The Gigabyte X99-UD3 is a mid-range motherboard for the new Intel high-end “Haswell-E” processors, based on the new LGA2011-v3 socket. It includes four PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots, ten SATA-600 ports, eight USB 3.0 ports, and a high-end audio codec. Let’s take a good look at this board.
The new Intel X99 platform supports the new socket LGA2011-v3 processors. However, it is not compatible with former socket LGA2011 CPUs, which require motherboards based on the Intel X79 chipset. The main difference between the two platforms is that LGA2011 processors are compatible with DDR3 memories, while LGA2011-v3 CPUs can use the new DDR4 standard.
The main differences between the X99 and the X79 chipsets, besides the CPU support as mentioned above, are the number of USB 3.0 and SATA-600 ports: the X99 offers ten SATA-600 and six USB 3.0 ports, while the X79 supports only two SATA-600 ports and has no native support for USB 3.0 ports.
In Figure 1, you see the Gigabyte X99-UD3 motherboard. It uses the ATX form factor (12 x 9.6 inches or 305 x 244 mm).
Socket LGA2011-v3 processors have a maximum of 40 or 28 PCI Express 3.0 lanes for video cards, depending on the model. This allows a very high-end configuration for the PCI Express x16 slots when a CPU with 40 lanes is installed, but the exact configuration used will depend on the model of the CPU that will be installed.
The Gigabyte X99-UD3 comes with four PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots, working at x16/x0/x16/x8 or x8/x8/x16/x8, if a 40 lane processor is used, and at x16/x0/x8/x0 or x8/x8/x8/x0, if a CPU with 28 lanes is installed (in this case, the fourth PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot is disabled). It also comes with three PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots.
The motherboard supports SLI and CrossFireX arrays with up to three video cards if a 28-lane processor is installed or with up to four video cards if you install a 40-lane CPU.
There are also two M.2 slots, shown in Figure 3. One of them is only compatible with 2230 PCI Express M.2 modules (for a Wi-Fi module), and the other one is compatible with 2260 and 2280 PCI Express x2 and SATA M.2 modules.
[nextpage title=”Memory Support”]
Intel socket LGA2011-v3 CPUs have an embedded memory controller, meaning that it is the processor, not the chipset, which defines what memory technologies you can have and the maximum amount of memory that is possible. The motherboard, however, may have a limitation as to how much memory can be installed.
The integrated memory controller from socket LGA2011-v3 processors officially supports DDR4 memories up to 2,133 MHz. According to Gigabyte, the X99-UD3 supports memories up to 3,000 MHz.
One of the most important features of the socket LGA2011-v3 processors is the support for the quad-channel memory architecture, which allows the memory to be accessed in 256-bit mode for higher performance. Since each memory module is a 64-bit entity, four memory modules are needed to enable this architecture. If only two or three memory modules are installed, the memory will be accessed under dual- or triple-channel architecture, respectively.
The Gigabyte X99-UD3 has four memory sockets (two at each side of the CPU socket) and you can have up to 32 GiB with this motherboard if you use four 8 GiB modules.
In order to enable the quad-channel mode, you must install four identical memory modules.
[nextpage title=”On Board Peripherals”]
The Intel X99 chipset is a single-chip solution, which is also known as a PCH (Platform Controller Hub). This chip supports ten SATA-600 ports (there are no SATA-300 ports), supporting RAID (0, 1, 10, and 5).
The Gigabyte X99-UD3 offers those ten SATA-600 ports (two of them shared with one of the M.2 slots). All SATA ports are located at the motherboard’s edge and rotated 90 degrees, so that video cards will not block them. Two SATA-600 ports may be used as one SATA Express connector.
The Intel X99 chipset supports eight USB 2.0 ports and six USB 3.0 ports, and the Gigabyte X99-UD3 offers all of them. Of the eight USB 2.0 ports, four are soldered on the rear panel and four are available through two headers located on the motherboard. There are eight USB 3.0 ports, six soldered on the motherboard rear panel and two available through a header on the motherboard. Four of them (two on the rear panel, and two available through a header) are connected directly to the chipset, while the other four (located on the rear panel) are connected to two USB 3.0 ports from the chipset by way of one Renesas μPD720210 hub chip.
The Gigabyte X99-UD3 does not support FireWire or Thunderbolt ports. (There is a header labeled “TB_HEADER” to route digital audio to an optional Thunderbolt expansion card from Gigabyte.)
This motherboard supports 7.1+2 audio format, i.e., eight channels plus two independent channels for audio streaming. On this motherboard, the audio is generated by the chipset using the Realtek ALC1150 codec, which is an excellent audio codec, providing 115 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog outputs, 104 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog inputs, and up to 192 kHz sampling rate for both inputs and outputs, with 24-bit resolution. These specifications are good even for the user who wants to work professionally capturing and editing analog audio (e.g., converting LPs to CDs or MP3, converting VHS to DVDs or any other digital format, etc.).
The analog audio outputs are independent and the motherboard also comes with an on-board optical SPDIF output. It also has a header labeled “SPDIF_O”, where you can install an adapter to have a coaxial SPDIF output or to connect a cable to older video cards that required a physical connection to have audio on their HDMI outputs.
