IF YOU’RE STILL mulling over which super high-end X58 motherboard to buy, we’re sorry to tell you that a new entry for your shortlist has been launched, courtesy of Gigabyte. The GA-X58A-UD9 is Gigabyte’s second XL-ATX motherboard and its first for the Intel platform. It’s also the first motherboard from Gigabyte to feature no less than seven PCI Express x16 slots and a pair of nForce 200 chips.
As a technology journalist there are times when one has to stop and wonder who certain products are targeting and although we can see the potential users of this board, we can’t imagine many of them will actually ever pay for their boards. This might sound like an odd statement, but considering that this board appears to have been designed exclusively for professional overclockers – and yes, there really is such a thing – who more often than not are supplied their gear free of charge by the companies backing them, we’re still curious who else would even consider paying for this board.
Then again, considering that EVGA’s X58 Classified 4-way SLI which launched a while back fits into the same category of “everything but the kitchen sink” with a price tag to match, there must be a market somewhere for these products, or the motherboard makers wouldn’t bother making these kind of boards. There are actually quite a few similarities between the GA-X58A-UD9 and EVGA’s X58 Classified 4-way SLI, as both boards sports seven PCI Express x16 slots, both use the extended XL-ATX form factor and of course both have a pair of nForce 200 chips.
Both boards also have some rather intricate chipset cooling solutions, although Gigabyte has gone for an updated version of its Hybrid Silent-pipe 2 cooler which can either be used with a large passive cooler, or be plumbed in to a watercooling kit. Gigabyte has also gone for a more traditional power regulation design, although with 24 phases it might prove to be better than EVGA’s 10 phase digital PWM. Speaking of power, both boards also share a pair of 8-pin 12V power connectors which are meant to add more power during extreme overclocking. Where EVGA has only added a single Molex connector for extra power to the graphics cards, Gigabyte has gone for two. Again, this should only be needed during extreme overclocking.
Gigabyte also wins when it comes to features not relating to overclocking, as you’ll get both a pair of powered eSATA ports and two USB 3.0 on the GA-X58A-UD9, whereas EVGA only has a single eSATA port. Gigabyte has of course also thrown in its standard features such as the recently announced On/Off Charge which allows for charging of your iPhone or iPad, 3x USB power, Ultra Durable 3, DES 2 and every other feature you’d get on lesser models from Gigabyte. Interestingly the PWM of the GA-X58A-UD9 can be split into two sets of 12 phases during normal operation, but when more power is needed; all 24 phases are combined to deliver as much power as possible.
Another feature in common for both companies is support for 4-way SLI as well as 4-way CrossFireX. Due to the extended XL-ATX form factor, you’ll need a case with no less than nine rear expansion slots if you intend to run four dual slot cards. We’re hoping Gigabyte will price the GA-X58A-UD9 a bit more keenly than EVGA’s X58 Classified 4-way SLI which carries a $480 price tag, although we have a feeling that it won’t be the case, as Gigabyte’s GA-X58A-UD7 is already retailing for about $350, so the UD9 will most likely end up well above $400 once it becomes available.S|A
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