Motherboard Guide

Gigabyte GA-EP45T-EXTREME review

Gigabyte GA-EP45T-EXTREME (Intel P45) - The Full Review

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Copper Overload

Copper Overload

Fads come and go and even trends may shift dramatically due to a single event or happening. In the case of motherboards, it seems that for some reasons, vendors think that all enthusiasts dabble in liquid cooling of some form or another. Is that the latest badge of honor worn by enthusiasts? We certainly don't agree but that may be the impression one gets when looking at the latest high-end motherboard aimed at the hardcore enthusiast, like this early sample we received from Gigabyte, the GA-EP45T-EXTREME.

Aptly christened with an 'EXTREME' moniker, the Gigabyte GA-EP45T-EXTREME is based on the new Intel P45 chipset and matched with the similarly fresh ICH10R Southbridge. Those who know their Gigabyte boards would tell from the 'T' in the name that this a DDR3 board. Gigabyte also has a DDR2 version that is identical except for the memory support. As it is, this board can take up to 16GB of DDR3 memory (1900MHz when overclocked). Other highlights include having three PCIe slots for CrossFireX configuration of up to three graphics cards, HD audio CODEC in the form of a Realtek ALC889A and onboard LED indicators for overclocking and POST messages. To get a quick idea on what this board is capable of and more photos of the board, you can check out our preview article on this board and the following table for the technical specifications (do note that this board does not support any 90nm processors, please check Gigabyte's CPU support list for more information):

Gigabyte GA-EP45T-EXTREME Technical Specifications
CPU Support
  • Supports all 65/45nm Intel LGA775 processors (Conroe or later)
  • Quad-Core ready
  • Northbridge: Intel P45
    • 800/1066/1333/1600MHz front side bus
    • PCI Express 2.0 x16 for graphics
  • Southbridge: Intel ICH10R
  • Supports 4 unbuffered DIMM of 1.5 Volt DDR3 SDRAM
  • Supports up to 16GB memory size
  • 800/1066/1333/1900 (O.C) dual channel DDR3 memory architecture
  • Intel ICH10R Southbridge
    • 6 x SATA 3.0Gbps interface
    • Intel Matrix Storage Technology
    • Support AHCI controller with SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5 and RAID 10
  • iTE IT8213 chip
    • 1 x Ultra ATA 33/66/100/133 (data transfer rate up to 133MB/sec.)
  • Intel High Definition Audio
  • Realtek ALC889A Audio CODEC
  • 2 x Realtek 8111C PCIe Gigabit Ethernet
IEEE 1394 (FireWire)
  • Texas Instrument TSB43AB23 chip
  • Up to 3 x IEEE 1394a ports @ 400 Mbps speed
I/O Interface
  • 1 x Floppy connector
  • 1 x Ultra ATA IDE connector
  • 6 x SATA connectors
  • 12 x USB 2.0 ports (8 x rear, 4 x header)
  • 3 x FireWire-400 ports (3 x header)
  • 2 x RJ45 LAN ports
  • 8-Channel Audio I/O ports
  • 1 x Optical S/PDIF Output
  • 1 x Coaxial S/PDIF Output
  • 1 x Clear CMOS switch
  • 1 x PS/2 keyboard port
  • 1 x PS/2 mouse port
Expansion Slots
  • 2 x PCIe x16 slots, (PCI Express 2.0) - configured as one x16 or two x8 slots
  • 1 x PCIe x16 slot, (PCI Express 1.0) - configured as one x4 slot
  • 1 x PCIe x1 slot, (PCI Express 1.0)
  • 3 x PCI slots, PCI 2.3 compliant
Special Features
  • Support for @BIOS
  • Support for Q-Flash
  • Support for Virtual Dual BIOS
  • Support for Download Center
  • Support for Xpress Install
  • Support for Xpress Recovery2
  • Support for EasyTune
  • Support for Dynamic Energy Saver Advanced
  • Support for Time Repair
  • Support for Q-Share
  • ATX Form Factor, 12" x 9.6"(30.5 x 24.4cm)

The main attraction for enthusiasts however is probably the extensive maze of cooling pipes and heatsinks on the board. That's not to mention the Hybrid Silent Pipe heatsink, which takes up the PCIe x1 expansion slot and resembles those heat pipe based heatsinks on graphics cards. For those on liquid cooling, this additional heatsink can act as part of the radiator and be cooled by the internal airflow of the chassis in addition to the fresh air intake from the exterior via its protruding fins. Fortunately, besides the hefty weight, losing this expansion slot is all the sacrifice required for this enthusiast board.

Gigabyte meanwhile has some nice touches up its sleeves, including handy onboard buttons for power, reset and clear CMOS. There are also LED indicators to show the level of overclocking for the memory and CPU, while the board comes with what Gigabyte calls hardware overvoltage control ICs to enable more voltage controls in the BIOS for the CPU, Northbridge and memory.

Since the layout and features (it's standard Intel P45 + ICH10R anyway) have been covered in some form or other in the preview article, we'll jump straight to the important updates that Gigabyte has added for its entire range of P45 motherboards, namely the new version of its Dynamic Energy Saving technology and the inclusion of a TPM chip.