Gigabyte aims for microATX with P55 boards

Earlier this week, the folks at Gigabyte held an event to introduce the press to their lineup of P55 motherboards. I attended and got the skinny on a whole raft of upcoming products—11 different motherboard models, by my count, based on Intel’s P55 chipset and intended for Lynnfield Core i5/i7 processors.

Reps from Intel and Kingston were on hand to talk about how their new CPUs and memory would complement the motherboards. The talk was generally upbeat all around, since many in the industry are looking to Lynnfield and its related products to provide a much-needed boost for the PC market in the midst of a difficult economy. That hope is predicated in part on the fact that Lynnfield projects to deliver a real boost in single- and dual-threaded applications—including games—thanks to an aggressive version of the Turbo Boost function familiar from the original Bloomfield Core i7s.

Of course, when I mention 11 different mobo models, that’s perhaps overstating things, since many of them are just minor variations of the same design, with features deleted to meet different price points. We’ve already previewed one of the anchors of that lineup, the P55-UD4P. One board that stood out from the pack, though, was the P55M-UD4.

This thing crams an awful lot into a microATX form factor, including four DDR3 DIMM slots, two PCIe x16 slots with SLI and CrossFireX support, PCIe x4 and PCI expansion slots, eight SATA ports, eight-channel HD Audio with Dolby Home Theater certification, and 12-phase power. On top of that, Gigabyte has a whole stack of fancy tweaking and tuning capabilities with which it endows most of its boards, and this mATX specimen looks to be generously appointed on that front, as well.

This is just one of two P55 mATX boards Gigabyte has planned. The other, the UD2, looks to have two PCI slots and fewer features, likely at a lower price.

We’ll have more to say about these P55 boards once the CPUs have officially made their debut, of course. Stay tuned.

Comments closed
    • FuturePastNow
    • 10 years ago

    Hey, Gigabyte, how about a version of ACPI higher than 1.0?

    • vikramsbox
    • 10 years ago

    It seems to be overkill. What bothers me is the immensely crowded area around the CPU and the chipset. In areas with higher ambient temperatures, there would be a major hot spot around the chipset (heat caused by 2 graphics cards compunded by air flow obstruction by the SATA/power cables).
    Most cabinets still follow the air flow system introduced by Intel during the P4 days and are sized to ATX form factors. A very cramped microATX board would lead to air flow around the board rather than across it, leading to hot spots.
    An ATX 6 layer PCB should cost 5-10$ more than the microATX PCBs, so I don’t see the need for such cramped PCBs, considering that well ventilated cases are a must for SLI/X-Fire

    • HurgyMcGurgyGurg
    • 10 years ago

    So how long until ATX dies off for everything but enthusiast boards?

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 10 years ago

      Probably as long as it takes to get rid of the silly idea that it’s better to have a ginormous case because it “cools better” and “overclocks better.”

      Just take your pick of PC enthusiast marketing fallacies. People will never stop believing that bigger is better, no matter how many ways you can find to disprove it.

    • Xenolith
    • 10 years ago

    What kind of floppy controller does it have?

      • MadManOriginal
      • 10 years ago

      lol. If it’s JMICRONZ then F*** THIS BORED!11

      • Meadows
      • 10 years ago

      Do you need one?

      • Trymor
      • 10 years ago

      lol. I think it is one of the newer brand. I believe the name is None.

        • WillBach
        • 10 years ago

        What I would like is a chipset that could emulate a floppy disk connected to ISOs on a USB storage device. That would have made life considerably easier for me on numerous occasions trying to install SATA drivers under XP or using a DOS boot disk.
        An emulated DVD or Blu-Ray burner would be nice. Reinstalling an OS from an ISO without having to burn in or format a thumb drive would be a time saver.

          • UberGerbil
          • 10 years ago

          That’s a good idea… just six or seven years too late.

    • TheBob!
    • 10 years ago

    I am loving the move to higher end boards in the microATX form factor. Even a year and a half ago back when I build my girlfriends rig I couldnt find anything but cheap mATX boards and she was set on a mATX case.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 10 years ago

      2 x16 slots are impossible unless there’s a PCIe bridge chip like the NV200 and even then all that does is make the slots communicate between each other at x16 speed not between cards and CPU. Such chips also add latency. So I’d say no it likely does not indicate 2 x16 electrical slots.

    • UberGerbil
    • 10 years ago

    Did you ping them about better BIOS fan control?

      • SomeOtherGeek
      • 10 years ago

      Ha! Stop dreaming… That would be the day. The fan controlling, not the ping.

        • Voldenuit
        • 10 years ago

        Yarly. I have a Gigabyte EP45-UD3P, and not only are the (2 – only 2???) system fan headers not BIOS controlable, there’s also the issue with the crackling audio.

        To Gigabyte: fail less, m’kay?

