11-Way P45 Motherboard Shootout

EP45-DQ6 Onboard Devices

Gigabyte GA-EP45-DQ6 (Revision 1.0)
Northbridge Intel P45 Express
Southbridge Intel ICH10R
Voltage Regulator Twelve Phases
BIOS F10a (07/16/2008)
333.3 MHz (FSB1333) 333.4 MHz (+0.02%)
Clock Generator IC2 9LPRS914EKL
Connectors and Interfaces
Onboard 2x PCIe 2.0 x16 (Modes: One x16, One x8)
2x PCIe x4, Open Ended (Accepts x16 Cards)
1x PCIe x1
2x PCI
2x USB 2.0 (2 ports per connector)
3x IEEE-1394 FireWire
1x Serial Port header
1x Floppy
1x Ultra ATA (2 drives)
10x Serial ATA 3.0Gb/s
1x Front Panel Audio
1x CD-Audio In
1x S/P-DIF Out
2x Fan 4 pins (CPU/System)
2x Fan 3 pins (Chassis)
1x Internal Power Button
1x Internal Reset Button
1x Internal CLR_CMOS Button
IO panel 2x PS2 (keyboard + mouse )
2x Digital Audio Out (S/P-DIF Coaxial, Optical)
4x RJ-45 Network
8x USB 2.0
6x Analog Audio Jacks (8-ch out, Mic+Line In)
Mass Storage Controllers
Intel ICH10R 6x SATA 3.0Gb/s (RAID 0,1,5,10)
Gigabyte SATA2 (by Jmicron) PCI-E 1x Ultra ATA-133 (2-drives)
2x SATA Host for SteelVine Controller
2x Silicon Image Sil5723CNU SATA 4x SATA 3.0Gb/s (RAID 0, 1, Cascading)
Network
4x Realtek RTL8111B PCI-E Quad Gigabit LAN with Teaming
Audio
Realtek ALC889A HD Audio Codec 7.1 + 2 channel Multi-Streaming Output
Texas Instruments TSB43AB23 PCI 3x IEEE-1394a (400 Mbit/s)

Gigabyte uses all six of the ICH10R’s PCI Express lanes for a single x1 slot and five onboard devices.

Gigabyte’s port panel is filled with USB and Gigabit Network connections, but that means it lacks several other key elements such as eSATA and FireWire. Few users will have eight USB 2.0 devices that they want to be plugged into the back, and we’d have preferred to see a couple of these ports moved to a third front-panel header. At least the full set of audio connections is provided, with digital optical and digital coaxial connections, plus enough analog channels to support 7.1 surround output, line-level input, and a stereo microphone simultaneously.

We didn’t mention that the number of internal Serial ATA ports totaled ten on the previous page because four of these are meant to be used with included eSATA breakout cables. Of course they can still be used internally, but the four we speak of now have a couple other things in common. Two Silicon Image SIL5723 “SteelVine” port multipliers connect the four ports to two SATA links supplied by the Gigabyte SATA2 controller. That means that each drive pair relies on a single 3.0 Gb/s link, and that each pair will appear as a single SteelVine drive to the chipset and OS. Furthermore, both SteelVine controllers are limited by the SATA2 controller’s PCI Express x1 interface to only 250MB/s, which is a significant handicap for RAID 0 configurations of more than two drives.

SteelVine controllers have a few additional features, such as drive cascading and hardware RAID 1/0 capability, as we discussed in our technical analysis

Gigabyte uses PCI Express to provide the best possible performance to four Realtek RTL8111C Gigabit Ethernet controllers. The first two are easy to find at the EP45-DQ6’s rear edge.

The fourth Gigabit network controller is located beneath the chipset-to-VRM heatpipes. Due to the high number of onboard devices Gigabyte had to get stealthy with the third controller, hiding it beneath the battery! All four controllers can be combined in teaming mode for network speeds of up to four gigabits per second.

The Texas Instruments TSB43AB23 three-port IEEE-1394 FireWire controller is hidden with a little less stealth beneath the extended portion of the x16 length, x8 mode secondary graphics card slot.

Gigabyte uses the Realtek ALC889A to provide eight channel output (7.1 surround) with separate headphone channels for audio multi-streaming. The codec is rated at an impressive 107db signal-to-noise ratio.

Summary
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6 comments
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  • Wait, i think i missed the conclusion... what was the conclusion.....or am i just silly !?

    Great review any who, i have been waiting for one of these. I would say go for the P5Q Deluxe!!!!!!!!11
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  • the old E6xx CPU is not good enough to explore the FSB of the new P45 chipset. i seen better review then this in term of hardware. there should be at least a dual core 45nm processor and a 45nm quad processor.

    sigh....tom's been lazy with hardware update!
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  • I assume it is a mistake that says the P45 platinum from MSI has an X48 chipset?
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  • so waht about a decent conclusion something like, are these boarfds worth the extra cash over a P35 chipset variant, everything tells me they offer little incentive over the P35, thoughts anyone?
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  • Hello?
    Uhm .. 45nm!?

    I agree, test with a better (new) CPU(s) 45nm Dual/Quad.
    That would be really interesting. This probably means alot to someone that owns the E6xx series CPU which i doubt someone buy if they buy a P45 board.
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  • Methinks Tom has a bit of biassed attitude favouring Asus tbh
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