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Gigabyte GA-M78SM-S2H Review

ajmatson    -   July 10, 2008
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Closer Look:

Gigabyte takes the NVIDIA GeForce 8200 chipset and packs in into a small micro ATX form factor, giving you the GA-M78SM-S2H motherboard. This board is small and lightweight, which makes it perfect for a small computer such as an HTPC, quiet casual gaming PC, or even for a carputer (yes, I mean a computer for your car). Gigabyte used its signature blue PC board for the GA-M78SM-S2H. The first thing you will notice about this board is that it is a microATX board, so it is tiny compared to most boards on the market today. The back of the board has a support brace to keep the strain from the heatsink even so that there is no damage to the board.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since this is a microATX motherboard, the space on it is limited and needs to be populated wisely. Gigabyte has chosen to keep the back panel simple while providing the necessary ports needed to run the board efficiently. Gigabyte has removed the PS/2 mouse port, however they kept the keyboard port. There are also four USB 2.0 ports, an optical S/PDIF Out connector, a parallel port, an HDMI port, a VGA port, a DVI-D port, one Gigabit LAN port, and three audio jacks supporting line in, line out, and microphone.

 

 

The Gigabyte 8200 board supports AM2 and AM2+ processors, the Sempron, Athlon, and Phenom CPUs, including multi-cores and the FX series. The HyperTransport 3.0 bus supports up to 5200 MT/s depending on the CPU and socket type used. All of the capacitors for the CPU VRM (Voltage Regulation) are completely solid state to ensure stability and a longer life span under extreme conditions. There are only two slots for memory use, which support up to 8GB of Dual Channel Memory up to 1066MHz with supporting CPU.

 

 

Since this is a micro ATX motherboard, there is not much room in the way for expansion slots. There is one PCI Express x16 slot for a graphics card, one PCI Express x1 slot for an audio card or other x1 card, and there are two PCI slots for legacy cards. The x16 slot is right in front of and above the SATA ports, so I am concerned that they might be blocked by some dual slot card with big coolers. We will see during the testing phase if there is a concern here.

 

Moving on down to the bottom of the board is where all of the headers are at for expansion. Starting from the bottom left is the SPDIF I/O header, the COM header, a floppy port, four USB 2.0 headers, power LED header, and the front panel headers. Above and to the right are the IDE port, six SATA 3.0GBs ports, a fan header, and the Clear CMOS header. At first, I was asking myself where the front audio headers were since they were not with the group, but after a few seconds I spotted them. They were placed on this board behind the back panel audio ports right above the PCI Express x1 slot. That is an odd place to have them, dont you think?

 

 

 

Lastly on the board I want to show the heatsink used to cool this board's chipset. Gigabyte chose to go with a passive fin type heatsink to keep the temperatures low, and since this is a Hybrid SLI board which partly focuses on power efficiency, this should be more than enough to keep everything within safe operating temperatures.

 




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