Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P P45 Motherboard Review

by FiXT     |     October 30, 2008


The EP45-UD3P is based on the mainstream Intel P45/ICH10R chipset combination, which was released in June. As with the P35 “Bearlake-P” chipset, the P45 is manufactured on the 65nm process, which makes it quite a bit smaller than 90nm chipsets like the high-end X38 and X48. As a result of this more modern manufacturing process, the northbridge has a very low default voltage of 1.10V, which means that it also runs cooler than its predecessors.

Officially, the P45 does not support a 1600Mhz front-side bus, as found on the high-end Core 2 Extreme QX9770 quad-core processor. However, all motherboard manufacturers (aside from ECS) are marketing their models as FSB1600 capable. Memory-wise, the chipset has been validated for operation up to DDR3-1333 and DDR2-800, but a few manufacturers have certified their own models for operation up to DDR3-2000 and DDR2-1366+.

On the PCI Express front, the P45 is limited to 16 PCI-E lanes, just like its predecessor the P35. However, the P45 chipset supports the PCI Express 2.0 specification, which doubles the standard bus bandwidth from 2.5 Gbit/s to 5 Gbit/s. This in itself is not particularly noteworthy, since the real-life performance differences between PCI-E 1.0 and PCI-E 2.0 are quite miniscule. However, the P45’s standout feature is that its PCI-E 2.0 slots can work in either 1x16 or 2x8 configuration, which is unprecedented for a mainstream chipset. In effect, a proper CrossFire configuration, no more crippled x16/x4 CrossFire nonsense. It’s not a full-blown x16/x16 setup, but no one could realistically expect Intel to allow a mainstream chipset to share the technological limelight with the higher-end X38/X48.

While the P45 chipset is the first to benefit from the new ICH10R southbridge, there is not much fundamentally new. As with the ICH9R southbridge, the ICH10R supports six SATA II ports, AHCI, and Matrix RAID technology.

Now let’s see what kind of motherboard Gigabyte has built around this new chipset:


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