Gigabyte A75M-D2H and A75-UD4H Motherboard Review

formerstaff - 2012-03-05 19:50:39 in Motherboards
Category: Motherboards
Reviewed by: formerstaff   
Reviewed on: May 8, 2012
Price: $69 - $114

Introduction:

If you know only three things about desktop computers, the fact that Gigabyte makes top end motherboards is probably one of them. The enthusiast has been able to count on Gigabyte to provide high end motherboard solutions with a multi-graphics interface and overclocking capabilities. Today's offerings are a bit different. They fall in the budget category and make a home for AMD’s highly successful and innovative APUs, which are known to be more suited to the general computer user. What is different about these two offerings is that, while hovering around the $100 price mark, they retain a feature set that lets the user get some higher end graphic performance if they choose to. The question for these boards is, how many users will fit this profile? Let's take a look at the Gigabyte GA-A75-UD4H and GA-A75M-D2H.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Closer Look:

The retail packaging for the UD4H and the D2H are nearly identical except for the model number. They have a look that is reminiscent of the late 90s motherboard packaging and don’t exactly jump out at you from the stacks on a retail shelf. That being said, the packaging does do a good job of explaining what the "Super 4" branding is about. The top of the box has an animated sports car with flames blowing back from the front tire. Below that, it tells us that we are dealing with a "Super 4" motherboard, followed by a prominently displayed badge touting a three-year warranty for those of us in the USA and Canada. Next up are some rows containing some of the features and attributes of the board, including an explanation of what this a "Super 4" motherboard: super-speed, super-safe, super-savings, and super-sound. In the lower right corner is an image of the corner of the box being peeled back to reveal the now well known "2 x PCB copper" that Gigabyte touts being used in its motherboards for better conductivity and heat dissipation. The bottom of the package goes into more detail about what the "Super 4" features are and tells us that this is a motherboard capable of AMD Vision's Dual Graphics feature. To the side we have three images illustrating the RDS MOSFET design, the 108 dB audio, and a very high level board layout. In a less prominent fashion, we learn that this board employs an 8+2 power phase design, is equipped with on/off charge, and has Dolby home theater sound.

 

 

 

The other sides of the package are duplicates of each other, with nothing that is not covered on the top of the box. Let's lift the lid and see what we have to work with here.

 

Keeping with the price point of the A75-UD4H, the accessory bundle is down to the bare essentials. You get a rear I/O shield, four SATA cables, an install driver disk, and a user's manual. Enough to get the job done, but no extras here.

 

 

 

The camera flash penetrates the mirrored anti-static bag and we get the first view of the UD4H with Gigabyte's signature powder blue and white color scheme we have seen in years past. Have a click and let's see what those thousand or so solder connections have attached to the UD4H.

 

Closer Look:

The A75-UD4H is one of five FM1 motherboards offered by Gigabyte and is the top model. It is a standard ATX form factor measuring 30.5cm x 24.4cm. The UD4H supports the full array of AMD APUs (A8/A6/A4/E2). While the FM1 APUs and motherboards are geared more toward the user who has general computing needs, the UD4H is equipped with more advanced graphics capabilities. While all the boards support AMD Dual Graphics, which combines the on-chip graphics of the AMD APUs, the UD4H interestingly supports full CrossFire with dual x8 PCIE slots. How feasible is this? I took this capability to the extreme to find out, which I will get to later in the review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I/O panel support is very good and includes, from left to right: one PS/2 for keyboard or mouse, two USB3.0/2.0, one D-Sub, one DVI, one S/PDIF, one HDMI, one DisplayPort, four USB 2.0/1.1, one IEEE 1394a, one e-SATA 6Gb/s, one RJ-45, and six audio jacks supporting up to 7.1 channels. As I mentioned earlier, the board supports full CrossFire mode, meaning it offers two full length PCIE slots running at x8/x8. I find this choice very interesting as far as the target market is concerned. It is really featured on this board in its advertising on Gigabyte's website, along with AMD's Dual Graphics option. The difference between Dual Graphics and CrossFire is that CrossFire is the use of two discreet graphics cards being used in tandem, while Dual Graphics is the use of a discreet graphics card being used in concert with the onboard graphics of the 'A' series APU.

 

 

 

Going around the horn here from left to right and bottom to top, you first come across the front panel audio connector in green. To the right, snuggled between the audio connector and the capacitor, is the S/PDIF connector. To the right of that is an IEEE 1394a header with the cap still on (make sure you don't plug a USB into this or very bad things can happen) and three USB 2.0/1.1 connectors. In the same picture you can see the VIA VT6308P 1394 controller, and to the right a pair of PCI slots.  In the next picture are a USB on/off charger, two USB 3.2/2.0 20-pin connections, and the front panel connections. Just above the front panel connection is a 2-pin Clear CMOS  jumper.

