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GIGABYTE P67A-UD7 (Intel P67 Express) Motherboard Preview - The Motherboard

As Sandy Bridge draws near, the boards get some early time in the spotlight. This one is the GIGABYTE P67A-UD7.

| Socket LGA 1155 in Motherboards | Posted: Nov 29, 2010 8:48 am
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

The Board

 

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The P67A-UD7 is a sleek and sexy looking board. The new gold and black cooling system is quite eye catching. The new black PCB is certainly a departure from the older blue. However, the layout is also a little cluttered. You have quite a bit going on here.

 

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Starting in the upper half of the board we get a nice glimpse into the power regulation. GIGABYTE has moved back to massive phase arrays. Here we see the ferrite chokes for the 24-phase power regulation system available on the P67A-UD7. This is part of the "unlocked performance" you get with this new board.

 

We also note that GB has placed a small CMOS switch near the 24-pin power connector. This is fairly close to the reset switch (which is the small blue button visible).

 

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In the shot above we can see that the RAM slots are shifted a little to the left of the board. This does make the space around the CPU a little tight. In fact, there is a row of small capacitors right next to the CPU socket. Thankfully these are low rise and should not interfere with most CPU coolers. We also get a nice look at the cooling system. This is quite a departure from older UD7 boards as there is no extra cooling. The SilentPipe II is gone. Instead we find large slices of metal that are wrapped around the metal heat pipe. We are really looking forward to seeing how well this keeps things cool.

 

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Here we see the peripheral slots; we have PCIe and PCI mixed in together. We can clearly see four PCIe x16 mechanical slots, but as usual not everything is as it seems. Only two of these slots are going to give you full x16 (these are run by a single NF200 hidden under a cooling block just below the CPU socket), while the other two are only x8.

 

But outside of the slots there is something else that is noteworthy. If you look closely you can see two NEC USB 3.0 controllers. This is odd as from everything we have heard USB 3.0 is built into the new P67 chipset. What we have found is that the P67 uses up a single x1 slot which then runs out to the USB 3.0 controller and a VLI 4 port USB 3.0 Hub to replicate the ports. VLI is actually VIA in disguise and the VLI VL810 is actually visible at the top of this image just above the PCIe x1 slot.

 

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Here we find out why GB has decided to go with the NEC (or Renesas on some boards) controller plus VLI VL810 for USB 3.0. Along the bottom edge of the board are some USB 3.0 headers. Unfortunately as of this writing there is nothing to plug into these ports. But it is nice to know they are there.

 

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Moving over to the other side of the board, we find a few interesting and unexplained items (we will know more once we get into the full review). We see the now familiar eight ports for SATA drives. However, the board manual says that four are SATA 3.0. We are only seeing one Marvell controller here for this. This could mean that at least one set of SATA 3.0 ports is being controlled by the P67 chipset. If this is true, that could be a huge deal for performance on whatever ports are being controlled. Again, we cannot wait to see what we find out.

 

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The I/O panel is full of surprises. We find a total of six USB 3.0 ports, three GBe LAN ports, a dual purpose PS/2 port and more. The interesting thing that is not here is any kind of VGA out. With the new Intel CPUs there should be a built in GPU; however, the P67A-UD7 does not have any output to monitor of any sort.

 

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