If there's a single word that sums up the Gigabyte X58A-UD3R, it's loaded.

Features wise, this board has all the things we care about. Even better, where it does drop a few features compared to more expensive Intel X58 motherboards, they tend to be frivolous frills.

In terms of expansion, you get fully four PCIE16 slots. OK, only two of them run at the full 16-lane spec in terms of electricals, but the remaining pair are still x8 slots.

Of course, you also get an NEC chip for USB 3.0 support and a discrete Marvell controller delivering SATA 6Gbps. The lack of native chipset support for these features means you only get a pair of ports for each.

But that's not Gigabyte's fault. An update to the X58 chipset is long, long overdue.

As for overclocking, Gigabyte looks to have all the bases covered.

The chipset is well cooled thanks to a heatsink and heatpipe arrangement covering the X58 chip, the southbridge and the MOSFETs. Gigabyte has also upped the X58A-UD3R's power phases from an eight phase setup to 12 phases.

Finally, there's a clear-CMOS switch on the back panel. It's a handy feature that saves you cracking open the case if you overcook the settings.

What you don't get, however, is a BIOS-based auto-overclocking utility. Instead, Gigabyte's Windows-based EasyTune6 application provides three levels of quick and easy overclocking. It's just a shame a reboot is required.

One final feature worth noting is that this new 2.0 revision of the X58A-UD3R supports quick-charging via USB for devices such as iPads and iPhones.

Gigabyte claims 40% faster charging times along with the ability to charge when your system is in sleep mode or even fully powered down.

Anyway, stock clocked performance is pretty much what you'd expect. There's little between the Gigabyte X58A-UD3R and its older GA-EX58-UD4P sibling unless storage performance is a factor. Where things get a little more interesting is overclocking.

EasyTune6 is more aggressive than expected, taking our Core i7 975 right up to 4.15GHz. However, a maximum base clock of 200MHz when overclocking manually is less spectacular.

The limiter here could well be related to the BIOS settings Gigabyte offers for the QPI ratio. The lowest ratio offered is x36. That means a baseclock of 200MHz pushes the QPI link right up to 7.2GHz.

We liked:

Intel's LGA1366 processors are expensive enough on their own, so any money you can save on a compatible motherboard is very welcome.

The Gigabyte X58A-UD3R does just that by undercutting most X58 boards at the same time as delivering the latest features including SATA 6Gbps and USB 3.0.

We disliked:

Intel's X58 chipset is getting on and shouldn't need the assistance of add-in chips for features such as SATA 6Gbps and USB 3.0.

While that is hardly Gigabyte's fault, we would like to see more QPI ratio options in the BIOS menu, the better to clock the twangers off our precious Core i7 chips.

Final word:

Gigabyte's affordable X58 board brings Intel top chipset up to date with USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gbps. With a BIOS tweak it might approach perfection.

Specifications:

Manufacturer: Gigabyte

Chipset: Intel X58

Socket: LGA 1366

Form factor: ATX

Storage: 2x SATA 6Gbps, 6x SATA 3Gbps

USB: 2x USB 3.0, 6x USB 2.0

Expansion: 4x PCI-E x16 (2x PCI-E x16 and 2x PCI-E x8 electrical)