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Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD5 X58 Motherboard Review

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MAC

Associate Review Editor
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Memory Benchmarks

Memory Benchmarks



Everest Ultimate v4.50

Everest Ultimate is the most useful tool for any and all benchmarkers or overclockers. With the ability to pick up most voltage, temperature, and fan sensors on almost every motherboard available, Everest provides the ability to customize the outputs in a number of forms on your desktop. In addition to this, the memory benchmarking utility provides a useful tool of measuring the changes to your memory sub-system.


Since the memory was set to DDR3-1600 for both the stock and overclocked configurations it is no surprise that the bandwidth numbers are so similar. Likewise, the Uncore clock (UCLK), which is the memory controller and shared L3 cache, is locked at 3200Mhz for both configurations, so there is no performance benefit from that area. We are seeing a roughly 5% improvement in write speeds, and this may be attributable to the higher QPI Link rate (3200Mhz --> 3600Mhz) and CPU frequency. One way or another, the Core i7 platform's triple-channel interface delivers an immense amount of memory bandwidth and it absolutely destroys even the most highly-clocked Core 2 system.



The memory latency is effectively identical between both configurations, and any differences can easily be attributed to normal benchmarking variances. These latency results are impressively low and you clearly see the benefits of the integrated memory controller (IMC).


ScienceMark v2.0

Although last updated almost 3 years ago, and despite its rudimentary interface, ScienceMark v2.0 remains a favorite for accurately calculating bandwidth on even the newest chipsets.



ScienceMark reveals a respectable 6% increase in overall memory bandwidth going from the stock to overclocked settings. What is more interesting to note is the fact that at stock this motherboards seems to be quite a bit faster than either the EVGA X58 SLI and the Rampage II Extreme, obviously Gigabyte's BIOS engineers are doing something right.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
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Nov 8, 2006
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1,088
Location
Montreal
System Benchmarks

System Benchmarks



SuperPi Mod v1.5

When running the SuperPI 32MB benchmark, we are calculating Pi to 32 million digits and timing the process. Obviously more CPU power helps in this intense calculation, but the memory sub-system also plays an important role, as does the operating system.


An enthusiast mainstay, SuperPi excels at revealing how the processing and memory sub-systems are performing and it can demonstrate the slightest performance variances. The increased CPU clocks really have an opportunity to shine in SuperPI 32M, reducing the overall time by over 2 minutes. This represents an almost 24% performance improvement from a 25% CPU overclock, which nearly a perfect 1:1 scaling result. In a benchmark in which mere tenths of a second matter, this a massive gain.


PCMark Vantage x64

The latest iteration of the popular system benchmark is PCMark Vantage from the Futuremark crew. The PCMark series has always been a great way to either test specific areas of a system or to get a general overview of how your system is performing. For our results, we simply run the basic benchmark suite which consists of a wide range of tests involving all the sub-systems of the computer.


Almost not quite as impressive, the roughly 9% performance gain that we see here is quite respectable since it theoretically represents an improvement in overall system performance. Despite the fact that PCMark Vantage tests all critical sub-systems, it is evident that nearly all the gains are isolated in the CPU-dependent Communication and Productivity sections.

Cinebench R10

Developed by MAXON, creators of Cinema 4D, Cinebench 10 is designed using the popular Cinema software and created to compare system performance in 3D Animation and Photo applications. There are two parts to the test; the first stresses only the primary CPU or Core, the second, makes use of up to 16 CPUs/Cores. Both are done rendering a realistic photo while utilizing various CPU-intensive features such as reflection, ambient occlusion, area lights and procedural shaders.


Cinebench is a phenomenal CPU benchmark, and it is perfectly suited for the sheer multi-threading processing power of the Intel Core i7 series. In this test, we see a roughly 22% to 24% performance improvements, which is a quite linear to the 25% increase in CPU clock.


DivX Converter v6

Now that we have ran some of the more 'synthetic' benchmarks, it is time for a real-life VOB to DivX encoding task. We will take a 1.08GB VOB rip of the cult-classic movie Full Metal Jacket and convert it into DivX using the default multi-media setting of DivX converter v6. DivX fully utilizes all cores of the processor and will rely heavily on all aspects of the system for performance.


