You know this show usually has it’s focus squarely set on mainstream products. However we sometimes get the opportunity to take a peek at the other side of the tracks as it where, the luxury end of the PC world. When we approached Gigabyte about getting a board to explore the world of the Intel Sandybridge they where happy to help but then Intel issued a recall. Gigabyte told me to be patient that they would get me one of the new boards as soon as possible and they rewarded that patience with the P67A-UD4.
At $190 this is not the most expensive board out there but it is definitely in the luxury category on pricing. Based on the P67 chipset, this board is designed to use discrete video and opens up the overclocking options of the Sandybridge processor lineup. As the box cover shows the board comes featured packed with Gigabytes Ultra Durable 3 design, 12 Phase power, a 3 year warranty and Gigabytes 3x USB power which allows for their On/Off Charge system.
Opening the box we are greeted bay a beautiful black schemed motherboard. Gone is the baby or powder blue design of the typical Gigabyte board design. The black board is highlighted nicely with an anodized grey on the various heat sinks and a metallic blue accent.
There are 3x PCIe x1 slots, 2 PCIe slots (x16/x8) and two standard PCI slots. The spacing on the PCIe slots is nice, using the X1 slots to open the area a bit if you plan to use dual video cards.
Gone are any kinds of connectors for old school floppy of PATA storage, these are not missed. However for some reason an old school COM port connection is available using an optional expansion slot cover. The traditional USB headers are present as well as the red one denoting the front USB On/Off powered ports. An interesting addition between the USB 2 and the front panel connection is a connection labeled for USB3. This is the first internal USB connection I have seen and have feelers out to see if this means new cases will not feature a real USB 3 hook up rather than the rigged out the back cabling.
There are six SATA connections, the two white ones are the SATA III and the 4 black the SATA II. Since this is a B3 series board that means the Intel glitch with the SATA III connectors has been fixed and these can be used without worry. Finally note the 4xDDR3 slots and 24 pin and 8 pin power connectors.
Moving around to the back we see the expected connectors. We have 8 USB2 ports, 2 USB3 ports, 3 ESATA, unversal PS2 and various sound connections. The USB ports all are active using On/Off Charging which means in any power state these ports can provide power to recharge devices.
The overall build is pretty typical fair but just upped a notch in quality. The extra features with the exception of the On/Off are mostly hidden in the quality of the build. The board comes with a standard BIOS that has been modified for 3TB and bigger drives. While this might not be as exciting as the new graphical systems it has the advantage of being a comfortable design and is easy to use.
Besides the hardware this board comes with some nice software. Xpress Recovery 2 is a backup program that makes it easy to image your system once you have a solid base install. Since it is built into the BIOS there is no need for a recovery disk. Easy Tune 6 is a great program to take the guess work out of your overclocking. In just a second I was able to quickly take an i5 2400 to 3.6Ghz. The nice thing is that ET6 sets everything in BIOS so after a reboot you are all set and can even remove the software and retain your overclock. Smart 6 is a multi-tool utility that allows for easy backup, a method to store important dates and password in BIOS and a few other tricks.
All of this does not matter however if your CP does not work so we fired this beats up using an i5 2400 to see what it could offer. For cooling we are using an Antec Khuler 620 and the case is a One Hundred. Memory was Kingston 8 Gig (2×4) 1600 and an EVGA GTX 460 for video.
Build was flawless from the start, no stability issues or strange quirks as I did the build and OS install. Stability was outstanding, not just at stock speeds but with some overclocking as well. Using the ET6 program I was able to quickly take the i5 to 3.6GHz and with a quick BIOS tweak I was at 3.9 GHz without changing any settings except the multiplier. Not a single hiccup or twitch was found after hours of running as hard as I could push the system. The heat sinks on the board did their job well, being cool to the touch after hours of heavy running.
Based on the pricing this is obvious a luxury level board meant for the overclocker or power user. The build quality on this board is outstanding and the layout plus feature set a definite plus. It does everything I asked it to do and never once faltered, what more can you ask for?
Well how about we throw on the Bacos and mention that only is it an outstanding board with great features but it is drop dead sexy. The ONLY real complaint I have had with Gigabyte over the years is the baby blue look they tend to use. This move to black is elegant and just really attractive. If you have a side windowed case you will appreciate this board, especially if your case has a black interior. As I was building this system up for testing I found myself stopping to admire how nice the board looked in the case.
Great features, super quality, stable as a rock and a drop dead sexy look. THIS is what a luxury board should be. If you are going the Intel route with your build and want to put on the ritz inside your PC, this is the board I would choose.