Those wishing to build the most powerful, most extreme computer on the planet surely will be weighing up the costs of a new Intel Core i7 processor. Even with the imminent launch of the AMD Phenom II X4, we have reasons to believe the Core i7 will remain as the heavyweight champion.
Unlike more established platforms like the Core 2 or the AMD Phenom, for the time being prospective Core i7 users have very few options, limited to more expensive DDR3 memory and a high-end motherboard sporting the Intel X58 chipset. This hasn't stopped motherboard maker Gigabyte from mixing it up, using the same chipset, the company has already six X58 boards on offer, ranging from $210 to $330.
At $270, the Gigabyte EX58-UD4P we are testing today falls in the middle of the pack retaining some of the X58 chipset's most interesting features like 3-way SLI and CrossfireX support, which should come extra handy for gamers willing to burn cash for the ultimate performance.
What mainly differentiates the EX58-UD4P from its more expensive siblings are a single Gigabyte LAN controller and 8 SATA ports - opposed to 10. There are also more advanced cooling options on offer on the similar EX58-UD5 and EX58-EXTREME boards that will set you back at least $300, however. Then those wishing to save a little money can have the EX58-DS4 at ~$245, which drops SLI support altogether and a more limited cooling design.
Finally, Gigabyte's bargain basement board is the EX58-UD3R at $210, which also drops SLI along with the dual triple-channel DIMM slots and one of the PCI Express 16x ports. The advanced 12+2+2 power phase design with VRD 11.1 support is also gone, along with a few other smaller non-essential features such as the on-board power button.
That short compendium makes a strong case for the EX58-UD4P, which at least on paper would seem to offer the right amount of features at the right price.
Just recently we reviewed the Asus P6T Deluxe (also Intel X58 based) which is a bit more expensive, but adds a few features not found on this motherboard. As we look closer into the Gigabyte EX58-UD4P, we will certainly keep in mind how it compares to another top contender like the P6T.