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Gigabyte P55-UD6 LGA1156 Motherboard Review‏

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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
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Test Setup & Methodology

Test Setup & Methodology




Test Setup​
P55UD6_111.jpg

Testing will occur on a Highspeed PC Standard Top Deck Tech Station and not in a traditional case. This allows easier access to the motherboard for the constant poking and prodding that is required during the reviewing process. The setup remained as pictured during the duration of the benchmarking and stability overclocking process.



Overclocking Methodology


As a high-end P55 model, we fully expect the P55-UD6 to have some impressive overclocking capabilities. The overclocking section is definitely the part of our reviews that we take the most pride in, and we spend an excruciating numbers of hours testing, tweaking, failing, and succeeding in order to give you the best possible insight into each motherboard’s overclocking capabilities. After all, if you are anything like us, the overclocking section is the first (and often last!) part that you read when checking out a motherboard review.

For the purposes of this review, our overclocking efforts will primarily focus on three main areas: highest stable BCLK overclock, highest stable CPU overclock, and highest stable memory overclock. However, given the increasing prevalence of automatic overclocking solutions, we have also included an "auto overclocking results" section, in which we will see how good these manufacture-provided technologies really are.

In these overclocking tests we put an emphasis on stability. While the question “What is stable?” could be debated endlessly, we have devised a methodology that combines a wide range of programs that test the stability of the entire system.

Here are some of the applications that will be run in order to validate the overclocks:

  • Four/Eight 32MB instances of SuperPi Mod 1.5 (ran at the same time)
  • 3+ hours of dual Prime 95 v25.6 using the Stress Testing Blend
  • 1 hour of OCCT Auto 1H Medium Data Set OCCT v3.1.0
  • LinX 0.5.9 - 25 runs - use all memory
  • Multiple loops of 3DMark 06 (30 minutes of looping the full tests each)
  • 1 hour of game play in Left 4 Dead & Crysis @ 1680x1050

Altogether, the above suite should provide enough stress testing to ensure a completely stable overclock, however we are always up for new suggestions. As always, no two systems are ever alike, so your results may vary. Also, overclock at your own risk! The Lynnfield/P55 platform is brand new, and although we are somewhat conservative with our voltage estimates, there is always the possibility that you could damage any and all of your components. If you aren’t fully confident in what you are doing, feel free to stop by our forums and our helpful community will be glad to offer some assistance.


Benchmark Methodology



For this review, we have compared the P55-UD6 with the ASUS Maximus III Formula, ASUS P7P55D Deluxe, MSI P55-GD80, and Intel DP55KG "Kingsberg" motherboards, all in stock configuration and using the Core i7-870 processor with Turbo Boost enabled.

P55UD6_112.jpg

We have outlined the five setups in the sample graph above. The orange results are from Gigabyte P55-UD6, purple results are from the ASUS Maximus III Formula, the green results are from the P55-GD80, the blue results are from the P7P55D Deluxe, and the red results are from the Intel DP55KG.

For all of the benchmarks, appropriate lengths are taken to ensure an equal comparison through methodical setup, installation, and testing. The following outlines our testing methodology:

A) Windows is installed using a full format.

B) Intel Chipset drivers and accessory hardware drivers (audio, network, GPU) are installed followed by a defragment and a reboot.

C) Programs and games are then installed followed by another defragment.

D) Windows updates are then completed installing all available updates followed by a defragment.

E) Benchmarks are each ran three times after a clean reboot for every iteration of the benchmark unless otherwise stated, the results are then averaged.

We have listed the benchmark versions above each graph as results can vary between updates. That should about cover everything so let's see what kind of numbers this motherboard puts up in the overclocking section and in our chosen suite of benchmarks.
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Messages
1,086
Location
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Overclocking Results

Overclocking Results


If you are buying or building a Lynnfield/P55 system chances are that you don't already own a Core i7/X58 system. Many of you will likely be transitioning over from Intel Core 2-based systems and you have to realize that overclocking Core i5/i7 processors is quite different than with the previous Core 2 architecture. There are now four important clock speeds (CPU/BCLK/MEM/QPI) and three multipliers (CPU/MEM/QPI) to tweak, as well as five different voltages. Put simply, there are lot of new variables and potential limitations that an overclocker must now take into consideration. At the moment, no one is an expert when it comes to Lynnfield overclocking, and we are all learning new tricks and tweaks on a weekly basis. At this point in time, for our overclocking tests we have a imposed a few relatively conservative voltage limits, namely vCore up to 1.40 vCore, VTT/IMC up to 1.35V, and vDIMM up to 1.70V. It is our estimation that these voltages can be safely used 24/7 without seriously shortening the lifespan of any components...with proper cooling of course.


