Gigabyte AMD Motherboard Roundup Reviewajmatson - September 16, 2009
» Discuss this article (10)
Closer Look (MA785GMT-UD2H):
Now we are taking a look at the Gigabyte MA785GMT-UD2H. This is a mATX style board that is designed for smaller cases and HTPC builds. The MA785GMT-UD2H supports AM3 processors, including the Phenom II and Athlon II series. There is an integrated graphics solution that eliminates the need for a discrete graphics card when the power is not needed or simply to save on money. The IGP is the Radeon HD 4200 graphics solution. This particular board supports DDR3 memory up to DDR3-1800MHz when it is overclocked. Gigabyte backs this board with a three year warranty and makes it tough using the new Ultra Durable 3 design for stability and longevity.
Once the box is opened, you get your first glimpse at the accessories that are included with the MA785GMT-UD2H. The accessories are pretty stripped down, which is not surprising for a small board meant for HTPCs. Included are the manual, installation guide, I/O shield, case badges, two SATA cables, one IDE cable, and driver CD.
The Gigabyte MA785GMT-UD2H has the same pleasing appearance as the first two boards. Gigabyte again chose to use a blue-ish colored PC board, with a white and blue color scheme for the slots and brackets. This gives the board a nice look when it's inside your case, especially if you have a side window. One feature that you cannot see on the nicely colored PC board is the two ounces of copper that Gigabyte incorporates into the design to aid in cooling the components faster. This also improves durability and efficiency of the motherboard, allowing for better overclocking. In addition to the copper, the Ultra Durable 3 design also uses solid Japanese-manufactured capacitors, lower RDS(ON) MOSFETs, and Ferrite core chokes. All these features are designed to help you get the most out of your system, with better stability and cooling.
Moving to the back panel, again Gigabyte gives you all that you need for that HTPC build. Starting from the top, there is a dual-mode legacy PS/2 port for your keyboard or mouse, a VGA port, a DVI port, an HDMI port, an 8-pin FireWire port, an Optical SPDIF port, six USB 2.0 ports, a LAN port, and the audio ports, which are driven by the Realtek ALC889A codec. The LAN port is the Realtek 8111C, for speeds up to 1Gb/s.
Below the back panel connections are the expansion slots. There are more than enough slots for any use, from newer current PCI-Express cards to the legacy PCI interfaced cards that you still might have lying around your house. Included on the MA785GMT-UD2H are one PCI-Express x1 slot, one PCI-Express x16 slot, and two legacy PCI slots. The PCI-Express x16 slot supports ATI CrossFireX for multi-GPU systems by using the integrated Radeon 4200 IGP and certain discrete video cards. The slot runs at x16 speeds when a discrete card is used.
The CPU area on this board looks less crowded and there is still plenty of room to work around it and I had no issues installing aftermarket CPU coolers and a water block for better cooling. The socket supports only AM3 processors up to 140 watts, so your DDR2 CPUs will not work here. There are four DIMM slots, which support up to 16GB of DDR3 memory up to 1800MHz, overclocked. There is also the integrated Radeon HD 4200 IGP for quick onboard graphics without the need for a discrete video card.
On the bottom are the headers, which allow you to expand your HTPC. Starting from the left, there is a COM port header, a parallel port header, a FireWire header, three USB 2.0 headers, front panel headers, and a fan header. Flipping up to the right side of the board, you will notice there are five SATA ports, a floppy port, and an IDE port. The five blue SATA ports are controlled via the SB710 Southbridge, and support SATA 3.0Gb/s speeds with RAID 0, 1, 5, 10, and JBOD. One thing of note about this board is the placement of the SATA ports – when a large discrete card is used, such as a GTX 260, it fully covers them, rendering them useless. This is a shame and could have easily been corrected using 90 degree ports such as on the 790X.
To keep the cool look of the board and add to the Ultra Durable 3 design, Gigabyte has used a heatsink combination designed to lower the temperatures for the critical parts of the board. There is a large heatsink that covers the Northbridge and the IGP and a smaller one that covers the Southbridge.
Now we move on to the last board of the bunch.