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Gigabyte X99-UD4P Haswell-E Motherboard

Gigabyte X99-UD4P Haswell-E Motherboard

June 19, 2015 by Lawrence Lee

Product
Gigabyte X99-UD4P

LGA2011-v3 E-ATX Motherboard
Manufacturer
Gigabyte
Street Price
US$260

Given the scope of our site, we pay little attention to Intel's LGA2011 platform. It's a socket with high performance, high power, and prohibitively expensive chips that are only worthwhile for the most wealthy, professional, or enthusiastic of PC users. That being said, motherboards are very much within our purview, and high-end models are usually where we first see any innovations from manufacturers. The US$260 Gigabyte X99-UD4P is the first such LGA2011-v3 motherboard to grace us with its presence. It's an overly large E-ATX model which is geared toward gamers, offering 4-way SLI/Crossfire as its main selling point, something that's lacking in the smaller ATX variants.



The Gigabyte X99-UD4P box.



The board.

For those out of the know, v3 is an updated version of LGA2011 that supports the latest generation of Haswell-E/EP processors which can use quad-channel DDR4 memory. Thus, the X99-UD4P's large dual lever socket is sandwiched between four DDR4 slots on each side, leaving little room for cooling the board's 8-phase all-digital power regulation system. The modest VRM heatsink has some help though, being connected with a heatpipe to a chipset heatsink which covers a substantial portion of the bottom half of the board, an area where there's more space available. Aside from all the PCI-E x16 slots, the X99-UD4P has all the usual features of a high-end model including plenty of SATA ports, SATA Express, M.2 storage, loads of USB 3.0 ports, not to mention a high quality audio solution, five independently controllable fan headers, and lighting effects at three separate locations.



Package contents.



Accessories.

The box has a flap at the top hiding a plastic window that can be used to gaze lovingly at the board inside wrapped in its antistatic veil. The accessories are neatly arrayed in compartments underneath and include a driver disc, user's manual, quick install guide, four sleeved SATA cables, I/O shield, 3-way 8-pin power splitter (to help power video cards if you lack enough 6/8-pin connectors), one flexible bridge each for CrossFire and SLI, a 4-way SLI bridge, and two 3-way SLI bridges.

Relevant Specifications: Gigabyte X99-UD4P

(from the product
web page
)
CPU * Support for Intel® Core™ i7 processors in the LGA2011-v3 package

* L3 cache varies with CPU
Chipset * Intel® X99 Express Chipset
Memory * 8 x DDR4 DIMM sockets supporting up to 128 GB of system memory

* 4 channel memory architecture

* Support for DDR4 3333(O.C.) / 3200(O.C.) / 3000(O.C.) / 2800(O.C.) / 2666(O.C.) / 2400(O.C.) / 2133 MHz memory modules

* Support for non-ECC memory modules

* Support for Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) memory modules

*Support for RDIMM 1Rx8/2Rx8/1Rx4/2Rx4 memory modules (operate in non-ECC mode)
Audio * Realtek® ALC1150 codec

* High Definition Audio

* 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel

* Support for S/PDIF Out
LAN * Intel® GbE LAN chips (10/100/1000 Mbit)
Expansion Slots * 2 x PCI Express x16 slots, running at x16 (PCIE_1, PCIE_2)

* For optimum performance, if only one PCI Express graphics card is to be installed, be sure to install it in the PCIE_1 slot; if you are installing two PCI Express graphics cards, it is recommended that you install them in the PCIE_1 and PCIE_2 slots.

* 2 x PCI Express x16 slots, running at x8 (PCIE_3, PCIE_4)

* The PCIE_4 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIE_1 slot. When the PCIE_4 slot is populated, the PCIE_1 slot will operate at up to x8 mode.

* When an i7-5820K CPU is installed, the PCIE_2 slot operates at up to x8 mode and the PCIE_3 operates at up to x4 mode.

(All PCI Express x16 slots conform to PCI Express 3.0 standard.)



