X58A-UD3R: High-End Overclocking on Gigabyte's Entry X58 Platform

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The X58A-UD3R is Gigabyte’s entry X58 motherboard, and has been around for quite some time.  It’s been tested by a hundred review sites, and used by overclockers all over the world.  Since the general review portion of this article wouldn’t tell you anything you didn’t know already, I’ll skip the fluffy stuff, hit the high points as far as features are concerned, and jump straight into the testing portion.  How many reviews of this board have you seen with something like an i7 920, some 1600MHz memory, and a mid to high end graphics card, showing you what the weekend overclocker or casual user might expect from this board?  We all know this is a proven product, and probably the best value (performance + reliability / $) you can get for an X58-based computer.  Let’s see how this board performs under some real pressure.

First Look

X58A-UD3R Box

X58A-UD3R Box

X58A-UD3R Box Back

X58A-UD3R Box Back

CPU Support for an Intel® Core™ i7 series processor in the LGA1366 package
L3 cache varies with CPU
QPI 4.8GT/s, 6.4GT/s
Chipset North Bridge: Intel® X58 Express Chipset
South Bridge: Intel® ICH10R
Memory 6 x 1.5V DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 24 GB of system memory
Dual/3 channel memory architecture
Support for DDR3 2200/1333/1066/800 MHz memory modules
Support for non-ECC memory modules
Support for Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) memory modules
Audio Realtek ALC889 codec
High Definition Audio
2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
Support for Dolby® Home Theater
Support for S/PDIF In/Out
Support for CD In
LAN 1 x Realtek RTL8111E chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)
Expansion Slots 2 x PCI Express x16 slots, running at x16 (PCIEX16_1/PCIEX16_2)
2 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x8 (PCIEX8_1/PCIEX8_2)
2 x PCI Express x1 slots
1 x PCI slot
Multi-Graphics Technology Support for 2-Way/3-Way ATI CrossFireX™/NVIDIA SLI technology
Storage Interface South Bridge:
6 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors
Support for SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10
Marvell 9128 chip:
2 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors (GSATA3_6, GSATA3_7) supporting up to 2 SATA 6Gb/s devices
Support for SATA RAID 0, and RAID 1
GIGABYTE SATA2 chip:
1 x IDE connector supporting ATA-133/100/66/33 and up to 2 IDE devices
2 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (GSATA2_8, GSATA2_9) supporting up to 2 SATA 3Gb/s devices
Support for SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, and JBOD
JMicron JMB362 chip:
2 x eSATA 3Gb/s connectors (eSATA/USB Combo) on the back panel sup- porting up to 2 SATA 3Gb/s devices
Support for SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, and JBOD
iTE IT8720 chip:
1 x floppy disk drive connector supporting up to 1 floppy disk drive
USB Integrated in the South Bridge:
Up to 10 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (6 on the back panel, including 2 eSATA/USB Combo, 4 via the USB brackets)
NEC Chip:
Up to 2 USB 3.0/2.0 ports on the back panel
Form Factor ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 24.4cm

Here we see the typical Gigabyte motherboard: blue and white and packed full of features.  It has a nice clean layout and a simplistic but robust design.  You’ve probably seen this board a thousand times so I’ll just show you a few pictures and jump straight into the testing.

Gigabyte X58A-UD3R

Gigabyte X58A-UD3R

Included Accessories

Included Accessories

CPU Socket Area

CPU Socket Area

Memory Slots

Memory Slots

CPU and Mem Slots

CPU and Mem Slots

24-Pin ATX Connector

24-Pin ATX Connector

The X58A-UD3R has tons of storage and expansion options.  This board has 10 SATA ports, a few eSATA ports, more USB ports than I have fingers, tons of audio outputs, a firewire port, and four full-size PCI-E slots.  There are also some legacy items like floppy and PATA connectors.  One thing I’d also like to mention about this board is it features Gigabyte’s On/Off Charge, so USB devices like iPhones can be charged while the computer is in sleep mode, hibernating, or even turned off.  Charging with the system on is also still supported.

SATA Ports

SATA Ports

Panel Connectors

Panel Connectors

Southbridge

Southbridge

Expansion Slots

Expansion Slots

Expansion Slots

Expansion Slots

I/O Panel

I/O Panel

On the back of the board, it’s evident where the USB 3 pots are wired up, from all the extra pins they use.  We also see the PCI-E 16x slots are wired for 16x, 8x, 16x, 8x.  Please see the chart above for the actual operating configurations.

I/O Area Back

I/O Area Back

Expansion Area Back

Expansion Area Back

Testing

When Gigabyte sent me this board, I wasn’t sure how I was going to approach this review.  Admittedly, I was planning on doing the same comprehensive overview, some game testing with aggressive overclocking on air, and throw a little dry ice or LN2 overlocking in at the end.  I started out with a Xeon w3570 (with an unlocked multi), and quickly hit a heat wall.  I was thinking of grabbing a 920 from Microcenter, but was bored by that idea as soon as I thought of it.  The fact that the X58A-UD3R can handle a 920 without breaking a sweat is no secret.  The true measure of a motherboard’s quality isn’t, to me anyway, it’s ability to handle every day use.  If that were the case, why would I buy one model over another based on anything other than price?  To me, a worthy motherboard is one that can take all the abuse I can throw at it without a hiccup, and can supply enough clean power to keep my components happy at the highest frequencies and under maximum stress levels.  This is on top of all the expectations someone would have for a daily use product.  So let’s see if the X58A-UD3R has what it takes to run with the big dogs.  My main goal here was to see how many hwbot boints I could snag using this board and these components:

