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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  • Glenn - Tuesday, February 03, 2009 - link

    On second reading of your original post I wonder if you need to "initialize" that disk within Administrator Tools/computer management/Disk Management ? If it's showing up in device manager that is likely the problem. The cables provided by gigabyte work in any motherboard slot to any internal sata device (HD or Optical Drive) in either orientation. Reply
  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, February 03, 2009 - link

    You solved my problem! I am now in the process of formatting the drive after initializing. I have NEVER had this issue before as I guess this issue is Vista specific.

    I cannot thank you enough. I wish this article (and hence my question) had been up a couple days ago and saved me the several hours of wasted life. :(

    Now anyone have a good (free?) ghosting program that will allow me to clone my current 80gig drive to the 250gig so I can get rid of the old PATA to use in my old computer build?
  • semo - Tuesday, February 03, 2009 - link

    you've probably never had this problem because your drive already came with an os or the first thing you've done with a new hard drive is to install an os on it. either case, the initialization was done for you.

    to mirror a hard disk -->">

    to take a snapshot -->">">

    get the source and destination right. you only get one chance!
  • 7Enigma - Wednesday, February 04, 2009 - link

    I've never directly swapped drives out like I'm trying to do here, but I have added additional drives before (all old IDE) and other than the Master/Slave issue the drives were always recognized upon reboot (with a drive letter already given). I'm sure this Vista method gives more flexibility (can have multiple drives installed but not actually recognized), but it was new and annoying to me.

    As for the ghost program I think I'm going to use HDclone. While the free version has slow copy times (~1gig/min), I only have an 80gig HD I'm cloning from so I don't mind a bit extra time. And according to their website they claim they now support the extra space when cloning (previously all the freeware ghost programs had the annoying habit of not adding in the rest of the space on the new HD and so you were left with creating another partition, or getting a program like partition magic to do the job the ghost program should have in the first place.

    Once again than you very much for all the help and quick advice!

    I'll be interested to compare boot times of Vista and games with the new drive. My current 80gig is a 7200rpm Maxtor from several years ago and while the new drive is the same spindle speed I'm assuming that the higher density will allow for quite a bit of an improvement. I'm sitting on the sideline for another year or so before jumping on the SSD bandwagon. Too rich for my blood at the moment, but I drool over them.
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, February 04, 2009 - link

    In XP when adding SATA drives IIRC it was normal to have to format the drive before it could be used. I don't remember initialization being a separate step though, just format the unformatted space and it would work. Reply
  • 7Enigma - Wednesday, February 04, 2009 - link

    Just wanted to say I am no running my system on my new Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3250410AS 250GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive, after a 2hour HDclone that worked flawlessly (and free). Not only that but the new/current version of HDclone also expanded the partition for the new larger drive so I literally just unplugged the old drive after the clone and Vista isn't even complaining to validate again (a fear I had since my copy is Vista Home Premium OEM). I didn't want to try to explain why after building my system 2 weeks ago I'm already swapping the HD....

    Thanks again!
  • 7Enigma - Wednesday, February 04, 2009 - link

    no = *now* Reply
  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, February 03, 2009 - link

    That sounds exactly like something that may be the culprit. As I mentioned I just made the big switch from XP to Vista, and am not used to some of the Vista policies.

    I thank you very much for the advice and I'll have to try this ASAP!
  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, February 03, 2009 - link

    The bios is pretty confusing when it comes to this (and the manual also doesn't help). I have made sure the SATA bios settings are NOT set to AHCI or Raid, I believe the "off" setting is for it to be seen as IDE.

    I kinda figured SATA didn't use the Master/Slave, but my concern is that since my primary OS drive IS a PATA drive, that there is an issue with trying to recognize a Master SATA (it shows up as master in the bios, whatever that means).

    Another thing is since trying to install the SATA drive (I've since taken it out until I can find some answers) right before Vista loads the windows icon and the logon screen my HD now makes a 5-6 second grinding noise like it's searching the entire drive or something. This never happened before trying to get the SATA drive hooked up, and while it doesn't seem to have affected performance once in windows, it is a bit annoying during bootup (I keep my system off most of the time so on average boot up 2-3 times per day).
  • The0ne - Tuesday, February 10, 2009 - link

    I'm not entirely sure of this myself not having gone through reliable tests but I've been having similar problems with HD's as of late.

    Make sure you only have one primary HD. If you have multiple HD set as primary, doesn't have to be active, you will run in problems. Vista chokes up as well. Make sure your HD's are labled properly when partition, Simple, Basic, Primary, etc. And then there's the odd external drive like my WorldBook 1TB that, if connected and power on, will 100% prevent XP or Vista to load up fully to the desktop (on my IP35E MB) or 100% crashes and resets the BIOS when XP/Vista tries to load (currently my EP45-DS3R MB). This WorldBook can only be connected once you're on the desktop.

    I have a hate relationship with WD external drives, they just want to die in my arms for no apparent reasons.

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