* 3 x PCI Express x1 slots

(The PCI Express x1 slots conform to PCI Express 2.0 standard.)

* 1 x M.2 Socket 1 connector for the wireless communication module (M2_WIFI)

Multi-Graphics Technology * Support for 4-Way/3-Way/2-Way AMD CrossFire™/NVIDIA® SLI™ technology

* The 4-Way NVIDIA® SLI™ configuration is not supported when an i7-5820K CPU is installed. To set up a 3-Way SLI configuration, refer to "1-6 Setting up AMD CrossFire™/NVIDIA® SLI™ Configuration."
Storage Interface Chipset:

* 1 x M.2 PCIe connector

(Socket 3, M key, type 2242/2260/2280 SATA & PCIe x2/x1 SSD support)

* 1 x SATA Express connector

* 6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors (SATA3 0~5)

* Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10

* Only AHCI mode is supported when an M.2 PCIe SSD or a SATA Express device is installed.

(M2_10G, SATA Express, and SATA3 4/5 connectors can only be used one at a time. The SATA3 4/5 connectors will become unavailable when an M.2 SSD is installed in the M2_10G connector.)



Chipset:

* 4 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors (sSATA3 0~3), supporting IDE and AHCI modes only

(An operating system installed on the SATA3 0~5 connectors cannot be used on the sSATA3 0~3 connectors.)
USB Chipset:

* 4 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports (2 ports on the back panel, 2 ports available through the internal USB header)

* 8 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports (4 ports on the back panel, 4 ports available through the internal USB headers)



Chipset + Renesas® uPD720210 USB 3.0 Hub:

* 4 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports on the back panel
Internal I/O Connectors * 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector

* 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector

* 1 x PCIe power connector

* 1 x I/O shield audio LED power connector

* 1 x heatsink LED power connector

* 1 x M.2 Socket 3 connector

* 1 x SATA Express connector

* 10 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors

* 1 x CPU fan header

* 1 x water cooling fan header (CPU_OPT)

* 3 x system fan headers

* 1 x front panel header

* 1 x front panel audio header

* 1 x USB 3.0/2.0 header

* 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers

* 1 x Trusted Platform Module (TPM) header

* 1 x Thunderbolt™ add-in card connector

* 1 x Clear CMOS jumper

* 1 x CPU mode switch
I/O Controller * iTE® I/O Controller Chip
H/W Monitoring * System voltage detection

* CPU/System/Chipset temperature detection

* CPU/CPU OPT/System fan speed detection

* CPU/System/Chipset overheating warning

* CPU/CPU OPT/System fan fail warning

* CPU/CPU OPT/System fan speed control

* Whether the fan speed control function is supported will depend on the cooler you install.
BIOS * 2 x 128 Mbit flash

* Use of licensed AMI UEFI BIOS

* Support for DualBIOS™

* Support for Q-Flash Plus

* PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.7, WfM 2.0, SM BIOS 2.7, ACPI 5.0
Unique Features * Support for APP Center

* Available applications in APP Center may differ by motherboard model. Supported functions of each application may also differ depending on motherboard specifications.

@BIOS

Ambient LED

EasyTune

EZ Setup

Fast Boot

Cloud Station

ON/OFF Charge

Smart TimeLock

Smart Recovery 2

System Information Viewer

USB Blocker

V-Tuner

* Support for Q-Flash

* Support for Smart Switch

* Support for Xpress Install
Bundle Software * Norton® Internet Security (OEM version)

* Intel® Smart Response Technology

* cFosSpeed
Operating System * Support for Windows 8.1/8/7
Form Factor * E-ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 26.4cm
Remark * Due to different Linux support condition provided by chipset vendors, please download Linux driver from chipset vendors' website or 3rd party website.

* Most hardware/software vendors may no longer offer drivers to support Win9X/ME/2000/XP. If drivers are available from the vendors, we will update them on the GIGABYTE website.

