Gigabyte adds copper to its motherboards

If you’ve shopped around for motherboards lately, you might’ve noticed Gigabyte’s “Ultra Durable” branding. Essentially, the company uses that brand to advertise its motherboards’ solid-state capacitors, low-resistance MOSFETs, and ferrite-core chokes. Together, those elements work to reduce heat dissipation and increase motherboard life span (sometimes dramatically so in overclocked systems). At least, that’s Gigabyte’s spiel.

Today, the motherboard maker has announced “Ultra Durable 3” branding, which covers all the aforementioned perks plus two-ounce copper PCBs. Gigabyte claims its peers use only one ounce (28.4 g) of copper for each of their boards’ power and ground layers, while Ultra Durable 3 mobos feature two ounces per layer.

What does that mean? According to Gigabyte, the extra copper helps spread out heat from areas like the CPU’s power circuitry, and that can cut temperatures by as much as 50ยฐC. On top of that, the added copper can halve the circuit board’s impedance and improve signal quality, which translates to reduced energy waste, higher system stability, and “greater margins for overclocking.”

You’ll find the Ultra Durable 3 logo on 12 of Gigabyte’s P45 motherboards, which we won’t list here for readability’s sake. Just look for Gigabyte’s EP45-series mobos with “UD3” at the end of the model name.

Comments closed
    • sdack
    • 11 years ago

    Gigabyte should concentrate more on a solid design than on shopping for solid components. The last Gigabyte board I bought failed to support the Phenom 9850 because of a limitation in the board’s power supply. If they then dimension the voltage regulators too small will it heat up the motherboard instead of the CPU.

    It is pretty sad to see when a motherboard maker needs to pick up a method like this to be successful. And soon all makers will offer this feature as it is very easy to copy should they feel the need to.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 11 years ago

    50C?!? The rest of that stuff aside, that really sounds like they’re pushing it to me.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 11 years ago

      Yea that’s got to be just silly marketing, kind of like Asus saying buying a mobo will save a billion trees. They probably just took measurements at the absolute hottest point in the motherboard and then compared it to the new version or even warped it more by comparing it to a low power state or something.

      In any case it’s not a bad idea, but obviously people aren’t going to see 50C reductions in measured temperatures that would put parts near or below ambient in most cases.

    • sigher
    • 11 years ago

    Hmm, so the heat from the CPU travels to the capacitors next to it quicker, rather than to the heatsink, and that’s good? Hmm, OK then.

      • ludi
      • 11 years ago

      No, rather the heat is dispersed faster through the now-thicker copper plane, which is good for keeping everything as cool as possible. The heat will be there either way; localized heat spots that don’t disperse will do exactly what you are saying.

      • sigher
      • 11 years ago

      I don’t think you get it, heat from the CPU moves along the copper of the PCB and the heatsink, if the copper in the PCB is thicker it moves there easier and heats components on the PCB, but instead it should not travel in the PCB but via the thermal compound to the heatsink and then be given off to the surrounding air.
      My supposition is that if the PCB transfers less heat it will all be dispersed through the heatsink and so leave the components cooler, so the PCB area underneath the CPU might be better off not having a lot of copper, it woulds be better to have a separate heatsink attached underneath the CPU, and in fact the very same gigabyte actually has that as seen here:
      ยง[<http://www.xbitlabs.com/misc/picture/?src=/images/mainboards/ga-x38-dq6/crazycool-1.jpg&1=1<]ยง You know since certain types of capacitors are the parts that degrade due to temperature over time I always found it odd that they place them so close to heatsinks, and in some cases even have them touch heatsinks as if they are not affected by temperature at all, and that they are you can tell by the clearly marked max temperature on the outside, as well as the observation you can make that many very old devices suffer from bad capacitors, either leaking or not having the rated capacitance any more.

        • sluggo
        • 11 years ago

        Heat transfer from inner-layer copper to SMT components is very inefficient and is not a significant factor in the working temperature of a diode, capacitor, or FET. These parts generate their own heat internally to such a degree that any heat flow that occurs is always from the part to the board. Heavier inner-layer copper only makes it easier for that transfer to take place.

        Electrolytic capacitors are often placed near heatsinks because components that require heatsinks are the same components that require a lot of instantaneous current, which is what the e-caps provide. Moving the e-caps away from the components they supply introduces additional lead inductance, compromising the function of the e-cap.

        Most e-cap heating is due to high levels of ripple current, not radiant heating from nearby heatsinks. Still, a small metal barrier, even aluminum foil, will block infrared heating and is used in some special applications to protect capacitors.

