Gigabyte EP45-DQ6 Review (Page 1 of 12)

By: Jonathan Kwan
August 1, 2008

The midrange to high end motherboard market is filled with products. These 'high-midrange' boards are very popular among enthusiasts for its abundance of features, performance, and a not-too-out-of-the-world price tags. Sure, boards like the Asus Striker II NSE are really good, but not everyone can justify all the extra fancy features for the price. As major motherboard companies love to compete in this area, a significant array of boards are made based on the collection of latest chipsets -- for example, both Gigabyte and Asus have a ton of Intel P45 chipset based motherboards ranging from just over $100 all the way to over $250. Today, we'll take a look at Gigabyte's high end P45 board -- the Gigabyte EP45-DQ6 -- as the name suggests, it has Gigabyte's Dynamic Energy Saver, 100% solid state capacitors, and "Quad Bios, Quad Cooling, Quad E-SATA2, Quad Triple Phase, Quad-Core Optimized, Quad DDR2 Slots". We've already taken a look at the quad-quad-quad-quad-quad-quad Gigabyte X48T-DQ6 a few months back. The Gigabyte EP45-DQ6 is loaded with features and carrying a $250 price tag at press time, so let's see how this beast steps up against the competition.

Our review unit of the Gigabyte EP45-DQ6 came in a relatively small brown corrugated cardboard box using FedEx International Economy. When FedEx showed up at my door last month with this package, I was like, "What's in there?" -- it didn't take long before I opened the box to see a brand new mobo... er... motherboard, inside. Thanks to the excellent use of packing material inside, everything arrived in mint condition.

Our review unit of the Gigabyte EP45-DQ6 came in a relatively large retail box for a motherboard. It utilizes the same style box as the company's higher end X48T-DQ6, but instead of the golden yellow color scheme used, this time it's a blue and white color scheme. Gigabyte brand logos are highlighted throughout the other surfaces -- such as the large Dynamic Energy Saver badge at the front middle of the retail package. Feature highlights, along with model number, are printed across the front -- with further product highlights at the back of the box as well as the inside flap. The front flap, like high end Asus boards, are held closed by Velcro buttons. Clear plastic windows shows part of the motherboard physically inside. Talk about high end!

Opening the box further impresses me in terms of packaging. Inside the outer packaging is a thick, white corrugated cardboard box inside. What happens to be residing within is then separated into two boxes; with one clear plastic tray with clear plastic cover containing the motherboard -- and a dual section cardboard box with side flaps that holds all the accessories; such as cables and other standard miscellaneous items. It's really well packaged, neatly organized, and very convenient to repackage as well.

Before we move on, let's take a look at the specifications, as obtained from Gigabyte's website:

1. Realtek ALC889A codec
2. High Definition Audio
3. 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
4. Support for Dolby Home Theater
5. Support for S/PDIF In/Out
6. Support for CD In

1. After creating the password(s) and key(s) associated the TPM, be sure to store them in a secure location and back them up. Loss of the password(s) or the key(s) will render the files encrypted via the TPM unable to be cracked or read.
2. Though the TPM delivers the latest data security technology, it does not guarantee data integrity or give hardware protection. GIGABYTE is not liable for loss of encrypted data as a result of hardware damage.
3. To enable Teaming or Bonding (IEEE 802.3ad Link Aggregation) feature, it is required the connected network switch or router device supports the IEEE 802.3ad LACP standard. Please refer to your network switch or router device manual for further details.
(Note)If you want to uninstall the Ultra TPM utility, be sure to insert the USB flash drive containing the TPM key into your computer before the uninstallation.

1. 2 x 8 Mbit flash
2. Use of licensed AWARD BIOS
3. Support for DualBIOS™
4. PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.4, ACPI 1.0b

1. North Bridge: Intel® P45 Express Chipset
2. South Bridge: Intel® ICH10R

Bundle Software
1. Norton Internet Security (OEM version)

I/O Controller
1. iTE IT8720 chip

1. Support for an Intel® Core™ 2 Extreme processor/ Intel® Core™ 2 Quad processor/Intel® Core™ 2 Duo processor/ Intel® Pentium® Dual-Core processor/Intel® Celeron® processor in the LGA 775 package
(Note) This motherboard is designed with VRD11.1 power phase, and cannot be compatible with VRD10 designed CPU. Please refer to "CPU Support List" for details.
2. L2 cache varies with CPU