The X99 chipset supplies 10 SATA 6 Gbps ports, which are present here, but they're augmented with SATA Express and M.2 options as well as an M.2 WiFi slot. It should be noted that SATA Express and M.2 storage share bandwidth with each other and two SATA ports, so only one of these features can be used at any given time. Another thing to note is one of the PCI-E x16 slots turns into a 4x slot if a i7-5820K processor is used as it has fewer PCI-E lanes built-in than other i7s. They've also added a Renasas chip to supplement the Intel USB 3.0 controller so six ports are available on the back panel.

PHYSICAL DETAILS

The X99-UD4P is an E-ATX motherboard, which means it's slightly wider than an ATX model, but the layout is very similar. The board is fairly busy though due to the cooling system and all the expansion options available including an impressive number of storage, memory, and PCI-E slots.



The X99-UD4P is equipped with an 8-phase voltage regulation system. It's cooled by a rather small VRM heatsink connected via heatpipe to the chipset heatsink.



Popping off the socket protector, a bent pin was discovered which is very unusual as the sample should have been shipped straight from the factory. In any event, it was carefully straightened to no apparent ill effect. The pins on a second sample we received was immaculate.



The SATA port configuration is somewhat confusing. They're all 6 Gbps connectors but the four black ports pictured on the left are designated as "sSATA" ports meaning they don't support RAID functionality. SATA Express uses the three bottom connectors of the grey block and it shares bandwidth with the M.2 SSD slot so you can use one or the other. Utilizing either leaves eight regular SATA connectors available, only half of which are RAID-capable.



The board uses the Realtek ALC1150 audio codec capable of delivering a 115 dB signal-to-noise ratio. It provides 7.1 sound and a separate simultaneous 2.0 output via the front panel. A built-in amplifier is hooked up to the rear ports and the left and right audio channels are built on different PCB layers to limit crosstalk.



Back panel ports: 2 x PS/2, 4 x USB 2.0, 4 x USB 3.0 (Renasas controller), 2 x USB 3.0 (native Intel controller), RJ45 (Intel gigabit NIC), analog audio, and S/PDIF. The white USB 3.0 port supports Gigabyte's Q-Flash Plus feature which allows the BIOS to be updated automatically using a USB thumb drive even if the system will not boot or the CPU/memory are not installed. At the far end are cutouts for optional wireless antennae.



Lighting is featured heavily on the X99-UD4P. The chipset heatsink glows orange, and a trace near the audio circuitry shines yellow. Using software, the latter can be set to pulse slowly on and off or flash in reaction to the sound output.



The included I/O shield has a small 2-pin cable used to light up another set of LEDs. The symbol for each port is illuminated in purple against a blue back drop. All of the lighting effects can be disabled, both in the BIOS, and via software, for a more low-key experience.

BIOS/UEFI

The BIOS interface is somewhat convoluted as there are three different interfaces inside depending on the user's needs and preferences. The settings available aren't as vast as some enthusiast models I've encountered but it should be more than enough to satisfy seasoned pros, while the simpler UI modes should keep neophytes from being overwhelmed.



The default BIOS interface is designed for beginners with shortcuts to the basic options you need to get the system up and running properly.



If users want to start delving into overclocking and such, the Smart Tweak UI is a good way to ease into it as it offers the basic frequency and voltage settings required for the task.



This mode has a useful home screen that can consolidate everything into one menu with several savable profiles.



These menus are fully customizable so you can pick and choose what settings you see on each screen.



The more text heavy advanced mode will be the most familiar to experienced enthusiasts and the most capable, showcasing every little tweak that can be performed. See the manual for full listing of everything available.



One area that could use improvement is fan control. There are five 4-pin fan headers provided, all individually controllable, but no fine grain adjustments can be made in the BIOS. All you can really do is select how quickly the fans increase in speed in relation to CPU temperature whether with one of the presets or by PWM value. The resulting fan speed curve is entirely linear.

TEST METHODOLOGY

Test Setup:



Test configuration device listing.

