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Old September 8, 2009, 09:13 AM
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Thumbs up Gigabyte GA-P55-UD4P & i5 750 // Phase // LN2


The dawn of a new era. P55 is here and all overclockers can rejoice...or can they? Lately a lot of forum posts have been painting P55 in that of a golden light. Making it look like god's gift to overclockers or the second coming of the overclocking savior. But - much like your girlfriends bathroom - nothing always smells like roses. Obviously my skewed perspective of what a computer should and shouldn't do influences my opinion. Considering my daily computer sits on the floor in-between two desks consisting of spare parts lying around that are all but dead...including a state of the art onboard GPU, I would have to say the majority of my concern is simply in sub-zero cooling and what a system does in benchmarks. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words...

click for full size...

My priorities definitely aren't in my daily computing. This is why my focus with this setup will simply be benchmarks and sub-zero cooling. Despite my emphasis on these types of results, I want to keep things in perspectives by talking about what may not be so great about this platform instead of simply showing the good stuff and hiding the bad. I will be primarily concerned with the Gigabyte GA-P55-UD4P as that is the only P55 motherboard I have access to. I will also be using an i5 750 socket 1156 processor today as well.

Now you may be asking yourself why I would be using the mid-level Gigabyte board and entry level i5/i7 1156 processor to explore the sub-zero and overclocking aspect of this new platform instead of the high-end counterparts. Simply put, it is all I could get my grubby little hands on. Gigabyte has supplied the motherboard for my testing today and I will be using an ES (engineering sample) Intel i5 750 processor. Despite receiving the hardware in exchange for posting here today, I have not been given any sort of agenda or itinerary on what I can and cannot show from either manufacturer. I have free reign as far as what I can do with the setup and what I can discuss. So rest assured, there is no favoritism here, just an overclocker getting familiar with a new platform and sharing his thoughts, concerns, and results...good and bad.

Directory:Since this isn't a review, and it isn't an OC Report because I really am not methodically testing this board like I would in an OC Report, we'll just call this an "overclocker sells his soul for a company in exchange to play with their stuff" forum post...but with no responsibility to said company so results are in no way skewed ;). Before this gets too confusing, let's get started by taking a look at the Gigabyte GA-P55-UD4P specs and photos.
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Old September 8, 2009, 09:13 AM
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Default Specs :: Just the facts m'am, just the facts

This section is going to be very brief. There are going to be a ton of reviews of this motherboard at all the major sites soon, not to mention you can already see the full specs for the GA-P55-UD4P at the Gigabyte web site right now. Basically, the P55-UD4P is a great representative of what the $150~$170USD P55 motherboard should possess as far as features go. Here is a basic run-down of the important ones...
  • Support for an Intel® Core™ i7 / i5 series processor in the LGA1156 package
  • 4 x Dual channel memory support for DDR3 2200/1333/1066/800 up to 16GB
  • Realtek ALC889A codec
  • 2 x RTL8111D chips (10/100/1000 Mbit) w/ Support for Teaming & Smart Dual LAN
  • 1 x 16X PCI-E 2.0 @ 16X / 1 x 16X PCI-E 2.0 @ 8X / 3 x 1X PCI-E / 2 x PCI
  • Total 8 x SATAII plus 2 x eSATA / 1 x IDE / 1 x Floppy
  • 10 x USB 2.0 plus 4 x onboard headers
  • Gigabyte dual BIOS
As we can see, this board really is fully featured and perfect for most any mainstream user. The rear eSATA ports actually play double duty and are USB 2.0 ports as well. Gigabyte also hasn't forgotten legacy IDE and floppy connections on this board. Overall, a nice mix of new and old give the P55-UD4P everything that everyone should be looking for in a mid range P55 motherboard. I still wish we had PS/2 connections for the mouse & keyboard but I think those days are long gone. At least the keyboard is still PS/2.


The most important specification for our benching purposes is the PCI-E slots. You can either run a single card in the top PCI-E 2.0 16X or two cards which would make both PCI-E 2.0 16X slots run at 8X. The motherboard supports both SLI and CrossFireX and the spacing of the two should be plenty, even for the monster MSI R4890 Cyclone OC's that I will be testing with.
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Old September 8, 2009, 09:14 AM
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Default Photos :: You know, pictures, images...like with a camera

I'll keep the yapping to a minimum and let the photos tell the story. You are all pretty versed with the nuances of a motherboard and know what you are looking for so hopefully you can decipher whether or not the P55-UD4P has what you need...without me telling you that it does ;)

click for full size...

A package is a package is a package, and the P55-UD4P comes in a package. The accessories are pretty scarce with nothing more than rear I/O panel, 4 x SATA cables, and a long flexible SLI bridge. The majority of the accessories are actually the manuals and software that comes with this motherboard. Gigabyte has really added a lot of software/hardware enhancements that might be worth looking into for some users. Now a bunch of photos of the motherboard itself...

click for full size...

Like I said, you know what you are looking for and there really isn't any need to comment on things shown above. The layout is pretty straight forward with no big surprises. The lack of a NB hasn't eliminated a large heat sink in the middle of the motherboard however as MOSFETs are now being cooled there. Let's take a look at the entire motherboard cooling solution while we are on the subject.

click for full size...

