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Gigabyte EP45-DS3R P45 Motherboard Review

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Eldonko

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GIGABYTE EP45-DS3R P45 Motherboard Review



Manufacturer Product Page: Gigabyte EP45-DS3R Motherboard Overview
Product Number: EP45-DS3R
Availability: Now
Price: Approximately $150
Warranty Length: 3 year limited warranty (First 2 years parts & labour, 3rd year parts only)



As many of you are aware, Intel’s P45 chipset is one of the most prominent chipsets on the market today. Users love the reasonable price of a board based on P45 as well as the perks the chipset offers. Targeted for a broad range of users, the Gigabyte EP45-DS3R lies in the mid-range of the P45 chipset empire but it is also one of the seemingly countless Gigabyte P45 chipset boards on the market. As such, it should appeal to an enthusiast user looking for a decent board at a reasonable price as well as a mainstream user who may never overclock the board at all. The price of the EP45-DS3R puts the main competitive alternatives in the $150 range and includes popular boards like the ASUS P5Q line and the MSI Neo 3 boards.

Feature wise, in addition to one of the most sought after Intel chipsets, the EP45-DS3R hosts a number of features specific to Gigabyte to give that competitive edge. Some of those features include unprecedented dual channel DDR2 1333+ memory support, a DualBIOS solution which gives that extra security when flashing and overclocking, a Hardware Overvoltage Control IC which provides more voltage control options on the CPU, Northbridge, and memory as well as the Dynamic Energy Saver Advanced which provides better energy saving capabilities and enhanced system performance.

You may ask - are people even still buying P45 chipset boards with DDR2 memory when DDR3 boards and Nehalem are upon us? The simple answer to this is yes, P45 DDR2 boards are as popular as ever. With the very meagre performance increase with DDR3, compounded with DDR2 prices as low as we can remember RAM ever being, a P45 DDR2 option is excellent value for the money and performance is still on par with more expensive DDR3 options. Now, for Nehalem... We have seen that there is definitely a performance gain with the new socket and triple channel memory, but it seems only bleeding edge users that must have the top-end system are going to jump on the upgrade boat so soon. Buying the new CPUs, very expensive motherboards and the new tri-channel kits of DDR3 is far from economical. Depending on what level you want to go with, a CPU/board/RAM upgrade can run you thousands of dollars. This leaves the market from casual users to enthusiasts wide-open for Gigabyte and boards like the EP45-DS3R.

One other nice perk provided by Gigabyte is 3 year limited warranty coverage. The industry standard seems to be about 1 year so the extra warranty coverage may just be the hot button some users will look for when making a purchase decision.

Can this entry to mid-range board live up to the standard we have seen previously with the EP45-UD3P, the EP45-DQ6, and EP45T-Extreme at Hardware Canucks? Stay with us to find out!


 
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Eldonko

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Specifications


Specifications



CPU
- Support for an Intel Core 2 Extreme processor/ Intel Core 2 Quad processor/Intel Core 2 Duo processor/ Intel Pentium Dual-Core processor/Intel Celeron processor in the LGA 775 package

Front Side Bus
- 1600/1333/1066/800 MHz FSB

Chipset
- North Bridge: Intel P45 Express Chipset
- South Bridge: Intel ICH10R

Memory
- 4 x 1.8V DDR2 DIMM sockets supporting up to 16 GB of system memory
- Dual channel memory architecture
- Support for DDR2 1333+/1066/800/667 MHz memory modules

Audio
- Realtek ALC889A codec
- High Definition Audio - Support for Dolby Home Theater
- 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
- Support for S/PDIF In/Out
- Support for CD In

LAN
-2 x Realtek 8111C chips (10/100/1000 Mbit)
- Support for Teaming

Expansion Slots
- 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16
- 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x8
- 3 x PCI Express x1 slot
- 2 x PCI slots

Storage Interface
- 6 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (SATAII0, SATAII1, SATAII2, SATAII3, SATAII4, SATAII5) supporting up to 6 SATA 3Gb/s devices
- Support for SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10
- 1 x IDE connector supporting ATA-133/100/66/33 and up to 2 IDE devices
- 1 x floppy disk drive connector supporting up to 1 floppy disk drive

IEEE 1394a
- T.I. TSB43AB23 chip
- Up to 3 IEEE 1394a ports (2 on the back panel, 1 via the IEEE 1394a bracket connected to the internal IEEE 1394a header)