 

 

 

Moving up the board, in between the VRM heatsink is a pair of Etron USB controllers, and you can see that this board takes an 8-pin ATX 12v power connector. On the right ,you can see the inductors and capacitors for the UD4H's 8+2 power phase arrangement, as well as the new heatsink design Gigabyte employs on the new chipsets sitting atop the board's VRM mosfets.

 

 

 

Here is a look at the socket and DIMM area. The UD4H will support up to 32GB of 1.5v DDR3 in speeds of up to 1866MHz natively (2400MHz OC), and is obviously dual-channel architecture. To the right of the DIMMs is the ATX 12v connector, as well as the TPM and COM headers. Around the board you will find four fan headers — two of them are 4-pin and two are 3-pin.

 

 

 

The UD4H has five SATA3 6Gb/s internal headers and one e-SATA connection on the back panel. Four of the SATA headers are horizontally mounted and one is vertical.

 

 

Closer Look:

The GA-A75M-D2H is the very little brother to the UD4H. While identical in BIOS, software features, and the Gigabyte powder blue color scheme, it is a micro-ATX board with fewer onboard features and capacities. Here is how it fits into the "Super 4" hierarchy:

The D2H, like UD4H, is one of the "Super 4"-branded motherboards Gigabyte offers for the FM1-socketed A-series APUs. It does have CrossFire capabilities with dual-PCIE slots running at x8/x4, and of course supports AMD Dual Graphics when pairing a discreet graphics card with the AMD A-series APUs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The packaging for the A75M-D2H is nearly identical to the UD4H's, but in a smaller box.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside reaveals the same bundle as the UD4H. You get four SATA data cables, an install manual, a quick install guide, a user's manual, and an driver install disk. Below this is the micro-ATX board in anti-static protection.

 

 

 

 

Let's take a trip around the board and see what the junior member in the "Super 4" lineup has to offer in the way of capacity and connectivity.

Closer Look:

The A75M-D2H is a micro-ATX form factor, measuring 24.5cm x 22.5cm. It has support for the entire A-series APU lineup (A8/A6/A4/E2) and is part of the Ultra Durable series. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From left to right, we see the VIA VT6308P 1394 controller chip sitting above the HD audio connector. Next we have the trusted platform header, the COM header for serial port, and a single 20-pin USB 3.0 header. Above these headers, we see the dual-PCIE x16 slots (the top slot runs at x8 and the bottom at x4 mode). In between the PCIE slots are a PCIE x1, and a legacy PCI slot. In the adjacent photo, we see the new ceramic-coated heatsinks that Gigabyte has designed for the newest generations of its motherboards. Sitting in the bottom corner we have six SATA3 6Gb/s ports that, unlike the UD4H, are all vertically mounted and can interfere with a large graphics card being used in the bottom x4 PCIE slot.  Directly above the top SATA header, you can see the dual BIOS chips. A great feature should one BIOS become corrupt due to a bad BIOS flash, the board will immediatly switch over to the backup BIOS and you can flash a stored version of the BIOS to the original.

 

 

 

Here is a good look at the FM1 Socket. This socket type is only compatible with the FM1 APU type proccessors and uses the familiar lever-type, pin-tensioning plate that AMD has employed for many years. In the next photo, you can see that the D2H has only two memory DIMMs. In theory, the board does allow for up to 32GB of system memory. At the top, we can also see the location of the ATX 24-pin power connector and the color-coded front panel connector next to it.

 

 

 

Back panel I/O connectivity has been pared down from the top model. From left to right, there are two USB 2.0/1.1 ports above a legacy PS/2 port for keyboard or mouse, one D-Sub port, one DVI-D port., one HDMI port, one Optical S/PDIF out connector, two USB 3.0/2.0 ports, one RJ-45 LAN port, two more USB 3.0/2.0 ports, and three audio jacks. Part of the "Super 4" feature set is a one-fuse-per-port architecture, where if one of the USB ports fail, it does not take out all the ports on the array.

 

 

Below are a couple shots of the VRM area of the board where you can see the 4+1 phase power and naked mosfets. Gigabyte apparently decided that this board did not need a heatsink here. If you look closely, you can see that there is an outline for where it would be, as well as the push pin holes for it. You can also see that this board only requires a 4-pin ATX power connection. Gigabyte makes use of high quality Japanese capacitors that are rated for 50,000 hours of life and rated at 85 ºC.

 

 

 

 

The A75M-D2H has two fan headers located close to the upper right portion of the board — one is a 4-pin and the other a 3-pin.

