Alright so here I am again with the fourth and final installation in the X99 Motherboards reviews series from Gigabyte in India. I've already reviewed the Gigabyte X99 Gaming 5P which comes with advanced audio features and over clocking potential to make it the ultimate fantasy for a gamer or multimedia enthusiast. The X99 SOC Champion was one hell of an over clocker but lacked features like advanced audio chip and even had lesser support for memory of 64GB in contrast to the 128GB that the other X99 boards come with as its aimed at over clocker and not to be used as a HTPC in the first place.
The gigabyte X99 UD4P is the most affordable of the lot but doesn't compromise on the feature's end but instead comes with all the bells and whistles like his other X99 cousins.
At a fundamental level this board is very similar to the X99 Gaming 5P except the styling uses a different colour scheme, the audio has fewer features and uses a different codec and the Gigabit LAN is now Intel instead of Killer. Overclocking capabilities and features are similar – both boards feature high quality 6 phase designs with International Rectifier PWM controls and there are no onboard buttons or any read-off points but the signature P series 'CPU Mode' switch is still intact. Overclocking buttons and features are reserved for task specific or higher end SKUs like the X99 SOC Champion and X99 SOC Force respectively.
Packing and Closer Look
The X99 UD4P comes in Gigabyte's standard packing in a solid cardboard box with a front window and a flap covering the view of the motherboard inside resting in an anti-statc bag. The model name along with series color highlights, the Ultra Durable in yellow for this one, are all neatly printed.
Upon opening we find some accessories that are modest but enough for an X99 platform board 4x SATA cables, 1x split power cable, 1x LED I/O shield, 1x single Crossfire bridge, 1x single SLI bridge, 1x dual SLI bridge, 1x tri-SLI bridge, 1x quad SLI bridge and the usual manuals and driver disk.
For a change I'm happy to have a motherboard from Gigabyte that's not a red and black extravaganza but a subtle black and yellow combination. Though it makes it look like a Tron movie jump-out when fully lit by its Ambient LED feature, the whole appearance of the board is really appreciable both in terms of aesthetics and finis.
The CPU socket is a LGA 2011-3 which means it'll support all the Intel i7 5XXX series Haswell-E processors. This board features the standard 8-DIMM slots supporting up to 128GB of 3333MHz memory. The CPU and DIMM slot pins are upgraded gold-plated pins, better connection and less strain on the pins. In short the layout is neat and provides enough clearance for installing big air coolers even after installing tall memory kits like the ADATA XPG Z1.
The X99 UD4P is taking advantage of a six phase all digital power design. The board (and all GIGABYTE X99 Motherboards) use an all digital CPU Power design from International Rectifier. The IR design uses 4th gen digital PWM controllers and 3rd gen PowIRstage controllers. Using a digital power controller means that the Gigabyte X99-UD4P has an incredible amount of control and precision when delivering power to the sensitive parts as they determine the current and, ultimately, temperature of the various VRMs for better longevity. Such moves are referred to as 'server-class' reliability.
On the left side to the RAM slots you'll find the standard 24pin ATX power plug and an internal SuperSpeed USB 3.0 header. A thing worth mentioning over here is that the comparatively low price has bitten into some aspects of the GA-X99-UD4P. For instance, there are no overclocking tools such as power and reset buttons, LED POST code display or CMOS clear switch but that's alright as they are not the determining features of a motherboard when it comes to true performance which we'll come to later on.
The X99 UD4P does include a CPU mode switch, the signature feature of the P series motherboards from Gigabyte. Switching it to position 2 or the "OC Mode" enables the additional CPU pins, allowing for potentially higher CPU and memory frequencies for extreme overclocking.
The famous and now customary feature from Gigabyte, the AMP UP audio is nicely located on one corner of the south bridge with an LED illuminated isolation strip that reduces any electrical distortion from nearby components. Tucked underneath the Gigabyte AMP-UP audio shield, is the Realtek ALC1150 audio codec from Realtek. The ALC1150 is a high-definition audio codec that will provide 2 channel, 4 channel, 5.1 channel, and even 7.1 channel audio for your listening pleasure.