USB
- Integrated in the South Bridge
- Up to 12 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (8 on the back panel, 4 via the USB brackets connected to the internal USB headers)

Internal I/O Connectors
- 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
- 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
- 1 x floppy disk drive connector
- 1 x IDE connector
- 6 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors
- 1 x CPU fan header
- 2 x system fan headers
- 1 x power fan header
- 1 x front panel header
- 1 x front panel audio header
- 1 x CD In connector
- 1 x S/PDIF In header
- 1 x S/PDIF Out header
- 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
- 1 x IEEE 1394a header
- 1 x parallel port header
- 1 x serial port header
- 1 x power LED header
- 1 x chassis intrusion header

Back Panel Connectors
- 1 x PS/2 mouse port
- 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
- 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
- 1 x coaxial S/PDIF Out connector
- 8 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
- 2 x IEEE 1394a ports
- 2 x RJ-45 ports
- 6 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out/Rear Speaker Out/Side Speaker Out/Line In/Line Out/Microphone)

I/O Controller
- iTE IT8718 chip

H/W Monitoring
- System voltage detection
- CPU/System temperature detection
- CPU/System/Power fan speed detection
- CPU overheating warning
- CPU/System/Power fan fail warning
- CPU/System fan speed control

BIOS

- 2 x 8 Mbit flash
- Use of licensed AWARD BIOS
- Support for DualBIOS

Unique Features

- Support for @BIOS, Q-Flash, Dual BIOS, Download Center, Xpress Install, Xpress Recovery2, EasyTune, Dynamic Energy Saver Advanced, Ultra TPM, Time Repair, and Q-Share.

Form Factor
- ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 24.4cm
 
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Eldonko

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Intel P45 Chipset & Gigabyte EP45-DS3R Features



Intel P45 Chipset Features




The new P45 chipset by Intel supports a variety of features including new Intel 1600 MHz Front Side Bus processors, high speed DDR2 and DDR3, Extreme Memory Profiles (Intel XMP), next-generation dual PCI Express 2.0 lanes, and Intel Extreme Tuning, allowing for maximum platform performance.

The Intel P45 Express Chipset is driving PCIE 2.0 to mainstream users, delivering up to 16 GB/s bandwidth, twice the bandwidth of PCI Express 1.0. The Intel P45 Express Chipset supports either a 1 x 16 or 2 x 8 PCIE 2.0 configuration for expandable discrete graphics capability. PCIE 2.0 also provides greater flexibility and reliability in design because it is backward compatible with PCIE 1.0 and can dynamically manage power and performance through software controls. The greatly improved 16 GB/s of graphics bandwidth capability enables much higher levels of performance on graphics-intensive applications such as high-end gaming and video rendering.


Gigabyte EP45-DS3R Features

Gigabyte has a motto or slogan for its boards – Ultra Durable, Ultra Cool, Ultra Power Efficient. These areas provide the framework for the feature set which is composed of features such as: DES Advanced, 45nm Intel Core 2 processors with FSB 1600 MHz support, dual channel DDR2 1333+ support, CrossFireX support, Dolby Home Theater audio support, DualBIOS, and a Hardware Overvoltage Control IC. A brief summary of each of the key features is as follows:

 
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Eldonko

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Packaging and Accessories


Packaging and Accessories



Gigabyte brings a unique, eye-catching box to market with the EP45-DS3R. The box is a green blended with white design, includes Gigabyte’s familiar logo, and many feature descriptive images which bring the box design together nicely.


Included on the front of the box are a few Gigabyte-specific logos (Ultra Durable, Ultra Cool, Ultra Power Efficient) calling attention to some notable features. The reverse of the box is feature crazy with every DS3R selling point you can imagine pictured and briefly explained. You can read more about all of these specific features in the “Features” section.


