Gigabyte GA-EP45T-Extreme Motherboard ReviewFri, Sep 05, 2008 - 12:00 AM
Board Layout and Features
The PCB for the GA-EP45T-Extreme is incredibly packed with nearly every square centimeter of space covered in components. The board supports DDR3, six SATA 2 connections, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, eight USB 2.0 ports, three PCI slots, a PCIe x16 2.0 slot, a PCIe x8 2.0 slot, a PCIe x4 2.0 slot, and a PCIe 1x 2.0 slot. There is enough connectivity on this board to satisfy nearly anyone.
The CPU socket has a large number of components surrounding it. The PWM features 12 virtual phases provided by the ISL6336 6 phase controller with two chokes and associated MOSFETs per phase. This configuration should provide enough current for even the most power hungry quad-core processors while providing a stable voltage.
The memory slots are set up with the matching colors to be utilized for dual-channel operation. The DDR3 is fed with the ISL6322G 2-phase controller providing stable power for high-speed DDR3. The board itself states DDR3-1900 operation as part of the features.
The southbridge has a cluster of components around it. There are six SATA ports provided by ICH10R, a PATA port and a floppy port supported by two iTE chips, two BIOS chips for stability, and a unique hardware based RAID setup that removes any driver requirements. You will also notice a few convenient buttons that control board power and reset along with a two digit debug LED.
The expansion slots are configured for CrossFire support while maximizing slot availability. The primary PCIe slot and secondary PCIe slot can be utilized with double-slot cards while still keeping a PCIe 1x 2.0 and PCI slot available for other expansion cards. Triple card CrossFire is supported although the third slot features only 4x connectivity, potentially crippling performance.
Gigabyte’s SilentPipe technology has been highly successful with modest heatpipe assemblies that effectively cool the southbridge, northbridge, and PWM MOSFETs. A new addition to this rendition of the SilentPipe is an incorporated waterblock and additional heatpipe assembly. It isn’t necessary to use either for normal use; however, using either option greatly helps dissipate additional heat from overclocking. The northbridge itself is fed by an ISL6322G 2-phase controller providing a stable power source for some high FSB overclocking.
The back panel features legacy PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports, optical and coaxial SPDIF connectors, eight USB 2.0 ports, 2 Gigabit ports, 6 audio jacks, and a CMOS clear switch. This CMOS clear switch was crucial in overclocking this board as occasionally the BIOS wouldn’t recover from a failed overclock.