Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
GIGABYTE has one of the largest Intel X99 motherboard fleets in the retail market. Instead of leaving just a few models to satisfy their customers, they tend to tailor their segments to better target their end users' needs. GIGABYTE has come out with G1 Gaming, SOC Overclocking, and Ultra Durable lines. While each type of board is specifically targeted towards gamers, overclockers, or power users, all the boards cross over into each other's domains.
Their overclocking boards carry upgraded audio and their gaming boards carry overclocking features, while their main series carries both. Today I will look at one of GIGABYTE's main series Ultra Durable motherboards, the X99-UD3P. While I usually cover high-end products, most users try to purchase the least expensive motherboard that can handle what they need. Let's see if the X99-UD3P is up to the task of running a flagship processor, and pushing it to its limits.
The specifications of the X99-UD3P are almost identical to that of the X99-UD3 which is being phased out of production. It has a different circuit layout, a wider PCB, a socket selector switch, and enhanced feature positioning compared to its predecessor. What is interesting to note is that GIGABYTE didn't remove anything hardware wise, instead they added.
The X99-UD3P is $203.99 on Newegg and Amazon at the time of this review, which is on the low side for X99 motherboards. Many people buy more expensive products because they feel that those products are of higher quality, let's see if that is true. I should point out that this is the cheapest motherboard with the LGA2011-V3 socket with extra pins, and that it is only $15 more than its predecessor, the X99-UD3.
Packaging and the X99-UD3P
Packaging and the Board
The box is simple and the packaging is well done. The board is in an anti-static bag in its own mini-box.
Accessories include 4x braided SATA6G cables, IO shield, 2-Way SLI bridge, 2-way CrossFireX bridge, driver DVD, manuals, and GIGABYTE sticker.
I have circled the five fan headers in red and blue. The single CPU fan header circled in red is for PWM fans, and the rest of the four headers are voltage mode fan headers. There are light gold accents on the board, but they aren't very strong or widespread, so a CPU cooler and some GPUs will probably cover them up if you don't like the gold color scheme. The big thing to notice on this board is that there are only 4 DIMMs. The board still supports quad-channel, but you should plan how much DDR4 you need and purchase it now. The upside to only 4 DIMMs is that overclocking memory might be better. GIGABYTE has darkened the color of the PCB markings, so that they are no longer white, but rather gray. The back of the PCB is bare except for a few LEDs for the audio PCB divide.
The IO Panel features 6x USB 3.0 (white port is for USB BIOS recovery), 4x USB 2.0 (with power control), PS/2 Keyboard and Mouse ports, RJ-45 1GBit LAN, a TOSLINK with S/PDIF, and a bracket in case you want to install an M.2 WIFI card.
The PCI-E layout on this motherboard is optimized for multi-GPU configurations. All the PCI-E bandwidth from the CPU reaches the slots, and does so almost without delay. The third and fourth slots are hardwired at 16x (third slot) and 8x (fourth slot). The first slot has its first 8x hard wired to the CPU and the second 8x can be shared with the second PCI-E slot if needed. A MOLEX receptacle for extra PCI-E power is provided at the bottom of the motherboard and both M.2 slots are between the second and third PCI-E 16x slots. The M.2 slot shares its bandwidth with the SATA Express port and its two SATA ports. All the PCI-E 1x slots are directly routed to the PCH.
GIGABYTE equipped the X99-UD3P with 10 SATA ports, two of which are shared with the SATA Express and M.2 ports. The four ports labeled sSATA cannot do RAID, while the other six can. A USB 3.0 internal header is positioned below the 24-pin connector.
The audio on the X99-UD3P is powered by a Realtek controller under an EMI shield. The PCB is physically divided to isolate the audio's analog domain from the rest of the motherboard. There is also a single amplifier for the backpanel port and some Nichicon audio capacitors.
The CPU mode switch allows for users to enable the extra pins in the socket.
The CPU socket has extra pins compared to the standard LGA2011-V3 socket. These extra pins allow for a higher cache ratio overclock (uncore) and for a lower IMC voltage, which can lead to higher memory overclocks.
The VRM is made up of 6 phases, and it's the same as the VRM found on the X99-Gaming 5P and other 6-phase GIGABYTE X99 motherboards. While it might not seem like much, it is more than enough.
The heat sink is one solid piece. The heat sink uses screws and makes good contact with components.
X99-UD3P Circuit Analysis
The CPU VRM features a total of 6 phases; each is powered by an integrated power stage, the well-known International Rectifier PowIRstages. There are six high capacity server grade inductors made by Cooper Bussmann. The FP1007R3-R15-R are 0.15uH Flat-Pac series power inductors, they feature 76A saturation current at 25C, this is an extremely high current rating, and will help reduce overall heat around the VRM area. The X99-UD3P uses 9x Nippon Chemicon 10K can-type polymer capacitors each rated at 560uF for a total of 5040uF.
The X99-UD3P is using the International Rectifier IR3580, an 8 phase digital PWM, the latest one that is offered by International Rectifier. GIGABYTE has used the IR3556 for the power stages; each one can output 50A at about 10W and 90% efficiency. The IR3556 is a brand new PowIRstage, it replaces the IR3551.