Looking inside, the accessories are packed similar to most motherboards: they are all individually packaged in plastic, resting on a cardboard divider on top on the board. The motherboard is wrapped in the standard anti-static bag to avoid damage to components from static charges. Beneath the board there is a thick foam sheet to prevent shipping damage. Above-right, we see the variety of accessories included with the board. The colors of the cables run quite nicely with the general color scheme of the board itself and the manual is a nice match with the box. Specific motherboard accessories with the EP45-DS3R include:

Package Contents:

- Motherboard driver disk
- User's Manual
- Quick Installation Guide
- One IDE cable and one floppy disk drive cable
- Four SATA 3Gb/s cables
- One SATA bracket
- I/O Shield
 
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Eldonko

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Software and Tools


Software and Tools



The Gigabyte EP45-DS3R motherboard comes with an installation disk containing drivers needed for the board as well as a few additional programs and tools. Navigating the disk, users will find chipset, audio, and LAN drivers. Gigabyte Utilities are found under the Application Software page and include: EasyTune6, Gigabyte Online Manager, DMI Viewer, Face-Wizard, @BIOS, Q-Share, Time Repair, and Update Manager. In addition, Gigabyte provides some extra software: Norton Internet Security, Kaspersky Antivirus, Acrobat Reader, WinZip, COREL MediaOne, Browser Configuration Utility, and RealTek Green Feature. As you can see there is no lack of tools and software included with the EP45-DS3R! We are not going to go deeper into every tool and utility, but let's take a look at the Gigabyte tool we found most useful, EasyTune6.


EasyTune6

EasyTune6 is a complete motherboard management tool which allows users to manage and monitor hardware resources as well as tweak their system settings in order to achieve maximum system performance. Whether you are an overclocking enthusiast, or a computer novice, EasyTune6 provides the tools you need to quickly and effortlessly fine tune your system.


The first two screens of EasyTune6 look very similar to CPUID’s overclocking staple, CPU-Z. All of the CPU and memory information needed is included in these two screens.


The next tab in EasyTuner6 is titled “Tuner” and is where overclockers will spend the majority of their time. First there are easy and advanced modes and separate tabs for frequency and voltages. The frequency tab contains all of the clockgen items and users are able to alter FSB, multiplier, and PCIE frequency. The voltage tab includes all voltages available in the BIOS and saves a TON of time when compared to tweaking one setting in the BIOS and rebooting. If your specific system has been pre-tested by Gigabyte, a QuickBoost tab is also included under tuner.


The next tab gave us a pleasant surprise by providing video card overclocking settings. This type of tweakability is very rare with motherboard tools and users should love the ability to overclock a GPU without installing extra programs like RivaTuner. The Smart tab includes the C.I.A.2 feature and SmartFan. SmartFan is a fan speed controller; however we could not test this since we are watercooled and didn’t use any fans powered from motherboard headers. C.I.A.2. stands for CPU Intelligent Accelerator and provides the ability for novice overclockers to do slight overclocks with the click of a button. Our experience with this feature was mostly negative since Turbo and Full Thrust both led to Windows freezing. Upon rebooting it was necessary to disable this feature in the BIOS to reload Windows.


The last tab in EasyTuner6 is the hardware monitor. Here you can see CPU, RAM, 3.3v, and 12v, voltages as well as temperatures for the CPU and system. Similar to the BIOS settings, there are also safeguards that can be setup to ensure temperatures remain in check.

Overall we think this tool has just about everything we would ever need. Instead of using many individual programs such as SetFSB, RivaTuner, CPUZ, etc, Gigabtye provides everything in one very handy tool!
 
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Eldonko

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A Closer Look at the Gigabyte EP45-DS3R


A Closer Look at the Gigabyte EP45-DS3R




The layout, color scheme, and design of the Gigabyte EP45-DS3R are common of most recent Gigabyte boards with a number of colors around the board. The SATA ports and cables are orange, the IDE connector is similar to a lime green, the heatsinks are gold, the PCIE slots are blue and a peach color, and the PCI slots are white. The PCB is dark blue with yellow and dark orange slots for memory. Quite a variety! It sounds like a big mess, but all-in-all the board is not that bad looking.


Starting at the top right of the board, we see the 12v connector and socket 775 CPU slot. Both are in rather typical spots and we don’t see any clearance issues with aftermarket heatsinks or water blocks. Moving down the right side we have the PLL clock generator IC (ICS 9LPRS914EKLF). PLL clock generator ICs make use of external clock signals and output a clock signal that can then be used as the main clock signal to another chip.



Next up, on the bottom right corner, are the multi-gear power phase design LEDs. When the CPU workload is light or at idle, the Dynamic Energy Saver downshifts gears and only allows the minimum required power phases needed to accomplish the task to operate. As each gear is activated, a color-coded LED representing each gear lights up; giving six LEDs in total.