Measurement and Analysis Tools

Video Test Clips



1080p | 24fps | ~22 mbps

H.264/MKV 1080p: A custom 1080p H.264 encoded clip inside an Matroska container.




1080p | 24fps | ~2.3 mbps

Flash 1080p: The Dark Knight Rises Official Trailer #3, a YouTube HD trailer in 1080p.


Testing Procedures

Before testing, certain services/features
like Indexing, Superfetch, System Restore, and Windows Defender are disabled
to prevent them from causing spikes in CPU/HDD usage. We also make note if energy
saving features like Cool'n'Quiet, SpeedStep or S3 suspend-to-RAM do not function
properly.

Our main test procedure is designed to measure the overall system power consumption
at various states. To stress the CPU, we use Prime95 (large FFTs setting). After 10~15 minutes of load (when temperatures stabilize), We also measure the hottest points on the external heatsinks using an infrared thermometer.

Finally, storage subsystems are tested briefly using CrystalDiskMark (1000 MB of 0x00 fill test data) and a Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB solid state drive.

TEST RESULTS

Power Consumption

As the X99-UD4P is the first X99 LGA2011-v3 board we've examined, I will compare it to a variety of Z97 LGA1150 models. A direct apples-to-apples comparison isn't possible as the CPU is different, the board requires a discrete graphics card, and most users choosing this platform will use at least four DIMMs to take advantage of the quad-channel memory support. To get a better sense of the relative power differences between the two platforms, I've included results for one Z97 model, the Gigabyte Z97MX-Gaming 5, using the same video card and memory configurations. All results are with 2 DIMMs unless otherwise noted.

Note: Motherboards vary in regard to stock Turbo Boost settings so more aggressive models consume more power which is a detriment when using energy efficiency as a metric. For these tests, boards using the same CPU have been tweaked to use the exact same clock speeds (e.g. a multiplier of 39x/38x/37x/36x for 1/2/3/4 core operation for the Core i7-4770K and an integrated GPU frequency of 1250 MHz) to ensure a level playing field.

On light load, adding the low-end Radeon HD 5450 to the i7-4770K/Z97MX-G5 combination adds 9~10W to its total power draw. If you subtract that from the i7-5960X/X99-UD4P combination, its idle consumption is similar to the Z97 models compared. Video playback however, is substantially more demanding even though it shouldn't use that many CPU cycles regardless of the graphics solution.

On the X99 board, have two extra DIMMs in this spot doesn't make too much of a difference, and in fact the power draw is actually slightly lower for some reason when rendering Flash video. On the Z97MX-G5, moving to four sticks of memory has a negligible effect as well, though it utilizes only dual channel operation just as it does with two sticks.

The beastly i7-5960X's 140W TDP is quite evident when the system is placed on heavy load. After accounting for the video card, video encoding draws about 35W extra compared to i7-4770K/Z97 combinations and that figure rises to more than 50W for Prime95. Doubling the memory has a moderate affect on the Z97MX-G5, increasing power consumption by 5W and 11W in these two tests respectively, while for the X99-UD4P, Prime95 works the quad channel memory hard enough to draw 33W more.

Cooling

To test the board's cooling, the CPU was stressed for ~15 minutes with Prime95. Temperatures of the boards' chipset heatsinks were recorded using a spot thermometer. The highest temperatures were taken for comparison.

Note: The Scythe Kabuto is the reference heatsink for our motherboard cooling tests but as it's not compatible with the LGA2011 socket, I substituted a Noctua NH-L12. The NH-L12 should be superior cooler for components around the socket but also keep in mind the i7-5960X is a much hotter chip running a more demanding memory subsystem, so the relatively temperature differences shouldn't be too far off.

Despite having quad-channel memory and a much hotter processor, the X99-UD4P's onboard cooling fares well. While the VRM heatsink is relatively small, being connected to the expansive chipset heatsink via a heatpipe seems to help. On full CPU load, the highest temperatures recorded on the heatsink exteriors are less than 20°C above the ambient temperature, giving it a slight edge over the past few Z97 models I've tested.

