Gigabyte has been on a role in the last few years with their mid-range lineup of motherboards, specifically the UD3 and UD4 series, have a huge following and are highly regarded within the community. They have earned their spot for good reason too, and the value pricing combined with top notch overclocking capabilities have been a tough act to follow. With the release of Intel’s latest platform, will the Gigabyte mid-range hold onto it’s competitive edge?
The motherboard that we have for you today sits right in the middle of the P67 lineup at $189.99. It carries the “Ultra Durable 4″ naming scheme of it’s predecessors, which indicates a balance between price and features, in comparison with the UD3 line and the higher end UD5 and UD7. For example, the UD4 shares the Realtek ALC892 audio codec of the UD3 boards, but supports Crossfire and SLI technology like the UD5 and UD7 boards. However, if you plan to run two graphics cards in your system, whether AMD or Nvidia based, this is the least expensive solution that will support a dual PCIe x8 configuration. It also splits the difference with a 12 phase VRM design, compared to a 6 phase design on the UD3, and a 20 or 24 phase on the UD5 or UD7 respectively.
On paper that means the UD4 is the best choice for a serious gaming machine or workstation at a mid-range price. The UD5 and UD7 do have compelling features, but the difference in price will make the UD4 the choice for most cost sensitive buyers. The question is; does the UD4 have what it takes to convince buyers in this highly competitive market?
We are big fans of the new color scheme, it’s aesthetically pleasing while remaining unique. This is the first time we’ve seen a matte black PCB on a mass production motherboard and looks great! The UD4 only includes 4x fan headers, which is about average for a mid range board, however 5x or more would make it a bit more appealing.
The board supports up to four 8GB DDR3 DIMMs and has a 12 phase VRM design cooled by a robust heatsink.
It’s also worth noting that the UD4 does not feature any on-board buttons. This makes using the board on a test bench a bit more tedious, but for most users, it will be a non-issue. The CMOS jumper may be an issue for many users (more on that in a bit).
The P67 chipset supports native control of up to 6 SATA hard disk drives, two of which can be SATA3 devices. There aren’t any 3rd party controllers built-in, so no legacy IDE drives here. In order to get more storage options, you’d have to step all the way up to the UD7, or simply add on a 3rd party PCI/PCIe controller. The board does have Gigabyte’s DualBIOS™ technology for redundancy in case of BIOS corruption. Gigabyte also claims 3GB+ boot compatibility, typically a limitation of this “old” BIOS technology. Gigabyte is also promising compatibility with UEFI in the future.
The UD4 has a fairly straightforward layout with two physical PCIe x16 slots for dual graphics cards. If only the top slot is occupied, it operates electrically at PCIe x16. When both slots are in use, each one operates electrically at PCIe x8.
The LGA1155 socket will accept all aftermarket cooling solutions developed for the LGA1156 socket as well. Here you can see the 12 phase VRM design, which Gigabyte actually calls a 6+6 design allowing the board to run on only 6 phases to save power when the CPU isn’t fully loaded.