 

 

Closer Look:

Gigabyte offers a suite of software tools for changing and tweaking the A75M-D2H and A75-UD4H, whether you're looking to monitor, overclock, or save some energy. Let's have a look at a few of the featured tools in the Gigabyte arsenal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Touch BIOS:

 

Touch BIOS is, for the time being at least, Gigabyte's answer to the UEFI BIOS, but for me demonstrates that Gigabyte is a few steps behind in its UEFI Windows-based BIOS development with its AMD products. I have had a peek at the new "3D BIOS" available with the company's Intel X79 motherboards and hopefully a version of this will be available for the AMD product line shortly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The idea behind Touch BIOS is that it simplifies making adjustments for those not comfortable in the BIOS environment by using a program that will make adjustments to the BIOS settings in a Windows environment and with touch-based capabilities. Gigabyte touts this as being as easy to use as "your phone-based apps." I have several problems with this program, starting with the glaringly obvious: why does the fact that you can change it with a "touch" make it any easier to use than clicking on your selection with a mouse? I also wonder how many people have touch-based monitors/programs? I have attempted to use Touch BIOS in several machines and found that it does not communicate with the BIOS very well. Many of the changes I made popped up and said that it had been successfully changed, only to find upon restart that it had not been changed at all. I think at a minimum this program should be made to make changes on the fly. Better yet, as enthusiasts are taking more and more to using UEFI Windows-based software for overclocking, Gigabyte really needs to make a program like its "3D BIOS" available on all its motherboards. I own the flagship 990-FXA-UD7 and this is the same and only software resembling a UEFI program that is available to us.

 

Easy Tune 6:

 

Easy Tune 6 is the latest incarnation of Gigabyte's software utility to tweak, overclock, and monitor system functions. From the tab selection on top, you can see the first three tabs are CPU (an information page showing CPU info specs and information), Memory (an information display of the installed memory with a timings table), and Tuner (where you can do very basic overclocking). The Tuner tab has three different modes: "Quick Boost", Easy, Advance (sic). Here again, for whatever reason, the software does not communicate well with the system BIOS. Easy Tune only allows for FSB overclocking and does not relay the intended overclock in the target field. In addition, I found that the voltage listed is set to something other than the actual voltage, and when under the Quick Boost tab, it wasn't even functional.

 

 

 

The next tab is intended to be for GPU overclocking, however whether I was using the onboard graphics of the A8-3870k or had discreet graphics cards installed, the tab was grayed out and not accessible. Next is the "Smart" tab, where you set a custom fan profile based on CPU temperature or disable any profile all together. In the "HW Monitor" tab, we find two sub-sections: the first is voltage monitoring in real time for the CPU core, 3.3v rail, 12v rail, and CPU VID, while the second is where you can set fan and temperature thresholds, as well as alarm thresholds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

@ BIOS

 

Gigabyte @ BIOS is a BIOS flashing utility that affords you several options to update your BIOS to the latest version or knock it back to a previous version should you have problems with another version. Among the choices are updating from file, updating from the Gigabyte server, and saving a copy of your current BIOS to file. I have actually tried the updating from the server and it went smooth as silk and very quickly.

 

 

Overall, I think that Gigabyte's software for working the BIOS in a Windows environment is a bit lacking and behind the times. I have tried Touch BIOS and Easy Tune 6 in tandem with several motherboards and they both just don't make the cut. They are clunky, limited in options, and do not take sync very well with system settings from the BIOS. Right now, the software utilities don't quite match the fantastic quality of the hardware Gigabyte offers. I hope to see the likes of "3D BIOS" available in an AMD version soon.

Closer Look:

While Gigabyte's standard blue screen BIOS technology is very mature, I had hoped to be walking you through Gigabyte's version of a UEFI-based BIOS. Until then, we have the standard version of the Award-based BIOS software.

 

Main menu:

 

For those of you who have been regularly delving into the BIOS for years, this will be a familiar sight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MB Intelligent Tweaker:

The most expansive area of interest for the Overclocker/tweaker is Intelligent Tweaker section. Here you have access to everything you could want, to squeeze every last bit of performance out of your machine. This includes CPU clock multipliers, host clock control, memory clocks, DRAM timings, and voltage controls. With the FM1/A series processors, you will see the "IGX Configuration" listed. Under this selection, you have the ability to overclock the core clock of the onboard graphics. You can also set the UMA (Uniform Memory Access) frame buffer size and dedicate 128MB up to 1024MB of buffer to the graphics operations. Under the DRAM configurations, you can set custom timings for your memory or leave them to be set automatically by SPD timings. You also have access to drive strength timings, although these are almost always left at default settings, as the effect on improving performance is almost nil.

 

 

 

Standard CMOS Features:

 

Under Standard CMOS Features, you can set the system date and time, as well as see the amount of installed system memory. Here you will also see the drives installed in your system, though ironically at this point, it was not detecting my hard drive or optical drive.

 

 

Intergrated Peripherals:

In Integrated Peripherals, you control the operating mode of your SATA, USB, and LAN functions, as well as enabling or disabling the onboard audio, LAN, and 1394 functionality.

