SO FAR WE‘VE looked a range of motherboards for Intel’s new Sandy Bridge processors and the last of the boards this time around is the Gigabyte GA-P67A-UD7 which is at least for the time being, Gigabyte’s top of the line model. It packs just about every feature you could possibly want and then some, although it has a price to match these features.
It’s clear from the first glance at the P67A-UD7 that this is an over the top feature loaded board and if nothing else the gold highlights and text on the heatsinks should give away the fact that this is a serious piece of kit. Gigabyte’s new matte black PCB and new heatsink design really looks the business, something that might not matter so much when the board is in your case, but it undoubtedly plays a role when the purchasing decision is being made. Add to this the over-sized packaging with a window that allows you to have a peek at the board before buying and you know this is a board that will be on display on many computer shops.
The over the top 24-phase VRM design further helps instill the message that this board has something extra to offer, although it’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever be drawing so much power that all 24 phases are actually needed. As with all Gigabyte boards, this one uses an Intersil PWM controller and it supports phase switching. There are no extra power connectors on the board for extra power to the PCI Express lanes etc, but under normal circumstances these shouldn’t be needed.
As with the Asus P8P67 WS Revolution, Gigabyte has implemented an NF200 chip on the P67A-UD7 which allows for a pair of x16 slots, or four x8 slots. Due to the slot layout only single slot card can be used if more than three cards are installed. This is also Gigabyte’s only model to feature a pair of additional SATA 6Gbps ports over the three SATA 3Gbps and two SATA 6Gbps that’s part of the chipset. Other features include two USB 3.0 pin headers for an additional four USB 3.0 ports –although no brackets are supplied for either header – two pin headers for four USB 2.0 ports and a pin header for a FireWire port. Other little tidbits include Gigabyte’s dual BIOS, a power and reset button, a clear CMOS button, a POST80 debug LED and no less than six fan headers, although only one of them beyond the one for the CPU support 4-pin PWM fans.
Around the back the board has a PS/2 port, two USB 2.0 ports, six USB 3.0 ports, two FireWire ports, two USB/eSATA combo ports (also known as eSATAp), a pair of Gigabit Ethernet jacks and 7.1-channel audio with optical and coaxial S/PDIF out. The board only sports two Renesas USB 3.0 host controllers while a pair of VLI USB 3.0 hubs helps make up the additional ports. Two of the rear USB 3.0 ports are connected directly to each of the USB 3.0 host controllers though, for really high throughput devices. We didn’t notice any performance difference between the ports, although we only had one USB 3.0 key at hand to test with and not one of the fastest models on the market. Gigabyte does supply one bracket with the board, a bit of an oddity as it’s for a pair of eSATA ports and considering that the board already has a pair of ports, we don’t really understand this addition. The only really useful part of it is the fact that it has a Molex connector on it and comes with a Molext to SATA power connector which could be handy for powering external 12V devices.
Looking at the benchmark figures the P67A-UD7 came out a smidgen faster in the 3D benchmarks than the other boards, but it was on par with all of the other boards when it comes to the productivity tests. In the past there has been a large variation in performance going from one brand of boards to another, so at least the good news now is that as a consumer you don’t have to worry too much about the performance between the different motherboard brands. This is potentially bad news for the motherboard manufacturers, as it’s one less advertisement selling point.
As with the other Gigabyte boards we’ve looked at, this one is also stuck using BIOS in favor of UEFI, but once again it didn’t seem to cause any problems. We didn’t have time to try and install Windows on a GPT partition, but Gigabyte claims to have added support for this in the BIOS for all of its P67 and H67 boards. We feel like the bundle could’ve been better at this price point and we really expected to see a front drive bay USB 3.0 accessory, as much cheaper boards are supplied with one. Overall the P67A-UD7 is an impressive board in terms of features and design with a performance to match, but at $320 it’s the second most expensive P67 motherboard we’ve found on sale and in as much as this is a high-end board with high-end features, we feel that it might be a little bit overpriced.S|A
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