          • sigher
          • 11 years ago

          I know the capacitors are there because they are used by the components that heat up and have to be within a certain distance, I just think that sometimes they push the boundaries and having the casing of capacitors actually pressed against heatsinks that get very hot is not a good design, and as you say some electrical engineers do realise it and even place barriers to deflect heat, but seriously I’ve seen capacitors sit against heatsinks touching them more than once, and I suspect that’s the result of poor design or poor knowledge of components, or trying to save a penny by not caring too much.

          As for the components heating up and using the copper in the PCB, passive capacitors don’t heat up much from themselves AFAIK, correct me if I’m wrong.

            • sluggo
            • 11 years ago

            l[

    • Bensam123
    • 11 years ago

    Very interesting idea. It looks like Gigabyte is always leading the way in innovation in motherboards and closely related peripherals (I-Ram).

    BUT I still wouldn’t buy a Gigabyte over a Asus or Abit any day, which is sorta sad. Good ideas, but bad QA.

      • tay
      • 11 years ago

      Hear Hear!!! QA is everything. My Gigabyte and Biostar MBs always have niggling issues *niggle* *niggle*

    • mako
    • 11 years ago

    “The added copper can halve the circuit board’s impedance and improve signal quality.”

    Uhhh… This is sketchy. A 1oz copper ground plane already has a vanishing DC resistance, and extra thickness won’t help with high frequency (skin effect) losses.

    Kudos to Gigabyte for doing something different, but I’d rather have an increased layer count (4 -> 6) instead of 2oz copper.

    • Umbragen
    • 11 years ago

    I picked up one of their new P45 boards, my first Gigabyte and very likely my last. They finally fixed the S3 suspend BSOD, but totally fu*ked the memory settings. It’s been like this since I got it, one thing after another. I’ve never had an Asus board that didn’t die prematurely, but at least they put in a few good years before they kick off.

      • Meadows
      • 11 years ago

      My current Gigabyte board couldn’t be further from the chipset you use, but exhibits RAM issues and is unable to sleep (after 6 BIOS updates). I believe I can say with authority that they are likely to suck, and it’s why I’ll switch sometime soon.

      • Krogoth
      • 11 years ago

      Never had any significant problems with my EP45-DS4P.

      The memory (G.Skill 1GB PC2-6400s) on the other hand are picky about timings and voltage. The abundance of tweaking options in the BIOS just makes it more of a chore.

      • Rza79
      • 11 years ago

      I use a lot of Asus and Gigabyte boards.
      You can say that most Gigabyte boards are higher quality. Specially in the sub $100 market. But their bios’ have always been an issue for me. I need to use my contact in Gigabyte Holland all the time, to get beta bios’. Just this week i had a board that would clock an e8500 at 3Ghz instead of 3.16Ghz. It’s really annoying. Linux tends to be an issue too for Gigabyte (specially on AHCI).
      Asus on the other hand likes to skimp on quality on cheaper boards but at least their bios’, while not perfect, are much better. Boards like the M2A-VM have had like 20 bios’ but at least they keep pushing until it’s good.

    • wingless
    • 11 years ago

    If this improves overclocking then they need to hurry up and make a 790FX/SB750 board with a bit more Cu. Phenoms need all the help they can get to squeeze higher clocks out.

      • shank15217
      • 11 years ago

      Oh really? People have taken phenoms to 3.4-3.6 Ghz range

        • wingless
        • 11 years ago

        And maybe they could reach those speeds or go higher with a little more ease with extra Cu. AMD doesn’t regulate board manufacturing and design like Intel so a lot of problems could have and may still be caused by poor board design by these manufacturers. I hate the idea that they could be held back by some asshats in Taiwan trying to save some Yuan.

    • adam1378
    • 11 years ago

    “…Gigabyte claims Asus only use one ounce…”
    Correction: “…Gigabyte claims its peers…..”

    • sluggo
    • 11 years ago

    Minor correction – the copper weight as specified for PCB construction is in ounces per square foot of copper, not in ounces per layer. So a mATX motherboard with two layers of 2oz copper (as described in the article) would not have 4oz of copper, but would have about 2.12 ounces (2×9″x9″ x 2oz/ft^2) spread across two layers, or 1.06 ounces per layer.

    It’s still a nice improvement and may show up as better stability and improved heat dissapation.

