Articles: Mainboards

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PCB Design and Functionality

Gigabyte web-site has a very convenient tool for comparing mainboard features; however, it doesn’t reveal any functional differences between GA-EX58-UD5 and GA-EX58-Extreme mainboards. The only difference seems to be the cooling system:

They used only basic features during this comparison, but even if take a close look at the detailed specs of Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD5 and compare them with the detailed spec of GA-EX58-Extreme, you won’t find any differences. There is actually no secret here: the boards have identical base, as you can see from the photographs:

Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD5

Gigabyte GA-EX58-Extreme

Moreover, the difference in the mainboards’ cooling systems that we have already mentioned before, is actually limited to the heatsink on the chipset North Bridge, because both mainboards use the same heatsinks on their chipset South Bridges and processor voltage regulator circuitry transistors. As for the North Bridge heatsinks, the difference between the two boards is in fact very significant, and we should dwell on each of them individually. Let’s start with Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD5.

The chipset South Bridge is topped with a very large heatsink. Moreover, it is part of a single cooling unit also covering the chipset North Bridge with a heatpipe running beneath the connecting segment for better heat transfer.

As for the chipset North Bridge heatsink, it is pretty ordinary. Its design is not idea from the cooling efficiency standpoint, but is quite traditional for the latest Gigabyte mainboards. With a heatsink like that it would be best to use a CPU cooler directing airflow down towards the mainboard PCB, so that it could go through the North Bridge heatsink.

There are two heatpipes coming out of the center of the heatsink. One of them ends in the first heatsink on the voltage regulator circuitry transistors. About half of the fins on this heatsink are of larger size and form an array on the mainboard back panel. Another heatpipe goes through the first heatsink and ends in the second one.

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