Power Consumption and Conclusions
One of the biggest factors consumers can see a tangible difference is modern motherboards is would definitely be in the power usage and efficiency categories. The P55-UD6 certainly showcased its 24 phase power design here as well as its other power efficiency optimizations that Gigabyte touts in their marketing material and throughout their press releases on this product line. The other boards were pretty close (especially the DP55KG), but the real power differences are between the P55s and the X58-based board. Intel really made some key changes to how Lynnfield processors handle power over their older Bloomfield brothers. Hopefully, we’ll continue to see power optimizations being perfected and improved on both the CPU and motherboard arenas.
We saw mixed results between many of our synthetic and real-world benchmarks during our evaluation of the P55-UD6 today. Some were a bit confusing, especially in the gaming category, but others were pretty clear in how this board performed. The P55-UD6 doesn’t seem to be geared toward users looking for an all-around PC experience, but does seem to have some high points for those looking for a great overclocking and gaming motherboard. Our synthetic benchmarks seems to say that this board was an average gamer, but during our real-world Crysis and Far Cry 2 results, it performed beautifully and on par or better than the other P55s we tested today. I’d like to see how this board handles dual and triple SLI/CrossfireX configurations to truly see if the results we saw today can truly hold up in today’s demanding high-definition gaming realm.
This board’s overclocking achievements were some of the best we’ve been able to produce out of any P55 board we’ve currently tested. While the overall voltage settings seem to be on par for the needs of experienced overclockers, we did notice some stability issues with the DRAM’s timings and power configurations. Typically, we’ve had success setting the DRAM ratio at its lowest setting and everything else to auto, but during our overclocking experience with the P55-UD6 we had to set things up a bit differently. Changing the DRAM ratio to 1333MHz helped a lot, but I think how the BIOS was auto setting our DRAM timings was affecting our overclocking performance and stability. Next time, we’ll have to manually set some of the memory timings better as well as just the DRAM voltages to get overclocks higher than 3.86GHz.
The onboard features as well as included accessories really makes the P55-UD6 stand out from the rest of our other P55 board offerings we’ve tested. The triple SLI/CrossfireX support for three PCI-E graphics cards is great, but I wasn’t too happy to see how they staggered the PCI-E speeds from x16 to x8 and x4 across each of the PCI-E lanes. I was also a bit confused by the addition of two extra DIMMs because while it adds more slots for system memory, it doesn’t change the fact that the chipset can only handle dual-channel DDR3 and maxes out at 16GBs regardless if there are four or six DIMMs.
Pricing and Availability
We’d like to thank our friends at Gigabyte for providing the P55-UD6 for our review today. This is the third P55-based motherboard I’ve reviewed and I have to say its the most feature rich and overclocker-focused board I’ve tested to date. Gigabyte is known for throwing everything but the kitchen sink into their higher-end motherboards and the P55-UD6 is no exception. Every aspect of the motherboard is improved including the 24 phase power design, triple SLI/CrossfireX support, DDR3-2200 support, 10 SATA headers with support for RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10, and a host of software utilities to help basic end users and experienced enthusiasts get the most out of the P55-UD6.
If I had any gripes about this board it would have the lack of USB 3.0 and SATA 6GB/s support. The new P55A line from Gigabyte might overshadow this board series because of its support for SATA 6GB/s and USB 3.0. While their aren’t a lot of devices that support these new technologies yet, many consumers will most likely want a motherboard that supports future technologies and devices so they don’t have to upgrade to another motherboard or purchase an add-on card that’s compatible with USB 3.0 and SATA 6GB/s.
But, as those boards are released, hopefully Gigabyte will put these P55s into a better price point that will make it more of an economical decision for consumers instead of a feature-based one. If both boards are at the same price point, I’d be crazy not to recommend the P55A boards to put under someone’s Christmas tree this holiday season.