The Gigabyte X99 UD4P has a pretty decent expansion setup. The first two PCIe x16 (PCIE_1 and PCIE_2) slots are both running at x16 speeds, the second pair (PCIE_3 and PCIE_4) are running at x8 speeds. The PCIE_4 slot does share bandwidth with the first PCIE x16 slot, so if the X99-UD4P is running four cards the first slot will be running at x8 as well. In addition to the four PCIe x16 slots, there is also three PCIe x1 expansion slots.
Tucked between the 2nd and 3rd PCIe x16 slots is couple of M.2 slots. One of them is a M.2 Socket 1 (M2_WIFI) which is meant for a wireless communication module. The second is a M.2 PCIe which is meant for a M.2 SSD of upto 80mm length - in short, whatever hardware you install, you should be able to use these ports unhindered and you'll still be able to get at them if you opt for a two-way GPU setup as well.
The heatsink on the X99 UD4P is large and connected via chrome coated copper pipes that provide good enough cooling to the chipset. Its LED illuminate and glows in the Tron yellow color making it look both attractive and premium.
Same is the case of the rear I/O panel which is backlit aswell. Both can be confiured via the BIOS or the provided Ambient LED software in the APP Center.
The I/O side of the board presents us with an impressive range of connections. Firstly, 2 separate PS/2 ports, then 4x USB 2.0 ports (black), 5x USB 3.0 ports (Blue), 1x USB 3.0 port enabled for Q-flash plus, which enables the user to update the BIOS by using the .bin file stored on a compliant USB drive, and the recommended port for keyboards/ mice for initial boot. You will also find 1x gigabit LAN port, 5x HD audio jacks, 1x S/PDIF optical port and 2 empty WiFi antenna holes.
BIOS and Bundled Software
BIOSNow one of the most important areas of the motherboard is the UEFI BIOS. This is where we need to configure the motherboard to our unique specifications of our hardware. The BIOS needs to be simple but complex enough to give us flexibility to properly tune the motherboard and Gigabyte has not only checked all these boxes right but also gave us two different looks to choose from.
Below are the some of the images from the advanced version that you come across first, its advanced and optimized for HD monitors with all the details about your system pouring on the sides in a molten lava backdrop with hot keys sliding at the bottom in a banner like fashion.
On hitting the F2 button you'll find yourself in the Classic mode which offers all the features of the advanced version but is more favorable for over clocking, not for me but for veteran over clocker who like static screens to maintain concentration!
The UEFI BIOS on the Gigabyte X99-UD4P motherboard looks absolutely fantastic, and is a beautiful experience all in itself (Once you are able to get into it, more on that in a few). I like the idea of being able to not only save a particular configuration as a personal profile, but I am able to customize how or what I want to see in the UEFI BIOS itself, as well as change the background of the UEFI BIOS. There are just so many different options that this motherboard’s UEFI BIOS has to offer it is not even funny.
Bundled SoftwareGigabyte has unified their included utility software under what is called APP Center. APP Center is a one stop source area for almost every setting and feature the X99-UD4P has to offer.
The APP Center is controlled by a menu that is nested in the lower right hand corner of the desktop.
EasyTune is the big one for overclocking, and GIGABYTE offers several tools to help with automatic overclocks. We tested each of these and with a sufficient CPU 4.1 GHz should be a walk in the park. The Auto Tuning aspect also hit 4.1 GHz on our sample.
Apart from these there are many more softwares like USB Locker, Fast boot, Game Controller, Smart Recovery 2, V tuner and many more. All these make the Gigabyte X99 UD4P a lucrative deal.
