Intel’s P45 chipset proves to be one of the best mainstream offerings ever created, and Gigabyte put it to good use on their EP45-EXTREME. The board offers sweet cooling ability (which the help of a lot of copper), amazing overclocking potential (500MHz stable with a Quad!) and fantastic power efficiency – all at a good price.
It goes without saying that power efficiency is at the forefront of many consumers’ minds today, and for good reason. Whether you are trying to save money or the environment – or both – it’s good to know just how much effort certain vendors are putting into their products to help them excel in this area. ASUS and Gigabyte are two that immediately come to mind that have put a lot of R&D into this, and I’m sure with their leadership, power consumption will consistently get better.
To help see what kind of wattage a given motherboard eats on average, we use a Kill-A-Watt that’s plugged into a power bar that’s in turn plugged into one of the wall sockets, with the test system plugged directly into that. The monitor and other components are plugged into the other socket and is not connected to the Kill-A-Watt. For our system specifications, please refer to our methodology page.
To test, the computer is boot up and left idle for ten minutes, at which point the current wattage reading is recorded. To test for “full load” wattage, 3DMark Vantage is opened and run at the Extreme setting, while two instances of SP2004 (one copy on one core each) is run. This gives us a typical scenario where someone is gaming and using half of their Quad-Core CPU.
Although the EP45-EXTREME failed to outpace our other motherboards, it excels where power efficiency is concerned. The gains in power efficiency could almost overshadow the minor lack in performance, depending on what you are looking for.
When all said and done, Gigabyte’s EP45-EXTREME is a great board that offers a lot for everybody. It’s not the least expensive out there (at ~$245, but lower with some MIR’s), but it’s a high-quality offering that allows very high stable overclocks and enough copper to melt down into pennies so you can buy the board a second time.
The board itself offers a great layout and has the benefit of looking good. The add-in copper Northbridge cooler is huge, but I can see how it would appeal to some. I’m not really one of those people, but I do admit it looks good – it’s just so big. It’s a great solution in lieu of water-cooling, but I can’t see it being much use if you do choose to take the water route.
Overclocking-wise, this board delivered with 500MHz FSB with a Quad-Core and 570MHz FSB with a Dual-Core. It’s hard to discredit those kinds of results, and the best part is that each one of those clocks were stable with relatively modest voltages.
The EP45-EXTREME is another great showing from Gigabyte, and while it didn’t blow my socks off, it’s definitely a capable board for the money. It’s a little more expensive than some other mainstream P45 boards, but what you get with it is warranted, mainly with the overclocking. It’s hard to go wrong with this one – just be sure to look around for the best price and get an even better deal.
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