 

 

PC Health Staus:

In PC Health Status, you will find the main system voltages, temperatures, and fan speeds of the fans that are making use of the motherboard fan headers. You can also enable or disable fan and CPU temperature warning alerts. The last settings on this page are to set the parameters for the "Smart fan" feature.

 

 

Advanced BIOS Features:

Under Advanced BIOS Features, you have control over various power saving features, such as AMD Cool&Quiet and C6 support. You can also enable Virtualization support for machines running virtual machine software. Lastly, you can also set your drive boot priority order, as well as enabling the S.M.A.R.T capabilities of your hard drive.

 

 

Power Management Setup:

 

In this section, you can control how your machine behaves in different power/powered-down states and what devices or events will alter such states. You can also set the behavior of the power button.

 

Specifications:


APU

FM1 Socket:ŠŠ
- AMD A series processors/AMD E2 series processors
(Go to GIGABYTE's website for the latest APU support list.)
Chipset
AMD A75
Memory
4 x 1.5V DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 64 GB of system memoryŠŠ

*Due to Windows 32-bit operating system limitation, when more than 4 GB of physical memory is installed, the actual memory size displayed will be less than 4 GB.
Dual channel memory architectureŠŠ
Support for DDR3 2400 (O.C.)/1866/1600/1333/1066 MHz memory modulesŠ
Š
*The 1866 MHz (or above) memory speed is supported only when one or two DDR3 1866 MHz (or above) DIMMs are installed. It is not supported when four DIMMs are installed. (Dual channel memory mode must be enabled when installing two DIMMs.)
(Go to GIGABYTE's website for the latest supported memory speeds and memory modules.)
Onboard Graphics
APU:ŠŠ
- 1 x D-Sub port
- 1 x DVI-D port, supporting a maximum resolution of 2560x1600
         * The DVI-D port does not support D-Sub connection by adapter.
          *The resolution of 2560x1600 is supported only when Dual Link DVI mode is enabled.
- 1 x HDMI port, supporting a maximum resolution of 1920x1200
- 1 x DisplayPort, supporting a maximum resolution of 2560x1600
(All integrated graphics ports do not support Hot plug. If you want to change to another graphics port when the computer is on, be sure to turn off the computer first.)
Audio
-Realtek ALC889 codecŠŠ
-High Definition AudioŠŠ
-2/4/5.1/7.1-channelŠŠ
-Support for DolbyŠŠ® Home Theater
-Support for S/PDIF Out
LAN
1 x Realtek RTL8111E chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)
Expansion Slots
-1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16)ŠŠ
       * For optimum performance, if only one PCI Express graphics card is to be installed, be sure to install it in the   PCIEX16 slot.           
-1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x8 (PCIEX8)
-3 x PCI Express x1 slotsŠŠ
(All PCI Express slots conform to the PCI Express 2.0 standard.)
-2 x PCI slots
Multi-Graphics Technology
Support for AMD CrossFireX™ technologyŠŠ
        *The PCIEX16 slot operates at up to x8 mode when AMD CrossFireX™ is enabled.
Support for AMD Dual Graphics technologyŠŠ
          *Only A series APUs support AMD Dual Graphics.
Storage Interface
Chipset:ŠŠ
- 5 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors supporting up to 5 SATA 6Gb/s devices
- 1 x eSATA 6Gb/s port on the back panel supporting up to 1 SATA 6Gb/s device
         *Actual transfer rate is dependent on the device being connected.
- Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 10, and JBOD
USB
Chipset:ŠŠ
- Up to 10 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (2 ports on the back panel, 8 ports available through the internal USB headers)
- Up to 4 USB 3.0/2.0 ports (available through the internal USB headers)
2 x Etron EJ168 chips:ŠŠ
- Up to 4 USB 3.0/2.0 ports on the back panel
IEEE 1394
VIA VT6308ŠŠ chip:
- Up to 2 IEEE 1394a ports (1 on the back panel, 1 port available through the internal IEEE 1394a header)
Internal Connectors
1 x 24-pin ATX main power connectorŠŠ
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connectorŠŠ
5 x SATA 6Gb/s connectorsŠŠ
1 x APU fan headerŠŠ
2 x system fan headersŠŠ
1 x power fan headerŠŠ
1 x front panel headerŠŠ
1 x front panel audio headerŠŠ
1 x S/PDIF Out headerŠŠ
4 x USB 2.0/1.1 headersŠŠ
2 x USB 3.0/2.0 headersŠŠ
1 x IEEE 1394a headerŠŠ
1 x serial port headerŠŠ
1 x Trusted Platform Module (TPM) headerŠŠ
1 x clearing CMOS jumper
Back Panel Connectors
1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse portŠŠ
1 x D-Sub portŠŠ
1 x DVI-D portŠŠ
1 x HDMI portŠŠ
1 x DisplayPortŠŠ
1 x optical S/PDIF Out connectorŠŠ
2 x USB 2.0/1.1 portsŠŠ
4 x USB 3.0/2.0 portsŠŠ
1 x IEEE 1394a headerŠŠ
1 x eSATA 6Gb/s portŠŠ
1 x RJ-45 portŠŠ
6 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out/Rear Speaker Out/Side Speaker ŠŠOut/Line In/Line Out/Microphone)
I/O Controller
iTE IT8720 chip
Hardware Monitor
-System voltage detectionŠŠ
-APU/System temperature detectionŠŠ
-APU/System/Power fan speed detectionŠŠ
-APU overheating warningŠŠ
-APU/System/Power fan fail warningŠŠ
-APU/System fan speed control ŠŠ
*Whether the APU/system fan speed control function is supported will depend on the APU/system cooler you install.