Highest Stable BCLK Overclock



Click on images to enlarge

As we have mentioned in previous reviews, we are quite familiar with the limits of our two Lynnfield processors on air cooling. As a result of this familiarity, we know that it is the chips and not the motherboards that have thus far proven to be the limiting factor when it comes to BCLK overclocking. Therefore, we know not to expect one P55 model from greatly distinguishing itself from the others.

The P55-UD6 was able to push our i5-750 chip to 215.0Mhz BLCK, which is a hair behind our best result, a 215.5Mhz that was achieved on the MSI P55-GD80. The UD6 just eeked by the Maximus III Formula's 214.6Mhz. The only difference is that while we only needed approximately 1.21V VTT/QPI (or VTT/IMC) to reach the limits on our other P55 motherboard, the UD6 need 1.26V. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

Our voltage-hungry i7-870 was able to hit 202.0Mhz at 1.36V VTT/IMC, which is a middle of the road result. It is slightly better than the 201.5Mhz achieved with the P55-GD80, but behind the ASUS P7P55D Deluxe's 202.7Mhz. The Maximus III Formula still reigns supreme with the 203.6Mhz at 1.35V VTT/IMC result. The difference behind all four models is quite insignificant.


Highest Stable CPU Overclock




Click on images to enlarge

Much to our surprise, the Gigabyte really pulled ahead of the pack when it came to the pushing processors to new heights. We were able to achieve two personal records on our chips, 4157.8Mhz at 1.40 vCore on the i5-750, and 4104.1Mhz at 1.35 vCore on the i7-870. Respectively, these results are 51Mhz and 37Mhz ahead of the previously class-leading Maximus III Formula, 70Mhz and 60Mhz better than on the P7P55D Deluxe, and a full 94Mhz and 82Mhz better than what we achieved with the P55-GD80. Pretty darn impressive, and perhaps a testament to Gigabyte's new 24-phase power design.

Highest Stable Memory Overclock




Click on image to enlarge

While searching for the highest stable memory overclock, we pushed aside our i5-750 due to its weak IMC and focused on the i7-870. In doing so, we were able to achieve a solid DDR3-2184 9-9-9-24-1T with 1.65Vdimm and our self-imposed 1.35V VTT/IMC voltage limit. This is not quite as good as the two ASUS boards, both of which managed to hit a little DDR-2200, but it is better than the DDR3-2167 that we achieved with the MSI P55-GD80.


Auto Overclocking Results


Now automatic overclocking solutions are nothing new, most of us have encountered them in one way or another for quite a few years now. However, they have historically been shockingly ineffective. They either a) didn't work as advertised and locked up your system, or b) worked as advertised and locked up your system. Either way, they were not a joy to use and the results were inevitably disappointing. Gigabyte's Quick Boost solution is by no means new, and as far as we can tell it hasn't really received much of an overhaul for the P55 platform. However, whether and how it works is our main focus, so let's see what we were able to achieve.

P55UD6_120.gif

Click on image to enlarge

It is always pedal to the metal here at Hardware Canucks, so we went straight for the Level 3, which promised a 3.8Ghz core clock frequency and 200Mhz BCLK on both the i5-750 and i7-870. The process is as simple as clicking on the 3 button and rebooting the system.


Core i5-750 Right, Core i7-870 Left - Click on images to enlarge

Quick Boost delivered as promised on both processors. However, as you can see by the identical CPU multiplier BCLK, vCore, and memory settings (timings notwithstanding), this not really what we would call a 'smart' auto-overclocking solution. It doesn't adjust the overclock based on the individual capabilities of your components. Instead, it uses presets that Gigabyte engineers have determined would work on every 750/860/870 manufactured. Having said that, when it comes to the actual overclock, the results are quite a bit better than what we achieved on ASUS and MSI boards. ASUS's smart overclocking solution can occassionally achieve superior results, but it is quite a bit slower at doing so and you often have to run the utility several times before achieving an optimal result.

