Articles: Mainboards
 

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PCB Design and Functionality

The exterior of Gigabyte mainboards has also changed quite noticeably, although these changes have nothing to do with the different chipset revisions anymore. The typical blue textolite didn’t go anywhere, but is now used only for entry-level products, such as the previously reviewed Gigabyte GA-P67A-UD3 and GA-PH67A-UD3, for example. Higher-end mainboards are now made using black textolite with all the other components changed accordingly.

Black looks more serious than the fun blue color, the board looks very solid, but now its design has become less informative in a certain way. For example, we used to be able to tell right away what memory channel the DIMM slot refers to, as some of them were white and some – light-blue. Now we will have to consult the manual to determine that. However, it’s been a while since we ever had any issues with Gigabyte’s ability to deliver all the necessary technical details about their products, and the carefully drawn layouts from their manuals are true works of art.

Those of you who do not like to consult manuals (that is probably the overwhelming majority), the manufacturer now offers photos of their mainboards with all the major features marked on them. You can check out these photos on the company web-site.

Gigabyte GA-P67A-UD4-B3 mainboard features a 12-phase processor voltage regulator that can change the number of active phases dynamically depending on the load, which you can see from the row of LEDs called the “Phase LEDs”. This feature can hardly surprise us, as we have seen similar functionality on other mainboards before. A much more interesting thing, however, is the use of new voltage regulator electronic components with higher levels of integration present. A pair of MOSFET transistors and a controller are now combined inside one chip, which leads to a whole lot of advantages: electronic components occupy less space on the PCB and boast improved characteristics. We used to see chips like that only on MSI mainboards before.

The board supports dual-card ATI CrossFireX or Nvidia SLI configurations. A single graphics card will work at full PCI Express 2.0 x16 speed, while a pair of cards will work at half the speed. Among other expansion slots we should definitely mention three PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots and two PCI slots. The chipsets supports two SATA 6 Gbps ports and four SATA 3 Gbps ports. Two additional SATA 6 Gbps ports on the back panel are provided by Marvell 88SE9128 controller. Two USB 3.0 ports on the back panel are almost a must these days and are implemented via NEC D720200F1 controller. Another controller like that provides two more USB 3.0 internal ports. Overall the board has 14 USB 2.0 ports (8 on the back panel and 6 more can be connected to internal pin-headers). One of the internal connectors is specifically designed to be able to charge mobile devices using “ON/OFF Charge” technology.

The mainboard back panel carries the following ports and connectors:

  • PS/2 connector for keyboard and mouse;
  • Coaxial and optical S/PDIF together with six analogue audio-jacks provided by eight-channel Realtek ALC889 codec;
  • Eight USB ports, six more are laid out as three onboard pin-connectors;
  • Two USB 3.0 ports (blue connectors) implemented via NEC D720200F1 controller; a second controller like that provides two additional internal USB 3.0 ports;
  • Two SATA 6 Gbps ports implemented via Marvell 88SE9128 controller;
  • A local network port (network adapter is built around Gigabit Realtek RTL8111E controller).

The table blow sums up all the features and specifications of Gigabyte GA-P67A-UD4-B3 mainboard:

We didn’t mention some peculiarities, which we have already come across on other Gigabyte mainboards. For example, this mainboard is designed with “Ultra Durable 3” technology, it uses two BIOS chips, it supports Gigabyte’s “Smart 6” utility suite, it can save power due to “AutoGreen” feature and be managed remotely via “CloudOC”, and last but not least, ensures lower power consumption in off mode being a “EuP Ready” product.

 
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