Moving across the bottom of the board we see the 24pin connector and the RAM slots. Both the RAM slots and the 24 pin connector's locations should allow for plenty of clearance for large CPU coolers.


The Northbridge cooler is a gold color and is located above the RAM slots and in between the CPU and the first PCI-E slot. Nothing fancy here, but it does the job for the cool-running P45 chipset. The Northbridge and Southbridge coolers are attached to the board using a simple plastic clip system, similar to many other boards. To remove the clip, a set of needle nosed pliers does the trick nicely.


The Southbridge cooler is a similar design to the Northbridge, with a polished gold color. Looking under the Northbridge cooler we find the Intel P45 chipset. The TIM was very hard and had to be cleaned and reapplied after removing the cooler.


Next to the IDE connector, we see the J Micron JMB368 chip. This is a 1-lane PCI Express to 1-port PATA Host Controller. The JMB368 chip also provides Legacy IDE support. Moving to the corner of the board we have six SATA ports which are a light orange color to match the included SATA cables.


We don’t usually include a shot of USB and 1394 connectors but there is a reason to on this board. Each of the USB and 1394 connectors have text at the bottom showing which plug goes where. This is nice as users would not have to consult the manual to see where the USB or 1394 connectors are located.

Moving up to the top left corner of the board, the pcb is marked with the board revision. In our case the board is a Rev 1.0. Later revisions usually come out after a little time and include very slight modifications or bug fixes.


In the same area, we see the ITE I/O controller chip. The ITE IT8718F chip provides the most commonly used legacy Super I/O functionality plus the latest Environment Control initiatives such as H/W Monitor and Fan Speed Controller. Also in this area are a series of smaller capacitors, the audio chip, and SPDIF input and output. The caps all over the DS3R are all solid. Soilid caps are said to be of higher quality and more durable than the older electrolytic style capacitors which have often been a source of trouble on older electronics.


The Realtek ALC889A chip runs the sound on the EP45-DS3R. The ALC889 codec is a high-performance multi-channel High Definition Audio Codec with Realtek proprietary loss-less content protection technology. This protects pre-recorded content while still allowing full-rate audio enjoyment from DVD audio, Blu-ray DVD, or HD DVD discs. The ALC889 provides ten DAC channels that simultaneously support 7.1 sound playback, plus 2 channels of independent stereo sound output (multiple streaming) through the front panel stereo outputs.

Nearby, between the PCI-E slots we have the motherboard CMOS battery. Since the CMOS is used as a form of non-volatile memory, it needs power supplied to it in order to maintain the data that is stored in it. The CMOS battery is that power source.


The PCI-E 2.0 slots are set up at the maximum possible distance apart which gives users quite a bit of space to manoeuvre. Large video card heatsinks and waterblocks will fit easily. Nearby we have two final chips to examine, the Realtek RTL8111C (x2). The Realtek RTL8111C is a Gigabit Ethernet controller and combines a triple-speed IEEE 802.3 compliant Media Access Controller (MAC) with a triple-speed Ethernet transceiver, PCI Express bus controller, and embedded memory. In plain English it runs your LAN port.


Last but not least we have the I/O panel, where you connect all of your external components. The I/O panel on the EP45-DS3R is quite advanced for a low to mid range board and includes audio outputs, one PS/2 mouse port, one PS/2 keyboard port, eight Ready-to-Use USB 2.0 Ports, two LAN Ports with LED (ACT/LINK LED and SPEED LED), two types of Firewire ports, and both optical and coaxial outputs for HD audio.
 
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Eldonko

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BIOS Rundown


BIOS Rundown


The BIOS section is one of the areas in a motherboard review that many enthusiasts skip forward to. As we all know, a motherboard BIOS is what can make or break a board’s performance for overclocking and stability in general. Users look for available BIOS options, maximum settings available, and ease of use - that is what do auto settings get you. First we will take a run through Gigabyte’s BIOS and briefly explain some settings, and then take a closer look at the overclockability of the board in the overclocking section.

The EP45-DS3R features a DualBIOS solution, giving multiple security layers to the system. DualBIOS is a Gigabyte specific technology that automatically recovers BIOS data when the main BIOS has crashed or fails. This is done through 2 physical BIOS ROMs integrated onboard which provides quick recovery from BIOS damage or failure due to viruses, unstable overclock settings, or improper BIOS updating. To enter the BIOS initially, the delete key is used when the POST screen comes up.