Overall, we are impressed by the results that Quick Boost achieves and we like how user-friendly it is, so we can overlook the fact that it's not new or 'smart'.
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
Synthetic Benchmarks

Synthetic Benchmarks



Lavalys Everest Ultimate v5.02

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. We selected two of Everest's seven CPU benchmarks: CPU Queen and FPU Mandel. According to Lavalys, CPU Queen simple integer benchmark focuses on the branch prediction capabilities and the misprediction penalties of the CPU. It finds the solutions for the classic "Queens problem" on a 10 by 10 sized chessboard. At the same clock speed theoretically the processor with the shorter pipeline and smaller misprediction penalties will attain higher benchmark scores. The FPU Mandel benchmark measures the double precision (also known as 64-bit) floating-point performance through the computation of several frames of the popular "Mandelbrot" fractal. Both tests consume less than 1 MB system memory, and are Hyper-Threading, multi-processor (SMP) and multi-core (CMP) aware.

P55UD6_121.jpg

As you can see, the Gigabyte model pulls away a little in this test, while the other four models are
roughly equivalent. The reason for this is that the P55-UD6 has a stock BCLK of ~136Mhz instead of the standard 133Mhz. It's not a new trick, but it works. The reason the Intel DP55KG falls behind in the FPU Mandel test is because it utilizes a 1X lower Turbo Boost multiplier throughout the benchmark.


Lavalys Everest Ultimate v5.02

As part of its enthusiast favourite Cache & Memory Benchmark, Everest provides very useful and in-depth cache performance figures. For this chart, we have combined the read, write, and copy bandwidth figures to achieve an aggregate bandwidth figure for each cache stage.

P55UD6_122.jpg

Once again, we see the P55-UD6 lead the pack because of its BCLK advantage. The CPU core is running faster, the Uncore (which contains the L3 cache) is running faster, thus it's obvious that the Gigabyte board would lead this test.


Lavalys Everest Ultimate v5.02

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.

P55UD6_123.jpg

At DDR3-1333 7-7-7, all five motherboards perform roughly the same. The Gigabyte's memory frequency is actually closer to DDR3-1360, which is reveals itself in the read & write speeds, but the board falls behind a bit in copy bandwidth.

P55UD6_124.jpg

According to Everest, the ASUS and Gigabyte models are effectively equal in the memory latency department. The DP55KG keeps its crown as latency champion at the moment, largely due to its more aggressive default secondary memory timings.


Now let's see if ScienceMark echoes these results.

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.

P55UD6_125.jpg

Unsurprisingly, because of its 2.2% higher BCLK, the P55-UD6 has a 2.2% memory bandwidth lead over the #2 Maximus III Formula. The only slight laggard is MSI's P55-GD80, which is about 2% slower than the rest.

P55UD6_126.jpg

This was an actual surprise. We expected the P55-UD6 to have among the lowest memory latency, but not by almost 7%. No matter how many times we ran the benchmark, it would always average out to about 28.6X so the result is good, if not a little odd.

Because of its higher than reference BCLK, it's not surprising to see the P55-UD6 take the lead in all the synthetic benchmarks, but will the results be any different in real-life applications? Let's find out.
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
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. We are running one instance of SuperPi via the HyperPi 0.99b interface. This is therefore a single-thread workload.

P55UD6_127.jpg

Despite it's 2.2% BCLK advantage, the P55-UD6 squeaked by the fast Maximus III Formula by a mere 0.7%. The Difference between all five motherboards is really quite minimal though, and some tweaking of the secondary memory timings would easily even out all the models.


Cinebench R10


Cinebench R10 64-bit
Test1: Single CPU Image Render
Test2: Multi CPU Image Render
Comparison: Generated Score


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

P55UD6_128.jpg

No big surprises here, the Gigabyte P55-UD6 is roughly 2% faster than the rest of the field due to its BCLK and thus CPU clock advantage.


PCMark Vantage x64


PCMark Vantage Advanced 64-bit Edition (1.0.0.0)
PCMark Suite / Default Settings
Comparison: Generated Score

The main focus of our General Tasks category lies with the most recent installment of the PCMark series, Vantage. While still classified under the description of a Synthetic benchmark, PCMark Vantage uses many of Vista's (Note - Vantage is Vista-only) built-in programs and features along with its own tests, so it is "real-world" applicable in regards to CPU performance. The following is a general list of the tests in the PCMark suite, very much in line with tasks of an average user: Data encryption, Data compression, CPU image manipulation (compression/decompression/resize), Audio transcoding,Video transcoding,Text editing,Web page rendering, Windows Mail, Windows Contacts, and CPU game test.


P55UD6_129.jpg

In PCMark Vantage, the Gigabyte ties with the MSI P55-GD80, but of which fall a bit behind the unusually fast ASUS motherboards.