My biggest concern from the cooling on the motherboard is the proximity of this heat sink to the top PCI-E slot. This completely rules out any kind of sub-zero cooling on the GPU with this motherboard without having to remove the entire MOSFET cooling apparatus. It appears there is enough room for most current video cards but aftermarket coolers may cause issue. Passively cooled video cards with heat sinks that wrap around to the backside of the card will also obviously have problems with this heat sink being so close. Considering the limited amount of heat the MOSFETs should be generating, a much more logical solution could have been derived.

The rest of the cooling is pretty straight forward. An independent PCH heat sink that is low profile creating no interference issues with long video cards stands where a typical south bridge would be. All three heat sinks around the CPU socket sit fairly low all connected via a long snaking heat pipe. Aside from their proximity to the CPU socket, the PWM heat sinks shouldn't cause any issues with CPU coolers.

click for full size...

The rear I/O panel is littered with connections including a pile of USB 2.0 ports, both 4-pin & 6-pin firewire connections and the two eSATA ports already mentioned. The backside of the motherboard is of no importance aside from noting that the main heat sink where a typical north bridge would be is secured with screws while the rest of the motherboard heat sinks use basic push pins. I would have liked to see screws throughout but given the cooling tasks asked of these heat sinks, push pins should suffice. Time to get some hardware mounted in this board and see what it will do.
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Old September 8, 2009, 09:14 AM
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Default Test Bed :: All kinds of crap is getting tossed into this salad

I ended up being quit messy with the video cards used just due to the nature of the benchmarks I was testing. I will keep the results broken up into the various GPU's used to keep it straight, and then have a 2D section for all non-3D benchmarks. I was definitely far from methodical with this testing as I have a lot of setups on the go right now so it was just a matter of whatever wasn't busy made it into the P55-UD4P.


Here is a complete list of hardware used...

Code:
Hardware used:
MB:          Gigabyte GA-P55-UD4P (BIOS F3 mostly, Some F4M)
CPU:         Intel i5 750 ES (918B255)
CPU Cooling: Chilly 1 single stage (-35C'ish) // k|ngp|ncooling.com F1 EE
GPU:         2 x MSI R4890 Cyclone OC // Gigabyte GTX 260 OC // EVGA GTX 295
PCH Cooling: Stock
PWM Cooling: Stock
PSU:         Corsair HX1000W
HD:          Seagate SATAII 80GB 8MB NCQ
OS:          Windows XP Pro SP3 - hopped up on 32M tweaks // Vista Ultimate

Ambient Temperature: 22-23C
Now I will show some photos of each GPU setup with any notes on installation.

Gigabyte GTX 260 OC
click for full size...

There really is nothing to note with this setup as it is fairly straight forward. The one item of contention I have is the release clip which is an absolute PITA to get at with the card installed and the tight proximity of that southern MOSFET heat sink. I just knew that thing would be a hassle. It obviously isn't a deal breaker type of thing for a 24/7 user as you shouldn't be shuffling hardware much but still an annoyance none the less.

EVGA GTX 295
click for full size...

Much like the GTX 260, the GTX 295 obviously has no issues wedging its big ass into the P55-UD4P's top slot. In the second photo I snuck the 260 in the bottom slot to show that reference GT200 cards have no problems co-existing in this board. The spacing is quite nice. Again, however, the release clip on the top slot is a royal pain to get at.

2 x MSI R4890 Cyclone OC
click for full size...

The two MSI R4890 Cyclones pose no threat to the P55-UD4P. The extra space between the two PCI-E 16X slots provide all the breathing room necessary for these cards to not only fit, but run cool as a cucumber. I think that is going to wrap up the boring portion of today's entertainment, time to get to some results. As mentioned, I wasn't really interested in air cooling results so I start with barely sub-zero and my tired Chilly1 single stage unit running at -35C or warmer...usually warmer.
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Old September 8, 2009, 09:14 AM
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Default Go Time :: Single stage phase cooling... -35C and warmer (old tired Chilly1 unit)

Before we get to any clocking, there are a couple photos of the insulation, phase mount, and shots of the rig in action with the various video cards.

click for full size...

I initially had some issues with my phase mount, the area around the CPU is extremely small compared to AM2 and X58...apparently. I had to shave a lot off of my insulation on the phase change evaporator. I had been using the same setup for years from 775 to AM2 to X58, but this board needed a good trimming to fit. For those wondering, using a couple 775 holes and a couple 1366 holes works likes a champ in getting the new 1156 mounted...Intel still needs a kick in the ass for not making the holes the same as 775. It is a simple cash grab for CPU heat sink manufacturers and nothing more...don't even pretend it has anything to do with mount pressure, 775 is almost identical as the new 1156 and changing it is a slap in all users faces by Intel. Yes, that topic pisses me off in case you haven't figured that out ;). Time for some results :up:

2D Benchmark Results
click for full size...

