Gigabyte X58A-UD7 Review And Overclocking Results

First I owe Gigabyte an explanation for taking so long to get this review written up.  The truth is, Gigabyte products always take me the longest time to review because they’re so much fun to use.  I often forget I’m supposed to be writing a review, and get completely sidetracked.  I’d like to thank Angela at Gigabyte for being so patient with me taking my time to publish results any time she sends a product to me for testing.

GOOC 2009 (Gigabyte Open Overclocking Championship) was the first time I overclocked on the X58 platform, and I haven’t done so since then.  P55 got in the way, and although I’ve been having a blast with it over the past several months, something has been missing.  I realized just what that was when Gigabyte sent me their X85A-UD7 for testing.

First impressions

Specs and Features

  • CPU: Core i7, LGA1366
  • QPI: 4.8GT/s, 6.4GT/s
  • Northbridge: Intel X58
  • Southbridge: Intel ICH10R
  • Memory: 6 x 1.5V DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 24 GB of system memory
  • Memory frequency: DDR3 2200/1333/1066/800 MHz memory modules
  • Audio: Realtek ALC889 codec
  • LAN: 2 x RTL8111D chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)
  • 2x PCI Express slots running at 16x
  • 2x PCI Express slots running at 8x
  • 2x PCI Express 1x slots
  • 1x PCI slot
  • Multi-Graphics technology: Support for 2-Way/3-Way ATI CrossFireX™/NVIDIA SLI technology
  • Up to 10 USB 2.0 ports: 6 on back panel, 4 internal
  • 2 USB 3.0/2.0 ports on back panel via NEC chip
  • 6x SATA 3GB/s connectors supporting RAID 0, 1, 5, 10, via ICH10R
  • 2x SATA 6GB/s connectors supporting RAID 0, 1, via Marvell 9128 chip
  • 2x SATA 3GB/s connectors supporting RAID 0, 1, and JBOD, and 1x IDE connector, via Gigabyte SATA2 chip
  • 2x eSATA 3GB/s connectors on back panel, via JMicron JMB362 chip
  • 1x floppy drive connector via iTE IT8720 chip

Here we see packaging typical of high-end Gigabyte products.  Product features cover the oversize box, and the front flap opens to reveal the motherboard inside.  The board resides in a clear plastic shell, while the huge assortment of accessories have their own separate box, hidden behind it.

X58A-UD7 Box Front
X58A-UD7 Box Front
X58A-UD7 Box Corner 2
X58A-UD7 Box Corner 2
X58A-UD7 Box Side
X58A-UD7 Box Side
X58A-UD7 Box Back
X58A-UD7 Box Back
X58A-UD7 Box Inside Flap
X58A-UD7 Box Inside Flap
X58A-UD7 Flap Open
X58A-UD7 Flap Open

Opening the box, we see the X58A-UD7 nestled comfortably in a clear plastic shell (like most top-end Gigabyte boards) with the SilentPipe chipset cooler add-on.

X58A-UD7 Plastic Shell
X58A-UD7 Plastic Shell

And a closer look at the SilentPipe assembly.  The X58A-UD7 heatpipe assembly has options for air or water cooling.  For users taking the air cooling route, this is easily mounted with a little thermal paste and four screws.

X58A-UD7 SilentPipe 1
X58A-UD7 SilentPipe 1
X58A-UD7 SilentPipe 2
X58A-UD7 SilentPipe 2

Included Accessories

  • User manual, installation guide, Smart 6 manual, driver disc
  • I/O shield
  • 4x SATA cables
  • 1x PATA cable
  • Tri-SLI bridge
  • Flexible SLI cable
  • eSATA bracket and cables
X58A-UD7 Accessories Box
X58A-UD7 Accessories Box
X58A-UD7 Accessories
X58A-UD7 Accessories

And finally, the motherboard pictures.  Typical Gigabyte color scheme and all the component cooling hardware you’d expect on a board like this.

Gigabyte X58A-UD7
Gigabyte X58A-UD7

Located next to the memory slots, we find a nice, big onboard power button, along with a smaller reset button.

X58A-UD7 DDR3 slots
X58A-UD7 DDR3 slots
X58A-UD7 Power Button
X58A-UD7 Power Button

The first thing you notice on the lower right corner of the board is the huge heatsink covering the ICH10R.  Located in this area are ten total SATA ports, the battery, a PATA connector, front panel connectors, two USB headers, and an onboard debug LED.  If you don’t own a debug LED (or POST code reader), and your motherboard doesn’t have one built in, you need to order one.  They’re absolutely essential for troubleshooting, and I always have one on hand when overclocking.

X58A-UD7 Lower Right 1
X58A-UD7 Lower Right 1
X58A-UD7 Lower Right 2
X58A-UD7 Lower Right 2
X58A-UD7 Lower Corner 3
X58A-UD7 Lower Corner 3
X58A-UD7 Lower Right 4
X58A-UD7 Lower Right 4

In the expansion slot area, we have two PCI-E slots at 16x, and two at 8x.  There are also two PCI-E 1x slots, and a single PCI slot.