Photoshop CS4

For the image editing portion of this review, we will use Photoshop CS4 in coordination with Driver Heaven’s Photoshop Benchmark V3, which is an excellent test of CPU power and memory bandwidth. This is a scripted benchmark that individually applies 15 different filters to a 109MB 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 15 results to reach the final figure.

P55UD6_130.jpg

As expected, the P55-UD6 is fastest motherboard in our PhotoShop test, while the other four models are effectively equal.


Lame Front End

Lame Front End v1.0 is a single-threaded application, which means that it only utilizes a single processor core. This will obviously limit performance but it will allow us to see the benefits of Lynnfield aggressive Turbo Boost with single-threaded loads. We will be encoding a WAV rip of Santana’s Supernatural album and converting it to MP3 using the highest fidelity VBR 0 quality preset.

P55UD6_131.jpg

In LFE, the UD6 blows past the competition by a solid 4-6%. Clearly, it's superior performance is caused by more than just its clock speed advantage.


x264 HD Benchmark


x264 HD Benchmark v1.0
Test: MPEG-2 HD 720P Video Clip Conversion to x264
DVD Video Length: 30 Seconds
Comparison: FPS of Second Pass

x264 is quickly becoming the new codec of choice for encoding a growing number of H.264/MPEG-4 AVC videos. Think of it as the new Divx of HD and you can understand why we felt it critical to include. 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.


P55UD6_132.jpg

In this encoding test, the P55-UD6 is roughly 2% faster than the second place Maximus III Formula.

WinRAR


WinRAR 3.8.0
Test: Compression of 1GB of Assorted Files
Comparison: Time to Finish

One of the most popular file compression/decompresion tools, we use WinRAR to compress a 1GB batch of files and archive them, timing the task until completion.


P55UD6_133.jpg

In WinRAR, the UD6 claims another win, although followed closely by the rest of the pack.


Overall, as in the Synthetic Benchmarks, the Gigabyte P55-UD6 proved to be fastest motherboard that we have tested so far. However, obviously the bulk of its advantage comes from its 136Mhz BCLK, which provides it with an average 2% performance improvement over the other models. Frankly though, you will never notice the performance difference between these five motherboards.
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
I/O Benchmarks

I/O Benchmarks



A first here at Hardware Canucks, we have finally included some basic I/O benchmarks. We love to hear your thoughts and ideas about what to implement and whether we should expand to include LAN and audio tests, so let us know on the forums.

HD Tach 3.0.4 - SATA



For this benchmark, HDTach was used. It shows the potential read speed which you are likely to experience with an Intel X-25M 80GB G1 solid state drive (SSD) on this motherboard. The long test was run to give a slightly more accurate picture. The test was run three times with the results averaged out.

We don’t put much stock in Burst speed readings and this goes double for SSDs; the more important number is the Average Speed number. This number will tell you what to expect from a given drive in normal, day to day operations. The higher the average the faster your entire system will seem.

We also test CPU utilization in order to make sure that there isn't a problem needlessly wasting CPU cycles. Lastly, we have also included the random access time, just as another barometer of overall storage sub-system performance. In both cases, the lower the better.


P55UD6_134.jpg

Give or take, all five motherboards have effectively identical SATA read speeds

P55UD6_135.jpg

The P55-UD6 did slightly distinguish itself from the others by having the lowest CPU utilization at 2%, and tying the Maximus III Formula for the lowest access times at 0.1ms, courtesy of the Intel X25-M G1 SSD.


HD Tach 3.0.4 - USB



For this benchmark, HDTach was used. It shows the potential read speed which you are likely to experience from this motherboard's USB 2.0 ports. In this test, we connected an external 2.5" 5400RPM hard drive to a USB port, ran the test three times and averaged the results. The long test was run to give a slightly more accurate picture.

We don’t put much stock in Burst speed readings; the more important number is the Average Speed number. This number will tell you what to expect from a given drive in normal, day to day operations. The higher the average the faster your entire system will seem.

We also test CPU utilization in order to make sure that there isn't a problem needlessly wasting CPU cycles. Lastly, we have also included the random access time, just as another barometer of overall storage sub-system performance. In both cases, the lower the better.


P55UD6_136.jpg

USB read speeds are very much identical across the board, with any differences attributable to normal benchmark variance.

P55UD6_137.jpg

Once again, the results are pretty much identical, which is great frankly. We love to see this level of consistency across five different products.