BIOS
-2 x 32 Mbit flashŠŠ
-Use of licensed AWARD BIOSŠŠ
-Support for DualBIOSŠŠ™
-PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.4, ACPI 1.0b
Unique Features
Support for @BIOSŠŠ
Support for Q-FlashŠŠ
Support for Xpress BIOS RescueŠŠ
Support for Download CenterŠŠ
Support for Xpress InstallŠŠ
Support for Xpress Recovery2ŠŠ
Support for EasyTune ŠŠ
        *Available functions in EasyTune may differ by motherboard model.
Support for Smart RecoveryŠŠ
Support for Auto GreenŠŠ
Support for ON/OFF ChargeŠŠ
Support for 3TB+ UnlockŠŠ
Support for Q-Share
Bundled Software
Norton Internet Security (OEM version)
Operating System
Support for MicrosoftŠŠ® Windows 7/Vista/XP
Form Factor
ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 24.4cm

 

Features:

 

 

 

All information courtesy of Gigabyte Technology @ http://www.gigabyte.us/products/product-page.aspx?pid=3930#ov

Specifications:



APU
FM1 Socket:
-          AMD A series processors/AMD E2 series processors
(Go to GIGABYTES website for the latest APU support list.)
Chipset
AMD A75
Memory
2 x 1.5V DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 32 GB of system memory
        *Due to Windows 32-bit operating system limitation, when more than 4 GB of Physical
          Memory is installed, the actual memory size displayed will be less than 4 GB
Dual Channel memory architecture
Support for DDR3 2400 (OC) / 1866/1600/1333/1066MHz memory modules
(Go to GIGABYTE’s website for the latest supported speeds and memory modules.)
Onboard
Graphics
APU:
-          1 x D-Sub port
-          1 x DVI-D port, supporting a maximum resolution of 2560x1600
The DVI-D port does not support D-Sub connection by adapter.
*The resolution of 2660x1600 is supported only when Dual Link mode is enabled.
      -      1 x HDMI port, supporting a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1200
      ( All integrated graphics ports do not support hot plug. If you want to change to another graphics
       port when the computer is on, be sure to turn off the computer first                                                            
Audio
Realtek ALC889 Codec
High Definition Audio
2/4/5.17.1 –channel
              *To configure 7.1- channel audio, you have to use an HD front panel audio module
                And enable the multi-channel audio feature through the audio driver.
Support for S/PDIF Out
LAN
1 x Realtek RTL8111E chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)
Expansion Slots
1 x PCI Express x 16 slot, running at x 16 (PCIEX 16)
For optimum performance, if only one PCI Express graphics card is to be installed,
Be sure to install it in the X16 slot.
Multi-Graphics
Technology
Support for AMD Dual Graphics Technology
                    Only A series APUs support AMD Dual Graphics
Storage Interface
Chipset:
-          6 x SATA 6GB/s connectors supporting up to 6 SATA 6GB/s devices
-          Support for RAID 0,RAID 1, RAID 10, and JBOD
USB
Chipset:
-          Up to 6 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (4 ports on the back panel, 2 ports available
Through the internal USB header)
-          Up to 4 USB 3.0/2.0 ports (2 ports on the back panel, 2 ports available
Through the internal USB header
Internal
connectors
1x 24 pin ATX main power connector
1x 4-pin ATX 12V power connector
6x SATA 6GB/s connectors
1x APU fan header
1x system fan header
1x front panel header
1x front panel audio header
1x S/PDIF Out header
1x USB 2.0/1.1
1x 3.0/2.0 header
1x serial port header
1x Trusted Platform (TPM) header
1x clearing CMOS jumper
Back Panel
Connectors
1x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
1x D-Sub port
1x DVI-D port
1x HDMI port
1x optical S/PDIF Out connector
4x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
2x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
1x RJ-45 port
3x audio jacks (line in/Line Out/Microphone)
I/O Controller
iTE IT 8720 chip
Hardware
Monitor
System voltage detection
APU/System temperature detection
APU/System fan speed warning
APU overheating warning
APU/System fan fail warning
APU/System fan speed control
·         Weather the APU/system fan speed control function is supported will depend on the
APU/system cooler you install
BIOS
2x 32 Mbit flash
Use of licensed AWARD BIOS
Support for Dual Bios ™
PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.4, ACPI 1.0b
Unique Features
Support for @ Flash
Support for Q-Flash
Support for Xpress BIOS Rescue
Support for Download Center
Support for Xpress Install
Support for Xpress Recovery2
Support for Easy Tunes
·         Available functions in Easy Tunes may differ by motherboard model.
Support for Smart Recovery
Support for Auto Green
Support for ON/OFF Charge
Support for 3TB+ Unlock
Support for Q-Share
Bundles
Software
Norton Internet Security (OEM version)
Operating System
Support for Microsoft® Windows 7/Vista/XP
Form Factor
Micro ATX Form Factor; 24.4cm x 22.5cm
 