Although NVIDIA have demonstrated the remarkable video conversion capabilities of its CUDA-enabled GPUs, most people still utilize their processors to undertake this very time consuming task. Thankfully, the Core i7 series remarkable multi-threading performance has helped accelerate this activity and make it a little bit less tedious. The overclocked configuration was able to shave 3 minutes off of an otherwise 24 minute task, a very worthwhile improvement.


x264 HD Benchmark

Tech Arp's recent development of the x264 HD Benchmark takes a 30 second HD video clip and encodes it into the x264 codec with the intention of little to no quality loss. The test is measured using the average frames per second achieved during encoding, which scales with processor speed and efficiency. The benchmark also allows the use of multi-core processors so it gives a very accurate depiction of what to expect when using encoding application on a typical full length video.


Displaying similar improvements as the above DiVX test, the x264 HD Benchmark demonstrates a 25% performance gain, which in this case equates to a vital 7 frames per second speed boost.


Lame Front End

Unlike the DivX conversion program we just looked at, Lame Front End is not multi-threaded and only utilizes a single processor core. This will obviously limit performance but we should still achieve significant time savings going from the stock to the overclocked settings. We will be encoding a WAV rip of Santana’s Supernatural album and converting it to MP3 using the VBR 0 quality preset.


Although LFE is a single-threaded application, modern systems can easily rip through a CD in a matter of minutes, no pun intended. As a result, it should come as no surprise that our overclocked Core i7 configuration can convert an entire CD album to high-quality MP3s in just over 2 minutes, which is almost 21% faster than the stock configuration.


Photoshop CS3

For the image editing portion of this review, we will use Photoshop CS3 in coordination with our very own HWC Speed Test, which is an excellent measure of CPU power and memory bandwidth. This is a scripted benchmark that individually applies 12 different actions and filters to a 3.72MB JPEG, and uses Photoshop’s built-in timing feature to provide a result at each test stage. Then it’s simply a matter of adding up the 12 results to reach a final figure.


Continuing the trend seen thoughout our real-life tests, our 4.0Ghz Core i7-965 XE crunched through our image-editing benchmark 9 seconds faster than at default clocks, a roughly 22% performance improvement.


WinRAR 3.7.1

The last of our real-life tests will be with the highly popular & multi-threaded WinRAR 3.71 tool, in which we take a 1GB batch of assorted files and archive them, timing the task until completion.



Along with being the first application that we install on a fresh Windows installation, WinRAR is a tool that we use countless times per day, so any performance improvement can provide some welcome time savings. Our overclocked Core i7 system finished the compression task a solid 22 seconds faster than at stock, which is a worthwhile 18% performance improvement.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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1,088
Location
Montreal
Gaming Benchmarks

Gaming Benchmarks



Futuremark 3DMark06

The Futuremark 3DMark series has been a part of the backbone in computer and hardware reviews since its conception. The trend continues today as 3DMark06 provides consumers with a solid synthetic benchmark geared for performance and comparison in the 3D gaming realm. This remains one of the most sought after statistics, as well as an excellent tool for accurate CPU comparison, and it will undoubtedly be used for years to come.


In 3DMark 06, the overclocked configurations boasts a mighty 22% lead over the stock clocked system. This is a very impressive result when you consider that the Radeon HD 4870 X2 graphics card has not been overclocked. Let's see if the gains are as prominent on Futuremark's latest gaming benchmarking...


Futuremark 3DMark Vantage

You asked for it, so we have finally included 3DMark Vantage, Futuremark’s latest release in their renowned line of 3D benchmarking software. This latest DX10-only 3DMark comes with a variety of presets, but for our tests will be use the standard Performance preset which is suitable for a much greater range of system specifications than the other more demanding presets.


In 3DMark Vantage, despite a 22% gain in the CPU score, which coincides quite nicely with the 25% increase in CPU frequency, the overall score goes up a meager 4%. This suggests that the Radeon HD 4870 X2 may actually be the bottleneck in this case, which is quite an achievement!

Can we expect similar results in actual games? Let's find out.


Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2 is the hot new new first-person shooter from Ubisoft's Montreal studio, and the first game to utilize the new visually stunning Dunia Engine, which will undoubtedly be used by numerous future games. Using the included Benchmarking Tool, we ran the Long Ranch demo in DX10 mode at 1680x1050 with all settings set to high.


Despite being a GPU-limited game with most configurations, the faster processor speed did in fact help boost frame rates across the board in Far Cry 2, with a particularly noteworthy 16% increase in average FPS.


Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts

This test consists of actual gameplay using a single mission (Authie: Boudica's Boys from the British Campaign) since it holds a bit of everything the game has to offer: vehicle battles, artillery barrages and house-to-house fighting. We recorded frame rates using FRAPS up until the 15 minute mark of the mission and excluding any in-game briefings / cut scenes. The game was run in DirectX 10 mode at 1680x1050 with all settings maxed out.



Clearly, Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts is still a graphical force to be reckoned with when all its graphical settings are maxed out. Even the mighty the Radeon HD 4870 X2/Catalyst 9.1 duo is reduced to a pitifully low minimum frame rate. Ignoring the abnormally large increase in maximum FPS, we do notice a healthy 9% gain in the average frame rate.



Left 4 Dead

Left 4 Dead is the latest disorienting, fast-paced zombie apocalypse mega-hit from Valve. L4D uses the latest version of the Source engine with enhancements such as multi-core processor support and physics-based animation. We test here at 1680x1050 with in-game details set to their highest levels, with MSAA 4X and AA 8X. For benching, we used a pre-recorded 20 minute timedemo taken on the No Mercy campaign during The Apartments mission.


Last but certainly not least is Valve's ground-breaking new multi-player title. From stock to overclocked the average frame rate increased by an impressive 16%. Clearly CPU scaling remains a strong point of the versatile Source engine, and we are glad to see this quality maintained and enhanced in this latest iteration of the engine.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,088
Location
Montreal
Voltage Regulation / Temperature Testing

Voltage Regulation



Our voltage regulation testing will focus on the various voltages and the differences encountered between what is selected in the BIOS, what is reported by EasyTune6 (when available), and what is reported by a digital multi-meter (DMM). We have found five voltage read points on the motherboard so the vCORE, CPU PLL, QPI/VTT, IOH Core, ICH Core, and vDIMM will be recorded with our DMM. The vCORE will be read from the underside of the motherboard at the output side of the corresponding inductor. The remaining voltages will be read from points on the top of the motherboard. vDIMM will be read directly from a DIMM slot's VDD pin. The ground point used for all readings will be a screw hole. Here are a few photos showing the various read points used.





Click on image to enlarge

Now that we have established where the read points are, let’s have a look at the results. These measurements were taken at stock system speeds and with Turbo Boost, C1E, EIST, and Thermal Monitor disabled in the BIOS. Just to clarify, the vCore (LLC) section is the vCore results with Load-Line Calibration enabled. Here are our extensive findings:


Taken as a whole, the EX58-UD5 has very good voltage output. There is relatively little variance between what you select in the BIOS and what the board actually outputs. The vCore, ICH Core, and DRAM voltages are effectively perfect, while the CPU PLL, QPI/VTT, IOH Core overvolt slightly. Aside from the vCore, none of the voltages displayed any variances between idle and load states, which is quite remarkable. We were initially suspicious of these results, but test after test proved them to be accurate. There is some very minimal line droop (vDroop) on the vCORE when going from idle to load, but it is not substantial enough to negatively affect stability nor overclocking. Also, once Load-Line Calibration is enabled, the vDroop is nearly eliminated. Since it is such a crucial setting with regard to overclocking and overall system stability, let's take a closer look at the vCORE's characteristics with a one hour OCCT stress test using our overclocked configuration.


While OCCT 3.0.0 makes the vCore line looks pretty erratic, the overall ripple was only 3.4%. If we disregard the starting voltage, the actual variance under load is a mere 0.03V or 2.2%, which is extremely good. Having said that, there is always room for improvement and that is where Load-Line Calibration comes into play...


