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If you've forked out £800 for Intel's mighty Core i7 980X six-core processor, why not unload another £400 for seven slots' worth of PCI Express action? It's big numbers all round, and the Gigabyte X58A-UD9 is quite literally large.

Measuring 345 x 263.5mm, the UD9's form factor is officially known as XL-ATX. There's something else that's official: it won't fit in most PC cases. Fortunately, Gigabyte has provided a list of compatible cases. Anyway, odds are you'll need a new housing for it.

To get the most out of the UD9, you'll probably also need a new PSU.

The biggest potential power draw, of course, are the seven (count 'em!) full length PCI Express slots. Four are the real 16-lane deal, a configuration enabled courtesy of a pair of Nvidia NF200 bridge chips. The remaining three are full length, but only eight-lane in electrical terms.

Gigabyte has sensibly arranged the slots alternately. Slots one, three, five and seven are 16-lane, allowing for four dual-slot graphics cards to be daisy chained.

For the record, both AMD's Crossfire and Nvidia's SLI multi-GPU platforms are fully supported. Indeed, the UD9 comes with the graphics card connectors required for both technologies.

Another UD9 highlight is chipset cooling.

The X58 I/O controller chip gets the most attention in this area. For starters, Gigabyte has bolted on a block with connectors and pass-throughs for water cooling.

It's also provided a novel air-cooling solution composed of a screw-on heat pipe cooler that sits vertically in the first PCI slot. It's possible to run both cooling solutions in parallel.

Elsewhere, the UD9 scores points for it's uber-spec 24-phase power regulation kit. The fact that the PCB itself also has a thin layer of copper to help prevent hot spots and generally improve cooling just goes to show how much detail Gigabyte has paid to the overall design.



Technology and cars. Increasingly the twain shall meet. Which is handy, because Jeremy (Twitter) is addicted to both. Long-time tech journalist, former editor of iCar magazine and incumbent car guru for T3 magazine, Jeremy reckons in-car technology is about to go thermonuclear. No, not exploding cars. That would be silly. And dangerous. But rather an explosive period of unprecedented innovation. Enjoy the ride.