Articles: Mainboards

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Design and Functionality

It used to be easy to tell an entry-level mainboard from its top-end counterpart as it would have fewer graphics card and memory slots and would not support multi-GPU technologies, but now we’d never think the Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R (rev. 2.0) is a basic model after taking a look at it.

The most notable difference from the senior model is the changed cooling system. This model has the same number of heatsinks on each of the hot components, but the heatsinks are not combined into a single system with heat pipes. There is only one heat pipe connecting two heatsinks here. Thus, the cooling system is simpler, yet effective enough for coping with its job even if you overclock the mainboard.

The rest of the differences have to be looked for. There is no POST indicator and no Power and Reset buttons. The CPU voltage regulator has fewer phases. There is only one rather than two network ports at the back but the mainboard’s back panel still looks exemplary, using all the space available for the different interfaces:

  • PS/2 connectors for keyboard and mouse;
  • Coaxial and optical S/PDIF together with six analogue audio-jacks provided by eight-channel Realtek ALC889 codec;
  • Clear CMOS button;
  • Eight USB ports, including two eSATA/USB Combo and a pair of USB 3.0 (blue connectors), implemented with NEC D720200F1 controller; six more are laid out as three onboard pin-connectors;
  • Two IEEE1394 (FireWire) ports implemented via T.I. TSB43AB23 controller, the third port is available as an onboard pin-connector;
  • A local network port (network adapter is built around Gigabit Realtek RTL8111E controller).

We have noted a few insignificant differences but the Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R (rev. 2.0) has almost the same set of basic features which impressed us so much in our review of the senior model. This mainboard supports all modern LGA1366 processors, including six-core ones, and offers the same number of memory and graphics card slots (the operation modes of those slots are the same, too). It has a lot of onboard controllers that provide IDE, SATA 3 Gbps, SATA 6 Gbps, USB 3.0 and FireWire interfaces.

The component layout chart also shows that the mainboard has a complex indication system which uses a number of multicolored LEDs to report the current voltages and temperatures of key components like the CPU, memory, and chipset. The rows of LEDs even indicate the number of active power phases while the bright-blue ones show how high the base clock rate is.

Thus, the Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R (rev. 2.0) is but formally positioned as an entry-level product. It only differs from the senior model in extra features which have almost no effect on its functionality whereas the main set of capabilities has remained the same and is richer than you can find with many other mainboards.

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