With LLC enabled, the ripple is reduced to a minuscule 1.1% and most of the small voltage spikes are ironed out. Optimally, we would like to see 0% ripple and no spikes whatsoever, but overall this implementation of LLC is definitely worth praising.


Temperature Testing



Now it's time to see if the EX58-UD5's distinctive cooling system works as well it as looks. Although this is a high-end motherboard it only comes with a temperature sensor for the northbridge, and it is only viewable in the BIOS. Therefore, we relied on our trusty digital thermometer for all temperature measurements. We set the system to its overclocked configuration, and then ran Prime 95 Blend for two hours. The temperatures were recorded at twenty minute intervals throughout the two hour test and the results averaged out. The ambient temperature was 20°C/68°F


Considering our substantial overclock and liberal use of voltage, we were quite satisfied with these temperature results. None of the above components benefited from any direct air cooling, so all these figures essentially represent a worst-case scenario. In a regular case with some half-decent airflow, temperatures should be even lower. As a result, we can definitely state that the UD5's cooling system is capable of handling all but the most extreme overclocking attempts.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,088
Location
Montreal
Conclusion

Conclusion




Now that this review is coming to a close, what can we say about the EX58-UD5...Well for starters, from a specifications standpoint this motherboard certainly does not leave us wanting, what with its three well-spaced mechanical PCI-E x16 2.0 slots, 3-way CrossFireX and 3-way SLI support, one PCI-E x4 slot, impressive ten SATA II ports, eight USB 2.0 ports, eSATA and FireWire capabilities, onboard 8-channel High-Definition audio with Dolby Home Theatre technology, Dynamic Energy Saver (DES) Advanced, twin PCI-E Gigabit LAN controllers, two physical BIOSes, motherboard-wide array of diagnostic LEDs, onboard power/reset buttons, terrific BIOS, and handy EasyTune6 utility.

It is worth stating that over the last 6-7 months, GIGABYTE have made huge strides in the BIOS department, with every new release getting closer and closer to perfection. The BIOS included with the EX58-UD5 has almost everything that we would want and expect from a high-end X58 motherboard, which is to say enough features and options to satisfy power users while also being simple and versatile enough to allow novice users to tweak basic functions without getting overwhelmed. Our only complaint is the lack of voltage readouts in the PC Health Status section, which is a shortcoming that continues to be way too common for our liking.

In the overclocking department, we fully expected to get great results out of the EX58-UD5, after all GIGABYTE have amply demonstrated their commitment to overclocking, and our high expectations were rightly justified. Our overclocking results came within an inch of the purpose-built Rampage II Extreme, and made one of the fastest configuration's that money can buy a heck of a lot faster. With the intuitive, option-rich MB Intelligent Tweaker (M.I.T.) BIOS section and EasyTune6 software it is easy to tweak all system settings and achieve some solid overclocking results. During all our exhaustive overclocking endeavours the board never missed a beat, demonstrating top-notch stability even while we pushed our components to the limit. When we did push things too far, the motherboard recovered perfectly, if not a little slowly, and never required a CMOS reset or battery removal.

Given the fact that most X58 motherboards on the market right now are so similar, it is the little things that make all the difference with the EX58-UD5, specifically the ability to flawlessly use three dual-slot graphics cards, the ease of overclocking, the class-leading connectivity, the solid cooling solution, and the extensive accessory package. Many people likely won't use all the available features, but with this model you are getting them at a price point that is equal to or less than the competition. Now penny-pinchers and those never planning to make the leap to a triple-GPU setup might be better served by more a budget-friendly model like the EX58-UD3R, but for everyone else it is hard to argue with the well-rounded package that the EX58-UD5 offers.


Pros

- Great layout.
- Capable cooling system.
- Impressive overclocking potential.
- 3-Way CrossFireX & 3-Way SLI capability.
- Lots of SATA II & USB 2.0 ports.
- Numerous well-placed fan headers.
- Excellent BIOS.
- EasyTune6.


Cons

- No 4-pin connector FireWire connector.
- Not enough voltage and temperature readouts.
- 8-pin CPU power connector is in a tight spot.



Our thanks to Gigabyte for making this review possible!​

 
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