Gigabyte P55M-UD2 review
Intel's Core i5-750 processor is the best current choice for those wanting to build a powerful PC on a reasonable budget. Because of this, we've reviewed a number of motherboards that have a suitable LGA1156 socket. Our favourite to date is MSI's P55M-GD45, but Gigabyte's P55M-UD2 is equally attractive.
Like the GD45, the UD2 uses the P55 Express chipset – which is actually the only one currently supporting LGA1156 chips. Other similarities include a tasteful blue and white colour scheme, not dissimilar to the GD45's blue and black, and a microATX format. The latter means you can squeeze this board into smaller desktop cases, or media centre cases; however, it does limit the number of expansion slots to four.
The choice of expansion slots is the key difference between the two boards. The UD2 has two PCI-Express x16 slots and two PCI slots, which should be ample for most needs. The only issue could come if you want to use a pair of graphics cards and a PCI-Express expansion card, like a dual TV tuner; but we'd strongly recommend the extra space provided by a full-sized ATX board for a dual graphics card setup. We feel the GD45 is a little more flexible here, with both PCI and PCI-Express x1 slots.
Like all P55 boards, this one has plenty of SATA ports. Five are supported by the chipset, with all the usual RAID 0,1,5 and 10 options, plus there's an additional two ports supported by a separate RAID 0 or 1 controller. IDE and floppy connectors are also present for older storage devices.
The back of the board has every port you're likely to need, with eSATA, FireWire and ten USB ports. The onboard audio chip has six analogue minijacks outputs supporting up to 7.1 surround sound, plus there's both optical and coaxial S/PDIFs.
There are four memory slots, which support DDR3 at speeds up to the P55 specification of 1333MHz. The UD2 can also support overclocked memory up to 2,200MHz, though such modules are prohibitively expensive and only give small performance increases. The BIOS contains all the options you'd want for overclocking in, though we simply let Intel's own Turbo Boost technology do its own thing.
We can't see any reason why one P55 board should be faster than another, but the UD2 was a little quicker in our benchmarks than both the boards we tested last month. It's only by a few points in our Multitasking test, but repeated test runs confirmed this. Complete with a Core i5-750 chip it scored 140 overall, powering through every task.
There's really little to choose still between this and other P55 boards. However, the UD2 has everything you'd expect, and is also a little cheaper than most. Unless you particularly need the GD45's additional PCI-Express slot, then we recommend you buy the UD2 as the basis for your new PC.
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