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Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD4P Intel P55 Express Motherboard Review

Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD4P Intel P55 Express Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: Top of the list is Gigabyte's 333 Onboard Acceleration marketing pitch, which in real world terms is USB2.0 slots capable of outputting higher voltages to power external hard drives and the like, a pair of 4800Mb/s SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports for high-speed peripherals care of the brand new NEC PD720200 controller and 6.0 GB/s SATA III.
 87% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Gigabyte Feb 03 2010   J. Apong  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD4P

Motherboard with USB3 = Future-Proof Solutio

Gigabyte's GA-P55A-UD4P motherboard embraces two major standards that are already important for PCs today, but will become indispensible in the near future; USB3.0 and 6Gb/s SATA III.

SATA 6Gb/s is an important step forward for hard drive connectivity that will improve bandwidth and transfer speeds, particularly with new SSDs. With today's solid state drives approaching the limit of SATA 3Gb/s connections, it's important to improve overall system bandwidth for the types of burst reading and writing that makes top-end SSDs load programs and boot up so quickly. Conventional SATAIII-compliant hard drives see a marginal difference in moving to a faster bus.

In the next few years expect to see more SSDs entering the market at much more affordable prices, and a common setup will become using a fast SSD or two for running your OS and programs, while a larger conventional hard drive stores media data like music and movies. Gigabyte's GA-P55A-UD4P board is ready for this kind of setup, should you take the plunge in 2010 or even some years after.

The real killer feature included on the Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD4P motherboard is SuperSpeed USB 3.0.

The most obvious application of USB 3.0's greater bandwidth is externally connected mass storage devices like USB hard drive enclosures, which can easily be bottlenecked with a USB 2.0 connection. USB 3.0 is fast enough that conventional hard drives will be able to transfer at full speeds, so transferring a 25GB HD movie from your home computer to a USB 3.0 enabled external hard drive enclosure could theoretically take only 70 seconds (versus 13.9 minutes for USB 2.0 or 9.3 hours for a USB 1.0 connection). Even crazier devices are on the horizon, like USB-based secondary displays and HD webcams.

Let's put it this way, I wouldn't buy a motherboard right now that didn't have a couple USB3.0 ports onboard (or via PCI Express x1 card), but I could live without 6Gb/s SATA III.

Gigabyte has rounded out the GA-P55A-UD4P's feature set with enhanced USB electrical capacity; USB2.0 ports deliver as much as 1500mA and the boards USB3.0 ports up to 2700mA. In real world language that means more external hard drives and power sucking USB devices can be connected to a single USB port without needing secondary USB ports just to supply the juice to keep those external devices running.

Electrically speaking, all the USB ports on the GA-P55A-UD4P are now individually fused to protect the rest of the system from shorts. I once killed my entire desktop system with a bogus USB device that went in at an angle and shorted out the USB slot... in the process it killed the CPU, optical drives, motherboard and RAM.

The remainder of the Gigabyte's GA-P55A-UD4P platform meets expectations for a upper-mainstream board based on the Intel P55 Express chipset. Both SLI and Crossfire are supported so it's suitable for gaming, it has a load of SATA ports for storage (two 6Gb/s SATA III, six 3Gb/s SATA II and two eSATA 3Gb/s), as well as an extensive list of I/O connections like dual Gigabit LAN, dual 1394a Firewire ports, optical and coaxial audio output and of course USB 3.0 ports.

Benchmark performance is exactly where you'd expect itto be from a P55 Express motherboard, which is to say entirely average. We comfortably overclocked the BCLK of the test Core i5 processor from 133MHz up to 210MHz, the same limit as most of the socket 1156 motherboards that PCSTATS has tested so far.

If you were waiting for the second generation of motherboards based on Intel's P55 Express chipset to show up, wait no longer. The Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD4P board combines some cutting edge features (repeat after me USB 3!) with excellent stability and build quality, and at $210 CDN ($190 USD, £125 GBP) it's got the value nailed down too. Recommended.

PCSTATS Recommended Product Award

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Contents of Article: Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD4P
 Pg 1.  Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD4P Intel P55 Express Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  Gigabyte 333 - 6Gb/s SATA III, Intel P55 Chipset
 Pg 3.  Motherboard Highlights Photo Gallery
 Pg 4.  Overclocking the Core i5 / BIOS Screenshots
 Pg 5.  PC Power Draw and Test System Specs
 Pg 6.  Motherboard Benchmarks: Sysmark 2007
 Pg 7.  Motherboard Benchmarks: SiSoft Sandra - Processor
 Pg 8.  Motherboard Benchmarks: Sandra - Memory
 Pg 9.  Motherboard Benchmarks: PCMark Vantage
 Pg 10.  Motherboard Benchmarks: 3DMark06, Vantage, FEAR
 Pg 11.  — Motherboard with USB3 = Future-Proof Solutio

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