If you are looking for the top of the line desktop for gaming then Gigabyte’s GA-X58A-UD7 (Fig. 1) is the one to pick. It handles 1366 socket Core i7 chips like Nehalem Core i7 Extreme Edition. This means it can deliver 3 channel DDR3 performance, not the 2 channel support found on the P55-style boards like the GA-P55A-UD6. The motherboard can also handle up to three video cards. It support ATI CrossFireX and NVIDIA SLI.
The GA-X58A-UD7 is a hot board in more than one way. This is the reason for Gigabyte’s Hybrid Silent-Pipe 2 design to keep the support chips cool. The design also leaves plenty of room for cooling systems for the processor and video boards. The cooling system actually includes a heat pipe system that mounts in the first slot. This section bolts onto the rest of the heat pipe system.
The motherboard also handles two of the latest SuperSpeed USB 3.0 peripherals and up to a pair of 6 Gbit/s SATA III hard drives. Ten USB 2.0 ports, six on the back panel, are supported as well. There are 1394 connection inside and on the back panel. The Marvell 9128 chip handles SATA III chores with RAID 0 and RAID 1 support. The other six SATA II connections support RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10 and JBOD. Two eSATA/USB combo connections are on the back panel are handled by a JMicron JMB362 chip. These support RAID 0, RAID 1 and JBOD.
The motherboard uses Intels X58 Express Chipset and the Intel ICH10R South Bridge. The six DDR3 2200 240-pin DIMM socket provides the 3 channel memory support allowing up to 24 Gbytes of memory. It supports Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) memory modules. Gigabyte’s DualBIOS flash means the system will always be able to boot even if a BIOS upgrade fails.
Audio support includes Realtek ALC889 codec. The motherboard handles 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel hi-def audio including support for Dolby Home Theater and S/PDIF In/Out. The pair of 1 Gigibit Ethernet ports are handled by RTL8111D chips. They support teaming and Smart Dual LAN.
There are four x16 PCI Express slots. Two are x16 and two are x8 interfaces. There are two x1 PCI Express and one PCI slot. The PCI Express x16 slots can support 2-way or 3-way ATI CrossFireX and NVIDIA SLI technology.
The back panel has integrated eSATA/USB combo connectors (Fig. 2) in the middle that can provide power of eSATA drives. There are also has half a dozen USB 2.0 connections and a pair of USB 3.0 connections on the far right. All the USB ports can deliver up to three times the power of conventional USB ports. There are both types of 1394 connectors plus optical and S/PDIF connections on the left. There is only one PS/2 port but that will likely go unused in most cases. The discrete audio connections are on the right and of course there are a pair of Gigabit Ethernet RJ-45 jacks on top.
If security is a top priority the GA-X58A-UD7’s TPM (Trusted Platform Module) support will be indispensible. Gigabyte’s SmartTPM not only secures the operating system when it boots but it can do it using your Bluetooth enable phone or a USB flash drive. Remove the phone or flash drive and system data is essentially locked down assuming you are using a TPM-capable operating system.
Gigabyte’s GA-X58A-UD7 is the platform for high performance i7 core’s. The high end peripheral complement will be a great match for the processor.