SATA 6 Gbps Performance

The X99-UD4P's "SATA3" connectors, i.e. the grey block and upper black ports, benchmarked noticeably higher using small 4K blocks than the non-RAID "sSATA3" ports, which is interesting as they're both hooked up to the same native Intel controller (which hasn't been changed in a few years AFAIK) and thus should provide the same speed. Overall, the faster ports perform more or less the same as older series 7, 8, and 9 chipset models.

Boot Performance

To test boot time, the BIOS/UEFI was optimized by setting the hard drive recognition and other delays to minimum, taking care not to disable common functionality like full USB support, POST messages, etc. and measured the time it takes to reach the Windows loading screen (it's stopped here because this is the point where the O/S and drive become factors).

From a usability standpoint, booting up is the one area that I notice a dramatic difference compared to most Haswell systems. The X99-UD4P takes more than double the time to complete the POST sequence before launching the O/S. It does have a lot of devices to detect but not significantly more than Z97 solutions. Having to check an extra two sticks of memory makes the wait slightly longer still.

Software

Aside from a few tweaks, the software provided by Gigabyte is mostly the same as older boards like the Z97MX-Gaming 5. There are individual utilities for different functions that launch in separate windows but most of them are accessed through a central repository called APP Center. Compared to loading all the functionality into one application like Asus does with AI Suite, this strategy should keep overhead lower but it doesn't quite succeed at this. On the X99-UD4P, APP Center takes about 19 seconds to load, and each utility inside requires up to 9 seconds to launch. Below is a rundown a few of the more notable apps provided.

The EasyTune utility offers both basic and advanced overclocking options with an easy-to-use interface. There's a "Smart Quick Boost" section that will do a quick overclock or power saving underclock with predetermined settings, and an advanced menu with similar options as in the BIOS' advanced menu.

Note: On our original sample, I encountered a myriad of problems APP Center modules, but the System Information Viewer was particularly broken. After fan calibration, for both CPU fan headers, the reported fan speed at each workload setting was the same, making speed changes impossible. It also had issues detecting PWM fans on the SYS fan headers. Troubleshooting with a tech from Gigabyte proved fruitless as they couldn't duplicate the problem so a new board was shipped to us, but that didn't solve the problem either. It turned out to be a software issue with the latest version of APP Center from Gigabyte's website. Installing an older version off the driver disc made it all better.

The SIV (System Information Viewer) is home to the fan control system, offering more customizable options than in the BIOS. You can set thresholds and warnings, change the fan speed curve of course or use a fixed speed, and there's a calibration feature to test the speed range of each fan to ensure optimal operation. The board has five fan headers altogether which should be sufficient for most systems. All of the fan headers offered are of the 4-pin variety but PWM capability is only offered available on the main CPU fan header.

You may have noticed that the "(RPM)" text in the Fan Speed column is cut off. This is one example of a poorly polished UI that unfortunately permeates across Gigabyte's software.

Another example of this the dedicated hardware monitor which launches docked to the right side of the screen. Doing so takes you away from the fan controls, so you can't see both menus at once. You could set a fan to certain speed but you can't confirm that it's working until you go to a different screen. The font used is also comically large and out of whack with most of the other provided apps.

While the BIOS only allows you to enable/disable these LEDs, the Ambient LED app adds some functionality to the yellow LEDs running through the audio traces. There's a "pulse" mode that makes it "breathe" in and out at a regular frequency or a "beat" mode that makes it flash with the audio output. As you can imagine, the latter setting can be seizure-inducing if you play heavy tracks with erratic drum solos.

Like many high-end boards, the X99-UD4P has packet-shaping software included to prioritize traffic to certain applications like games to reduce lag. It has all the functionality you would expect like speed/bandwidth limits, setting priority by protocol or program, and charting capability.

