AMD 785G Chipset Motherboard Preview
Reviewed by: ajmatson
Reviewed on: August 5, 2009
Today we are going to be taking a preview at a new motherboard chipset from AMD dubbed the 785G chipset. You may notice that the 785G chipset is much like the 780G chipset, which was very popular among those using integrated graphics or hybrid graphics for light gaming and workstations. Like the 780G chipset, the newer 785G chipset still has an integrated GPU. However, it is much more advanced than the last generation and not to be taken lightly. The 785G chipset is comprised of the ATI Radeon HD 4200 graphics core and is manufactured using a 55nm process. There are still the same 40 stream processors, but the 785G supports Unified Video Decoder 2 (UVD2). UVD2 adds support for accelerated multiple streams, which allows for technology such as picture-in-picture and video detail enhancements. The 785G also has accelerated video transcoding, as well as HDMI 1.3 support. With the new integrated GPU, the HD 4200, like its discrete kin, supports DirectX 10.1 for better gaming and visual performance. One other benefit that the 785G chipset has is the continued support of Hybrid CrossFire. Like the 780G, the 785G chipset will allow a Hybrid CrossFire setup with certain discrete cards to boost performance when it is needed. A big difference between the 780G and the new 785G chipset is multiple memory type support. Like the new AM3 processors, the 785G chipset can be run with DDR2 or DDR3 memory, depending on what the manufacturer chose to develop the motherboard with. The three boards we are going to be previewing today vary depending on the setup to give the users the technology they need. First up is the Gigabyte MA785G-UD3H, which is a full-size board, followed by the Gigabyte MA785GMT-UD2H, and finishing with the MSI 785GM-E65.
Just a note, this is a preview of some of the 785G boards that are on the review schedule. Look for the testing results and more in depth looks at the boards in the next few weeks.
The Gigabyte MA785G-UD3H is a 785G board that uses the older DDR2 memory standard, although it does run up to DDR2-1333MHz overclocked. This board supports not only AM3, but AM2+ and AM2 as well, which included the Phenom, Phenom II, Athlon, Athlon II, and Sempron processors. On this particular board, the 785G is paired with the SB710 Southbridge. The MA785G-UD3H still uses HyperTransport 3.0 and uses Gigabyte's patented Ultra Durable 3 technology for lower temps and better efficiency. The MA785G-UD3H has a blue-colored PC Board and has the orange and yellow scheme that Gigabyte used for its DDR2-based boards in the past. The MA785G-UD3H is designed in an ATX form factor and measures 30.5cm by 22.9cm.
The MA785G-UD3H offers a lot to the inner geek. For the I/O panel, there is a PS/2 port that supports a keyboard or a mouse, a VGA port, a DVI port, an HDMI 1.3 port, an optical SPDIF port, six USB 2.0 ports, a Firewire port, one LAN port, and the audio jacks. For the expansion side of the MA785G-UD3H, there are two PCI Express x16 slots, which support CrossFire for a multi-GPU configuration. One thing of note is that the orange PCI Express slot runs at only x4 speeds and when it is populated, the middle PCI Express x1 slots are unusable because they share the lanes with the orange x16 slot. In addition to the graphics card slots, there are three PCI Express X1 slots and two legacy PCI slots for older hardware support.
The MA785G-UD3H supports both AM2+ and AM3 processors so you have more flexibility with the upgrade path that you choose. There is a 4+1 power phase design to ensure stable power and there is an enbedded controller on the board that supports Advanced Clock Calibration for the AMD Overdrive utility. As I mentioned earlier, the MA785G-UD3H uses DDR2 memory up to 1333Mhz when overclocked. The area around the CPU and memory are pretty much clear, which will allow for large heatsinks and water cooling blocks to be used with little to no blockage.
Just as with the I/O panel, the headers provide a lot of connection options, should you need them. Starting from the left, there is a COM header, a floppy drive port, two Firewire headers, a LPT port header, the front panel headers, six SATA 3.0Gb/s ports that support RAID 0,1, 10, and JBOD, and one IDE port for support of two devices. Above the orange PCI Express X16 slot there are also three USB 2.0 headers. One nice feature of the MA785G-UD3H is the Dual-BIOS design, which has an exact backup of the BIOS should something happen to it.
To cool the MA785G-UD3H, there is a heatsink over the 785G Northbridge with a fin design to help dissipate heat and another one over the Southbridge. Combined with the Ultra Durable 3 design, which has 2oz of copper in the PC board and stronger components, such as the solid Japanese capacitors and lower RDS(on) MOSFETs, Gigabyte designed this board to last up to the torture of the enthusiast and more.
Another 785G based motherboard from Gigabyte is the MA785GMT-UD2H, which is a bit different from the MA785G-UD3H we just looked at. At first you will notice that this board uses the mATX form factor, which measures 24.3cm by 24.3cm. This makes the MA785GMT-UD2H perfect for HTPC cases and smaller workstations. This board also uses a blue-colored PC Board with the Ultra Durable 3 design. The MA785GMT-UD2H supports only AM3 processors, which include the Athlon II and Phenom II series CPUs. Unlike the last board we looked at, this one uses DDR3 memory instead of the older DDR2. This board uses the 785G and SB710 combination, which has the HD 4200 onboard video as well. The color scheme is the blue and white design that Gigabyte has been using for its DDR3-based AMD boards.