HD Tach 3.0.4 - eSATA



For this benchmark, HDTach was used. It shows the potential read speed which you are likely to experience from this motherboard's eSATA port with an Intel X-25M G1 80GB solid state drive. with these hard drives. The long test was run to give a slightly more accurate picture. The test was run three times with the results averaged out.

We don’t put much stock in Burst speed readings and this goes double for SSDs; the more important number is the Average Speed number. This number will tell you what to expect from a given drive in normal, day to day operations. The higher the average the faster your entire system will seem.

We also test CPU utilization in order to make sure that there isn't a problem needlessly wasting CPU cycles. Lastly, we have also included the random access time, just as another barometer of overall storage sub-system performance. In both cases, the lower the better.


P55UD6_138.jpg

The P55-UD6, Maximus III Formula, P7P55D Deluxe, and P55-GD80 all utilize the same JMicron JMB362/363 controller for eSATA support, and as such they achieve nearly performance levels. All three were a good deal faster than the Intel DP55KG, which uses by a Marvell 88E6145 controller.

P55UD6_139.jpg

Once again, the Gigabyte, ASUS, and MSI models are equal, but the Intel board has slightly lower CPU utilization.
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
Gaming Benchmarks

Gaming Benchmarks



Futuremark 3DMark06


3DMark06 v1.1.0
Graphic Settings: Default
Resolution: 1280X1024

Test: Specific CPU Score and Full Run 3Dmarks
Comparison: Generated Score

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.


P55UD6_140.jpg

Continuing its winning streak, the P55-UD6 proved to be the fastest in 3DMark06.


Futuremark 3DMark Vantage


3DMark Vantage v1.0.1
Graphic Settings: Performance Preset
Resolution: 1280X1024

Test: Specific CPU Score and Full Run 3Dmarks
Comparison: Generated Score

3DMark Vantage is the follow-up to the highly successful 3DMark06. It uses DirectX 10 exclusively so if you are running Windows XP, you can forget about this benchmark. Along with being a very capable graphics card testing application, it also has very heavily multi-threaded CPU tests, such Physics Simulation and Artificial Intelligence (AI), which makes it a good all-around gaming benchmark.


P55UD6_141.jpg

As expected, the Gigabyte motherboard also edged out the Maximus III Formula in 3DMark Vantage.


Crysis


Crysis v1.21
Resolution: 1680x1050
Anti Aliasing: 0
Quality Settings: High
Global Settings: DX10 / 64-Bit

Test 1: Ice benchmark_CPU2 demo
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

Still one of the most hardware intensive game on the market today, Crysis has been chosen for its obvious ability to be able to showcase the differences between platforms and to showcase just how far one will need to go in the quest for maximum performance. The game also features the renowned CryEngine, the power behind the incredible graphics, which is expected to be foundation of future titles.


P55UD6_142.jpg

This is as reliable a benchmark as they come, and as you can see the difference between all five motherboards is tiny. Crysis is simply too GPU-centric to reveal the Gigabyte board's slight CPU power advantange.


Far Cry 2


Far Cry 2 1.02
Resolution: 1680x1050
Anti Aliasing: 0
Quality Settings: Very High
Global Settings: DX10 Enabled

Test 1: Ranch Long Demo
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

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 very high.


P55UD6_143.jpg

As in Crysis, the frame rate difference between all the different models is infinitesimal.


Left 4 Dead


Left 4 Dead (Latest Update)
Resolution: 1680x1050
Filtering: 4X MSAA / Anisotropic 8X
Graphic Settings: High
Shader Detail: Very High
Test 1: HWC Custom Timedemo
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

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.


P55UD6_144.jpg

In L4D, the Gigabyte board couldn't quite keep up with the two ASUS models that put up some strong FPS numbers.


Street Fighter 4


Street Fighter 4 Demo
Resolution: 1680x1050
Anti-Aliasing: 0X
Graphic Settings: High
Test 1: Built-in Timedemo
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

Street Fighter IV is a 2008 arcade game produced by famous developer Capcom, that has finally been released on the PC platform. This game has not been 'ported' since the Street Fighter IV arcade machines actually have PC internals, with circa 2005 components. As a result, the version of the game released on the PC is considered the definitive version. With a fully multi-threaded engine and an astounding hybrid 2D/3D graphics style, this game is sure to please all fans of the Street Fighter series.


P55UD6_145.jpg

Once again the Gigabyte P55-UD6 comes in first, we are talking less than one FPS difference between the five boards.