Core i7 980x 3020A457 + Xeon w3570
3x2GB Kingston HyperX PC16000 – BDBG chips
Radeon HD 5870
OCZ 1000w PSU
K|NGP|N Dragon F1 EE CPU Pot + LN2

I use MG Chemicals paint-on silicone conformal coating instead of either nail polish or spray conformal.  There are a few materials you can use for this, I prefer silicone because it doesn’t dry rigid like acrylic does.  For running under LN2 for long periods of time under Atlanta’s humidity, this is the most thorough way to protect a motherboard that I’ve found.  I’ll obviously be dropping some kind of insulation over this to finish the job.  I remove the CPU socket bracket for a few reasons.  First, it allows for more complete protection with the conformal coating.  Second, it makes the insulation both easier, and more thorough as we’ll see below.

Silicone Conformal Coating

Silicone Conformal Coating

Bare NB

Bare NB

Bare MOSFETs

Bare MOSFETs

CPU Bracket Removed

CPU Bracket Removed

After applying the conformal coating, I apply the kneaded eraser.  A lot of guys switched to using art eraser from foam gaskets because you can get it into every little space on the board, and keeps you from having to cut a new gasket for each motherboard you put under the cold.  Although it’s not necessary because I covered the entire back of the board with conformal coating, I still use foam insulation to keep the under side dry.  I left the MOSFETs on the back uncovered because they can produce quite a bit of heat.  Although I’ve never had problems with them being covered before, I have seen them blow from being covered up.  I also insulate between the memory slots, and apply a little petroleum jelly as well.  This way if I want to freeze the RAM, I’m ready to go.  It also helps protect against any condensation that may form around the mem slots, as well as any coming off of the CPU pot.

Insulated With Kneaded Eraser

Insulated With Kneaded Eraser

Insulated Board Top

Insulated Board Front

Insulated Board Back

Insulated Board Back

CPU Pot Mounting Rods

CPU Pot Mounting Rods

After the insulation is all finished, we can add a layer of foam and mount the CPU pot, install the rest of our components, and get to benching.

Dragon F1 EE Mounted

Dragon F1 EE Mounted

Ready For Action

Ready For Action

The w3570 maxed out around 5.4GHz, which is pretty much in line with results others have gotten, according to this CPU’s hwbot page.  This chip would have great potential if not for the nasty cold bug around -80° C.  I did these runs with the very last bit of the remaining LN2 after testing the 980x. The 32m submission netted me 31.5 points and the 1024m submission is good for 21.1 points.  So these two benchmarks alone are worth 52.6 hwboints.

wPrime 32m - 4.438s

wPrime 32m - 4.438s

wPrime 1024m - 142.031s

wPrime 1024m - 142.031s

Running Super Pi was a last-minute thing here.  My OS was obviously not set up for testing Super Pi (wrong OS altogether) but now at least I have some numbers to go after for future overclocking adventures.  These are my fastest Super Pi times to date.  The Super PI 1m submission earned me 6.8 points, and the 32m submission is worth 12.4 points, bringing the total to 71.8 hwboints.

Super Pi 1m - 7.052s

Super Pi 1m - 7.052s

Super Pi 32m - 6m 41s 747ms

Super Pi 32m - 6m 41s 747ms

I’m very happy with my 3D testing results.  I was able to run most of them over 5.7GHz, and I got an Aquamark run in at 5.8GHz, which I would have tried to improve on had there been more LN2 on hand.  I would like to have seen my Vantage score a little higher, but running a 6 core CPU at over 5.5GHz with HT enabled through the 3DMark Vantage CPU tests is nothing to sneeze at.  Hwboints for the 3d benches are as follows: 3DMark 05 – 11.4 points, 3DMArk 06 – 29.3 points, 3DMark Vantage – 22.7 points, and Aquamark – 25.9 points.  This brings my grand total to 161.1 hwboints on the X58A-UD3R!

3DMark 05 - 42197

3DMark 05 - 42197

3DMark 06 - 32319

3DMark 06 - 32319

Aquamark - 407433

Aquamark - 407433

3DMark Vantage - 24358

3DMark Vantage - 2435

Final Thoughts and Conclusion

This so called entry-level motherboard can hang with the best of them.  If I was pushing a 6.5GHz-capable i7 980x, the results may have been a little different, but in this case the board took everything I was able to throw at it like a champ.  Was it the limiting factor in the maximum clocks speeds I achieved?  Maybe to some extent. I feel a could have squeezed out a few more MHz on a UD7, but I’ll find that out soon enough.  The key takeaway here is the value of this product is, in my opinion, unparalleled.  All in all, I’d say this board would be a very smart purchase for just about anyone wanting to get in on some X58 action, from casual gamers to anyone wanting to enter the world of competitive overclocking.  Finally, since I know it’ll come up, I was able to hit 233MHz bclk with this board and a Core i7 970 without really trying to max it out.

I’d like to thank Gigabyte for letting me test this awesome product, and rdrash for the 980x and F1 EE.

sno.lcn

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Discussion
  1. I was considering purchasing this board as I am on a tight budget, yet would like to have some good overclock success. Was worried it might not be up to the task considering its price. I had some doubts even though I currently run a gigabyte P35 that I have been very happy with. I'm sold now though for sure. Great review. So glad you reviewed this board and pushed it! Thank you.