GIGABYTE chose a different path with their P55A branded motherboards that feature USB 3.0 and SATA 6G. The Core i5 and i7 LGA 1156 processor has 16 lanes of high speed, low latency PCIe 2.0. GIGABYTE went with a switch that is accessible through the BIOS that allows you to choose the following options; AUTO, TURBO USB 3.0 or TURBO SATA 6G. By choosing AUTO all of the PCIe 2.0 lanes are directed at the video card, the top PCIe slot. When a SATA 6G hard drive is detected the motherboard will change to 8 lanes to the video card and the other half of the available lanes then go to the Marvel SATA 6G controller. The same is true when a USB 3.0 device is used, but in that case the PCIe 2.0 lanes are moved to the NEC USB 3.0 chip.
Things start to get complicated when you start mixing and matching devices like a second video card or USB 3.0 and SATA 6G. With a second video card, usually used for SLi or CrossFire, all 16 PCIe 2.0 lanes are used and USB 3.0 and SATA 6G are switched to standard PCIe 1.0 1x lanes. The 1x lanes have a maximum bandwidth of 250MB/s. This is slower than SATA 6G, but at this time faster than the only SATA 6G hard drive on the market, the Seagate Barracuda XT.
The above image was taken from a document distributed by ASUS and it shows what happens when SATA 6G runs off of the PCIe 1.0 lane. GIGABYTE has been very quiet on the FUD talk. For the most part they have offered up the goods and wanted reviewers and consumers to see for themselves; just the way we like it.
GIGABYTE also took their SATA 6G P55 boards one step further than ASUS by including RAID 0 and RAID 1. I was very surprised to see ASUS not follow suit, especially after learning about the U3S6 add-on board, but was very glad to see GIGABYTE really making the extra leap for enthusiasts.
Let's get on to testing.
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