by Rob Williams on October 30, 2008 in Motherboards
Looking to build a new machine on a budget? Then look no further than choosing Gigabyte’s EP45-UD3P as your choice for motherboard. It may not offer a lot in the area of bling, but it includes a solid design, lots of connectivity (including 8 USB and S-ATA), fantastic overclocking potential and best of all, it comes in at an average price of $115.
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.
All throughout the review, I kept comparing the UD3P to the EXTREME, but it’s hard not to, given their similar characteristics. It’s not too often we see a higher-end board perform worse than a lower-end one, but in this case, that proves true. Our UD3P hovered around 331W at full load, and 192W idle, lower than all other boards in our line-up.
What more can be said that I haven’t said over and over here? Gigabyte has a real winner with the UD3P, and I couldn’t be more impressed by what $130 can net you nowadays. It used to be that $100 – $150 would net you a motherboard that felt like a budget offering, but no more it seems.
Let’s recap. With the UD3P, you get some great “durable” features that for the most part do seem to serve a real purpose. You can’t chuck the board at a wall and have it bounce off, but the UD3P is durable in other ways, with security, power efficiency, overclocking-ability and more.
I regret not having more time to test out the overclocking-ability, but with the single evening I spent with it, potential looked good. I hit 490MHz with ease, and I’m sure with a lot more voltage (and courage), you could go even higher, although I’d recommend against it since ruining hardware isn’t much fun. My overclock was hit using modest voltages all-around, and that in itself is impressive.
The best part of the board is the price, at around $115. I do recommend shopping around, because some e-tailers are selling a bit higher than others, and others are selling for a low price without the usage of a mail-in-rebate, while another offers the same price with one. If you find the board for anywhere close to $115, pick it up. This is one board you can’t regret a purchase of, and for that and other reasons, I’m awarding the EP45-UD3P an Editor’s Choice award.
- Superb value.
- Great overclocking-ability.
- “Ultra Durable 3″ features are mostly worthwhile.
- Tons of connectivity.
- The price!
- BIOS can be a bit clunky.
- More fan connectors would have made this great board even greater.
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