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by Rob Williams on March 31, 2009 in Intel Motherboards

At CES earlier this year, Gigabyte showed off two new motherboards that promised both a great value and of course, good overclocking abilities. The EX58-UD4P was one of those, and we’ve now been able to put it to the test. We’re happy to report that as we had hoped, the board delivers on all fronts, and coupled with a reasonable price, it looks to be well-worth a look.

Test System & Methodology

At Techgage, we strive to make sure our results are as accurate as possible. Our testing is rigorous and time-consuming, but we feel the effort is worth it. In an attempt to leave no question unanswered, this page contains not only our testbed specifications, but also a fully-detailed look at how we conduct our testing.

If there is a bit of information that we’ve omitted, or you wish to offer thoughts or suggest changes, please feel free to shoot us an e-mail or post in our forums.

Test System

The table below lists our machine’s hardware, which remains unchanged throughout all testing, with the exception of the motherboard. Each board used for the sake of comparison is also listed here, along with the BIOS version used. In addition, each one of the URLs in this table can be clicked to view the respective review of that product, or if a review doesn’t exist, you will be led to the product on the manufacturer’s website.

Component
Model
Processor
Intel Core i7 Extreme 965 – Quad-Core, 3.2GHz, 1.25v
Motherboards
ASUS P6T Deluxe – X58-based, 0804 BIOS (11/04/08)
ASUS Rampage II Extreme – X58-based, 0705 BIOS (11/21/08)
EVGA X58 SLI – X58-based, SZ21 BIOS (03/04/09)
Gigabyte EX58-UD4P – X58-based, F6 BIOS (02/26/09)
Gigabyte EX58-UD5 – X58-based, F4b BIOS (11/14/08)
Intel DX58SO – X58-based, 2786 BIOS (11/12/08)
Memory
OCZ Gold 3x2GB – DDR3-1333 7-7-7-20-1T, 1.60v
Graphics
Audio
On-Board Audio
Storage
Power Supply
Chassis
Display
Cooling
Et cetera

When preparing our testbeds for any type of performance testing, we follow these guidelines:

    General Guidelines

  • No power-saving options are enabled in the motherboard’s BIOS.
  • Internet is disabled.
  • No Virus Scanner or Firewall is installed.
  • The OS is kept clean; no scrap files are left in between runs.
  • Hard drives affected are defragged with Diskeeper 2008 prior to a fresh benchmarking run.
  • Machine has proper airflow and the room temperature is 80°F (27°C) or less.
    Windows Vista Optimizations

  • User Account Control (UAC) and screen saver are disabled.
  • Windows Defender, Firewall, Security Center, Search, Sidebar and Updates are disabled.

To aide with the goal of keeping accurate and repeatable results, we alter certain services in Windows Vista from starting up at boot. This is due to the fact that these services have the tendency to start up in the background without notice, potentially causing slightly inaccurate results. Disabling “Windows Search” turns off the OS’ indexing which can at times utilize the hard drive and memory more than we’d like.

Application Benchmarks

When benchmarking a graphics card or processor, performance is expected to scale in a certain manner, but that’s not the case with motherboards. Since motherboards tend to only be as fast as the hardware installed on them, we don’t run an exhaustive collection of benchmarks for the sake of avoiding redundancy. For the most part, one motherboard with an equal chipset to another should offer close to equal performance.

Our primary goal with motherboard-related benchmarking is to see if one motherboard is lacking in a certain area when compared to the rest. These discrepancies, if they exist, are usually caused by lackluster components on the board itself, which is why higher-end motherboards tend to see slightly better results than the more budget-oriented offerings.

To properly test the performance of a motherboard, we run a small collection of system-specific tools, such as SYSmark 2007, Sandra and HD Tune Pro. We then run real-world benchmarks using popular multi-media applications, such as Adobe Lightroom. To see how a board stacks up in the gaming arena, we benchmark using both Call of Duty: World at War and Half-Life 2: Episode Two.

We strongly feel that there is such thing as too many benchmarks when it comes to a motherboard review, so we keep things light, while still being able to offer definitive performance data.

Game Benchmarks

In an attempt to offer “real-world” results, we do not utilize timedemos in any of our reviews. Each game in our test suite is benchmarked manually, with the minimum and average frames-per-second (FPS) captured with the help of FRAPS 2.9.6.

To deliver the best overall results, each title we use is exhaustively explored in order to find the best possible level in terms of intensiveness and replayability. Once a level is chosen, we play through repeatedly to find the best possible route and then in our official benchmarking, we stick to that route as close as possible. Since we are not robots and the game can throw in minor twists with each run, no run can be identical to the pixel.

Each game and setting combination is tested twice, and if there is a discrepancy between the initial results, the testing is repeated until we see results we are confident with.

The two games we currently use for our motherboard reviews are listed below, with direct screenshots of the game’s setting screens and explanations of why we chose what we did.

Call of Duty: World at War

1680×1050
2560×1600


The Call of Duty series of war-shooters are without question some of the most gorgeous on the PC (and consoles), but what’s great is the fact that the games are also highly optimized, so no one has to max out their machine’s specs in order to play it. Since that’s the case, the in-game options are maxed out in all regards.

Half-Life 2: Episode Two

1680×1050
2560×1600

It might have been four-years-ago that we were able to play the first installment of the Half-Life 2 series, but it’s held up well with its new releases and engine upgrades. This is one title that thrives on both a fast CPU and GPU, and though it’s demanding at times, most any recent computer should be able to play the game with close to maxed-out detail settings, aside from the Anti-Aliasing.

In the case of very-recent mid-range cards, the game will run fine all the way up to 2560×1600 with maxed-out detail, minus Anti-Aliasing. All of our tested resolutions use identical settings, with 4xAA and 8xAF.