World in Conflict


World in Conflict v1.010
Resolution: 1680x1050
Anti-Aliasing: 4X
Anisotropic Filtering: 4X
Graphic Settings: Very High
Test 1: Built-in Benchmark
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

One of the most visually stunning real-time strategy games in recent history, World in Conflict can really push systems to the brink, which is what we attempt by running the game in DirectX 10 mode at 1680x1050 with all settings maxed out. For this test we used the in-game benchmarking tool.


P55UD6_146.jpg

There is a 1FPS difference between all five motherboards when it comes to average frame rate, nothing worth mentioning.


Overall, when it comes to single graphics card gaming, none of the motherboards are really faster than the others, since the performance differences are less than 1% in most case. The P55-UD6 might take a slight lead in very CPU-centric games, but it would never be noticeable.
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
SLI Gaming Benchmarks

SLI Gaming Benchmarks



As most of you know, there was a huge amount of excitement surrounding X58 motherboards being the first Intel chipset-based motherboards to officially support NVIDIA's SLI multi-GPU technology. The SLI support is not native to the X58 chipset though, motherboard manufacturers have to pay NVIDIA to obtain a 'bios key' to unlock SLI on whichever motherboard they decide the implement the feature on. The situation is identical this time around on P55 motherboards, and we are glad to report that the Gigabyte P55-UD6 does support SLI. With this in mind, we decided test out how well it scales from one to two graphics cards, and how it performs compared to the similarly SLI-enabled ASUS Maximus III Formula, ASUS P7P55D Deluxe, and MSI P55-GD80.

For this test, we are using two EVGA GeForce GTX 280 1GB (01G-P3-1280-AR) graphics cards, which are referenced clocked parts.


Futuremark 3DMark Vantage


3DMark Vantage v1.0.1
Graphic Settings: Performance Preset
Resolution: 1280X1024

Test: Specific CPU Score and Full Run 3Dmarks
Comparison: Generated Score

3DMark Vantage is the follow-up to the highly successful 3DMark06. It uses DirectX 10 exclusively so if you are running Windows XP, you can forget about this benchmark. Along with being a very capable graphics card testing application, it also has very heavily multi-threaded CPU tests, such Physics Simulation and Artificial Intelligence (AI), which makes it a good all-around gaming benchmark.


P55UD6_147.jpg

All four motherboards exhibited similar scaling from 1 to 2 cards, with a 61-64% performance increase from SLI. The MSI model had the best performance scaling though, with the ASUS and Gigabyte models stuck in the 61% range.

Crysis


Crysis v1.21
Resolution: 1680x1050
Anti Aliasing: 0
Quality Settings: High
Global Settings: DX10 / 64-Bit

Test 1: Ice benchmark_CPU2 demo
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

Still one of the most hardware intensive game on the market today, Crysis has been chosen for its obvious ability to be able to showcase the differences between platforms and to showcase just how far one will need to go in the quest for maximum performance. The game also features the renowned CryEngine, the power behind the incredible graphics, which is expected to be foundation of future titles.


P55UD6_148.jpg

In Crysis, the P55-UD6 exhibited the worst SLI scaling, with a 37% gain compared to 43% for the
Maximus III Formula, 40% for the P7P55D, and 41% for the P55-GD80.


Far Cry 2


Far Cry 2 1.02
Resolution: 1680x1050
Anti Aliasing: 0
Quality Settings: Ultra High
Global Settings: DX10 Enabled

Test 1: Ranch Long Demo
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

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 very high.


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Once again, the P55-UD6 had the worst SLI scaling, achieving a 47% performance gain going from one graphics card to two. The other three motherboards were in the 50-51% range. Nothing too dramatic though, since we are talking about 2-3FPS at most.


World in Conflict


World in Conflict v1.010
Resolution: 1680x1050
Anti-Aliasing: 4X
Anisotropic Filtering: 4X
Graphic Settings: Very High
Test 1: Built-in Benchmark
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

One of the most visually stunning real-time strategy games in recent history, World in Conflict can really push systems to the brink, which is what we attempt by running the game in DirectX 10 mode at 1680x1050 with all settings maxed out. For this test we used the in-game benchmarking tool.


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The Gigabyte board fared a little bit better in WiC, with 43% scaling, compared to 42% for the P7P55D, 39% for the MIIIF, and 38% for the MSI model.
 

MAC

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Joined
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Messages
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Location
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Voltage Regulation / Power Consumption

Voltage Regulation / Power Consumption



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 ground point used for all readings will be a screw hole. Here are a few photos showing the various read points used.