Like the previous board, this one has plenty of connections and expansion slots for your needs. The MA785GMT-UD2H has a PS/2 combo port, six USB 2.0 ports, a VGA port, a DVI port, a HDMI 1.3 port, an optical SPDIF port, a Firewire port, an eSATA port, one LAN port, and the six audio jacks. In addition, the MA785GMT-UD2H has one PCI Express X15 slot, one PCI Express X1 slot, and two legacy PCI slots. This board also offers Hybrid CrossFireX between the integrated Radeon HD 4200 GPU and certain discrete graphics cards for a GPU boost with minimal expense.
The CPU area on the MA785GMT-UD2H is open and clear, which will make using large heatsinks or water cooling blocks a cinch. The MA785GMT-UD2H uses a 4+1 phase power design for stability and accepts DDR3 memory up to 1800MHz when overclocked. Under the Northbridge heatsink there is a 128MB DDR3 Sideport memory chip, which gives the integrated HD 4200 memory a faster memory buffer to boost performance. The integrated GPU supports DirectX 10.1 for the next generation visual experience. The MA785GMT-UD2H will accept AM3 processors, such as the Phenom II and Athlon II series, and runs them using HyperTransport 3.0 bus for 5200 MT/s.
Again, the MA785GMT-UD2H has just about every header that might be needed. There is a SPDIF in/out header, a COM header, a Firewire header, three USB 2.0 headers, the front panel headers, five SATA 3.0Gb/s ports supporting RAID 0,1,10, and JBOD, an IDE port, a floppy port, and a LPT port.
The MA785GMT-UD2H has the new style heatsink over the Northbridge we have seen on some of the new boards, which is made out of aluminum. There is also a smaller heatsink over the Southbridge to keep it cool when needed. In addition, the MA785GMT-UD2H uses the Ultra Durable 3 design, which has 2oz of copper in the PC board, as well as solid Japanese made capacitors and lower RDS(on) MOSFETs. This design allows the board to remain cooler and last longer through use.
The last motherboard in our preview is the MSI 785GM-E65. The 785GM-E65 also uses the 785G and SB710 chipset. This board is designed with a dark, sleek design, using a dark brown PC Board and a black and blue scheme for the slots and ports. The 785GM-E65 is also an AM3-only board using DDR3 memory. The layout of the board is nice and clean and there should be no issues with ports being covered by large video cards. The 785GM-E65 has integrated graphics using the HD 4200 IGP for robust video and brings DirectX 10.1 to the table for a great visual experience. The MSI 785GM-E65 is also a mATX form factor board measuring 23.4cm by 23.4cm, making it ideal for HTPC cases and workstations.
As with the previous two boards, the I/O panel offers a lot of connections for anyone. From the top, there is the combo PS2 port, an optical SPDIF port, a VGA port, a DVI port, a HDMI 1.3 port, six USB 2.0 ports, a Firewire port, one LAN port, and the six audio jacks. For the expansion slots, there is one PCI Express X16 slot, one PCI Express X1 slot, and two legacy PCI slots for older hardware support. The board also supports Hybrid CrossfireX using the onboard video and certain discrete graphics cards for a power boost to your video experience.
The CPU area is clear despite the amount of real estate being used. The 785GM-E65 supports AM3 processors, which include the Phenom II and Athlon II series. There is a 4+1 phase power design for clean voltage aiding in stable overclocks. This board supports DDR3 memory up to 1333Mhz natively, however, you can push it farther if the memory is overclocked.
Just as with the I/O panel, there is quite a bit of extra hardware supported through the use of headers. Starting on the left, the headers are an audio header, a Firewire header, three USB 2.0 headers, the front panel header, five SATA ports that support RAID 0,1,10 and JBOD, an IDE port, a floppy port, a COM header, and a LPT header. In addition, this board has an onboard buzzer, which comes in handy trying to figure out why a system will not boot. I feel, as an enthusiast, every board should have either a buzzer or a POST LCD, so it is nice to see MSI taking this into consideration and making life easier.
To cool the 785GM-E65, MSI chose a heatsink and heatpipe combo. Of the three boards previewed today, MSI's offering is the only one to cover the voltage regulation area, which should be a must so that enthusiasts can get more performance while overclocking. The heatsink from the VRM area connects to the fin style heatsinK over the Northbridge to aid in transfering heat. There is a smaller heatsink over the Southbridge to help keep it cool as well. MSI also uses all solid capacitators for stability and employs an Active Phase Switching design to save on power loss and works with any operating system.
A couple of unique features on the 785GM-E65 is an Easy OC switch for error free overclocking and Sideport memory. The Easy OC switch is a jumperless switch that automatically overclocks the system by set percentages so that anyone, even first time overclockers, can squeeze every bit of performance from their hardware. The Sideport memory is a 128MB DDR3 chip on the board that acts as a faster memory buffer for the integrated HD 4200 video, allowing for better frame rates and richer video.
As I mentioned earlier, the benchmarks will be coming soon, so stay tuned and keep your eyes open for the fun.