GIGABYTE X79-UD5 (Intel X79) Motherboard Review

We check out the sexy looking X79-UD5 from GIGABYTE and see if performance can match its looks.
@TweakTown
Published Fri, Dec 30 2011 3:30 AM CST   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 92%Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Package

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VIEW GALLERY - 48 IMAGES

It's been a massive year for me at TweakTown as I've seen my categories expand into the Motherboard and CPU area. And it fits so gloriously against the Video Card section I've managed for years. 224 Reviews later, though, and this wraps up my final piece for the year.

The X79-UD5 from GIGABYTE also marks the last of our X79 boards that we received at launch, bringing the total to 12 X79 motherboards since the launch of the new high end chipset from Intel. We've got more boards on the way, but they'll be slightly delayed. For now we'll be finishing our massive X79 motherboard run with the X79-UD5.

There's not much more that really needs to be said; we should all be pretty comfortable when it comes to knowing the new chipset from Intel, so let's just get stuck into the package of the board. Once we've done that we'll move onto the motherboard itself, jump into the fancy new 3D BIOS that GIGABYTE are using before we cover the overclocking side of things alongside the performance of course.

So with everything said and done, let's get ready to just get into it and see what GIGABYTE bring to the table with the brand new X79-UD5 with its awesome blue color scheme that we've grown to love.

The Package

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Argh! White boxes. I hate white boxes, only because they're such a pain to take photos of against a white background. Still, the new box design looks nice and fresh. You can see going over it we've got a heap of detail in regards to the features, especially turning over where we have a picture of the board itself.

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Moving inside the box, we've got the normal line up of paperwork, couple of driver CDs, four SATA cables, I/O back plate along with two SLI connectors. One's a simple dual one, while the other is a 3-Way one and an extended CrossFire bridge.

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Along with that, we've also got the new WiFi card from GIGABYTE which brings not only WiFi, but support for Bluetooth 4.0, a technology that is being integrated on newer phones these days. Along with that we've also got a couple of antennas to help increase the range.

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Finally, we finish up with a USB 3.0 header that can be installed in the front of your case to give you two more USB 3.0 ports.

The Motherboard

The first thing you notice about the board is that matte black PCB which looks fantastic. It's one of the best looking PCBs on the market at the moment and if you've got a window in your case, you know the importance of good looking hardware. Along with that we've also got the trademark blue highlights that we see in the UD5 board. You ultimately just end up with a hot looking board. Let's move in a bit closer to see what's going on with the expansion side of things, though.

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Moving in closer, we get a good idea with what's going on in the expansion side of things. At the very bottom we've got an older legacy PCI slot along with two PCIe x1 slots and three PCI x16 slots which support 3-Way SLI and CrossFireX.

Of course, if you're using only two cards they will both run at x16 / x16. If you opt to throw a third card into the mix, that moves to a x16 / x8 / x16 setup.

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Moving to the bottom of the board, we've got all the typical connectors with our front audio, 1394 Firewire, three USB 2.0 headers, our main front panel header and a small reset switch on the far right.

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Turning the corner, we've got a total of 10 SATA ports present on the board. On the right hand side we've got six controlled via the Intel X79 chipset. The four black ones are of course SATA II while the two white ones are SATA III. On the left side we've got four more SATA ports in the form of SATA III ones. These run off the Marvell 88SE9172 controller.

The Motherboard Continued

Starting to move to the top of the board, you can see our four RAM slots. We'll talk about them a bit more in just a moment. Apart from that, you can see our main 24-Pin ATX power connector is present in its normal position.

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Either side of that we've got a USB 3.0 header that can be used with the included USB 3.0 adapter. On the other side right in the corner we've got a power switch that makes turning the board on a breeze if you're not in a case. It also just comes in handy when you build your system and before you make it all neat with the front panel headers etc. - you can flick it on to make sure it powers up ok.

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Moving around the board we can see towards the back against our heatsink we've got our main 8-Pin CPU connector. Moving out a bit more, we get a good idea of what's going on with the CPU area itself which like most boards these days is extremely clean.

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We can also see our eight DIMM slots present which support up to 64GB of DDR3 RAM at speeds of up to 2400MHz DDR via overclocking. Overall it's just a really nice, clean looking board.

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Finally, we finish off with the I/O side of things and starting from the left we've got two USB connectors and a PS/2 combo port. Next that we've got a button that will do an Auto OC for us, another which lets us switch between the BIOS we're using and a reset BIOS button at the bottom.

