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Want to know how insane the enthusiast motherboard bracket has become? Gigabyte’s X58A-UD7 seems pedestrian next to the other two contenders here. Sure, it has a rakish, liquid-cooling-ready heat pipe to keep the north bridge chilled out, but frankly, without that Hybrid Silent-Pipe 2 in place, the board is damn near boring next to its contemporaries. Where’s the dual 8-pin supplemental CPU power connectors? Or Bluetooth remote-control capability, wired remote overclocking tool, or audio riser card?
Instead, it includes a floppy port and parallel ATA port! We haven’t seen those since way back in aught nine.
Fortunately, as Han Solo said, the X58A-UD7 has it where it counts, kid. USB 3.0 is there—thank you, NEC—as is SATA 6 courtesy of a Marvell 9128 controller. Four x16 PCI-E physical slots are featured, allowing up to tri-SLI or three-way CrossFireX. You should note, however, that not all slots will run in full x16 PCI-E 2.0 in a three-way config as the X58 chipset doesn’t have enough PCI-E lanes to support it. We’re also not fans of the PCI-E layout for tri-carders, which is incompatible with most cases.
We certainly can’t quibble with Gigabyte’s SATA configuration—10 front-facing SATA ports along with two rear eSATA ports. There are also no major layout gaffes—though there is a minor one. When the Hybrid Silent-Pipe 2 is in place, you can’t reach the card release for the top GPU with your fingers.
The board’s performance is another thing we can’t complain about. Thanks to a slight out-of-the-box overclock, the X58A-UD7 hangs in front or near the front in every test. The truth is, X58 boards are pretty even-Steven performance-wise. It comes down to features and bling. And though the X58A-UD7 has plenty to offer, we were more swayed by the competition’s bells and whistles and harmonicas.
Fast and without being a showoff.
Heat pip makes it difficult to remove GPUs.