Let’s have a look on EP45-UD3L, Gigabyte’s Socket LGA775 motherboard for Intel processors, aimed mainly for Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad processors. Like EP45C-DS3R, this motherboard is based on Intel P45 chipset, which replaced P35. Both chipsets are for the mainstream market.
Although not "high end", this board is equipped with several advanced features, especially regarding durability. The suffix "UD3" identifies Gigabyte’s "Ultra Durable 3" motherboards, which includes all solid aluminum capacitors from a Japanese manufacturer, ferrite chokes, voltage regulator circuit with low resistance MOSFET transistors (which generate less heat and less energy waste) and "2 oz. copper inner layer". But what does that mean? According to Gigabyte, "common" motherboards have the two internal cooper layers (responsible for distributing voltages to board components) with only one ounce each. On "UD3" series boards these layers are twice as thick. Therefore, electrical resistance of these layers is lower, causing less heat and less energy loss. The prefix "E" means it also has advanced power management, a circuit with "gears" (according to Gigabyte), which causes the voltage regulator always work with maximum efficiency, turning off stages when processor power consuption is low.
EP45-UD3L supports 1,600 MHz FSB (although P45 chipset supports, officially, only up to 1,333 MHz bus) and accepts only DDR2 memory.
Unlike EP45C-DS3R, EP45-UD3L has only one PCI Express x16 2.0 slot, so it’s impossible to use SLI or CrossFireX setups. It also has two PCI slots and four PCI Express x1 slots.
Pay attention in Figure 3 and you will see serial and parallel ports headers. These ports aren’t present on the motherboard rear panel, however you can buy I/O brackets and install them in order to use these ports.
In Figure 4, you can see the four memory sockets this motherboard has. According to the manufacturer, EP45-UD3L is compatible with DDR2 memory up to 1366 MHz or more, due to its thicker copper tracks.
Like all other Intel-based socket LGA775 motherboards, this board is able to access memory in dual channel channel configuration. In order to enable this feature, simply install two (or four) identical modules, in pairs, in the sockets with same color. Intel P45 chipset supports up to 16 GB of DDR2 memory, and so this motherboard. This chipset also supports DDR3 memory modules, but the EP45-UD3L has no sockets for this type of memory.
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Gigabyte EP45-UD3L uses Intel ICH10 south bridge chip, which supports six SATA-300 ports without RAID support. There is also an ATA-133 port, which is controlled by a JMicron JMB368 chip, as the southbridge chip does not offer one.
This motherboard has a Gigabit Ethernet port controlled by a Realtek RTL8111C chip, which is connected to the system using a PCI Express lane and therefore is able to achieve its maximum performance.
The audio section of the motherboard is 7.1, produced by the south bridge chip with the aid of a Realtek ALC888 codec, with a 97 dB signal-to-noise ratio for analog outputs and 90 dB at its analog inputs. This motherboard provides independent analog audio outputs in 7.1 format, which is excellent. It also has coaxial and optical SPDIF outputs on the rear panel.
EP45-UD3L has 12 USB 2.0 ports, with eight of them soldered on the rear panel. Incidentally, ICH10 chip has a feature called "USB Port Disable" that lets you disable individual USB ports. This is a very interesting feature on computers that are used by several people that can install random USB devices (e.g. external hard drives or USB flash memories, which can contain viruses, and also to prevent people from copying data). This motherboard has no FireWire (IEEE1394) ports. In Figure 6, you can see the motherboard rear panel: PS/2 connectors for keyboard and mouse, eight USB 2.0 ports, coaxial and optical SPDIF outputs, a Gigabit Ethernet port and independent 7.1 analog audio outputs.
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Gigabyte EP45C-DS3R has other important features. As previously mentioned, all electrolytic capacitors used on the motherboard are solid from a Japanese manufacturer, which avoids the infamous capacitor leakage problem. The voltage regulator circuit is equipped with ferrite chokes, which causes 25% less energy loss compared to traditional iron coils, MOSFET transistors with low RDS(on) (low current leakage), which means less power consuption and less heat generation. Furthermore, this circuit uses a four-phase design, which generates less heat, has a greater lifespan and offers a cleaner power to processor than "common" three-stage regulators. For a better understanding of the importance of such design, read our Everything You Need to Know About the Motherboard Voltage Regulator Circuit tutorial.
Also, as we have mentioned in this article introduction, the main point of this motherboard’s marketing is the "2 oz. copper inner layer" feature, meanining the power layers are twice as thick than competing motherboards. Therefore the electrical resistance of these lines is divided by two, which reduces the heat produced by the board, improves efficiency and increases the chances of a successful overclock.
The accessory set that accompanies the motherboard is very simple: user manual, quick installation guide
, driver CD, SATA, IDE and floppy cables, rear I/O plate and a sticker.
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]Gigabyte EP45-UD3L main features are:
- Socket: 775.
- Chipset: Intel P45 with ICH10 southbridge.
- Super I/O: ITE IT8718.
- Clock generator: ICS 9LPRS914EKLF.
- Parallel IDE: One ATA-133 port, controlled by a JMicron JMB368 chip.
- Serial IDE: Six SATA-300 ports, controlled by the ICH10 southbridge.
- USB: 12 USB 2.0 ports (eight soldered on rear panel and four available as internal headers).
- FireWire (IEEE 1394a): No.
- On-board audio: Produced by the chipset with the aid of a Realtek ALC888 codec (ten channel, 24-bit resolution, up to 192 kHz sampling rate for outputs and 96 kHz for inputs, 97 dB signal-to-noise ratio on analog outputs and 90 dB on inputs). Coaxial and optical SPDIF outputs.
- On-board video: No.
- On-board LAN: One Gigabit Ethernet port, controlled by a Realtek RTL8111C chip, which is connected to the system through a PCI Express lane.
- Buzzer: No.
- Power Supply: EPS12V or ATX12V.
- Slots: One PCI Express 2.0 x16, four PCI Express x1 and two standard PCI slots.
- Memory: Four DDR2-DIMM sockets (up to 16 GB of DDR2-1366).
- Number of CDs/DVDs provided: one drivers/utilities CD.
- Extra features: Japanese aluminum solid capacitors, 4-phase voltage regulator circuit with ferrite chokes and low RDS(on) transistors, 2-oz copper layers, dual BIOS.
- More information: https://www.gigabyte.com.tw.
- Average price in the US*: USD 94.00
* Researched at Shopper.com on the day we published this First Look article.
Gigabyte EP45-UD3L is a nice motherboard, no doubt. However, when compared to EP45C-DS3R, which covered recently, several features are missing, like a second PCI Express x16 slot, CrossFireX support, RAID support, FireWire ports and twin Gigabit Ethernet ports. Moreover, its audio codec is not high-end like the one use by its sister. Sure, it has all the high-quality features seen on Gigabyte’s mainstream and high-end motherboards (and even in some value ones), like solid aluminum capacitors, ferrite chokes, low resistance FETs, excellent overclocking options, plus the UD3 technology that we explained in the article.
This motherboard is a real mainstream product, with focus on durability, stability and overclocking potential, comparable to any high-end board. So if you are looking for a socket LGA775 motherboard, full of features like FireWire ports, RAID support, high quality audio codec, you can forget this one. But if your goal is simply a motherboard with high stability, durability and performance, it is worth considering the EP45-UD3L as a good purchase.