Moving along again, we've got Firewire, USB 2.0 and eSATA / USB 2.0 combo, next to that a further two USB 2.0 ports along with an eSATA-only one. We've then got two USB 3.0 ports running off the Fresco FL1009 chip, two more USB 2.0, Gigabit LAN via the Intel chip and our typical optical / auxiliary connector setup running off the Realtek ALC898 codec.

BIOS

Moving into the BIOS, we've got the new 3D BIOS from GIGABYTE which looks amazing. We won't cover the "3D" side of it which lets you move around the board for the simple reason we need to take about 30 images. For an in-depth look at it, though, I recommend you jump over to our GIGABYTE G1.Assassin2 review where we've got two pages of BIOS images.

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For now we'll jump into the more advanced section which feels very familiar with that M.I.T. area which is of course our one stop shop for everything overclocking related.

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For the most part there are not any crazy surprises here as we've just got everything we'd expect to have. The M.I.T. section is ultimately pretty strong as you'd expect; hopefully it helps yield us a nice little overclock today.

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Moving through the rest of the BIOS, we've got all the usual options on offer in relation to turning features on and off, BIOS features, saving profiles etc.. The GIGABYTE 3D BIOS is just ultimately a really nice BIOS and while it's taken them a little longer than others to jump on the graphical UEFI front, they've come out strong with the 3D BIOS offering.

Test System Setup

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASUS, MSI, Western Digital and Corsair.

As usual, we won't go into much detail when it comes to the testbed side of things as everything we need to cover is mentioned above already. As for the boards we'll be including today, they'll all be mentioned in our graphs from the next page onwards. Instead let's just get stuck into the overclocking side of things to see what's going on with the GIGABYTE X79-UD5 today.

We're finding that some boards prefer to go with the lower multiplier and higher BCLK option, while others prefer the lower BCLK and higher multiplier option. The latter setup probably makes for an easier overclock and that's obvious today as we head into the BIOS, adjust our voltages to what they need to be and then proceed to find that perfect multiplier.

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We started at 43x which brings us in at 4.3GHz and then proceeded to move 1x at a time, run HyperPi and then if it passed, head back to the BIOS to bump it again. Ultimately we ended up with a 47x multiplier which resulted in a nice 4.7GHz overclock out of our processor.

It has to be said that the CPU we're using today is different to the one we've used on our 11 other boards....because that other board we looked at from that other company took our 3960X out. Still, this overclock lines up to a similar place with the G1.Assassin2 we looked at, so it's quite fair to compare them.

Let's get started!

CPU Benchmarks

HyperPi 0.99

Version and / or Patch Used: 0.99

Developer Homepage: www.virgilioborges.com.br

Product Homepage: www.virgilioborges.com.br

Download It Here

HyperPi is a front end for SuperPi that allows for multiple concurrent instances of SuperPi to be run on each core recognized by the system. It is very dependent on CPU to memory to HDD speed. The faster these components, the faster it is able to figure out the number Pi to the selected length.

For our testing we use the 32M run. This means that each of the four physical and four logical cores for the i7 and the four physical cores of the i5 is trying to calculate the number Pi out to 32 million decimal places. Each "run" is a comparative to ensure accuracy and any stability or performance issues in the loop mentioned above will cause errors in calculation.

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AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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Starting off our tests, we've got no surprises out of the box with performance being just as we'd expect. Overclocked, as always brings with it a nice little boost and it's seen in a strong way under both Hyper Pi and AIDA64s CPU benchmark.

System Benchmarks

PCMark 7

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.04

Developer Homepage: http://www.pcmark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.pcmark.com

Buy It Here

PCMark 7 includes a range of tests that give different views of your system's performance. In the Advanced Edition you can choose which tests to run. The common use and hardware component tests are unavailable in the Basic Edition.

Overall system performance is measured by the PCMark test. This is the only test that returns an official PCMark score. The Lightweight test measures the system capabilities of entry-level systems and mobility platforms unable to run the PCMark test, but it does not generate a PCMark score. Common use performance is measured by the scenario tests - Entertainment, Creativity and Production - each of which results in a scenario score. Hardware component performance is measured by the hardware tests - Computation and Storage - each of which results in a hardware score.

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MediaEspresso

Version and / or Patch Used: 6.5

Developer Homepage: http://www.cyberlink.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.cyberlink.com/products/mediaespresso/overview_en_AU.html?fileName=overview&r=1

Buy It Here

MediaEspresso is a blazingly fast media universal converter that can transcode your videos, photos and music files and out put them to a huge range of portable devices including mobile phones, portable media players and even game consoles. With technologies like Smart Detect, Direct Sync and CyberLink's TrueTheater video enhancements, you can not only forget about complicated format, resolution and output settings, but your converted file will come out the other side looking better than when it went in!