    • UberGerbil
    • 10 years ago

    And a PS/2 port, too. 🙂
    (At least it looks like one of those bi-colored keyboard/mouse ports at the top of the port cluster)

    Early front-runner for my Lynnfield build towards the end of the year.

    • WillBach
    • 10 years ago

    That’s obviously not a Gigabyte motherboard. Oh, wait, the PCIe x4 slot (which isn’t terminated at the end, a good touch) is orange. It’s a Gigabyte board after all.

    Speaking of funny colors, Scott, does TR have any plans to review DFI boards in the near future?

      • flip-mode
      • 10 years ago

      bump. What happened to DFI?

        • MadManOriginal
        • 10 years ago

        It’s kind of too bad that DFI boards don’t get around to all the major sites. One could even argue that they started the performance mATX segment with the P45 Jr. I will say that their boards are a little more quirky and advanced in terms of tweaking, in both good and bad ways, than Asus or Gigabyte.

          • WillBach
          • 10 years ago

          I haven’t looked at DFI in a while, but I just dropped by their website and it seems that when a Phenom II 955 Black Edition hit 7 GHz in Finland recently (cooled with liquid helium) it was on a Lanparty board. Nice to see the DFI is still in the game.

    • swaaye
    • 10 years ago

    #1 -> If they’re still using “their” eSATA2 chip, then it’s JMicron because that chip is a rebranded JMicron chip. It does IDE and 2 SATA II. That definitely looks like it, in between the white SATA and IDE ports.

    sorry didn’t do reply button…..

    • bdwilcox
    • 10 years ago

    I hate to sound like a broken record, but does anyone know what IDE controller chip Gigabyte plans to use on this line of boards? JMicron? Marvell?

    If they stick with JMicron, my next purchase is going to be a Core2Duo and P31+ICH7 southbridge board. I just can’t afford to have flaky IDE controllers when trying to do data recovery on older drives.

      • Skrying
      • 10 years ago

      You would take that big of a step down in performance over just buying a dedicated IDE card? That seems odd.

        • UberGerbil
        • 10 years ago

        Yeah and they’re what, about $20? If you were worried about booting from it I might understand wanting to avoid an AIB, but if the goal is pulling data off old drives a PCI card would be fine (might even be better in terms of convenience of connecting the cable).

          • Kurotetsu
          • 10 years ago

          The really hilarious part is that NO ONE complained by JMicron IDE/SATA controllers until their botched SSD controllers showed up. Now everything with ‘JMicron’ branded onto it is automatic suck, regardless if they had been running perfectly fine before that point.

            • bdwilcox
            • 10 years ago

            That’s not true. JMicron’s IDE controller has been a PITA since they showed up with flaky hard drive support and “roll the dice” bootability with optical drives.

            • Skrying
            • 10 years ago

            I’ve never had an issue with their IDE controller, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it did have an issue. Still, I would imagine a simple USB to IDE or IDE PCI card would be a far more sensible option than going all the way back to ICH7.

            • bdwilcox
            • 10 years ago

            IDE to USB adapters work great in Windows, but in DOS they often aren’t recognized. Plus, many adapters won’t recognize and mount older drives that I work with.

            • maxxcool
            • 10 years ago

            To be fair there is some merit in the complaints. In windows sometimes the damned jmcron controllers are weird. especially when mixing pata and sata drives with achi enabled.

            however i do chalk it directly to windows driver support. i have yet to have a problem with pclinux and or puppymac. but then again they may default to compatibility mode and i may not know it.

            meh.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 10 years ago

            I never had a problem but I only ever used PATA on the JMicron controllers, AHCI, RAID or IDE mode shouldn’t make a difference but I always load AHCI drivers anyway. I never had enough drives in one system to need the SATA ports above the 6 the ICH supports on typical mobos. I could see it as an important problem if people need to use eSATA ports hung off the JMicron.

            Maybe the 4 blue and 2 white internal ports on the Gigabyte mobo pictures above indcates that they got smart and decided to use ICH ports for eSATA.

          • bdwilcox
          • 10 years ago

          There is nothing like an Intel southbridge for stability and compatibility when it comes to old, obsolete (can you say Conner?), failing, and failed drives. Up until a year or so ago, I used only a 440BX/82371EB (PIIX4E) chipset based board to do recoveries but had to stop when the Intel board’s BIOS wouldn’t recognize a lot of the newer monster hard drives anymore.

          The 3rd party controllers found on add-in cards tend to work OK in Windows, but their low level support for drives in DOS and Linux is not up to par with Intel’s home brew and most of my hardcore recovery comes through DOS since the best tools use(d) it. Plus, when an add-in card goes through the PCI or PCI Express bus it adds one more point of failure that can stymie a tough recovery task. I can’t tell you how many times a drive not recognized on a Promise or Highpoint based card would be instantly recognized by an Intel southbridge.

        • eitje
        • 10 years ago

        or a USB-IDE adapter, even….

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This