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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 C1E, SpeedStep, Turbo Boost, and Thermal Monitor disabled in the BIOS. Just to clarify, the vCore (LLC) section is the vCore results with Load-Line Calibration Level 2 enabled. Here are our extensive findings:

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As you can see, the Gigabyte P55-UD6 has very good voltage output and regulation. Excluding the vCore, what you select in the BIOS is exactly what the motherboards outputs and there is effectively no variance between idle and load states. The critical VTT/IMC voltage is particularly stable and accurate, which is great for overclockers.

The most important voltage is obviously the vCore, and not only is accurate but exceptionally stable as well. As you can see from our results, unlike P55 motherboards from ASUS, the P55-UD6 does not have Load-Line Calibration (LLC) enabled by default. However, the difference between idle and full load is only about 2%, which is terrific and well within the 5% vDroop spec. When LLC is enabled, the vDroop is effectively neutralized with a slight 0.01-0.02V vCore increase. The one little anomaly is that when the vCore is set to AUTO, even if C1E and EIST are disabled, the vCore will still lower itself when idle.

Given how critical the vCore is, let's take a closer look at its characteristics under full load with two one-hour OCCT runs. For both runs our Core i7-870 will be running at 4.0Ghz with 1.35Vcore, once with LLC on disabled, once with it enabled and set to Level 2:

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With Load-Line Calibration disabled, the vCore line droops by a little over 2% under heavy load, which is perfectly fine. We do wish that there weren't any spikes during the test though, but they are quite minor.

P55UD6_159.jpg


With Load-Line Calibration enabled, we see that once the LLC takes effect the vCore line is absolutely perfect, showing no spikes or ripples until the last 5 minutes where the OCCT program enters its monitoring phase. Clearly, the Gigabyte's 24-phase design is a highly capable one.


Power Consumption


All motherboard manufacturers boast that their products have the lowest power consumption and feature the latest new development in energy efficiency. Well that is what we are here to find out. For this test, every BIOS option was reset to its stock setting and the Windows Vista power plan was changed from High Performance to Balanced.

For our idle test, we let the system idle for 15 minutes and measured the peak wattage through our UPM EM100 power meter.

For our CPU load test, we ran Prime 95 In-place large FFTs on all available threads for 15 minutes, measuring the peak wattage via the UPM EM100 power meter.

For our overall system load test, we ran Prime 95 In-place large FFTs on all available threads for 15 minutes, while simultaneously loading the GPU with OCCT v3.1.0 GPU:OCCT stress test at 1680x1050@60Hz in fullscreen mode.


P55UD6_160.jpg

We disregard any and all fancy energy-saving software for this test, since we are interested in measuring the motherboard's performance in stock form. This allows us to see just how efficient a manufacturer's power design truly is. As you can see, the Gigabyte P55-UD6 did exceptionally well. Overall, it came in second to the MSI P55-GD80, which features a unique 8-phase DrMOS PWM. Clearly, Gigabyte are doing some positive things with their very beefy, but still traditonal power design. Overall though, no matter what board you pick, don't expect the energy savings to fatten up your wallet.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
Conclusion

Conclusion



When we first saw a prototype P55-UD6 at Computex, it was hard not to be impressed since it had an industry-first 24-phase power design and six memory slots. When this model was finally revealed in retail form, we were glad to see that it hadn't lost any of what made it unique, and had actually gained a sleeker design and an improved cooling system. With no Extreme model in sight, this is the model that would reign supreme atop Gigabyte's P55 model lineup next to the UD7.

P55UD6_161.jpg

Now many have labeled this motherboard as excessive. The 24-phase power design is incredibly beefy considering the fact that we don't expect there to be six or eight-core processors to be available for the LGA1156 platform. However, the advantage of an overbuilt PWM is that the load gets spread across many MOSFETs, resulting in lower temperatures, potentially greater reliability, and lower power consumption, which we did see. The second criticism is leveled towards the six memory slots. I'm not going to go to so far as to suggest that the two additional DIMM slots are useless, since there optimistically might be some people with six single-sided DDR3 modules laying around, but they do indeed serve a dubious purpose for literally 99% of consumers.

Aside from the aforementioned design features, the P55-UD6 does come with quite a few interesting new solutions. The dual-purpose eSATA/USB Combo ports are obviously very clever since they give the consumer greater flexibility when it comes to how many devices he/she can plug into their system. Most agree that eSATA is great, but it is still not widely used, and with the immimnent proliferation of USB 3.0 this is another promising standard that is likely to go the way of the Dodo bird.