We will start in the BIOS section where overclockers will spend 99% of their time: the MB Intelligent Tweaker (M.I.T.) screen. This is where you will find all of the settings needed to overclock your EP45-DS3R. There are three sections and some more sub sections in the M.I.T. screen so let’s start at the top of the screen with the Clock Chip Control section and CPU Clock Ratio. Directly at the top of the M.I.T screen you find the CPU Clock Ratio setting. This is essentially the multiplier for the system and below this the board shows the speed the CPU will be running at as you change FSB and/or multi. Moving into Clock Chip Control, is the CPU Host Frequency, or FSB. This is what users will adjust to overclock the CPU and memory. Going into the Advanced Clock Control screen, CPU and PCI-E Clock Drive settings are found as well as CPU and MCH Skew settings. These are useful for achieving that extra bit of FSB for extreme overclockers - novice users can leave these at the default settings.


Moving to the DRAM Performance Control Section, we find FSB straps, XMP settings, memory dividers, and memory timings. The MCH Frequency Latch is basically the chipset strap setting which allows you to choose from four straps ranging from 200Mhz to 400Mhz. These settings in turn change the dividers available under DRAM Timing Selectable according to which strap is used.


The System Memory Multiplier screen is shown above. These are the dividers for the memory and after you select one it is shown in lighter text what the memory speed will be. This is quite useful if a user is not sure of the mechanics of the setting since it shows which speed the divider corresponds to. Next up we have the Advanced Timing Control subscreen. Subtimings available include tRRD, tWTR, tWR, tRFC, tRTP, and CMD rate.


At the bottom of the Advanced Timing Control screen are additional subtimings and drive strength settings. Under Channel A (and B) Timing Settings the infamous tRD setting is found. This is also known as Performance Level on some boards and is one of the most important memory subtimings. DIMM clock Skews will also be useful to the advanced memory tweaker. For the driving strength settings, Gigabyte provides Drive Strength Profiles ranging from 667Mhz RAM to an overclock of 1333Mhz. This really comes in handy for memory stability.


Moving down the main M.I.T. page, we come to all of the voltage settings an enthusiast would need to achieve the optimal overclock. Vcore, Northbridge, PLL, RAM, and GTL voltages are all tweakable to the degree you could kill most components in your system. As an example to this, take a look at the maximum Vcore available: 2.3v!!! Since most Intel CPUs are speced for a max of about 1.4v, Hardware Canucks insists readers do not use anywhere close to the maximum available voltages for any of these settings.


Next up we have CPU Termination and CPU PLL voltages. CPU Termination voltage is also known as VTT. It is recommended to keep this setting at about 1.35v at the most for a 45nm CPU as VTT is the setting that could kill your expensive CPU quicker than any other. Gigabyte provides a maximum of 1.6v for VTT and 2.81v for PLL.


In short, the CPU Reference Voltage configures the CPU VTT voltage using reference levels that the CPU uses when determining if a data or address signal is high or low. These voltages and are usually specified as a percentage of VTT, but in this case actual voltages are used so some calculations must be made. The main CPU Reference Voltage ratios are 0.63x, 0.61x, 0.59x, and 0.57x. Next we have MCH core, also known as Northbridge voltage. Gigabyte provides a maximum of 2.00v for Northbridge, but it is recommended to keep this at or below 1.5v to prolong the life of your components.


One more voltage to go over is DRAM voltage. Most DDR2 memory is specified (and warrantied) to run at maximum 2.1v; however over 3v is available in the BIOS. Even in extreme overclocking situations where Micron D9 high voltage RAM is used, users seldom surpass 2.5-2.6v and this is just for short benchmarking sessions.

That is all for voltages, but there is one more screen of importance in the EP45-DS3R BIOS, the PC Health Status screen. Here we have hardware monitoring for the board with Vcore, Vdimm, PSU rail voltages, CPU and system temperatures, and four fan speeds. This is also where users can set up safety measures in case of a loose heatsink or failed fan.

All in all, it seems that just about the only thing missing from the BIOS is Load Line Calibration, which is available in Gigabyte’s higher end boards. Other than that, an enthusiast or hardcore overclocker should be thrilled with the options available in the BIOS and the DualBIOS is just icing on the cake. On the same note however; a novice user could quickly kill just about any component in their system setting voltages without knowing the consequences. Hardware Canucks recommends a lot of background reading and overclocking experience in general to know what is safe before increasing voltages and trying for that extreme overclock.
 