There are two sets of everything for the DDR4 power on X99, this is because there are two sets of DIMMs on every X99 motherboard. GIGABYTE chose to stay with digital PWM control for all four DDR4 VRMs; the International Rectifier IR3570 is a 3+2 phase digital PWM perfect for this. Two of these PWMs are in use, one on each side of the board. There are four DDR4 VRMs because each set of DIMMs requires a DRAM voltage of 1.2v and a DRAM VPP voltage of 2.5v. The 1.2v rail is the most important, and on this board each set of DIMMs get one phase, powered by a 40A International Rectifier IR3553. The VPP is powered by a single phase that also uses the IR3553.
Here is the second memory VRM and the VPP VRM is located below the DIMMs. However, this also shows off 8x Richtek RT9018, which are linear regulators used to power the extra pins in the socket. I really like the aesthetics of this circuit.
Under the EMI shield is an ALC1150 and a Texas Instruments NE5532 is used to amplify the output for the backpanel IO headphone jack.
X99-UD3P Circuit Analysis Continued
Circuit Analysis Continued
An Intel i218v is provided as the PHY for the integrated GBit NIC. Four of the USB 3.0 ports on the backpanel are routed through a NEC/Rensas D720210 which is a 1-to-4 USB 3.0 hub.
An IDT6V49332 is a clock generator which basically helps out with BCLK overclocking. The iTE IT8792E and at least six linear regulators are used to handle the extra pins in the socket; the CPU Mode switch is hooked up to this IC which digitally enables or disables extra pins.
Dual 128Mbit (16MB) BIOS ROMs are provided along with an IT8951E which allows for the addition of USB BIOS recovery in case DualBIOS doesn't work.
The main SuperIO is an IT8620E which monitors and controls voltage, temperature, and fans. It also provides the PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports on the back. A secondary EC is used, the IT8792E, and it helps the SuperIO. Four nuvoTon NCT3941S provide voltage mode fan control of four headers. Four NXP L04083B switch two PCI-E lanes each from the first PCI-E 16x slot to the second. A single NXP L04083B switches bandwidth from the SATA Express (2 SATA ports) to the M.2 slot if needed.
BIOS and Software
With these X99 GIGABYTE boards, you should really only use the classic mode (gray BIOS) by pressing F2 when you are greeted by the very basic mode upon entrance into the UEFI. From the classic mode, you can access all the settings, including overclocking. While I only have access to the F1 BIOS, the first release for the X99-UD3P, everything worked very well. Bugs from first wave GIGABYTE X99 motherboards, such as the rebooting that occurred with certain USB drives plugged in, have been solved and the UEFI performs better than one would expect from a $200 product (as long as you use classic mode BIOS).
Overall I was impressed by the maturity of this first release UEFI. I do however wish that GIGABYTE would expand fan control, perhaps provide a GUI. When you enable the CPU mode switch, 6 extra voltages become available under the CPU voltage menu.
Only VL4, 5, and 6 should be increased. First start off with 1.44 or 1.45v on VL6 for cache overclocking. VLs will increase by auto rules, so you might not have to change them at all.
EasyTune is the go to program for most novice overclockers and it presents a decent amount of tuning options and monitoring. GIGABYTE also provides other programs through the APP center such as @BIOS, Ambient LED, Cloud Station, Smart Recovery 2, Fast Boot, Smart TimeLock, and SIV.
For more advanced overclockers, GIGABYTE Tweak Launcher (GTL) is much simpler and better.
Test System Setup
This is the new test bench, and it is designed to test every aspect of the motherboard and IO. I have designed it so that the motherboard sits in a case and is cooled by fans always on at a constant rate to keep the conditions similar for all tests. I have cut out part of the case behind the motherboard so I can get thermal images of the back of the PCB where the VRM heat spreads. System and CPU power measurements are now digitally logged.
I am also using a Netgear Nighthawk X4 AC2350 for our network (including wireless AC) tests. The latest M.2, SSD, and USB technologies are also being utilized to test the maximum potential of the motherboards that are being tested.
In this section, I will go through overclocking this board.
Max CPU Overclock is found by setting the VCore to 1.5v, Input voltage to 2.1v, cache voltage to 1.15v, booting with a CPU multiplier of 45x and disabling any features that would result in CPU frequency fluctuation. I then proceed into Windows and use software to increase the multiplier; in this case I opted to use GTL.
5.0GHz is the maximum of our CPU on this board and other X99 motherboards. It is clear that CPU overclocking is pretty good for high frequency. Maximum AIDA64 Stable Overclock (BIOS settings below for this):
I was easily able to pull off 4.5GHz on the CPU with 3.2GHz cache and a 2133MHz overclock on my memory manually tuning the UEFI.
Boards with the extra pins in the socket can overclock the cache further, on the X99-UD3P I was able to OC the cache to 4.3GHz, while the core was 4.5GHz.
CPU, Memory, and System Benchmarks
AIDA64 AES and HASH
PCMark8 Home Test
3DMark: Cloud Gate
3DMark: Fire Strike
Resident Evil 6
CPU, memory, system, and 3D performance are all very strong and there don't seem to be any issues.