Legacy lovers will be glad to know that Gigabyte have included both IDE and floppy connectors on this motherboard, which is getting increasingly rare nowadays. As we have come to expect on higher-end Gigabyte motherboards, this model features 2 Gigabyte LAN ports and 2 dedicated RAID controllers feeding 4 SATA ports, which means that if you include the P55 PCH's 6 RAID-capable SATA ports, you can run up to 5 RAID arrays on it. This level of hardware redundancy obviously applies to the BIOS as well, thanks to the two onboard BIOS chips. Speaking of BIOS, the redesigned MB Intelligent Tweaker (M.I.T) section is great in our eyes. With an ever increasing numbers of settings and options, compartmentalizing is a must or you end up with needlessly long and complex BIOS sections. This new layout is perhaps not as fast the as traditional one, but it should be less overwhelming to novices wanting to try their hand at overclocking.

On the software front, Gigabyte have gone all out with the P55 series. Dynamic Energy Saver 2 and EasyTune6 are slightly refreshed but still effectively the same, but it's the other utilities that are truly interesting. The Smart TPM hardware encryption feature now allows users to lock protected data remotely using a bluetooth-enabled mobile phone. Also using bluetooth, the AutoGreen feature can put your system in to a low power state when it doesn't sense your mobile phone nearby. This is some very cool technology, but Gigabyte kind of dropped the ball a little bit since there is no on-board bluetooth-receiver on the P55-UD6. Sure, you can buy a bluetooth USB adapter on eBay for a few bucks, but considering the UD6's price it should be built into the motherboard.

In the overclocking deparment the P55-UD6 excelled where it mattered most: the CPU core clock. It pushed our i5-750 and i7-870 processors to 4.15Ghz and 4.1Ghz respectively, which is a good bit higher what we were able to achieved on the overclocking-oriented ASUS Maximus III Formula (MIIIF). It couldn't quite match the MIIIF when it came to BCLK and memory overclocking, but in both cases the UD6's results were less than 1% lower. While we were initially a little disappointed that Gigabyte have not created a brand new automatic overclocking solution, the venerable Quick Boost feature integrated into the EasyTune 6 utility proved surprisingly good. With a mere click of a button and a reboot, it overclocked both our chips to 3.8Ghz at a reasonable vCore (1.34V) and decent memory clocks too (DDR3-1600). The CAS 10 memory timings weren't brilliant though. Nevertheless, as a whole these results are better than what we achieved on highly touted new auto-overclocking technologies from ASUS and MSI. Stability throughout our overclocking adventures was absolutely bullet proof.

Throughout our benchmarks, the P55-UD6 proved to be the fastest P55 motherboard that we had tested. However, this was largely because Gigabyte have cleverly upped the stock BCLK from 133Mhz to 136Mhz. This slight 2.2% overclock might be seem insignificant, but it does translate into performance improvements across the board. If you force the FSB to 133Mhz, then the UD6 performs very much on par with the MIIIF, which is a very fast motherboard in its own right.

This motherboard gets our Dam Good award since it does everything well while being the most feature-rich P55 motherboard that we've come across and although it doesn't wear its overclocking capabilities on its sleeve, it absolutely exceled in the overclocking department. At this point in time the only serious knock against this model is the availability P55A-UD6, which is effectively the same motherboard, but with SATA 6Gb/s and USB 3.0 support. Having said that, you are looking at a roughly $40 price premium for the P55A model at most retailers, so it is up to you whether these forward-looking technologies are worth the extra money.



Pros

- Solid performance.
- Excellent layout.
- 2-Way CrossFireX & 2-Way SLI capability.
- Superior manual overclocking capabilities.
- Best automatic overclocking results yet.
- Very good voltage regulation & output.
- Impressive overall connectivity.
- 6 fan headers.
- Convenient new BIOS layout.
- IDE & Floppy connectors
- DualBIOS chip.
- Comprehensive software suite.


Cons
- No integrated bluetooth to take full advantage of the comprehensive software suite.
- With six memory slots you would expect it to support 24GB of DDR3 RAM, not 16GB like every other P55 motherboard.
- No voltage read points.
- Large CPU coolers + tall memory heatspreaders can cause installation annoyances. This is technical limitation though, so Gigabyte is not really to blame.
- A dual-slot graphics card in the 3rd PCI-E x16 slot will overhang the motherboard (unlikely configuration).



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Our thanks to Gigabyte for making this review possible!​

 
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