The 32M and 1M top clocks were pretty decent, but I certainly didn't have a stellar chip. Max BCLK I could work with is 245 BCLK with this board so I had room to play a bit with higher mem clocks while lowering CPU multi. In the end, the 21X multi ran better for single threaded apps so that stuck for SPi. The fast 32M time could definitely be improved as that was one of the first things I ran, literally 30 minutes after having set the system up. I'll run again with tightened timings including RTL and B2B CAS latency soon enough.

Gigabyte GTX 260 OC Results
click for full size...

The single GTX 260 result is for 01 as the 295 just sucks with i5/i7. The 260 is not much better but I did manage to crack 93K with relatively low CPU clocks. It became apparent this CPU was going to be pretty limited as far as what I could get for clocks out of it. Being able to run almost 1.6v on my weak single stage phase for single threaded benches led me to believe LN2 wouldn't bring a whole heck of a lot of gains.

EVGA GTX 295 Results
Ummm, yeah, this section is going to be blank for a couple days. Some idiot ran a few benches last night then formatted the drive before pulling the screens off :shakes:. Needless to say, I need a couple days to get the whole cycle of hardware set so the 295 can go on this board with the phase for CPU cooling.

2 x MSI R4890 Cyclone OC Results
click for full size...
3DMark 05 with the two MSI R4890 Cyclones is where I started the party with this board. The first screen shot above is simply showing the 245 BCLK stability. I can boot at 245 BCLK, but can't run squat a single clock higher. Either these chips have very hard BCLK walls or there is a MB limitation happening there. The second screen shot above is simply a 4GHz run and the final is at max clocks on the SS of 4788MHz.

click for full size...
Max 06 CPU clocks achieved were 4640MHz and max AM3 CPU clocks were 4700MHz flat. Overall, the chip I have is pretty weak, or at least based on my expectations. Maximum memory clocks achieved were somewhere in the 1175MHz ~ 1185MHz (DDR3-2350 ~ DDR3-2370) range for useable dual channel in 3D or SPi. Hopefully more work on B2B CAS latency and RTL's will yield higher useable memory clocks.
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Old September 8, 2009, 09:15 AM
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Default Round Two :: LN2 cooling... whatever the board/CPU will let me do

Prepare to be disappointed...very disappointed. I was at least and expect no less from anyone else. It may sound funny but adding colder temps didn't help the mix, it made things worse. There was absolutely no gains to be had from this chip going from -35C to -85C - or anywhere in-between - at the same voltage. To make things worse, the board absolutely started to act like a childish school child past -50C. When I found out CPU clocks weren't going up no matter what I did, I basically packed it in for LN2 work as pouring anymore out on this setup would have been a waste. Needless to say, I got a slightly better 06 and 05 run in as well as some wPrime action...for what that is worth.

click for full size...

The good news is that the k|ngp|ncooling.com F1 EE mounts just fine with the existing hold down. As long as you don't need a back plate, you are good to go. Just use the 1366 holes as there is plenty of room for the rods to angle out slightly with the mount so high up. Here are the lack-luster results...

click for full size...

When I get better chips, this motherboard will be revisited with better results and a little more information about what exactly my issues were. It is hard to really button down problems or reasons for the problems when you only have a single board/CPU, and only a few days with the combo.
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Old September 8, 2009, 09:15 AM
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Default Round Three :: Mini OC Report - OCZ Blade 3x2GB PC3-17000 8-9-8

This section is still a work in progress and will be updated within a couple days.
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Old September 8, 2009, 09:15 AM
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Default Conclusion :: Amazingly shallow thoughts...by me

Well, there you have it. The new P55 courtesy of Gigabyte and their GA-P55-UD4P and a pretty weak Intel i5 750. On the whole the board performed very well. It didn't take me much time at all to get 245BCLK stable on phase change and to get the memory up to 1175MHz. Unfortunately more time didn't yield any better results. As I said, it is still early so it is hard to tell whether the board or CPU is holding back both those clocks. The behavior below -50C is also up in the air until further testing with more processors and boards can happen.


From a non-extreme benchmarking aspect though, this board looks to be solid. It handled a lot of abuse and made the overclocking fairly easy for me. Having spent a lot of time on various Intel motherboards definitely helped but the P55-UD4P was pretty predictable most of the time. Every now and then I get a blue screen when pushing things too hard and the board doesn't want to POST, but a quick shut down and she comes back to life like nothing happened. The features this board offers really are great for the $160USD it should be fetching. If you are a dedicated bencher looking for the next great board, you might want to move up in weight class to the UD5 or UD6...but for those looking to buy in the mid-range, definitely keep the Gigabyte GA-P55-UD4P on the list of candidates. It handled all I could throw at it and hopefully your 24/7 use doesn't see the same stress I gave it this week
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Old September 8, 2009, 10:02 AM
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Cool.. Board looks very find, and it supports SLI and Crossfire.. at only $160 US.. Not bad or Pretty good.. No Clear CMOS button at the back, who cares.. but the battery should have been at a better spot..

The CPU seems ok really.. Thanks for the revew sir..
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Old September 8, 2009, 10:30 AM
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Hey not a bad little board. Too bad about the BCLK wall/crappy CPU issue. Does Lun have a shipment coming in?
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