    • provoko
    • 11 years ago

    Wow that’s awesome. But it’s weird though, they said it was 1oz to 2oz. So, that’s only double the ounces of copper, why not triple or quadruple it? And do other mobo makers put copper in their mobo’s at all?

      • ew
      • 11 years ago

      1oz and 2oz are standard thicknesses I think. All motherboards use copper for their traces.

      • liquidsquid
      • 11 years ago

      Process problems with inner-layer copper being thick, and lack of copper being well, thin. That is the limitation (plus cost). This makes lamination very tricky, and de-lamination may occur in heat-stressed areas of the board. 2oz is usually max for inner planes, it is very unusual to go over that without a filler material in the lamination process. (expensive).

      The idea then is to make sure you have plenty of copper and the voids small. This is typically easier on plane layers. If you need thick layers of copper, that is usually reserved for outer layers (top and bottom), such as in power supply designs. I could go on…

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 11 years ago

    btw, slightly off topic, but how’s copper been trading on the commodities market? I had a friend who was flush with cash but waffled on the decision to buy gold, and now he’s regretting it for the rest of his days (he would’ve made hundreds of thousands).

    Is copper going to see the same kind of skyrockets that gold has had?

      • ludi
      • 11 years ago

      Copper already saw that kind of fluctuation, the price went through the roof between about April and October 2007 IIRC and stayed fairly high thereafter.

      That’s why for the past couple years you read a lot about idiots electrocuting themselves stealing wires out of substations, and cities having to hide brass sprinkler valves. It’s also why more and more housing starts are using high-temp PVC for the majority of plumbing. Not only is it cheaper, it doesn’t get stolen off the construction site by meth heads.

      • Anomymous Gerbil
      • 11 years ago

      Haha, and he could have lost hundreds of thousands as well. Everything’s a piece of cake in hindsight.

    • lolento
    • 11 years ago

    ahhh…..disaster waiting to happen.

    Copper and the FR4 material has CTE mismatch issue. Unless this problem has been resolved somehow, these boards will be less reliable then before.

      • JustAnEngineer
      • 11 years ago

      If the layup of the multi-layer printed circuit board is unbalanced, this can cause the board to warp unacceptably during the manufacturing process (e.g.: soldering). However, if you make a balanced design with a heavy power or ground plane on each side, it isn’t much more difficult to manufacture than any other multi-layer printed circuit board.

      Note that this was true of prototype motherboards that we built at the Nortel factory where I worked 20 years ago. Perhaps today, they have even more advanced resins and methods to solve the issue.

        • liquidsquid
        • 11 years ago

        Yes, resins have vastly improved, especially to support RoHS. The PCB manufacturing has gotten an overhaul in the past 5 years to accomidate many changes (including some VERY fine geometries).

        -LS

      • sluggo
      • 11 years ago

      No, if you add copper without increasing the heat load, you actually /[

    • adisor19
    • 11 years ago

    What’s that now ?! Motherboard makers actually investing in quality components rather then gimmicky overblown heat sinks and coloured RAM slots ? What is this world coming to ?

    Adi

    • robspierre6
    • 11 years ago

    Good news for overclockers.If…..these claims are true.

    • Corrado
    • 11 years ago

    Gigabyte has been on a rampage lately. I just wish Microcenter had carried a 790GX with an SB750 Gigabyte board with 2 PCIe16x slots. I would have bought it over the Biostar board I got. But for the $90 I paid I can’t complain about the Biostar.

    • Grigory
    • 11 years ago

    I am still waiting for optical layers in the PCBs. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • mesyn191
      • 11 years ago

      Probably won’t see that for 10 yr. or more. Stuff is expeeeeensive. We might see a 32x lane PCIe 3.0 or some new standard first.

        • Grigory
        • 11 years ago

        Hmm, 10 years? My guess would be a leeeeetle less then 10 years. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Forge
    • 11 years ago

    My EP35-DS4 also makes me very happy. I’m half-tempted to get an EP45-DSX but none are 1:1 feature matches to the EP35-DS4, and PCIe 2.0 isn’t enough to offset some of the losses.

    EP35-DS4 = almost perfect.

    • herothezero
    • 11 years ago

    Have to say, as a long time Asus user/seller, I’ve been loving my EP35-DS4 board quite a bit.

    • swaaye
    • 11 years ago

    translates to higher copper waste. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • ew
      • 11 years ago

      You can now consider you motherboard a precious metals investment.

      • Mystic-G
      • 11 years ago

      How much is copper these days? You better take it apart when ur done. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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