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Eldonko

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Test Setup and Methodologies


Test Setup and Methodologies




Test Setup

Processor: Intel C2D Xeon E3110 (45nm dual core)
Video Card(s): HIS IceQ HD4670 512MB x2
Memory: 2GB Crucial Ballistix PC8500
Motherboard: Gigabyte EP45-DS3R Rev 1.0
Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 250GB SATAII
Power Supply: Tagan BZ 900W
Case: None
Cooling: Swifttech Apogee (CPU), 2 x dual heatercore w/ 4 x 120mm fans
Fans: 1 x Panaflo 120mm
Operating System: Windows Vista Basic 64 bit

Testing will occur on a table top and a Lian Li chassis will be used to secure the motherboard. This test bed allows easier access to the motherboard and allows us to change parts much easier and faster than in a traditional case. All components mentioned above were used throughout the testing process.


Overclocking Methodology

The following section shows the maximum overclock achieved on a dual core Xeon E3110 45nm 1333FSB CPU. For testing methodology two main tests will be used and several benchmarks will be run at the overclocked speeds. The first of the two main stability tests will be a 5 hour custom test of OCCT which tests CPU, memory, and FSB stability. OCCT is a great test for reviews because it tests multiple core CPUs, creates user friendly graphs of temperatures and voltages, and is very efficient at picking up errors.

The second stability test will be 3 runs of 3DMark Vantage. This tests the 3D stability of the overclock as well as CPU, FSB and memory. Once an overclock passes these tests but fails anything further, this is the point deemed as “stable” for the purposes of this review.

Upon commencement of testing, the latest beta BIOS from Gigabyte F10 dated 2008/09/22 was flashed as it is the most recent release.


General Benchmark Methodology

All benchmarks will be a comparison of the Xeon E3110 at stock speed and at maximum overclock to give an idea of how much performance a user can gain when overclocking the EP45-DS3R. For CrossFireX tests, the overclocked speed will be used to test performance between one and two HD4670 video cards in 3D benchmarks and games.

The overclocked speed on the Xeon E3110 will be 4203Mhz on the overclocked tests and RAM speed will be set to 467Mhz (DDR934) and 4-4-4-4. CrossFireX will be enabled, ATI Catalyst 8.10 drivers will be used for 3D along with Windows Vista Home Basic 64 bit.
 
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Eldonko

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Overclocking Results


Overclocking Results


Well that is about enough admiring the looks of this board, now let’s get to what you have been waiting for: how the Gigabyte EP45-DS3R overclocks!

Starting right from initial setup of the board a slight issue arose. Upon installing all of the hardware, we shorted the power switch pins and the board powered up but did not POST. After some investigation it was determined that the default BIOS settings were not set up to allow our Ballistix PC8500 to POST with two sticks installed. Removing one stick of memory quickly solved this problem although it did get quite annoying to remove one stick of memory after every CMOS reset. Other than that, the board worked great at stock.


Moving on to the actual overclocking of the EP45-DS3R, we must say it was much much easier than some P45 boards we have previously tested. Auto settings are tuned well and the BIOS has all of the options we could ask for. With little effort and most auto settings for voltages we booted right up at 500FSB and an 8x multi for 4000Mhz. This was even stable for the duration of stress testing (as shown above). BUT, against our better judgement we allowed all of the stress tests to run even though the auto settings of the board set VTT and PLL voltages at very dangerous levels, 1.60v and 1.85v respectively. We should add here that it has been commonly shared and concluded in the PC industry that 1.4v is about the maximum safe 24/7 voltage for VTT. However, it has come to our attention that some motherboard manufacturers have changed this limit to closer to 1.9v VTT. We will ask Gigabyte for an official answer and discuss this in the comment thread. All hardware appears undamaged but unless otherwise advised, we highly recommend against using auto settings for PLL and VTT voltages.


After the close call with the high auto voltages, it was time to get down to business and set the board up manually. After extensive testing and tweaking we were able to achieve an overclock of 4203Mhz. This is about the max our Xeon 3110 will allow as above this much higher voltage is required for 24/7 stability and temperatures go through the roof. Due to the variation between BIOS set vcore and vdroop the vcore needed was 1.51875v (BIOS) giving between 1.43v and 1.44v under load. We has a bit of trouble with long-term stability at first, but after the correct combination if tRD, VTT, GTL, and PLL was found it came easy from there.

