overclocking capabilities of the UD3P are superb and we still think there is additional potential in the board. This board is truly a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Award

We are excited to present our Gold Editors' Choice award to GIGABYTE for their impressive GA-EP45-UD3P. Where do we start when discussing the attributes of this motherboard? Based on the Intel P45 chipset, GIGABYTE has extracted enormous performance potential from their second-generation design featuring Ultra Durable 3 technology. Impressive overclocking abilities with both dual- and quad-core processors? Check. Excellent stability and compatibility? Check. Feature laden layout and software package? Absolutely. Top all that off with technical support that actually addressed our problems. The performance of this board was consistently at or near the top of our benchmarks and ultimately offered the best overall value we have seen in this market segment.

While performance is important, ultimately the product needs to have the right feature set, stability, compatibility, customer support, and pricing. The GA-EP45-UD3P offers all of this and more to potential buyers. The UD3P offers a flexible layout, a tweaker’s BIOS, CrossFire support, an abundance of storage options, an excellent cooling solution, top-flight electrical components, very good HD audio featuring Dolby Digital Live encoding, and an extensive accessory package along with excellent documentation for about $115 with rebate.

There is no perfect motherboard, but the GA-EP45-UD3P comes just about as close to it as possible for its intended market. At least in our initial experience, GIGABYTE has come a long way in improving their customer support, website information, technical documentation, and warranty support compared to our previous experiences. We would still like to see an improvement in this area - mainly a more interactive approach like EVGA takes in supporting their customers. However, the hardware really delivers and as such we highly recommend it.

Power Consumption
POST A COMMENT

73 Comments

View All Comments

  • Nickel020 - Saturday, February 14, 2009 - link

    Gary,
    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!

    Thanks!
    Reply
  • Nickel020 - Saturday, February 14, 2009 - link

    I'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.
    Reply
  • GhettoFly - Wednesday, February 11, 2009 - link

    DFI'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? Reply
  • The0ne - Tuesday, February 10, 2009 - link

    I 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 :) Reply
  • Believer - Monday, February 09, 2009 - link

    I'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.
    Yey...

    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.
    Reply
  • Jynx980 - Friday, February 13, 2009 - link

    Mine 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. Reply
  • syseng - Friday, June 12, 2009 - link

    Gigabyte 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. Reply
  • Isme - Thursday, December 03, 2009 - link

    Gigabyte 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.

    Reply
  • Believer - Monday, February 09, 2009 - link

    Correct 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.
    Reply
  • Isme - Thursday, December 03, 2009 - link

    Hmmm...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.
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now