A good, relatively cheap X99 board with great support for multiple GPUs and fast storage
GIGABYTE’S GA-X99-UD4 USES the Intel X99 chipset and is designed for use with powerful Intel Haswell-E processors such as the Core ¡7-5960X. Haswell-E processors are designed for real enthusiasts who demand the most from their hardware, and Gigabyte’s GA-X99-UD4 is suitably specified to help them.
There are no fewer than four PCI Express (PCI-E) x16 slots, and Gigabyte’s GA-X99-UD4 supports up to four-way CrossFire and SLI configurations. Two of the PCI-E slots run at the maximum x16 speed, while the others run at x8. However, you can only use up to three graphics cards in SLI mode if you install the Intel Core ¡7-5820K due to that chip’s limitations.
Unlike the older Intel X79 chipset, the X99 chipset supports up to 10 SATA3 ports. The GA-X99-UD4 provides exactly that number, along with a SATA Express connector and M.2 socket, both of which support transfer speeds up to 10GB/s. However, there are chipset limitations on storage use. You can only use the M.2, SATA Express and SATA ports 3 and 4 one at a time If you use one, the others become unavailable. There are also eight DDR4 memory slots, with support for 64GB of quad-channel RAM and modules overclocked to 3,000MHz. All this provides you with the potential to create a very powerful PC.
Other expansion slots include three PCI-E xl slots and a second M.2 slot that’s intended for an optional M.2 Wi-Fi module. There are also two USB headers for a further four USB ports, and a USB3 header for a further two USB3 ports. Back-panel connections include two PS/2 connectors, six USB3 ports, four USB ports, five 3.5mm analogue audio jacks, an optical S/PDIF port and a Gigabit Ethernet port. This is pretty much everything you could want on a modern, high-end motherboard.
SETTING THE BENCHMARK
Our standard benchmarks can’t fully exploit the power of the Intel Core ¡7-5960X processor that we use to test X99 motherboards, so we have created a new set of benchmarks that are more difficult to process. The new benchmarks involve converting Ultra HD video to Full HD while playing a Ultra HD video, among other things, and force every single core of the processor to work at 100 per cent. The new benchmarks are normalised to our Core ¡5-4670K, which scored 100 in the test.
At the Core ¡7-5960X’s stock clock speeds, our test system scored 209 overall in the new benchmarks, and an incredible 275 overall with the Core ¡7-5960X overclocked to 4.5GHz. There are plenty of overclocking options, including the ability to disable cores and adjust all kinds of voltages. The GA-X99-UD4 scored just 112 in our standard benchmarks, which doesn’t accurately reflect the performance of Intel’s new Haswell-E processors or the GA-X99-UD4.
As with all modern Gigabyte boards, the GA-X99-UD4’s UEFI BIOS gives you the best of both worlds, with a highly graphical view that contains lots of sliders, tables and graphs, and a more traditional text-based BIOS that’s ideal for power users who want to go straight to an option and adjust it. If you don’t have the confidence to delve into the GA-X99-UD4’s overclocking settings, you can still enjoy a performance boost by enabling the CPU Upgrade option. This lets you increase the frequency of the installed processor by different amounts, up to a maximum of 4.3GHz in the case of our Core ¡7-5960X, with a couple of mouse clicks.
THE SENSIBLE CHOICE
There are no onboard Power, Reset, Clear CMOS buttons or overclocking buttons, which would make overdocking and testing easier with your test setup on a test bench or when trying to solve problems with the side of your PC off. However, these are small concerns if you only plan to apply a modest overdock in BIOS once. Although Gigabyte’s GA-X99-UD5 does have these overdocking buttons, along with extra USB ports and an extra USB3 header, it is more expensive. Gigabyte’s GA-X99-UD4 is a great board if you want all the headline features of the X99 chipset, plus a few extras, but you don’t want to spend silly money.