Gigabyte’s UD7 range of motherboards has accommodated all the popular CPU sockets in recent years, and the boards have consistently offered an abundance of features, solid overclocking performance and a price tag to match all that desirability. Unfortunately, however, the UD7 range’s principal competitors have often been cheaper models in Gigabyte’s own ranges, such as UD3 or UD2 boards, which often overclock just as competently.
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The 990FXA-UD7 is certainly pricey at a little under £200, but if anything, it’s even more of a turbo nutter piece of kit than Asus’ Crosshair V Formula, which we’ll be reviewing soon. The PCB is bristling with all manner of goodies, and its width of 263mm is also a good 20mm larger than that of the ATX specification.
The board looks as though it needs extra height as well as girth, however. This is for two reasons: the top 16x PCI-E slot is so close to the CPU socket that our GeForce GTX 590 3GB graphics card nearly blocked the fan on our CPU cooler.
Additionally, the 8-pin EPS12V connector has had to be migrated a good inch away from the edge of the PCB, so it isn’t quite as well placed as it's been on other boards we’ve seen.
The on-board USB headers are a little awkward to reach as well – they’re located on the bottom-left corner of the PCB, which is a long way from your case’s front panel. Strangely, the UD7 also has only two USB 3 ports on the I/O panel, although a further two can be added using the on-board USB 3 header. All the other aspects of the PCB are well thought out, though. The 24-pin ATX connector sits very close to the edge of the PCB, and all eight of the UD7’s SATA 6Gbps ports are mounted parallel to the PCB for easy cable routeing.
There are on-board power and reset switches too, as well as a clear CMOS button, installed adjacent to the DIMM slots. This is excellent, as you can still easily use these buttons even when the motherboard is installed in a case. However, the UD7 is equipped with only four fan headers – fewer than you get on other premium, overclocking-focused motherboards.
Thankfully, the UD7 does have all of its VRM, chipset and Southbridge heatsinks linked by heatpipes, which should help to even out the heat-load. This can be useful, as it enables a hot heatsink to offload heat onto a cooler one.
Meanwhile, a huge section of the PCB is taken up by a total of six 16x PCI-E slots, along with a single PCI slot, with the UD7 supporting up to 3-way SLI and four-card CrossFireX. The bundle also includes all the connectors necessary for any multi-GPU setup you care to use.
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It took us a while to figure out how the PCI-E lanes are configured on the UD7, but it appears that dual graphics card setups will run at full speed. The other four slots are made up of two 8x PCI-E slots and two 4x slots. The former share bandwidth with the primary and secondary slots, so installing third and fourth graphics cards will throttle the first and second 16x PCI-E slots to eight lanes of bandwidth.
Chipset AMD 990FX
CPU support Socket AM3 Athlon II, Phenom II Sempron 100-series, Future Socket AM3+ CPUs
Memory support 4 slots: max 32GB DDR3
Expansion slots six 16x PCI-E 2.0 slots (two 16x or one 16x, three 8x and two 4x), one PCI
Sound 8-channel HD Audio via Realtek ALC889
Networking Realtek RTL8111E Gigabit Ethernet
Overclocking HTT frequency 200 – 500MHz; max voltages, CPU 1.925V, CPU NB 1.75V, Chipset 1.975V, HT 1.835V, RAM 2.135V
Ports 8x SATA 6Gbps, 1 x PS/2, 14x USB 2, 4x USB 3, 2x FireWire, LAN, 4x surround audio out, line in, mic, optical S/PDIF out, eSATA 3Gbps, eSATA 6Gbps