The analog audio outputs are independent only if you use a 5.1 analog speaker set. If you install a 7.1 analog speaker set, you will need to use the “line in” jack. The audio codec is protected from interference with a metallic shield.
The portrayed motherboard has one Gigabit Ethernet port, controlled by an Intel i218V chip.
In Figure 6, you can see the motherboard rear panel, with PS/2 connectors for keyboard and mouse, four USB 2.0 ports, six USB 3.0 ports (the white one supports the Q-Flash feature, which allows a BIOS update from a flash drive even without memory or CPU installed), a Gigabit Ethernet port, one optical SPDIF output, the analog audio jacks, and a metallic frame for installing two Wi-Fi antennas.
Figure 7 shows the accessories that come with the X99-UD3.
[nextpage title=”Voltage Regulator”]
The CPU voltage regulator circuit of the Gigabyte X99-UD3 has six phases for the CPU. The voltage regulator is controlled by an IR3580 chip, using a digital design. Each phase uses one IR3556M integrated circuit, which contains both the “high-side” and the “low-side” MOSFETs.
The Gigabyte X99-UD3 uses 10K Black electrolytic capacitors and Cooper Bussmann chokes.
If you want to learn more about the voltage regulator circuit, please read our tutorial on the subject.
[nextpage title=”Overclocking Options”]
The portrayed motherboard has several overclocking options. Below, we list the most important ones (F2 BIOS):
- CPU Base Clock: from 80.00 MHz to 300.00 MHz in 0.01 MHz increments
- CPU Core Voltage: from 0.500 V to 1.700 V in 0.001 V increments
- CPU Core Voltage Offset: from -0.300 V to +0.400 V in 0.001 V increments
- CPU VRIN External Voltage: from 1.000 V to 2.700 V in 0.010 V increments
- CPU RING Voltage: from 0.800 V to 1.600 V in 0.001 V increments
- CPU RING Voltage Offset: from -0.300 V to +0.400 V in 0.001 V increments
- System Agent Voltage Offset: from -0.300 V to 0.400 V in 0.001 V increments
- CPU VCCIO Voltage: from 0.800 V to 1.300 V in 0.010 V increments
- Chipset Core Voltage: from 0.650 V to 1.300 V in 0.005 V increments
- Chipset IO Voltage: from 1.050 V to 1.900 V in 0.010 V increments
- Memory Voltage: from 1.000 V to 2.000 V in 0.010 V increments
- Memory DDRVPP Voltage: from 2.000 V to 3.000 V in 0.0125 V increments
- Memory Termination Voltage: from 0.750 V to 1.666 V in 0.008 V increments
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
The main specifications for the Gigabyte X99-UD3 include:
- Socket: LGA2011-v3
- Chipset: Intel X99
- Super I/O: ITE IT8620E
- Parallel ATA: none
- Serial ATA: ten SATA-600 ports controlled by the chipset (RAID 0, 1, 10, and 5), supporting one SATA Express connector
- External SATA: none
- USB 2.0: eight USB 2.0 ports, four on the motherboard rear panel and four available through two headers on the motherboard
- USB 3.0: eight USB 3.0 ports, six on the motherboard rear panel and two available through a header on the motherboard; four of the eight ports are controlled by the chipset by the way of a Renesas μPD720210 hub chip
- FireWire (IEEE 1394): none
- Thunderbolt: none
- On-board video: no
- On-board audio: produced by the chipset together with a Realtek ALC1150 codec (7.1+2 channels, 24-bit resolution, 192 kHz sampling rate, 115 dB SNR for the outputs, and 104 dB SNR for the inputs), on-board optical SPDIF output
- On-board LAN: one Gigabit Ethernet ports, controlled by an Intel i218V chip
- Wireless LAN: no
- Buzzer: no
- Infrared interface: no
- Power supply required: EPS12V
- Slots: four PCI Express 3.0/2.0 x16 slots (working at x16/x0/x16/x8 or x8/x8/x16/x8 with a 40-lane CPU and at x16/x0/x8/x0 or x8/x8/x8/x0 with a 28-lane processor), three PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots, one M.2 PCI Express x1 slot, and one M.2 PCI Express x2/SATA slot
- Memory: four DDR4-DIMM sockets (up to DDR4-3000, 32 GiB maximum)
- Fan connectors: two four-pin connectors for the CPU cooler, and two four-pin connectors for auxiliary fans
- Extra features: support for TPM, dual BIOS
- Number of CDs/DVDs provided: one
- Programs included: motherboard utilities
- More Information: https://www.gigabyte.com/
- Average price in the U.S.*: USD 245.00
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this article.
The Gigabyte X99-UD3 is a good mid-range motherboard for socket LGA2011-v3 systems.
It offers a good PCI Express x16 slot configuration, supporting four video cards on SLI or CrossFireX configurations is you use a 40-lane CPU, a high-end audio controller, a good storage configuration (since the ten ports provided by the chipset are more than enough even for hard-core enthusiasts), the presence of one SATA Express connector, and two M.2 slots (one aimed on M.2 Wi-Fi cards, and the other supporting SATA and PCI Express SSDs). And all this at a good price point.
If you intend to build a gaming computer with an LGA2011-v3 CPU and do not want to spend money on a motherboard full of bells and whistles, the Gigabyte X99-UD3 is an excellent deal.