A point of contention with many P45 boards is the strap and memory divider settings and whether or not the settings work as they should. Well, we are happy to report we had no issues using the 333 and 400 straps and several dividers from each. Testing memory independently, the board was on par with other P45 boards. Using Crucial Ballistix PC8500 (the new single sided stuff), 500Mhz (DDR 1000) was achievable at 4-4-4 and 600Mhz (DDR1200) at 5-5-5 at 2.15 to 2.25v without much trouble at all. These findings are consistent with other P45 board tests so it seems the chipset is pretty good for clocking RAM in general.

Jumping straight to maximum FSB tests, the DS3R was decent. 500FSB was possible with safe voltages for VTT and PLL but to get any degree of long-term stability at higher FSB it required quite a bit higher voltages. Again, since there is some confusion on what VTT and PLL voltages are safe, we decided to play it safe for our CPU and run the board at 467FSB for daily use. We should add however, we were able to bench SuperPi without much trouble upwards of 550FSB.

All in all we have to conclude that the EP45-DS3R is a great clocker for its mid to low price point. It took some time to learn the board and determine appropriate voltages and GTLs, but after that it should become fairly easy for an experienced overclocker. A novice user should not have much trouble with the board either if they know P45 board overclocking basics and safe voltages. We do have concerns about the VTT and PLL voltages that are set if the settings are left on auto and FSB of 500+ is used, but this can be avoided by setting these voltages manually or booting under 500fsb. In the end we achieved a 40% overclock for 24/7 use, and only the CPU was limiting us from going further!
 
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Eldonko

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System Benchmarks



SuperPI Benchmark

SuperPi calculates the number of digits of PI in a pure 2D benchmark. For the purposes of this review, calculation to 32 million places will be used. RAM speed, RAM timings, CPU speed, L2 cache, and Operating System tweaks all effect the speed of the calculation, and this has been one of the most popular benchmarks among enthusiasts for several years.


Results: A 24% increase in SuperPI 32M is noted going from 3000Mhz to 4203Mhz on the E3110 and Gigabyte EP45-DS3R. This gain in PI time is relatively low when looking at the overclock percentage (40%), which shows us SuperPI is quite dependent on memory speed and latency.

CINEBENCH R10

CINEBENCH R10 is a testing suite that assesses your computer's performance capabilities, both 2D and 3D. CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the graphics card under real world circumstances.

The test procedure consists of two main components: The first test sequence is dedicated to the computer's main processor. Next, a 3D scene file is used to render an image file. The scene makes use of various CPU-intensive features such as reflection, ambient occlusion, area lights and procedural shaders. In the first run, the benchmark only uses one CPU (or CPU core), to ascertain a reference value. On computers that have multiple CPUs or CPU cores, CINEBENCH will run a second test using all available CPU power.

In this review, single-CPU and multi-CPU rendering speeds will be measured for both stock speed and an overclocked system.



Results: The CINEBENCH R10 benchmark results show an impressive increase in performance in rendering moving from a stock system to an overclocked system. Improvements in rendering time of 28% are noted for both single-CPU and multi-CPU rendering benchmarks.

Sandra Memory Bandwidth, Processor Multi-Media, and Processor Arithmetic

SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility. The software suite provides most of the information (including undocumented) users like to know about hardware, software, and other devices whether hardware or software. The name “Sandra” is a (girl) name of Greek origin that means "defender", "helper of mankind".

The software version used for these tests is SiSoftware Sandra Professional Home XII.SP2c and the three benchmarks used are the Memory Bandwidth, Processor Multi-Media, and Processor Arithmetic benchmarks. These three benchmarks were chosen as they provide a good indication of three varying types of system performance. The bandwidth test shows performance of memory sub-systems, the multi-media test shows how the processor handles multi-media instructions and data, and the arithmetic test shows how the processor handles arithmetic and floating point instructions. These three tests illustrate three important areas of a computer’s speed and provide a wide scope of results.







Results: Sandra processor multi-media and arithmetic show impressive improvements on an overclocked system, with 40% and 33% gains in performance respectively. For memory speeds the stock run was at 400Mhz (DDR800) at 4-4-4-4 and the overclocked tests were at 467Mhz (DDR904) at 4-4-4-4. Both used tRD = 8. Memory bandwidth shows a more modest gain at 18%, but still worth noting nonetheless.
 
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