LGA 2011 represents a pretty significant upgrade across the board. The architecture currently supports Sandy Bridge-E processors (Ivy Bridge-E chips are expected later this year) and utilizes four memory channels and 40 PCIe lanes in 2.0 or 3.0 format. As an enthusiast platform, LGA 2011 supports overclocking (varying depending on the chosen CPU) and most boards support multi-graphics setups.
As of writing, Intel currently offers three Sandy Bridge-E processors in their lineup, ranging from the entry-level quad-core Core i7 3820 all the way up to the top-of-the-line Core i7 Extreme 3960X sporting a full six cores priced at over $1,000. A fourth processor, the 3980X is due out sometime in the near future if money is no object to you.
It was at this year's Consumer Electronics Show that I decided to build a new test system for reviews based on LGA 2011. I had been using a Socket 1155 system paired with a second generation Intel Core i5-2500K since Sandy Bridge's release in early 2011 but felt an upgrade was in order to keep with the times.
And so begins a series of reviews based on hardware found in our new LGA 2011 test system. Today we will be looking at an X79 motherboard from Gigabyte, the GA-X79-UD3. The UD3 represents Gigabyte's entry level model on the X79 platform but if processor price didn't already tip you off, LGA 2011 is an all-around expensive platform. For example, pricing on this entry-level board starts around $250 - more along the lines of what you'd expect to pay for a premium P67 board.
Of course, don't let "entry level" fool you - Gigabyte has packed this board with plenty of quality features including an all new Digital PWM controller known as Gigabyte 3D power, 4-way graphics support and a UEFI BIOS in addition to standard LGA 2011 features like PCIe Gen. 3 support and a quad-channel memory controller.
Let's move ahead and check out the specifications for our first ever X79 board.