X58A-UD7 Expansion Slots 1
X58A-UD7 Expansion Slots 1
X58A-UD7 Expansion Slots 2
X58A-UD7 Expansion Slots 2
X58A-UD7 Expansion Slots 3
X58A-UD7 Expansion Slots 3

Now on to the CPU socket area.  The X58A-UD7 features 24-phase power, as you can see by the crowded socket area.  Insulating around all of it for liquid nitrogen cooling was a bit more time consuming than some other boards, but well worth it.

X58A-UD7 CPU Socket Area
X58A-UD7 CPU Socket Area

And a closer look at Gigabyte’s SilentPipe cooling solution.   These pictures are only for the top half, because there are several pictures showing the ICH10R portion above.

X58A-UD7 Cooling - Chipset
X58A-UD7 Cooling - Chipset
X58A-UD7 Mosfet Cooling 1
X58A-UD7 Mosfet Cooling 1
X58A-UD7 Mosfet Cooling 2
X58A-UD7 Mosfet Cooling 2
X58A-UD7 Mosfet Cooling 4
X58A-UD7 Mosfet Cooling 4
X58A-UD7 Mosfet and Chipset Cooling
X58A-UD7 Mosfet and Chipset Cooling
X58A-UD7 Chipset Air Cooler
X58A-UD7 Chipset Air Cooler
X58A-UD7 Chipset Air Cooler 2
X58A-UD7 Chipset Air Cooler 2

Now to see what’s under all that cooling hardware…

Intel ICH10R
Intel ICH10R
Intel X58
Intel X58
X58A-UD7 Mosfets
X58A-UD7 Mosfets

And the rest of the motherboard pictures, including the back and I/O panel.

X58A-UD7 I/O Panel
X58A-UD7 I/O Panel
X58A-UD7 I/O Panel Back
X58A-UD7 I/O Panel Back
X58A-UD7 Expansion Slots Back
X58A-UD7 Expansion Slots Back
X58A-UD7 Memory Slots Back
X58A-UD7 Memory Slots Back

You may be worried about the un-sinked mosfets on the back of the board, but none of the Gigabyte boards with 24-phase power that I’ve owned have had any problems because of this.

X58A-UD7 CPU Socket Back
X58A-UD7 CPU Socket Back

The BIOS

Most of the BIOS settings you’d expect on just about any motherboard, with the exception of the MB Intelligent Tweaker (M.I.T.) section. And the M.I.T. section is by far the most important.  Where other motherboard companies put the overclocking goodies section in the top right (or worse even), Gigabyte put theirs first.  This means before even setting the system time, you need to begin overclocking.

X58A-UD7 POST Logo Display
X58A-UD7 POST Logo Display
X58A-UD7 Main BIOS Screen
X58A-UD7 Main BIOS Screen
X58A-UD7 Standard CMOS Features
X58A-UD7 Standard CMOS Features
X58A-UD7 Advanced BIOS Features
X58A-UD7 Advanced BIOS Features
X58A-UD7 Integrated Peripherals
X58A-UD7 Integrated Peripherals
X58A-UD7 Power Management
X58A-UD7 Power Management
X58A-UD7 PC Health Status
X58A-UD7 PC Health Status

And now the important stuff…The M.I.T. section.

X58A-UD7 M.I.T. Main Top
X58A-UD7 M.I.T. Main Top
X58A-UD7 M.I.T. Main Bottom
X58A-UD7 M.I.T. Main Bottom
X58A-UD7 M.I.T. Advaned Voltage Control
X58A-UD7 M.I.T. Advaned Voltage Control
X58A-UD7 M.I.T. Advanced CPU Features
X58A-UD7 M.I.T. Advanced CPU Features
X58A-UD7 Uncore & QPI Features
X58A-UD7 Uncore & QPI Features
X58A-UD7 M.I.T. Advanced Clock Control
X58A-UD7 M.I.T. Advanced Clock Control
X58A-UD7 Advanced DRAM Features
X58A-UD7 Advanced DRAM Features

Ideally, the thing to do here would be to list all the slick overclocking features under the M.I.T. menu.  But it’d be much easier to list the options that are missing, since it’s got pretty much everything you could want or need.

Testing

I did a little air testing with a Core i7 920 D0, and a good bit of air testing with a 920 C0.  I did a bit of liquid nitrogen testing with the D0 as well, but in cooling with both air and LN2, the CPU was the limiting factor.

Testing setup

  • Core i7 920
  • Gigabyte X58A-UD7
  • 3x1gb Kingston HyperX DDR3 2000MHz
  • Radeon HD 4890
  • OCZ 1000w PSU
  • Open air bench station
  • Air cooling: COGAGE TRUE Spirit
  • LN2 cooling: Dragon F1 EE

Air testing the 920

I’ve never overclocked on anything so easy before.  The 920 D0 was doing 4.5GHz perfectly stable within only a few minutes of powering it on for the first time.  The only settings I had to change in BIOS were CPU voltage, CPU VTT, and DDR3 voltage.  All other settings were at ‘auto’ or ‘normal.’   I received this board shortly before Forum Wars, which gave me a great opportunity to do some competition-based testing. It topped out around 4.7GHz on air, but was a disappointment when frozen.