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PCMark 7 has always been a little funny since the launch of the X79 platform and you can see our GIGABYTE board sits a little lower here. Overclocking brings with it a boost in performance, but it only lines up with our other boards; for that reason we're not putting much emphasis on it at all. Instead we can see under MediaEspresso we have strong performance and even strong performance when we crank the clock speeds up.

USB 2.0 and 3.0 Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.70.1400

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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USB 2.0 performance is surprisingly strong with it lining up with the ASRock board which uses XFast USB technology. USB 3.0 performance holds no surprises as it lines up with all our other boards.

SSD Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.70.1400

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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HD Tune Pro

Version and / or Patch Used: 4.61

Developer Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com

Product Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com

Buy It Here

HD Tune Pro gives us accurate read, write and access time results and for the last couple of years has been gaining popularity amongst reviewers. It is now considered a must have application for storage device testing.

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GIGABYTE boards tend to sit a little lower in the SSD performance because they opt for the more compatible mode. You can see under AIDA64 and HD Turn Pro, though, that performance is still really strong.

Memory Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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Looking at memory performance, we can see for the most part it lines up with our other X79 offerings. Saying that, Copy performance seems to be just a little bit stronger on the GIGABYTE board. Of course, in typical fashion when we overclock we see a nice boost with the best increase being seen in the Write department. If you want to find out more about Quad Channel / Dual Channel memory performance, I'd recommend you read our Intel X79 Quad Channel and Z68 Dual Channel Memory Performance Analysis.

Gaming Benchmarks

3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0

Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.3dmark.com/3dmark11/

Buy It Here

3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

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Metro 2033

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.4a-games.com//

Product Homepage: http://www.thqnordic.com/

Metro 2033 is an action-oriented video game with a combination of survival horror and first-person shooter elements. The game is based on the novel Metro 2033 by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was developed by 4A Games in Ukraine and released in March 2010 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360.[3] In March 2006, 4A Games announced a partnership with Glukhovsky to collaborate on the game.[4] The game was announced at the 2009 Games Convention in Leipzig;[5] a first trailer came along with the announcement.[6] A sequel was announced, currently titled Metro: Last Light.

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Looking at video card performance, we as always see that little speed boost in the Performance preset under 3DMark 11. Metro 2033 also sees a little bit of movement at the lower resolution, but for the most part there's no real surprises as we move through the results.

Temperature and Power

Power Draw Tests

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Getting into the power draw area, we can see it lines up with our other X79 boards here in both idle and load. Checking out the overclocked numbers, we see them jump up a bit, but not to anything to crazy.

Core Temperature

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At stock there's nothing too out of the ordinary present with the numbers; load sits a few degrees higher. Overclocked as you'd expect, though, sees a big jump in load; it's nice to see that the idle isn't impacted with it remaining at a cool 22c.

Final Thoughts

At $324.99 US the UD5 isn't a cheap board and going over it, that comes as no surprise as it's a really nice offering. From the visual perspective, the UD5 looks fantastic; the matte black that GIGABYTE uses continues to be one of the best looking PCB colors and against the blue highlights throughout the board, it's just a sexy looking board that look great with something like the Corsair H100 and some RAM that carries a black heatsink.

One appealing aspect of the board is also the fact it's completely passive cooled; we've seen a few companies opt for active cooling solutions with the X79 boards and you kind of cringe at the feeling that in 12 months' time they'll be clogged up and start to die resulting in the need to RMA a perfectly working board because the fan has gone.

On the bundle side of things, this is an area that GIGABYTE are extremely strong in at the moment and while we've seen the higher end boards from them always offer a large bundle, the UD5 with its Bluetooth 4.0 / WiFi card and extra USB 3.0 ports are a real highlight and let them stand out amongst the really competitive motherboard market at the moment.

The X79-UD5 from GIGABYTE is just ultimately a really nice all round board; it looks great, offers a strong bundle and performs well. It's a little on the more expensive side of things, but the money is worth it as you do get that really nice bundle.

The X79-UD5 also sits at a good price level against the company's other offerings. The more basic UD3 comes in at $269.99 US while the higher end UD7 carries a $369.99 US price tag. On top of that, you've got the feature rich G1.Assassin2 which comes in at a hefty $399.99 US, albeit, still at a price point that I think is worth considering when you look at the features that are on offer.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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