I've come away pretty impressed with Gigabyte's budget X79 motherboard. There were a few quirks along the way but overall this is a pretty solid offering at a good price (in X79 terms, at least).
It all starts with aesthetics where Gigabyte took a simple approach with an all-black PCB and connectors with the occasional white highlight. It's not over-the-top like some other offerings which means it will "fit" into any number of themes without clashing. The component layout on the board is generally good, although I'm not thrilled about the top PCIe X16 slot being so close to the memory slots and the CPU socket area. Using the massive Noctua heatsink, I had to put the graphics card in the third full-sized slot - not a real problem for me but if you were running four graphics cards, a large heatsink wouldn't work.
Gigabyte also decided to include a legacy PCI slot. I haven't used a PCI card in ages although I'm sure some still do. Personally I could have done without this slot.
There are plenty of fan headers scattered across the board and the internal USB 3.0 header is a nice bonus. I do wish Gigabyte had included physical power / reset buttons on the PCB. This helps immensely when doing test bench work without a chassis.
Bundle-wise, there aren't a ton of extras included given the price point but you will be able to run most any graphic setup out of the box which is nice. The included Gigabyte software disc provides a number of (mostly) useful programs that you can install at your own leisure.
The new 3D BIOS is pretty nifty and it's nice to finally see Gigabyte come out with a true UEFI BIOS. There was a tiny hint of lag with the 3D interface and the fan controller software needs a revamp, but otherwise it was a solid effort.
In terms of performance and overclocking, I ran into a few hiccups early on before updating the BIOS to the latest firmware. That seemed to clear everything up and the system has been running just fine since. On the overclocking front, I was able to pull 4.4GHz stable with this configuration. Since this is our first X79 board review, I'm not sure really how this will compare with the competition just yet.
If you're looking to get your feet wet with X79, this board would be a really great start. Hardcore overclockers with ambitions of pushing their CPU to the absolute limit on air or water might want to keep their options (and wallet) open. Just to give you an idea, the X79-UD3 starts around $250 at our favorite retailer.
OCIA.net has awarded the Gigabyte X79-UD3 our Silver Seal of Approval!