LN2 testing

The 920 D0 I had was a great CPU on air.  When put under the cold stuff, it was a completely different story.  I was stopped just short of 5GHz, but stability was not an issue for any benchmarks I threw at it.  Even with the CPU’s poor LN2 results, I was able to pull off some personal bests in a few benchmarks:

Aquamark3 - 339218
Aquamark3 - 339218
3DMark 05 - 36602
3DMark 05 - 36602
wPrime 32m - 5.147s
wPrime 32m - 5.147s
Super Pi 32m - 7m 45.454s
Super Pi 32m - 7m 45.454s

Final Thoughts and Conclusion

I’m not near finished testing this board, and I probably won’t be for quite some time.  There are so many possibilities with a powerhouse such as this, and I get a huge grin on my face every time I have the opportunity to use it.

Still on my list for tesing:

  • Gulftown + HD 5870
  • USB 3.0 + SATA 3 testing
  • GTX 480 when available

If you’re new to overclocking, you probably won’t find an easier motherboard to get your feet wet with.  If you’re an extreme bencher, and need every single MHz you can get, this board will give you that.  If you’re a casual user, who just wants a solid motherboard with USB 3 and SATA 3 at an affordable price, Gigabyte has less expensive options in their X58A line as well.

I’d like to thank Angela at Gigabyte for letting me test this incredible motherboard.

sno.lcn

Discussion

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  1. I never like jumping on the first group of Mb's on a socket , I like to wait a bit to get a more mature board. So this Mb has me interested, did you find a difference in the max bclock on this mb using the air cooling solution for the board vs the wb that comes with it ?
    ||Console||
    I never like jumping on the first group of Mb's on a socket , I like to wait a bit to get a more mature board. So this Mb has me interested, did you find a difference in the max bclock on this mb using the air cooling solution for the board vs the wb that comes with it ?

    I didn't use WC on the chipset, but the air cooling solution is effective for sure.
    jpinard
    Do you have a high-pitched hiss from this board?

    No, the only hiss was coming from the HD 4890 :p
    sno.lcn
    I didn't use WC on the chipset, but the air cooling solution is effective for sure.
    No, the only hiss was coming from the HD 4890 :p

    My current board, Gigabyte X58A-UD3R has a high-pitched whine coming from somewhere on the board. It's really awful.
    Exactly what voltages did you use to attain 4.5 GHz? I have the GA-X58A-UD5 and am having a terribel time getting it OC'ed... worse than the UD3R. If you can post those voltages that would help a lot. Thanks! :)
    sno.lcn
    I will vary by CPU. 4.5GHz on this was around 1.42v on the CPU, with VTT and PLL at auto iirc.

    mdcomp said he increased 3 voltages: CPU, VTT, and DDR3. So having those 3 values will help me a lot.
    OK another question for you. Do you think there might be a big OC difference between the UD5 and the UD7? I'm not getting the clock speeds I thought I might with this board, but don't want to swap out if I'm temp limited anyways (I'm at 72c with the same processor @4.10 GHz).
    Voltages are (need to reboot to check), but I'm wondering if the UD7 can run my same processor at a lower voltage?
    No, as much as I love UD7, I don't think you're going to get much benefit if you've already got a UD5 unless you're really pushing the clocks on Gulftown and/or LN2 cooling.
    My 920 was pushing the same temps at 4.5GHz on air as yours is at 4.1. The newer batch 920 D0s are good on air at mid-4GHz range with nice low volts, but after a certain point they scale terribly, but that's fine if you're on air or water cooling. My 920 was pushing 82 C at 4.6v. Of course this all depends on your cooling. I'd trade you if I still had the chip, because I bet with the high temps yours would be great under LN2 :beer:
    Looks like another great board from Gigabyte.
    One thing I do wish they would start giving a bit more attention to (or maybe going a new direction) is overall appearance of the board itself. The blue and white color combo is getting a little drab and could use some updating.
    For my testing, The UD3R did fantastic, the UD5 did horrible, and the main competitor for the Gigabyte X58A-UD56, then Asus P6X58D Premium - blew the Gigabyte away. Maybe that extra $50-$70 cost to go from the UD5-to the UD7 is Worth it, but I can't in good conscious suggest ANYONE buy a a UD5 board. Performs terrible as an OC'er.
    jpinard
    For my testing, The UD3R did fantastic, the UD5 did horrible, and the main competitor for the Gigabyte X58A-UD56, then Asus P6X58D Premium - blew the Gigabyte away. Maybe that extra $50-$70 cost to go from the UD5-to the UD7 is Worth it, but I can't in good conscious suggest ANYONE buy a a UD5 board. Performs terrible as an OC'er.

    Sounds like you got a dud...I've already seen quite a few good results on the UD5.
    MIAHALLEN
    Sounds like you got a dud...I've already seen quite a few good results on the UD5.

    THat's to bad because I really like Gigbayte as a company and love their BIOS (more than Assu's).