P55-UD6 Board layout
With so many features integrated on the board, you’d expect a few layout issues with the P55-UD6, but Gigabyte’s done a really good job in this department.
Despite all the VRMs and power circuitry Gigabyte leaves plenty of room for oversized air coolers around the LGA-1156 socket. Even our largest Thermalright heatsinks fit without issue.
Like all P55 motherboards we’ve tested, we have run into clearance issues between large CPU coolers and memory modules with oversized heatsinks/heatspreaders like the OCZ Reaper line as well as Corsair Dominator. These modules have very tall heatsinks that won’t fit underneath oversized “Tower” style CPU coolers, which often extend over the DIMM slots. Thankfully memory manufacturers also provide high-end DDR3 memory modules that utilize conventional heatspreaders like the OCZ Platinum, or the Kingston KHX1600C8D3K2/4GX modules we used for this review.
Just behind the DIMM slots lies Gigabyte’s integrated power button. This button doubles as a power LED, as a blue LED shines when the board is receiving power. Gigabyte also places physical buttons for resetting the system as well as clear CMOS on the bottom of the board near the IDE connector. Honestly we would’ve preferred it if Gigabyte would’ve used conventional-sized buttons that are clearly labeled like the LED-backlit power button.
With the current setup Gigabyte employs you have to look carefully to make sure you don’t accidentally hit the clear CMOS button when you actually just want to reset your system. A diagnostic LED display is also located nearby for diagnosing issues during POST. This is a handy feature to have that we appreciate on high-end boards like the P55-UD6.
Gigabyte employs excellent cooling on the P55-UD6. A heatpipe is responsible for cooling the board’s power circuitry as well as the chipset itself. While copper isn’t used, none of these components really need it either; in fact many competing high-end P55 motherboards don’t even utilize heatpipes to cool these components, so Gigabyte is definitely a step ahead here.
You can see the 10 SATA ports are nestled just behind the P55 chipset. The ports are mounted parallel to the edge of the board, so they won’t interfere with large graphics cards like the Radeon 5870, which runs great with this motherboard. In fact, Gigabyte places two expansion slots between the PCI Express Graphics (PEG) slots, so you’ll have plenty of room for dual 5870s.
As you can see, the board is outfitted with 3 PEG slots, but the third slot is electrically limited x4 operation, and therefore would only be used for running additional displays, or you could throw your old GeForce 8800 GT or 9600 GT here for PhysX. The motherboard is also equipped with two PCI slots and two x1 PCIe slots for additional expansion, while legacy floppy and IDE connectors are also present on the board.
Because the uppermost x1 PCIe slot is located right next to Gigabyte’s heatsink for the board’s power regulation circuitry, you may not be able to use this slot for many x1 PCIe devices. That’s our only real gripe with the layout of this board. It would also be nice if Gigabyte offered a clear CMOS button on the backplate of the motherboard for easy access.