Gigabyte AMD Motherboard Roundup Reviewajmatson - September 16, 2009
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Closer Look (MA785G-UD3H):
Finaly for the roundup we have the MA785G-UD3H. The MA785G-UD3H, like the mATX board we just looked at, is built around the AMD 785G and SB710 chipset and supports processors up to 140 watts, including the Phenom II and Athlon II series. The biggest difference between the two, besides the form factor, is that the MA785G-UD3H uses DDR2 memory and can also support AM2+, along with the AM3 processors, so you have a more flexible upgrade path. The MA785G-UD3H still uses the Ultra Durable 3 design for better life and efficiency and also comes with the Gigabyte three year warranty.
Once the box is opened, you get your first glimpse of the accessories that are included with the MA785G-UD3H. The accessories are identical to most of the low to mid range Gigabyte boards that we have seen and include the manual, installation guide, I/O shield, case badges, two SATA cables, one IDE cable, and driver CD.
The Gigabyte MA785G-UD3H keeps the same color scheme as all the other boards in this roundup, with the exception of the memory slots and CPU bracket, which are standard for Gigabyte's DDR2-based boards. Gigabyte kept the blue-ish colored PC board, but went with a yellow, red, and orange scheme for the memory and CPU area. 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.
For the back panel, there are plenty of connections for every multimedia need. Starting from the top, there is a dual-mode legacy PS/2 ports 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/DL, 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 MA785G-UD3H are two PCI-Express x16 slots, which support CrossfireX between two discrete cards or the IGP with certain cards, three PCI-Express x1 slots, and two legacy PCI slots. The blue 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 orange slot runs at X4 at all times.
The CPU area on this board is not very crowded, with plenty of room to work around it. I had no issues installing aftermarket CPU coolers and a water block for better cooling. The socket supports both AM2+ and AM3 processors up to 140 watts, so your DDR2 CPUs will work and the AM3 processors will be able to run with the DDR2 memory as well. There are four DIMM slots, which support up to 16GB of DDR2 memory up to 1333MHz, when they are 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 for further expansion. Starting from the left, there is a COM port header, a floppy port, two FireWire headers, three USB 2.0 headers above the orange PCI Express X16 slot, a parallel port, the front panel headers, and a fan header. Flipping up to the right side of the board, you will notice there are six SATA ports and an IDE port. The six yellow SATA ports are controlled via the SB710 Southbridge, and support SATA 3.0Gb/s speeds with RAID 0, 1, 10, and JBOD. One thing of note about this board is the placement of some of the SATA ports – when a large discrete card is used, such as a GTX 260, it covers some of them, rendering them useless. Again, 90 degree ports would have made more sense.
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, with a smaller one covering the Southbridge.
Now that we have seen the boards, let's move on to checking out the software and BIOS.