Now its time to move onto the motherboard itself. The layout of the board is on a full ATX 30x24cm design using 6 layers of PCB and 2 layers of copper for cooling purposes. Despite the extra copper in the board, compared to our EP45-Extreme and X48T-DQ6, the board didn't feel any heavier, nor did it look any different, so it's purely in the design.
There are no cosmetic changes to the PCB; the same blue design is used, so any hopes for a new colour or some visible design changes are diminished.
GIGABYTE has gone for its tried and true placement of connectors. The 24-pin power connector along with the single IDE port is located behind the yellow and red DDR2 memory slots. The 8-pin power connector is once again at the top left of the board behind the PS/2 towers to help elevate cable clutter. Below the IDE port are two purple SATA ports which are powered off the came JMicron controller chip that runs the IDE port. The six yellow SATA ports that are controlled off the ICH10R are placed just below the heatsink that cools the Southbridge chip.
The EP45-UD3P's CPU socket is extremely clean of any high rise components thanks to the use of solid state Japanese capacitors. We have an abundance of room and the smaller heatpipe unit that cools the Northbridge and the Mosfets allowed us to install our OCZ Vanquisher heatsink without any knuckle scrapes. GIGABYTE, my hands thank you for this one.
The UD3P uses a 6 phase voltage regulation system that is controlled by the DES Advanced system to allow for a much more energy friendly PC, which we must admit really does work well.
Moving along to the rear I/O ports, GIGABYTE has decided to use the same layout we have seen on the X38-DQ6, X38T DQ6 and the EP45-DQ6 motherboards. The same amount of connectors are there as well, so nothing has changed. It's nice to see some consistency here.
Lastly, we are onto expansion possibilities. Thanks to the P45 Express chipset we get true Crossfire. How this works, if you haven't read any P45 reviews in the past, is the 16 lanes from the P45 Northbridge have two modes; single GPU and multi GPU. When in single GPU, all 16 lanes are routed to the blue PCIe x16 slot. When a second graphics card is inserted into the orange PCIe x16 slot, the board automatically steals eight lanes from the blue slot and sends them to the orange slot, giving both cards eight lanes of bandwidth each. One disadvantage to this setup is the fact you can't run two of ATIs X2 series cards in CrossfireX, since there isn't enough bandwidth, they just won't work.
Three PCIe x1 slots are also included for any and all PCIe expansion. And why not, we now have PCIe TV tuners and PCIe sound cards. Two legacy PCI slots are included as well, just in case you want to run any older TV tuners, sound cards or (god help you) PCI modems.