 

 

Features:

 

 

 

 

 

All information courtesy of Gigabyte Technology @ http://www.gigabyte.us/products/product-page.aspx?pid=3930#ov

Testing:

 

For testing, I am going to be running these two boards side by side through the battery of OCC standard tests, comparing them to each other for performance comparisons. The testing is done on a fresh install of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit and updated with the latest Microsoft updates and Service Pack. The boards will be tested in both stock and overclocked conditions. Both motherboards are tested with the identical peripheral hardware. The latest drivers have been installed for the discreet graphic cards, as well as the Fusion graphics on the A8-3870K we are using for testing.

 

Test Setup: Gigabyte GA-A75M-D2H / GA-A75-UD4H

 

Overclocking:

Overclocking the A8-3870K flagship is a simple affair. With an unlocked multiplier and a base clock of 100MHz, I moved the multiplier up to x38 for a frequency of 3800MHz. While this was benchmark-stable, it would not pass a Prime 95 stress test. I backed it off to a x37 multiplier with added voltage of just over .10v and settled there with a 700MHz, or +20%, overclock. For the graphics core, I was able to achieve a 33% overclock of 925MHz, from a stock speed of 600MHz.

 

 

 

AMD System Monitor:

 

Another Tool I used is the extremely useful AMD System Monitor. It can be used to monitor how the system resources are being allocated with your A-series APU in real time. it can be grab it here.

 

 

Benchmarks:

 

  1. Apophysis
  2. WinRAR
  3. Geekbench 2.1
  4. Bibble 5
  5. Office 2007 Excel Number Crunch
  6. POV-Ray 3.7
  7. HandBrake .9.5
  8. Sandra 2011
  9. AIDA641.85
  10. Cinebench 10 & 11.5
  11. HD Tune 4.60
  12. PCMark 7
  13. Aliens vs. Predator
  14. Civilization V
  15. Battlefield: Bad Company 2
  16. 3DMark 11

Testing:

The first part of our testing will involve system-specific benchmarks.

 

To start things off we will run Apophysis. This program is used primarily to render and generate fractal flame images. We will run this benchmark with the following settings:

 

 

The measurement used is time to render, in minutes, to complete.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower is Better

 

WinRAR is a tool to archive and compress large files to a manageable size. Here, we will test the time needed to compress files of 1000MB and 500MB. Time will be measured in seconds.

 

ZIP:

 

 

Lower is Better

 

 

RAR:

 

 

Lower is Better

 

Geekbench:

Geekbench 2.1 is a benchmark that tests CPU and memory performance in an easy-to-use tool. The measure used for comparison is the total suite average score.

 

Higher is Better

 

Bibble 5:

This test consists of converting 100 8.2MP RAW images to jpeg format. The file size is 837MB. The measure used for comparison is time needed to convert the file in seconds.

 

Lower is Better

 

No noticeable differences here. The biggest gap is 32 points in favor of the UD4H in Geekbench, but this test has a notable range in scoring.

Testing:

Office 2007 Excel Big Number Crunch: This test takes a 6.2MB Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and performs about 28,000 sets of calculations that represent many of the most commonly used calculations in Excel. The measure of this test is the amount of time it takes to refresh the sheet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower Is Better

 

POV-Ray 3.7: This program features a built-in benchmark that renders an image using Ray Tracing. The latest versions offer support for SMP (Symmetric MultiProcessing), enabling the workload to be spread across the cores for quicker completion.

 

 

Higher Is Better

 

 

HandBrake .9.5: is an open source application used to transcode multiple video formats to an h.264 output format. The test file size is 128MB in size and 43 seconds in length.

 

 

 

Lower Is Better

 

About the biggest performance gap so far is a fraction of a percent in HandBrake for the D2H.