Load Tests and BenchmarksAs always I proceeded with a series of real life and synthetic benchmarks to determine the true potential of the Gigabyte X99 UD4P motherboard with the following test setup:
CPU: Intel Core i7 5960X (OC at 4.5 GHz)
Motherboard: GIGABYTE X99 UD4P
RAMs: Corsair Vengeance LPX 2800Mhz 16GB DDR4 (4x4)
CPU Cooler: Corsair H110 CPU Liquid Cooler
Graphics card: Gigabyte R9 290X windforce 3X OC 4GB DDR5
Hard disc: ADATA SP920SS 256 GB SSD
Power Supply: Cooler Master V1200 1200W 80+ Platinum
I managed to over clock the Intel i7 5960X to a respectable 4.5Ghz at 1.25V. Any further over clocking was easily possible but due to high ambient temperatures the Corsair H110 wasn't able to keep the temperatures in the safe limit and we experienced thermal throttling. With the use of a better air cooler or a larger liquid cooler I'm sure the Gaming 5P can hold the 5960X at around 4.7Ghz stable.
All power saving option were disabled and no background task was running to avoid any discrepancy in the test results. The Corsair LPX was working at 3000Mhz on default latency.
CineBench R15CINEBENCH is a real-world cross platform test suite that evaluates your computer’s performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on MAXON’s award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Iron Man 3, Oblivion, Life of Pi or Prometheus and many more.
HyperPi ModedThis test shows that the X99 UD4P is a very capable motherboard and is able to harness all the power of the i7 5960X. It also shows that there is no real memory bandwidth issues. Hence the value obtained was 7.7s at OC 4.5Ghz which is a great score.
Intel XTUIntel® Extreme Tuning Utility (Intel® XTU) is tweaking and monitoring software used not only for benchmarking a system but also is a handy over clocking tool. On an over clocked Intel 5960X at 4.5Ghz an impressive score of 2249 was obtained which is a testament to the high performance of the Gigabyte X99 UD4P in harnessing the power of the processor and other components.
3D Mark3DMark Firestrike is Futuremark’s latest creation for testing the GPU performance of high-end gaming PCs using Direct X 11 graphics.
Crystal Disk MarkCrystalDiskMark is designed to quickly test the performance of your hard drives. The program allows to measure sequential and random read/write speeds. Here we are using the ADATA SP920SS 256 GB SSD and its performing flawlessly. The speed of the SSD is matching with the Rated speed by ADATA, so there is no bottleneck issue.
7zip and x264 Benchmarks7zip is a compression and decompression tool whereas x264 determines the video conversion and number crunching potential of the system. We tested the UD4P on both the XMP 2.0 setting provided by the Corsair LPX of 2800Mhz and 3000Mhz keeping the Intel i7 5960X on a stable 4.5ghz OC.
Assassin's Creed UnityDue to its poor PC port optimization the AC Unity puts heavy load on both the CPU aswell as the GPU of any configuration so we used it to see what FPS range our system could produce on the Gigabyte X99 UD4P. The results were great and we obtained good FPS on Ultra Settings at 1080p resolution.
Tomb Raider 2013Being a graphic intensive game with beautiful textures to render we put Tomb Raider at Ultra settings & 1080p resolution on the system to see what kind of performance we can obtain.
Crysis 3Every PC enthusiast knows that the Crysis 3 is very punishing game for any configuration especially when you set all the settings to maximum. We did the same and the results were more than impressive!
Note: A worth mentioning part is that I did brought down the latency of the RAM from 16-16-16 to 12-12-12 and kept the 5960X at stock frequency booting into a stable system and able to run various benchmarks the screenshot of it is worth sharing as we can see that the Gigabyte X99 UD4P sure can enhance your memory performance manifold.
My VerdictAfter spending so much time with the Gigabyte X99 UD4P and obtaining the above results I've found that its a great board that has the balance of everything, it over clocks the RAM and processor nicely to a respectable frequency, the audio is really nice and the storage drives perform well with no signs of fluctuations. The ambient LED is a cherry on top summing everything together into a tidy deal, though I personally don't like the Tron feel but its my personal choice and taste.
So is the GIGABYTE X99-UD4P a good motherboard? You bet it is. The X99-UD4P offers a solid layout and provides a great overall experience. The X99-UD4P is a good buy if you’re looking for a relatively inexpensive X99 motherboard. This is especially true if you want something that supports 3 and 4-Way SLI. If you are looking for an X99 based motherboard the GIGABYTE X99-UD4P is an excellent choice.
I give it a 8.5/10