Gigabyte P67A-UD7 & P67A-UD4 Sandy Bridge Motherboards Preview

Author: Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig
Date: December 27, 2010
Product Name: Gigabyte P67A-UD7 / P67A-UD4
Warranty: 3-Years
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A Closer Look at the Gigabyte P67A-UD4

Gigabyte’s P67A-UD4 will target budget minded buyers who don’t need the massive overclocking capabilities of enthusiast-level products but want a strong feature set. SATA 6 and USB 3.0 are both included which should give this product plenty of options for upcoming peripherals and storage devices. The BIOS itself is surprisingly complete as well and should give open up the possibility of overclocking the K-series Sandy Bridge chips to the limits of air and even water cooling.

From an aesthetics standpoint, Gigabyte’s newest P67 boards are a massive departure from the products of yesteryear since they all feature stunning black PCBs. This isn’t black like you are used to seeing since it avoids the usual glossy finish and replaces it with a subdued matte appearance. While many may think that Gigabyte’s change to tuxedo black shows a lack of creativity on their part, we were pleasantly surprised to see a change from the slightly gaudy black / brown coloration of the competition’s boards.

The area immediately surrounding the CPU socket houses an impressive 13-phase power regulation design which isn’t normally seen on mainstream boards. The VRMs have their heat dispersed by a relatively simple dual heatsink array which is connected by a single heatpipe. For those of you wondering, Gigabyte has decided to use a Lotes 1155 socket retention clip.

Like other Intel processors of the last two years, Sandy Bridge integrates many of the typical functions found on the NorthBridge of Core-series products onto the CPU die. This allows the elimination of the two-chip motherboard layouts and while some products will use the vacated space for NVIDIA’s nForce 200 controller, the UD4 features a vast expanse of open PCB directly below the CPU socket.

The four DDR3 memory slots aren’t colour coded but feature their own 2-phase power distribution. Since this isn’t a product that targets enthusiasts, overclockers or “gamers”, there aren't any voltage read points or onboard power and reset buttons on the board itself. The UD4 does however include Gigabyte’s Dual BIOS feature which can be a real life-saver if a BIOS flash happens to go awry since a default profile will always be stored in a backup chip, ready for use.

The far edge of the P67A-UD4 also features six SATA connectors; two of which are compatible with the ultra fast SATA 6 standard. The bottom edge has the usual USB 2.0 connectors as well as a single USB 3.0 output for a front panel connector.

The expansion slot layout is what one would expect from a fully featured mid-range product with the stars of the show being a pair of PCI-E 2.0 x16 slots. When using a single card, the top slot operates at a full x16 bandwidth while dual cards will be run at x8 / x8 speeds which shouldn’t be a limiting factor for even the fastest available since core graphics cards. These slots are perfectly placed to ensure excellent airflow to both cards.

In addition to the two designated graphics card slots, there is a trio of PCI-E x1 slots as well as a pair of legacy PCI connectors riding at the bottom of the board.

Gigabyte's backplate connector layout is impressive to say the least. Included is a whopping ten USB connectors - two of which have USB 3.0 functionality along with a pair of external eSATA ports. Otherwise, we get the usual audio outputs (including an optical output and a digital coaxial connector), a LAN jack and a standard PS/2 keyboard / mouse connector.

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