This utility is pretty ugly in its own right but because it's a separate application that doesn't live in APP Center, it has a different font and color scheme. This sort of defeats the whole purpose of having the APP Center.

While software usability isn't one of Gigabyte's great strengths there is some notable innovation in its Cloud Station utility which hooks up with mobile devices to provided added functionality. With an Android or iOS app (and Google, Facebook, or Windows Live to login on both server and client), you can access/transfer files, use your phone/tablet as a remote for the desktop, make the PC going into a power saving mode (Suspend/Standby/Hibernate) when out of Bluetooth range, setup a WiFi adapter as a wireless hotspot, and even change overclocking settings.

The Android app has a fairly basic design with a dark theme. After logging in and selecting the server, you're presented with the the five functions I mentioned earlier.

The large text UI is retained in the file manager used to download and upload files which can be an incredible pain if you have a lot of files to scroll through. There's an automated backup feature but I'm not sure how it works exactly. There are no settings for scheduling or choosing which folders to backup anywhere in the menus and only manually backed up files ever showed up on the desktop during use.

The remote function has a virtual trackpad that works fairly well but a switch has to be flipped on to enable dragging rather than using a gesture or combination of tapping and holding like competing remote control apps. The keyboard is exceptionally horrid looking with several of the main function buttons present, stretched out and awkwardly positioned, to complement the onscreen keyboard on your phone/tablet. There's also a simple media control interface that seems to only work with Windows Media Player.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Gigabyte X99-UD4P offers an impressive array of features including support for proper 4-way SLI/CrossFire, 128GB of RAM, 10 SATA devices, both SATA Express and M.2 storage options, and even an M.2 WiFi slot. Rounding out the main features is an all-digital 8-phase power regulation system cooled by a capable two heatsink plus heatpipe setup, five individually controllable fan headers, and a high-end amplified dual stream audio solution. However, these are the types of things you expect from a prototypical high-end board; it's the little bells and whistles that often make or break a product in a competitive field. The dedicated USB port for updating the BIOS automatically -- even if the system is headless and even brainless -- is incredibly useful. The lighting effects are less so, and some better choices could have been made. It's difficult to color-coordinate with the yellow and orange combination on the board as most colored components are red, blue, or green, and the blue/purple blend on the rear panel is a bizarre complement as well.

What remains lies in software and that's where Gigabyte is both plebeian and promising. The APP Center launcher continues to lag behind consolidated solutions like the ASUS AI Suite. It's messy to switch between utilities in separate windows rather than having them as tabs or modules within one application. Worst of all, there is no performance advantage to this system, as loading the individual apps are slow to load. The UI suffers from inconsistent window and font sizes. Then there are apps like cFos Speed, which live outside APP Center entirely, following an even more disparate design language. That being said, the Cloud Station utility is evidence of some forward-thinking, though like the desktop software, the mobile app definitely needs some work on look and feel. Up to this point, I've found most cloud-connected PC enthusiast gear to be of dubious value but the things Cloud Station can do shows promise. It's notable that Cloud Station's various functions are quite different from each other and yet they can be accessed from the same window/interface; APP Center is incapable of doing the same.

Overall, the X99-UD4P is a decent product at the price. Whether the Gigabyte X99-UD4P is right for you really depends on two things, the most important being whether LGA2011-v3 is suitable for your purposes. Haswell-E is the current belle of the ball with the best multi-threaded desktop performance money can buy. The supported 6/8 core processors are expensive, of course, as are the boards, as is the DDR4 memory required to get the most out of the platform. LGA1150 CPUs are no slouch in comparison and offer much better value, making them the preferable to the vast majority of PC users. At US$260, the X99-UD4P is the cheapest E-ATX LGA2011-v3 motherboard on the market, but it only has one clear advantage over equally/lower priced ATX models: 4-way SLI/CrossFire support. If you're not planning on using such an extreme graphics combination, then it's needlessly large unless you want to fill one of the many oversized cases on the market.

Our thanks to Gigabyte for the X99-UD4P motherboard sample.

* * *

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