We originally started out our Sandy Bridge-E review
with the Intel X79 reference board followed by the lack-luster Gigabyte X79-UD7
board. After our disappointing X79-UD7 review, Gigabyte offered us the UD3 board to test out. We were unsure of what to expect from the UD3 considering our previous experience with the UD7, which had good performance but mediocre overclocking.
Today, we are looking at the GA-X79-UD3 which is Gigabyte's least expensive X79 motherboard, which does not mean it is a cheap board by any means. This is because X79 is an enthusiast platform and as a result, most X79 boards are quite expensive. Having said that, if one desires to build a high-performance machine on the cheap, there is a good chance that the X79-UD3 motherboard may be the optimal choice. Because of the X79 platform's memory bandwidth advantage, a very nice video rendering machine can be built for a pretty affordable price with at least 16GB of RAM.The Board
The Gigabyte X79-UD3
is a stripped down version of the X79-UD5 board, which means that it is missing some features. The differences primarily lie within the PCIe layout and the memory slots; the UD5 has eight DIMM slots while the UD3 has four.
Interestingly, the X79-UD3 has more PCIe slots than the X79-UD5
and a beefier VRM cooler, meaning that the UD3’s VRM runs cooler than the UD5’s. Both boards also lack the LED readout that the UD7 has for troubleshooting. Thankfully for us, we did not have any problems that could not be solved by simple troubleshooting so the LED readout would not have been necessary.
Looking at the image above, we can see that this board supports two USB 3.0 ports as well as 10 USB 2.0 ports, 7.1 audio and a combination PS2 port that supports both keyboard and mouse. Generally speaking, these ports are standard on most motherboards nowadays, although we would've liked to perhaps see more USB 3.0 ports. But if you consider the overall price and placement of this board in Gigabyte's lineup, it is not unexpected.
Taking a look at the board below, one can see the different SATA ports (8); four use the Intel controller and the other four use 3rd party Marvell storage controllers.
The UD3’s BIOS is very similar to that of the X79-UD7, but some of the more refined memory and load-line calibration options are missing. However, our experience with the UD3’ BIOS was no better or worse than it was with the UD7’s. To check out what the BIOS and included software look like we recommend taking a look at our UD7 review here
, since the two BIOS are so similar.
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