Sunday, July 11, 2010

Gigabyte P55A-UD4P Socket 1156 USB 3.0 and SATA 3.0 Motherboard Review

Faster and cheaper, that tends to be the trend in consumer electronics. That is not always the case with computer components. A motherboard may cost $200, and two years later a motherboard of the same level quality and performance may cost the same, but it will have more features and be faster performing.

Gigabyte has a history of being a quality manufacturer. Their reputation is one for delivering quality, and performance. That history appears to continue with the P55A-UD4P motherboard. For someone looking for current and future features, Gigabyte manages to squeeze them into the P55A-UD4P. It is an ATX motherboard using Intel’s socket 1156 and P55 chipset for the Core i3, i5, and i7 processors.

Upgrading your motherboard seems to be about compromise. Do you upgrade now, or wait for one with the new features. The Gigabyte manages to deliver it all. Some of these features are in USB 3.0 and SATA 3. SATA 3 components are now coming out. I enjoy being able to use the new components, such as USB 3.0, even though I may not have that device now. The Gigabyte P55A-UD4P allows me to scratch that upgrade itch now with my computer, and be ready for new components as they come out.

When it comes to features, the Gigabyte P55A-UD4P gives you a lot of bang for the buck, with an emphasis on Ultra! The extensive feature set includes:
333 Onboard Acceleration
Ultra Durable 3
Ultra Smart
Ultra Power Efficient
These are some great usable features, some of which are unique.

Starting off with 333 Onboard acceleration, it helps boost your performance. This feature includes USB 3.0, USB Power 3X, and SATA 3.0, hence the 333. USB 3.0 gives you up to 10x the speed of USB 2.0. USB Power 3X is a power boost to help with compatibility and stability of external devices such as external storage devices and optical drives. SATA 3.0 gives you up to 4x the speed of SATA 2.0 via RAID 0, thanks to the embedded Marvell chip.

Next we come to Ultra Durable 3. This is in the form of 2oz Copper PCB, 50,000hr Japanese Solid Capacitors, Lower RDS(on) MOSFETs, and Ferrite Core choke. Benefits of the 2oz Copper PCB in comparison to the competitors 1oz Copper PCB is Lower temperatures, 2x lower impedance, lower EMO, better ESD protection, better power efficiency, and better overclocking.

Ultra Smart includes the Smart 6, Smart TPM, Smart Dual LAN, and XHD. Smart TPM allows for using encrypted files with your computer via a Bluetooth cellphone and a USB drive. Smart 6 uses utilities for a smarter PC environment. The programs are:
Smart QuickBoot- speeds up the system boot-up process for less wait time.
Smart QuickBoost – Allows for easy overclocking w/3 levels- Faster, Turbo, Twin Turbo.
Smart Recovery – helps with creating backups.
Smart DualBios – reorder personal data in the Dual Bios in case of system failure.
Smart Recorder – records and monitors system activity such as system on/off and data transfers.
Smart TimeLock- manage computer usage time.
Smart Dual LAN increases the performance of the LANs. XHD is accelerated hard drive performance.

Last but not least is the Ultra Power Efficient category. This includes Dynamic Energy Saver 2, and Auto Green. Dynamic Energy Saver 2 is a proprietary utility that uses both hardware and software to increase your PC’s energy efficiency, reduce energy use and deliver optimized auto-phase-switching for the CPU, memory, chipset, VGA, HDD and system fans. All of this is done with a simple click of a button. Auto Green is Automatic system energy saving via Bluetooth.

All in all, with all of the features, including 12 phase power and Dolby Home Theater integrated, and a 3 year warranty, this ATX board packs a good punch. But while features are nice, none of us will be happy with the end product if it does not perform well. I am glad to see that the Gigabyte name and reputation appears to remain untarnished with the performance it yielded. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s check out a few benchmarks using Sandra 2010, 3DMark Vantage, and PCMark Vantage. The reference gear used included:
Intel Core i3 540, Gigabyte P55A-UD4P, Corsair 2x2GB DDR3 1600 Dual Channel memory kit, and Powercolor HD5450 1GB video card, and WD 74GB Raptor HDD.

As you can see, the P55A-UD4P performed well based on the configuration. And with the Gigabyte name, you know it is a product that you can rely on. It does not have any additional add-on cards such as additional USB or eSATA connections, or audio card, and using dual video cards will limit the SATA 3.0 and USB 3.0 to normal mode. But the board packs a real punch with its features, and potential, and has earned the Stereowise Plus Recommended Award. For more information and complete specs, check out Gigabyte’s website at: