👤by Richard Weatherstone Comments 📅15-11-11
Closer Look

Motherboard Front

GIGABYTE have certainly come a long way since the motherboards that resembled the contents of a bag of MnM's. The X79-UD5 couldn't be further from the rainbow boards of old with it's very descreet, sombre colour scheme of black and grey. The highlights of laser blue contrast really well with the matt black PCB to make a very smart, aesthetically pleasing mainboard.

Motherboard Rear

The rear of the board, as you would expect looks sparse in comparison with just the huge socket backplate dominating its appearance above which sit a group of POS caps and MOSFETs, surprisingly without a heatsink.

Socket Area

The use of POS caps ensure the socket area is left relatively clean from Solid caps. Only the mirrored finish of the fourteen Solid chokes stand proud of an area that’s framed by eight DDR3 DIMM slots, themselves capable of housing 64GB according to the GIGABYTE spec sheet. Strange then that other motherboards which have 8 DIMM slots can support 128GB, maybe a typo on GIGABYTE's behalf?

PCIe Area

The PCIe area is well spaced affording 2x PCIe 16x, 1x PCIe 8x and 2x PCIe 1x. The upper and low full size slots are 16x with the mid table slot being 8x. Rounding off the area is a single PCI 33MHz slot for those who have not yet made the leap to PCIe. I would have perhaps liked to have seen the PCI slot being positioned above the bottom 16x PCIe in place of the 1x PCIe but nevertheless it seems to be a rarity that PCI is included on the latest boards so we should be grateful.

SATA Ports

There are 10 SATA ports consisting of 6xSATA 6GB/s and 4xSATA 3GB/s. The two white ports are 6GB/s courtesy of the X79 chipset, the black of 3GB/s on the X79 chipset and the remaining four grey ports are all 6GB/s but are controlled by the Marvel 88SE8172 chip. 10x SATA ports should be enough for anyone, considering 2TB drives are very common place these days.

I/O Connectivity

The I/O area is packed with connectivity featuring 7x USB 2.0/1.1 ports (red), a duo of USB 3.0 ports (blue), PS2 Keyboard/Mouse socket, Overclock and DUALBIOS selector, CMOS reset switch, e-SATA/USB combo port, e-SATA 6GB/s port, RJ-45 LAN port, and a IEEE 1394a Firewire port. Rounding of the I/O area are the audio ports which are strangely missing the grey 3.5mm port. Feat not though because the mic /subwoofer ports can be configured via software to perform the side speaker task.. Last of all there is an optical S/PDIF out port.

Aside from missing the grey output (side speaker out) my one major criticism is the ridiculously small CMOS clear button hidden beneath the OC and DUALBIOS buttons. Not only is this hard to find when fumbling in the dark around the back of a PC case due to it neither a)being lit or b)easy to see, even when you know where it is, getting to the button can be troublesome when the I/O area is full of cables. Please change this GIGABYTE!

Power Button

This is more like it, a big fat red power button, easy to reach, easy to see, easy to operate. So why then have GIGABYTE in their ultimate wisdom decided to place a small reset button at the opposite end (bottom) of the motherboard, squeezed between a Solid cap and spiky fan header?

Reset Button
Maybe I am being harsh but GIGABYTE boards in the past have been so neat, concise and yet user friendly that a lot of the 'features' on this motherboard seem to be more of an afterthought rather than a result of detailed planning. Sure it's far from a deal breaker and if you have this motherboard stored away inside a PC enclosure then this certainly won't trouble you. Nevertheless this is an example of features over form I'm afraid.

X79 Heatsink

Continuing on from the X58A-OC we see a return of the heatsink that resembles a flag somewhat. The ridged, rectangular lump of aluminium looks very nice with the blue highlights and thankfully does not appear to need the active cooling we have seen on some previewed motherboards.

VRM Heatsink

Connected to the large X79 chipset heatsink is the VRM heatsink. While this is much smaller I do have worries regarding its cooling ability considering this motherboard has a 14 phase power design. No doubt this is the reason why this small heatsink has a physical connection to the much larger X79 heatsink which will aid heat dissipation.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the on-board components...

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