Gigabyte's GA-P55-UD5 socket-1156 motherboard is an
enthusiast grade Intel P55 Express platform with a ton of extra features packed
into it. Along with the obvious support of Intel Core i5 and Core i7 800-series
socket 1156 processors, the GA-P55-UD5 board features three
physical PCI Express x16 2.0 slots that support both ATI Crossfire and NVIDIA SLI
modes (in x16/x8/x4 modes, x8/x8 when using two videocards). It also has two PCI Express
x1 and two legacy PCI slots for additional expansion options.
There is a quirk when using the last PCI Express pink slot that operates
in x4 mode that will disable the rear eSATA and both PCI Express
x1 slots because of shared bandwidth... so it's almost pointless from a practical
Memory support on the GA-P55-UD5 comes via four
DDR3-1333/1066/800 slots that will accommodate up to 16GB of RAM (8GB in 32-bit
operating systems). True to its enthusiast leanings, memory can be overclocked
to run at DDR3-2200 speeds with compatible modules, and the board includes
support for Extreme Memory Profile
terms of data storage the GA-P55-UD5 board is equpped with no
less than twelve 3Gb/s SATA II connectors; six via Intel's ICH10R, four from two
Jmicron JMB362 controllers, and another two from Gigabyte's own SATA2
controller. A further two eSATA jacks on the back I/O of the board
offer up RAID 0,1,5 and 10 mode - any way you look at it the GA-P55-UD5
can host some seriously large hard drive or solid state drive arrays....
though on this model 6GB/s
SATA III is not supported, for that look to the otherwise identical
Rounding out the features on the Gigabyte GA-P55-UD5 board are fourteen USB2.0 ports
(but no USB3.0), two Firewire ports a pair of Gigabit (10/1000)network jacks and
one IDE connector for legacy devices. High Definition 8-channel audio comes
standard as does support for Dolby Home Theatre, and multi-videocard gaming
options like ATI CrossfireX and nVidia SLI. Running multiple videocards can
significantly improve performance and will give the GA-P55-UD5 some extra
staying power as well.
INCLUDES: User's Manual,
Driver CD, (4) SATA cables, I/O Shield, IDE cable, SLI Bridge
Chipsets: Intel P55
CPU Support: Intel Socket
Memory Type: Dual Channel
Videocard Support: (2)
PCI Express x16 2.0
As one of Gigabyte's more feature-rich motherboards, the GA-P55-UD5
motherboard retails for around $220 CDN ($230 USD, £135 GBP) through stores like NCIX, CanadaComputers ,
Misco.co.uk or NewEgg. Just one rung underneath the
double-stuffed smorgasbord Gigabyte GA-P55-UD6 platform PCSTATS has on the test bench this week. For most people interested in Intel's Core i5 processors and all that's
available via the P55 Express chipset, the GA-P55-UD5 will be more than enough and not
break the bank.
Of course, since this a Gigabyte motherboard,
thing gets the Ultra Durable 3 treatment. Ultra Durable 3 is a marketing name
for mix of components, manufacturing technologies and software controls that Gigabyte has added to all
of its motherboards.
PCSTATS has seen positive although small results from its Dynamic Energy Saver
tools. The GA-P55-UD5 board uses a 24-phase power supply and special Japanese made capacitors and MOSFETs to
(theoretically) improve its longevity - generally known as 'Ultra Durable 3' by the manufacturer. From its 6-layer
PCB with 2oz. copper substrate, to the Japanese made solid state capacitors and electrical
components, the energy saving features built into it, Gigabyte is
certainly pulling out all the stops.
Gigabyte hasn't stopped there though. There are a lot of
motherboards that will be based on Intel's P55 Express chipset, and standing out from the
crowd is more difficult than ever before. Gigabyte's Smart 6 is
a suite of software programs that work with Gigabyte's motherboards to speed up and
expand the capabilities of your computer system. PCSTATS will be taking a closer
look at the Smart 6 in a moment.
Special Features: GA-P55-UD5
Once you begin building a new computer
system with one you quickly realize where extra time has been spent to make your
life easier. Gigabyte is going to be facing stiff competition from ASUS and
MSI Computer on the Intel P55 Express front, so here are a few of the
refinements PCSTATS noticed on the GA-P55-UD5 board.
Big power switch and easily accessible hard reset and CMOS clear buttons. I
almost always have to fix LED front panel header cables because the polarity on
the LED cables gets mixed up, Gigabyte add polarity indicators and printing
inside the header to clearly indicate which ports are USB2.0, and which are
Combination PS/2 keyboard and mouse jacks are damn handy. Most mice are USB, but there are
many keyboards still in use for PS/2. Though legacy, PS/2 keyboards from years
gone by have better tactile features than the newer, extremely inexpensive and flimsy keyboards
being sold today in PC stores (dare I say, even the plastic
is not as nice as my old clunker IBM keyboard!).
Combination USB2.0 and eSATA jacks are great if you have no use for eSATA in the first place. But really the
point of these hybrid USB/eSATA cable slots is to provide power from the USB2.0
port to an eSATA device over one hybrid cable. eSATA alone is unable to power
an external hard drive for example, but there is enough electricity from a USB
socket to power that device.
The Gigabyte GA-P55-UD5 motherboard is built on a 6-layer PCB, and according to
the manufacturer 2 oz copper substrate is used for the inner grounding layers.
The thicker layers of copper aid in "the cooling of board mounted electrical
components" and lower electrical impedance. PCSTATS toured a massive ECS factory
in Shenzhen China last year where several million motherboard
PCBs are fabricated each month. Trust us when we say, the more layers to a
motherboard the more difficult it is to make and generally speaking, the better
One of the other interesting changes happening to
motherboards lately is the quality of components used in their construction.
Wouldn't it be amazing if car manufacturers did the same thing.... the new Ford
F150, made from stainless steel so it will never rust! Anyhow, Gigabyte's
GA-P55-UD5 motherboard features a 24-phase power supply for the socket 1156
CPU, shown above. The small black squares are low RDS MOSFETs, the larger grey cubes are Ferrite choke cores and the aluminum tins are
Japanese made solid polymer capacitors - almost every motherboard is using these capacitors nowadays,
but some lower quality brands actually use electrolytic capacitors in tins that look like
those above to fool you!