Front Side Bus
1. 1600/1333/1066/800 MHz FSB

Internal I/O Connectors
1. 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
2. 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
3. 1 x floppy disk drive connector
4. 1 x IDE connector
5. 10 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors
6. 1 x CPU fan header
7. 2 x system fan headers
8. 1 x power fan header
9. 1 x front panel header
10. 1 x front panel audio header
11. 1 x CD In connector
12. 1 x S/PDIF In header
13. 1 x S/PDIF Out header
14. 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
15. 3 x IEEE 1394a headers
16. 1 x serial port header
17. 1 x chassis intrusion header
18. 1 x power LED header
19. 1 x power switch
20. 1 x reset switch
21. 1 x clearing CMOS switch

Back Panel Connectors
1. 1 x PS/2 keyboard port
2. 1 x PS/2 mouse port
3. 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
4. 1 x coaxial S/PDIF Out connector
5. 8 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
6. 4 x RJ-45 ports
7. 6 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out/Rear Speaker Out/Side Speaker Out/Line In/Line Out/Microphone)

1. 4 x Realtek 8111C chips (10/100/1000 Mbit)
2. Support for Teaming

Expansion Slots
1. 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16
2. 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x8
(The PCIEx16 and PCIEx8 slots support ATI CrossFireX technology and conform to PCI Express 2.0 standard.)
3. 2 x PCI Express x4 slots
4. 1 x PCI Express x1 slot
5. 2 x PCI slots

H/W Monitoring
1. System voltage detection
2. CPU/System temperature detection
3. CPU/System/Power fan speed detection
4. CPU overheating warning
5. CPU/System/Power fan fail warning
6. CPU/System fan speed control

1. 4 x 1.8V DDR2 DIMM sockets supporting up to 16 GB of system memory
2. Dual channel memory architecture
3. Support for DDR2 1200/1066/800/667 MHz memory modules
(Refer to Memory support list for more information)

Storage Interface
South Bridge:
1. 6 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (SATAII0, SATAII1, SATAII2, SATAII3, SATAII4, SATAII5) supporting up to 6 SATA 3Gb/s devices
2. Support for SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10
1. 1 x IDE connector supporting ATA-133/100/66/33 and up to 2 IDE devices
2. 2 x SiI5723 chips (Smart Backup): -4 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (GS0-Source, GS1, GS2-Source, GS3) supporting up to 4 SATA 3Gb/s devices - Support for Smart Backup (RAID 1)
iTE IT8720 chip:
1. 1 x floppy disk drive connector supporting up to 1 floppy disk drive

Form Factor
1. ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 24.4cm

Unique Features
1. Support for @BIOS
2. Support for Q-Flash
3. Support for Quad BIOS
4. Support for Download Center
5. Support for Xpress Install
6. Support for Xpress Recovery2
7. Support for EasyTune
8. Support for Dynamic Energy Saver Advanced
9. Support for Ultra TPM
10. Support for Time Repair
11. Support for Q-Share

1. Integrated in the South Bridge

2. Up to 12 USB 2.0/1.1 ports
(8 on the back panel, 4 via the USB brackets connected to the internal USB headers)

Operating System
1. Support for Microsoft/ Windows/ Vista/XP

IEEE 1394a
1. T.I. TSB43AB23 chip
2. Up to 3 IEEE 1394a ports
(via the IEEE 1394a brackets connected to the internal IEEE 1394a headers)

CPU-Z screenshot of the motherboard tab. We are using the latest stable version available on Gigabyte's website at press time; which is the F10a BIOS revision.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Features, and Specifications
2. Bundle, Chipset, BIOS
3. A Closer Look, Board Layout
4. Test System; Benchmark: 3DMark06
5. Benchmark: PCMark05
6. Benchmark: Cinebench R10, SuperPI 1M
7. Benchmark: EVEREST CPU
8. Benchmark: EVEREST FPU
9. Benchmark: EVEREST Memory
10. Benchmark: EVEREST Memory Latency, HDTach
11. Onboard Sound (RMAA 6.06) Analyzation
12. Overclocking and Conclusion