GIGABYTE GA-EP45-DQ6 Motherboard Review
The color scheme is very reminiscent of other GIGABYTE boards. Sky blue PCB with multicolored slots and ports. While sometimes, you might think your staring at a two year olds Lego block set, the varying color scheme does aid in identifying different ports during the hardware install process.
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This board sports some serious chipset cooling, with seven copper heatsinks and five heatpipes in all. Throughout the board Gigabyte uses low RDS(on) MOSFETs, even for the additional two phase north bridge and memory circuits. Also placed throughout the board is sealed ferrite iron chokes in keeping with the “Ultra Durable 2” branding.
A quick look at the backside of the board, reveals that Gigabyte placed a couple voltage regulators on the back of the board.
The CPU socket area is pretty clean and should not inhibit the installation of most large coolers. Located around the CPU socket area, is a large number of ferrite chokes, and lots of MOSFETs. This close proximity allows the components to grab some extra cooling air, if you happen to use a down draft style CPU cooler. GIGABYTE also incorporates the VRD11.1 feature set into the board. VRD11.1 allows for increased energy savings while running the latest 45nm processors. This falls in line with GIGABYTE's commitment to producing energy efficient motherboards as of late.
The board should fully support all of your SATA needs, as it offers ten internal SATA connections overall. The orange ports are directly linked to the ICH10R south bridge, while the purple ones are controlled by the Sil5723 SATA chip. For the best performance configuration, your boot and OS drives should most likely be connected to the ports directly linked to the Southbridge controller. The ports orientated at a 90 degree angle are placed accordingly, so that they will not interfere with any long graphics cards, as they are in line with the GPU expansion slots. There are two USB expansion ports and three IEEE1394 ports, and they differentiate in color as well. The IDE connector is placed at the bottom of the board, and the front panel connector is located just below that.
The EP45-DQ6 supports 4 x DDR2 memory modules, and a memory capacity up to 16 gigs. The 24-pin power connection is also located on this top right corner. I find this placement works well, as it makes it easy to route the power cable away from other board components. If you still using a floppy drive, a board connection is provided for you next to the power receptacle.
GIGABYTE uses twelve phase CPU power regulation with two MOSFETs per choke. The 8-pin CPU power connector is placed behind the socket, and somewhat close to the copper heatsink.
In the peripheral expansion department, the board sports one PCI-E X16 slot, one x PCI-E X8 slot, three PCI-E x 1 slots and two PCI slots. In the only real limitation of the P45 chipset, if you utilize ATI’s dual GPU Crossfire solution, the bandwidth will drop to X8 vs. the dual X16 some chipsets offer. However, this shouldn’t be to much of a detrimental factor, as most current cards most likely do not over saturate a X8 PCI-E bus. The ports are clearly labeled, and in some cases even labeled inside the actual port itself. This can be seen on the com port one the bottom corner of the board.
I/O back panel connectors include: PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports, coaxial and optical S/PDIF, 4 x LAN and 8 x USB 2.0 and HD Audio ports. In regards to the four Realtek Gigabit Ethernet ports, GIGABYTE’s specifications claim that they can be used as a switch and router, or they can all be used together to provide a 4Gbps connection. GIGABYTE also includes rear eSATA and IEEE1394 support by expansion brackets.
Along the bottom of the board is three blue LED switches consisting of power, reset and clear CMOS.
GIGABYTE also provides extra phase power regulation for the north bridge...
and memory circuits.