Like its big brother, the UD7, the P67A-UD4 is a nice looking board. GIGABYTE has made a good move (in my opinion) with the new black PCB and stylized cooling. The layout is also very clean with good component and peripheral spacing. As there is no NF200 on the board, the cooling is broken into two parts; the voltage regulators and the Cougar Point MCP that everyone is talking so much about.
The clean layout starts for us around the RAM and CPU (just because that is where we start our walk around). Here you can see the nicely spaced components. You can also see the Phase LEDs. These LEDS light up as each power phase kicks on. I would like to start seeing a little more room between RAM slots, though. As it is, there is very little clearance for air flow with most setups. However, this is a market wide issue and not something we can fault GIGABYTE or the P67A-UD4 for.
The cooling on the UD4 is not as beefy as on the UD7. This is very obvious from even a quick glance. It uses the same style of cooling, but it simply does not (nor does it need to) cover as much area.
The 8-pin Aux power connector (always a pet peeve of mine) is slightly awkward to get to for both installation and removal. I have a feeling that until we can move to a new motherboard layout we will continue to see this one across the board, though.
The peripheral slots are always of interest and will continue to be so as we see the slow demise of the PCI slot. I can remember going through the same design shifts as the old 16-bit ISA slots went away (which was a very good thing). We will continue to see these slots on boards for a few years yet, but their number and use will be limited. The two PCIe x16 mechanical slots is really one x16 in the first slots and then only if you do not have anything in the 2nd PCIe x16 slot. As soon as you do, these both drop back to x8.
Looking at the opposite corner, we see a continuation of the clean layout and design. GIGABYTE has made the most of the board real estate here. Even the tracing is well done. Of course, the thing that everyone will think about in this shot is the SATA 2 ports. Yes, there is a flaw. Yes, there is a potential for a decrease in performance on these ports down the track. However, the new B3 Cougar Points are already shipping, the performance is the same between them (obviously the performance is the same between an unaffected B2 and a normal B3), so let's move on.
The I/O ports on the P67A-UD4 are similar in layout to the UD7, but again due to its lower cost and the market it is aimed at, they are not as...let's say, complex. You do still have good options for connectivity, just not at the same level. I like the clean layout and component choices on the P67A-UD4; to me these speak volumes about GIGABYTE and the direction the company is taking. Of course, we still have to see the P67A-UD4 perform. Luckily that is not too far off, so keep reading.