Testing:

SiSoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful. For this benchmark I will be running a broad spectrum of tests to gauge the performance of key functions of the CPUs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Processor Arithmetic

  

  

Multi-Core Efficiency

  

  

 

Memory Bandwidth

  

  

 

Memory Latency

  

 

Cache and Memory

  

 

 

AIDA64 Extreme Edition is a software utility designed to be used for hardware diagnosis and benchmarking. I will be using the CPU Queen test that looks for the solution for the "Queens" problem on a 10x10 chessboard. This tests the branch-prediction capabilities of the processor. The FPU Mandel test measures double precision floating point performance through computation of several frames of the "Mandelbrot" fractal.

 

  

  

Higher is Better

 

The better part of a point for the UD4H in the Cache & Memory test, but the D2H takes it back in the overclocked test.

Cinebench 10 is useful for testing your system, CPU, and OpenGL capabilities using the software program, CINEMA 4D. We will be using the default tests for this benchmark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

  

 

Higher is Better

 

Cinebench 11.5

 

 

  

 

Higher is Better

 

HD Tune measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers.

 

 

  

 

  

Lower is Better

 

  

 

  

Higher is Better

 

PCMark 7 is the latest iteration of Futuremark's popular PCMark system performance tool. This latest version is designed for use on Windows 7 PCs and features a combination of 25 different workloads to accurately measure the performance of all PCs from laptops to desktops.

  

  

Higher is Better

 

 

 

Not much to see here. As expected, these boards are identical except for a few connections and features. They pretty much take turns taking the lead within a reasonable margin of error.

Aliens vs. Predator, developed by Rebellion Developments, is a science fiction first-person shooter and a remake of its 1999 game. The game is based on the two popular sci-fi franchises. In this game, you have the option of playing through the single player campaigns as one of three species: the Alien, the Predator, or the Human Colonial Marine. The game uses Rebellion's Asura game engine, which supports Dynamic Lighting, Shader Model 3.0, Soft Particle systems, and Physics. For testing, I will be using the Aliens vs. Predator benchmark tool with the settings listed below. All DirectX 11 features are enabled.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While this is a somewhat demanding title, the 6550 graphics are not starting out to look like a gaming power house. Fortunatly, these boards have an alternative to make matters much better for gamers.

Testing:

Civilization V is a turn-based strategy game. The premise is to play as one of 18 civilizations and lead it from the "dawn of man" up to the space age. This latest iteration of the Civilization series uses a new game engine and brings massive changes to the AI behaviour in the game. Released for Windows in September of 2010, Civilization V was developed by Firaxis Games and published by 2K games. Testing will be done using actual gameplay, with FPS measured by Fraps through a series of five turns, 199-205 turns into the game.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

  

Higher = Better

Not much better here and overclocking does little to improve things.

Testing:

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is a first-person shooter developed by EA Digital Illusions CE (DICE) and published by Electronic Arts for Windows, PS3, and Xbox 360. This game is part of the Battlefield franchise and uses the Frostbite 1.5 Engine, allowing for destructible environments. You can play the single-player campaign or multiplayer, with five different game modes. Released in March 2010, it has sold in excess of six million copies so far.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, so resolution and/or detail are going to have to come down a fair bit to reach playability. Let's see how the flagship fares with 3DMark 11.

Testing:

3DMark 11 is the next installment for Futuremark in the 3DMark series, with Vantage as its predecessor. The name implies the benchmark's focus on Microsoft DirectX 11 and with an unintended coincidence matches the current year in number (which was the naming scheme to some prior versions of 3DMark nonetheless). 3DMark 11 was designed solely for DirectX 11, so Windows Vista or 7 are required alongside a DirectX 11 graphics card in order to run this test. The Basic Edition gives unlimited free tests on performance mode, whereas Vantage only allows for a single test run. The Advanced Edition costs $19.95 and unlocks nearly all features of the benchmark, while the Professional Edition runs for $995.00 and is mainly suited for corporate use. The new benchmark contains six tests, four of which are aimed only at graphical testing – one that tests physics handling and one that combines graphics and physics testing together. The open source Bullet Physics Library is used for physics simulations and although not as mainstream as Havok or PhysX, it still remains a popular choice.

The new benchmark comes with two new demos that can be watched; both of which are based on the tests, but unlike the tests, contain basic audio. The first demo is titled "Deep Sea" and involves a number of vessels exploring what looks to be a sunken U-Boat. The second demo is titled "High Temple" and displays a location similar to South American tribal ruins, with statues and the occasional vehicle. The demos are simple in that they have no story, but really demonstrate testing conditions. The vehicles have the logos of the sponsors, MSI and Antec, on the sides, helping to make the Basic Edition free. The four graphics tests are slight variants of the demos. I will use the three benchmark test preset levels to find the performance of each card. The presets are used because they are comparable to what can be run with the free version, so results can be compared across more than just a custom set of test parameters.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was only able to get a score on the Entry and Performance presets, and they were not pretty. The Extreme setting was a non-starter. So we have demonstrated that the onboard graphics, while being very competent for general use and light gaming, are not something that a semi-serious gamer would want to choose if they wanted to see any level of resolution or eye candy. However, the two boards we are reviewing today bring another set of capabilities to the table, and i will take a quick look at them next.

