Features and Performance (4 out of 5)
All Gigabyte motherboards based on P45 chipset are Ultra Power Efficient and are integrated with a tool that Gigabyte calls Dynamic Energy Saver Advanced. This technology enables efficient power phase switching depending upon the workload.
EP45-DS3L is based upon a four phase design and has four LEDs near the RAM slots indicating the status of all the power phases. A new software utility called the DESA is integrated with the package to control the CPU voltage and the total power savings achieved, thereby giving you full control of your power settings.
GA-EP45-DS3L board has all-solid capacitors and ferrite core choke coils which provide it with extra durability according to Gigabyte. This motherboard supports DDR2 SDRAM with speeds up to 1333 MHz. There are two DDR2 slots on the board and it can be upgraded to a maximum of 8GB.
There are six SATA ports on the board and the ICH 10 southbridge supports all types of RAID setups and up to 12 USB ports. Eight USB ports can be accessed at the rear panel and there is a provision of accessing 4 USB ports at the front panel. The rear panel also holds a coaxial port, an optical SPDIF output, and a high speed gigabit Ethernet port.
The bundled application suite includes Norton Internet Security and other utilities. This provides a solution for resetting and updating the BIOS settings and over clocking the CPU. PCIe 2.0 x 16 interfaces offers ultimate graphics performance and gamers will not be disappointed with the board.
The feature called DualBIOS gives a multiple security to the system. This motherboard is integrated with a built-in 8 channel high definition audio card which offers great sound output.
The EP45-DS3L lived up to my expectations and cruised through all the tests without any difficulty. The board succeeded to score 4707 in overall PCMark Vantage and 5837 in 3DMark Vantage (GPU). I was able to play Crysis and Call of Juarez with ease at a resolution of 1680 x 1050. The northbridge is closely located near the CPU and gets cooled by CPU fans, but there is no cooling provision on the board for southbridge which gets overheated at times.
CPU: Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650, 3.0 GHz
RAM: 2 x 2 GB Kingston HyperX DDR2-1066 MHz
GRAPHICS CARD: Asus EN9800 GTX, 512 M8
HARD DRIVE: 500 GB Western Digital Caviar GP
Value for money (4 out of 5)
Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3L is priced approximately at USD 150.00 which is quite fair for a motherboard offering this kind of features and performance.
Conclusion (3 out of 5)
Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3L is a great motherboard with a good layout having all-solid capacitors and excellent energy saving features and value for money. Looking at the performance this board offers I would recommend this board for a performance machine or a high end gaming rig with a single graphics card. But if you need more features and higher performance, there are other variants that support DDR3 and CrossFireX.
Chipset type: Intel P45 Express / Intel ICH10
Form Factor: ATX
Data bus speed: 1600 MHz
Supported RAM: 2 DDR2 SDRAM slots (Maximum 8 GB)
Compatible Processors: Core2 Duo, Core2 Quad, Core2 Extreme, Celeron Dual core, Pentium Dual Core, Celeron 400 Sequence
64-bit Processor compatibility: Yes