Articles: Mainboards
 

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That is why we really do not care how efficient the hybrid cooler on Gigabyte GA-EX58-Extreme actually is. It can be 30% improvement as Gigabyte claims, or 50%, or maybe even 100%. All this could be really great, if there had been real need for that. So far, the two boards are absolutely identical from the functional prospective, so let’s continue with our review.

Both mainboards use 12-phase voltage regulator circuitry for the CPU, and two-phase voltage regulator circuitry for the DDR3 memory and chipset North Bridge. Due to DES Advanced power-saving technology, the number of active phases may vary depending on the immediate workload. The LED rows indicate how many phases are active. Numerous LEDs tell us not only about the number of active voltage regulator phases in the processor, memory and chipset North Bridge circuitries, but also about the current voltage on the CPU, memory, chipset North and South Bridges as well as about the processor and North Bridge temperature increase past 60°C. It is really hard to figure out what message the LED’s deliver, because there are too many of them. However, this multi-color glow makes the board look very festive and fun. Only a row of bright-blue LED lights reporting high bus frequency during overclocking may be a little too annoying.

There is enough room around the processor socket to accommodate large CPU coolers. At least, we could easily fit a pretty large Cooler Master GeminII in there. The power connectors are also very conveniently located. It is a little uncommon to have Power On and Reset buttons so high up in the upper right corner of the PCB.

 

As we got to the description of the lower part of the mainboards PCB we first of all have to dwell on the graphics cards operational modes. Even if we install two graphics cards into two upper PCI Express x16 slots, they will work at their full speed. But as soon as we put in the third graphics card, the work mode changes to “x16-x8-x8” – two lower slots will have to share 16 PCI Express lanes. Moreover, there is also one PCI Express x4 slot, one PCI Express x1 and two PCI slots. It is interesting that PCI Express x4 slot doesn’t have the back side of the slot, so you can actually install a PCI Express x8 or even PCI Express x16 card.

There are six main Serial ATA ports and four additional ports along the right side of the boards PCB. The main ports are implemented in the Intel ICH10R South Bridge. As for the additional ones, two of them are supported by Gigabyte SATA2 controller (it must be the well-familiar JMicron JMB363 chip) that also provides PATA support.  Another two JMicron JMB322 controllers help split these two ports into another two providing us a total of four additional Serial ATA ports. There is a two-digit POST code indicator right next to them, which is a pretty rare feature on Gigabyte mainboards.

The mainboards back panels have the following connectors and ports:

  • PS/2-connectors for keyboard and mouse;
  • Optical and coaxial S/PDIF and six audio-jacks provided by an 8-channel HDA-codec (Realtek ALC889A) with Dolby Home Theater support;
  • IEEE1394 connector (TI TSB43AB23);
  • "Clear CMOS" button;
  • 8 USB ports;
  • Two network RJ45 ports implemented via two Realtek 8111D controllers with Teaming function.

Overall, the design and functionality of both mainboards make a very good impression. Of course, we can feel that there is barely any free space left, but this is only because the developers did their best to provide their products with maximum functionality. You can get a better idea of the Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD5 and GA-EX58-Extreme mainboards layout from these schemes. As we have expected, these layouts are almost identical:


Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD5


Gigabyte GA-EX58-Extreme

 
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