Closer Look:

One of the first things I took notice of when I started having a look at these boards is that AMD makes a large point that these are dual-PCIE boards and that you can run AMD Dual Graphics and CrossFire on them. This leads to an interesting question: What portion of the gaming public is going to purchase a motherboard hovering around $100 and a CPU that is in a similar range, and then turn around and put three times that amount in graphics cards inside? I am not sure I know the answer to that question, but I felt obligated to check out that scenario.

The first option to adding graphics capacity to an FM1-based system, such as the Gigabyte A75M-D2H or A75-UD4H, is to make use of the AMD Dual Graphics feature. With this option, you can add a discreet graphics cards of the same family as the onboard graphics and they will work in tandem with each other, in effect doubling your graphics power.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second option for increasing your graphics power is to override the onboard graphics by installing a discreet graphics card or taking advantage of the CrossFireX capabilities. I put a pair of XFX Black Edition 7970s in the GA-A75-UD4H and fired up a few of the graphics tests we use in our normal benchmarking lineup to see if, and how well, an AMD APU and the Gigabyte UD4H would make use with all that graphics horsepower at its disposal.

 

 

The first test was 3DMark 11 and I was very surprised at the result. I also tracked the relation between the CPU activity and load in relation to the load or capacity of the GPUs being used. The score of P9717 is almost exactly on par with a GTX 590 and 1200 points higher than a single XFX Black Edition 7970.

 

 

 

 

 

Next I ran the AvP benchmark in consecutive runs with ECC overriding AA to x16. The result is an impressive 133 FPS. Remember, this system consists of a $110 motherboard paired with an APU.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the last look into CrossFire on the Gigabyte GA-A75-UD4H, I used FRAPS to monitor a scene in BF:BC2 at high settings and 4xAA. The result was an average of 148 FPS. BF:BC2 will use as many cores/threads as you have to throw at it, and you can see that the CPU and GPU activity is a bit different here, though no less impressive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are a few ways to parse this performance outcome. Given the low cost of pairing these boards with a low cost APU, it does make for some interesting possibilities for those who spend half their time cruising the net and the other half as a demanding gamer. Time to draw a conclusion on this pair of FM1 boards.

Conclusion:

I have to say that I sort of had certain expectations about the FM1 platform when these boards showed up on my doorstep. I do a lot of heavy content creation and intense gaming, pushing the graphics to the limit of what they offer. I feared that benchmarking this platform was going to be like watching molasses roll up hill in January. I was, however, very surprised with the user experience I had with these FM1 motherboards. While they are aimed at those who have general computing needs, they pack a bit more punch than one might think. Seeing the A-Series architecture instantly shift CPU and GPU resources to where they are needed is impressive to say the least.

The feature set on these boards is terrific as well. I am also intrigued by the numerous graphic options that the UD4H and D2H offer. Should you find yourself needing a bit more graphics horsepower, you can take advantage of AMD's "Dual Graphics" and add an inexpensive 6500 or 6700 discreet graphics card to work in tandem with the onboard Fusion graphics of the A-Series APUs. Even more intriguing is the CrossFire capability that these boards offer. The UD4H has two PCIE slots running at x8/x8, meaning that you will lose little to no performance if you decide to put even a high end pair of cards in a CrossFire configuration. As you saw on the previous page, the results are impressive to say the least for a $115 board paired with a $130 APU. While I am still not sure who the CrossFire capability is aimed at, or who might put graphics cards that cost many times more than the motherboard and APU, it is there and works quite well. It is without a doubt the least expensive way I have seen to game big without breaking the bank on a motherboard and CPU.

I have one complaint with the Gigabyte motherboards and it is that they seem to be a few steps behind in the software utility package offered for these boards and others. The lack of a true UEFI BIOS, an overclock utility that feels and looks like it's from five or six years ago, and the problems I had experienced with it ineffectively communicating with the BIOS to garner correct information and apply settings, all turned me off. I think very highly of Gigabyte's hardware, both in function and features. I just hope the company will get the software up to speed to match the quality and functionality of the hardware it offers. Feature-wise, these boards have a lot offer. There is the dual-BIOS with two physical BIOS ROMs, where one will automatically take over in the event of a BIOS crash or bad flash, 3TB HDD support, one fuse per USB port, and dual-link and multi-display capabilities to go along with the many graphic options. The only thing keeping these boards from getting the coveted gold award is the sub-par software utilities. I really hope and expect Gigabyte will improve this situation in the near future, if the "3D" UEFI on the Intel side is any indication.

 

Pros: GA-A75-UD4H

 

Cons:

 

 

 

Pros: GA-A75M-D2H

 

Cons: