The X58A-UD7 looks like it is simply way too cramped. When I first looked at it my thought was "what were they thinking?". However, after a closer look I think I understand what GIGABYTE was trying to do; even if I do not agree with it.
Let's start off looking at the top end of the board. The X58A has the usual layout for an Intel ATX board. We see the typical six DDR3 slots for up to 24GB of RAM, a 24-pin ATX power socket, the X58 Northbridge and of course the LGA 1366 socket.
Where things get interesting is with the Northbridge. GIGABYTE has given the option to passively cool this part or to use water to keep the heat under control. This is not a new feature and actually goes back to the X48 Extreme boards of a few years ago. Unfortunately the ID barbs are small; they are 1/8-inch. This means that without a reducer inline you are not going to be using your high-end Swiftech cooling system with this board.
Another oddly placed item is the Power Switch. For some reason GB has placed it up by the RAM slots. Now, normally this would be down on the lower edge of the board. However, taking a look at many of the newer benches the area is difficult to reach. Instead the front edge of the board is towards you. It looks like GB had this in mind.
One last item in the upper half of the X58A that I really cannot find a positive side to is the placement of the 4-pin aux power connector. It is just poorly placed, as is that little fan header up there. Once you get this board in a case (if that is what you plan to do) then that header and the 4-pin connector are nothing more than a great way to shave off some knuckle skin. I highly recommend an extension cable for this as otherwise you will have some difficulty getting this connected without injury.
Moving on to the lower half of the X58A-UD7, we see that GB has continued their tendency to drop in a couple of extra PCI-E x1 slots near the NB. I am still not sure why this is happening. If you use the extra passive cooler both are blocked and useless.
GB has included four PCI-E x16 mechanical slots. This does not mean you are going to get four full x16 slots for GPUs; it means that you get two at x16 (slots 1 and 3), two at x8 (slots 2 and 4). This is actually perfectly ok, unless you are trying to stuff a couple of Dual GPU cards in there.
Moving over, we find a large heatsink covering the SB and other components like the Marvell SATA 3.0 controller. Speaking of SATA 3.0 controllers, the SATA ports are a tad confusing on the X58A. If you look at them it looks like there are six SATA-II and four SATA 3.0 (based on color). However, looking in the manual we find that two of those ports are SATA-II but are used for GIGABYTEs XHD RAID setup. This is also marked on the board itself, but I think that perhaps an additional color would have been the best way to handle this.
The I/O ports are very good on the X58A. GB has always gone the extra mile when it comes to I/O. In fact, they are still one of the few motherboards to offer mini-1394a as a standard component. We also find two USB 3.0 ports in addition to an easily reachable Clear CMOS button. You may note that our board has what appears to be a small bend at the PS/2 connector. This flaw in the board did not cause us any issues during our performance testing and both PS/2 ports worked properly.
Over all the board looks cramped, but there are reasons for much of this. There are still a few items that GIGABYTE really do need to address, but for the most part this looks to be a fairly well laid out board considering what the GA-X58A-UD7 is intended for.
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