Gigabyte GA-M78SM-S2H Reviewajmatson -
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Over the last few months we have seen a lot of motherboards being manufactured on some great new chipsets. Intel, AMD, and now NVIDIA have been putting out some killer chipset designs that bring new and interesting technologies to us consumers and at competitive prices. Lately, there has been a big drive by the chipset manufacturers to create greener PCs to cut down on wasted power while keeping the performance edge needed. NVIDIA has followed AMD with its Hybrid Series chipsets, though NVIDIA took it one step further and included its Hybrid Power feature. NVIDIA released a statement claiming that all of its future motherboards will have onboard mGPUs to facilitate the Hybrid Power feature which will cut back power consumption when the discrete Graphics Card (dGPU) is not needed by turning it off and running only on the Integrated Graphics (mPGU).
One of NVIDIA's latest chipsets supporting Hybrid SLI is the NVIDIA 8200 chipset. The 8200 chipset has an integrated mGPU that can be used by itself or in conjunction with a discrete card to provide better graphics performance or lower power consumption depending on the dGPU it is paired with. Gigabyte has just put together all of this great technology in a microATX form factor, perfect for that HTPC or casual gaming machine, with the GA-M78SM-S2H motherboard. The GA-MA78SM-S2H has the features of larger and more expensive motherboards, but in a less expansive, mini design which is marketed toward users looking to make the mysterious Home Theater Computer for their home entertainment system. Will this design pack a Trojan Horse style punch in it? Let's take a look and see.
The Gigabyte GA-M78SM-S2H, referred to as the Gigabyte 8200 herein, came to me in a generic Gigabyte "S2" Series motherboard packaging since it was a manufacturing sample sent to us for review. The front of the box has the logos of some of the features included in the Gigabyte 8200 motherboard, including the "Support AMD processors" and the "3DMark06 1500 marks" sticker. The back lists the Smart and Safe features of the board, including Express Install, @BIOS, Dual BIOS, Xpress Recovery, and more.
Opening the packaging reveals the inner goodies. There are two layers inside the box that secure the items during transport. The top layer stores the accessories needed for the motherboard and the bottom layer has the board itself. The motherboard is wrapped in an anti-static bag and placed on top of a foam layer to protect it from damage. Included with the GA-M78SM-S2H are two SATA cables, a floppy cable, an IDE cable, the I/O shield, and a driver CD. Since the board is a manufacturing sample, the drivers and programs came included on a burned CD.
Now that everything is out of the package, let's take a look at the board itself.