Today, GigaByte unveiled three motherboards for officially "2nd Generation Intel Core processors", codenamed Sandy Bridge. While we do not understand Intel’s short-memory syndrome [Sandy Bridge is "4th Gen Core" – even their own roadmap says so: Merom, Penryn, Nehalem, Sandy Bridge] – it looks like GigaByte’s engineers made a good effort for the initial batch of products.
The motherboard manufacturer introduced high-end P67A-UD3R, mainstream workhorse P67A-UD3 and HTPC-oriented H67MA-UD2H.
P67A-UD3R: Fear of the Dark
GigaByte saw the need for black PCB and came out with the darkest combination so far: matte PCB, with minimal presence of other colors [only colors are required by PC97 and PC2001A standards]
Even though GigaByte is known for its Sea/Sky Bluecolor combination, P67A-UD3R brings all-black color combination. The company used matte-black PCB with minimal use of color: three blue stripes, two white SATA connectors and a red marker for the USB 3.0 Front Panel header.
The motherboard features new LGA-1155 Socket for Sandy Bridge processors [non-compatible with last-gen LGA-1156], based of P67 Chipset. Given that Intel’s newest chipset does not support USB 3.0 nor SATA-III, we’re not susprised that GigaByte kept using NEC USB 3.0 controller [2 rear and 2 front] and Marvell’s SATA 6Gbps controller. The board only supports CrossFire, but we would not be surprised to see the certificate for SLI as well in the final release.
Even though many hard-core enthusiasts considered On/Off Charge USB ports to be a gimmick, we welcome GigaByte’s decision to stay put with their "3x USB Power design", given that our GigaByte powered system charges our BlackBerry, HTC Legend and iPhone 4. Who needs chargers, right?
P67A-UD3: Back To Blue
GigaByte’s mainstream offer for Sandy Bridge processors. Expect a very good price/feature set ratio
As the name states [UD3], this mainstream Sandy Bridge motherobard carries similar features to current top-of-the-range UD3R, with a few minor differences: there is no upper heatsink on the CPU power regulation and the number of USB 2.0 slots was reduced to 12 [down from 14].
H67MA-UD2H: For HTPC with Love
Sandy Bridge meets Micro-ATX form factor
If we’d be asked how to describe H67MA-UD2H, single sentence would be: "Cocktail between UD3 and UD3R in a smaller package." Essentially, GigaByte took the upper part of UD3R, painted the PCB blue and chopped the lower side off.
The difference beside the looks, is also chipset: unlike the previous two, this one is based on Intel’s H67 chipset, primarily intended for use in office and HTPC machines with an accent on Integrated graphics. There are still two long PCIe slots available for multi-GPU capability, but if you ask us, this board is made to be put in a HTPC case, slap in a good gaming card and an OCZ RevoSSD for fast load – and just connect this system to a large HDTV.
All three boards launch on CES 2011, to be held between January 6-9 in Las Vegas, NV.