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Nathan Edwards

Aug 15, 2008

Gigabyte GA-EP45-DQ6

At A Glance

Martin Sheen

Healthy dose of PCI-E slots and well-labeled USB and FireWire headers.

Charlie Sheen

Performance lags behind other P45-based motherboards.

If you don’t just like Gigabit ports—you love them— Gigabyte’s GA-EP45-DQ6 is the motherboard for you. This mobo has four Gigabit ports that can be teamed together for one seriously fat-ass network connection.

Elsewhere, the board is typical Gigabyte; it includes surface-mounted buttons and the most clearly marked USB and FireWire ports we’ve ever seen. So if you nuke your USB drive because you plugged the USB connector into a FireWire header, it’s your own fault, brother.


Although it lagged behind in a few benchmarks, this is one of the nicest P45 boards we’ve tested.

The board, of course, is based on Intel’s new P45 chipset and sports two physical x16 PCI-E 2.0 slots. One runs at x16, the other at x8. Intel’s P45 doesn’t officially support 1,600MHz front-side bus speeds, but Gigabyte says the board will hit 1,600 without any issues. Since the GA-EP45-DQ6 is more of a midrange board, Gigabyte went with DDR2 instead of DDR3, which is understandable. Although it’s getting more affordable, DDR3 is still expensive if you want modules that will hit overclocked speeds of 1,600MHz or 1,800MHz.

We found no major layout gaffes with the board, and, in fact, favor the GA-EP45-DQ6’s design over that of the MSI P45 Platinum we reviewed in September. While the P45 Platinum gives you just two x1 slots, Gigabyte hands you two x4 slots and an x1 PCI-E, as well as the standard dual x16 slots.

The GA-EP45-DQ6 did lag behind the MSI P45 Platinum in several benchmarks. Some consumers will be troubled by this, but these performance hiccups are to be expected early in a motherboard’s release, and BIOS updates usually solve them.
So what’s not to like? The GA-EP45-DQ6 is a bit pricey for a P45 board—about $70 more than the faster, but not as well spec’d, P45 Platinum. And its price is within striking distance of X48-based boards, which are superior for CrossFire applications.

Still, if Gigabyte can correct the performance kinks, this is a pretty nice board for someone who isn’t running multi-GPU applications and, of course, just loves Gigabit ports.

Benchmarks

Gigabyte P45 GA EP45-DQ6
MSI P45 Platinum
PCMark Overall 8,402 8,756
PCMark RAM
5,800
5,737
3DMARK06 Overall 12,440
12,735
ScienceMark 2.0 Overall 1,564
1,566
ScienceMark 2.0 Mem 6,980
7,112
Valve Particle Test (fps) 87
88
UT3 (fps) 107 117
FEAR (fps) 210 245
Quake 4 (fps) 179
177
Best scores are bolded. Our test bed consists of a Core 2 Quad Q9300, a GeForce 8800 GTX, a Western Digital Raptor 150, Windows XP Pro, and Corsair Dominator DDR2 and DDR3 RAM.
THE VERDICT

Gigabyte GA-EP45-DQ6

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