These benchmarks are to find either exceptional performance or flaws, however in this case the X99-UD3P is a solid motherboard with some nice surprises. Overall performance was very good, and this is perhaps because of the 4 DIMMs rather than 8, allowing for slightly lower latency. Also there aren't many third party ICs on the board, it's a very basic board, and that usually leads to very good pure performance.
System IO Benchmarks
DiskBench USB 3.0:
ixChariot Network Throughput:
IO performance is where I expected it to be, it's towards the strong side of IO performance. SATA6G storage performance is solid. M.2 performance isn't the best because this is a PCI-E 4x drive in a 2x slot.
Audio RMAA 5.5:
I disable all audio features, set the correct bitrates, and then test the audio with a loopback test.
Sound Judgment by Ear: Excellent, really quite good, and the extra volume from the AMP is pretty noticeable. There are 5 ratings for audio: 1. Problems, 2. Okay, 3. Acceptable, 4. Very good, 5. Excellent
Temperature and Power Consumption
System power usage is measured at the AC/DC PSU (the Corsair AX1200i) which I have connected to another system to measure the test system and as a backup I have a wall meter to verify. The CPU power is measured through the 8-pin connector which is hooked up to a hall effect IC which measures current and puts out a voltage in proportion to the current. That voltage is logged by a National Instruments ADC which logs the DC voltage level, which I then convert into current.
Note on Thermal Images: In the temperature section, we use our Seek thermal imaging camera to capture the surface temperatures of major components on the board; I look at the VRM and then all other things that light up the screen. If there is something to worry about then I will state it, otherwise I will just show the hotter running parts of the board for fun. Unless some component is over 80-90C then there really isn't anything to worry about.
All systems will act differently, so I will look for commonalities, such as how far from the VRM the heat spreads through the PCB and the difference in temperature between the front side and backside of the PCB. Keep in mind that the majority of the heat from the VRM goes into the PCB as it is a giant soldered on copper heat sink. A larger difference in temperature between the back and front of the PCB points towards a more effective heat sink.
Thermal Testing at Stock Speeds:
The image on the left is always at idle and the image on the right is at load.
Up-close of the front of the VRM.
Up-close of the back of the VRM.
Thermal Testing at 4.5GHz Overclocked Speeds:
Up-close of the front of the VRM.
Up-close of the back of the VRM.
The reason for such low temperatures is because its summer and room is cool with AC, however I did run these tests after running the 1 hour stability test, so room temperature was only a couple degrees below where it usually is. The VRM components on this motherboard are the same ones GIGABYTE uses on its top of the line overclocking motherboards. Temperatures on the backside never exceeded the temperatures on the front of the motherboard, indicating solid heat sink performance. Even though this is a 6-phase VRM, it performs as well as some 8 and 12 phase VRMs I have seen on other boards.
Board makers can either use high power density or more phases to achieve an overclocking capable X99 motherboard, GIGABYTE has definitely focused on power density. Don't let the fact that the board only has 6 phases faze you (no pun intended); it's enough for any air or water overclock. Anything under 60C is excellent, 60-80C is acceptable, and anything above 80C is a bit worrisome (if at stock).
The X99-UD3P at only $204 is one of the most affordable yet value rich motherboards I have reviewed. Let's be clear, the X99-UD3P doesn't boast features like dual NICs, USB 3.1, 4x PCI-E 3.0 Ultra M.2, or even 8 DIMMs, but at only $204, you can't expect those features and high quality in the same package.
GIGABYTE has basically cut out higher-end features and left quality pretty much the same as the rest of its boards, and this comes through when I went to overclock the motherboard and when I turned on the thermal imaging camera to take a look at what really is going on. It's an affordable board which will overclock your CPU like some of the most expensive, while at the same time providing great performance.
Just like every motherboard, there are downsides. The biggest of which is the lack of 8 DIMMs. While 4 DIMMs might be good for small form factors and overclocking motherboards, the X99-UD3P is neither of those. The lack of the extra DIMMs might pose a problem if you choose to increase memory up from the typical 16GB kits currently on the market, but there aren't many circumstances where you need more than 16GB of memory, so the 4 DIMMs shouldn't be a deal breaker for most people.
While the board carries the socket with extra pins, it lacks OC features such as a POST code display which make overclocking simpler. Fan control could also be expanded in the UEFI. Overall I was impressed with the level of quality and performance that a $204 motherboard provides. I am a motherboard fanatic, so I would never skimp or think of skimping on a motherboard for my personal systems, but surprisingly at $204, the X99-UD3P carries the quality and durability of higher priced products.
The only thing keeping the X99-UD3P from selling for more is the lack of extra IO/system connectivity and flare. If you are looking for exceptional bang for your buck in an X99 motherboard, then look no further than the X99-UD3P.
|Performance (including Overclocking)||92%|
|Quality including Design and Build||93%|
|Bundle and Packaging||85%|
|Value for Money||95%|
The Bottom Line: At $204, the X99-UD3P carries the quality and durability of higher priced products. If you are looking for exceptional bang for your buck in an Intel X99 motherboard, then look no further than the X99-UD3P.
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