Gigabyte AMD Motherboard Roundup Review

ajmatson - 2009-05-07 09:09:38 in Motherboards
Category: Motherboards
Reviewed by: ajmatson   
Reviewed on: September 16, 2009
Price: $90 - $124

Introduction:

With new processors usually come new motherboards. AMD has been releasing many new CPUs lately – dual, triple, and quad core – and thus new motherboards are necessary to take advantage of the faster and better technology. There have been several new chipsets released recently, which are aimed at the mid range market. Some use integrated graphics, while others are geared to the budget-minded enthusiast. Today we are going to be taking a look at four new boards from Gigabyte, which include the 770 chipset, the 785G chipset, and the 790X chipset. These boards represent the main chipsets being used by the mid range market today, so the combination of the four boards will give you a good idea of where each one sits based on the chipset design to help you make an informed decision on the chipset that is right for you.

The particular boards that we will be taking a look at are the Gigabyte MA790XT-UD4P (790X board), the Gigabyte MA770T-UD3P (770 board), the Gigabyte MA785GMT-US2H (785G board), and the Gigabyte MA785G-UD3H (785G board). All the boards support AM3 processors, including the Phenom II and Athlon II CPUs up to 140 watts. However, the MA785G-UD3H is an AM2+ board, which will support both AM2+ and AM3 processors up to 140 watts, as well as only DDR2 memory. All these chipsets are designed for the mainstream user who wants performance without breaking the bank. This review will put each chipset and version up against each other to show you the better sector to choose for your needs.

 

Closer Look (MA790XT-UD4P):

The MA790XT-UD4P is a step down from the flagship chipset, the 790FX. It offers a lot of the same features, such as the Ultra Durable 3 design and multiple PCI Express x16 slots for multi-GPU card solutions. The MA790XT-UD4P supports AM3 processors, such as the Phenom II and Athlon II series, including the 140 watt processors. Coupled with the 790X Northbridge is the SB750 Southbridge, which supports a wide array of features for your every need.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once the inner box is removed, you get your first glimpse of the accessories that are included with the MA790XT-UD4P. The accessories are what Gigabyte generally includes with all of its mainstream boards. Included are the manual, installation guide, I/O shield, case badges, four SATA cables, one IDE cable, one floppy cable, and the eSATA kit, which consists of the bracket, power cord, and eSATA cables.

 

 

 

The Gigabyte MA790XT-UD4P has a very pleasing appearance. Gigabyte 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. Starting from the top, there are the two legacy PS/2 ports for your keyboard and mouse, an optical S/PDIF connector, a coaxial S/PDIF connector, 4-pin and 8-pin FireWire ports, eight 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 MA790XT-UD4P are three PCI-Express x1 slots, two PCI-Express x16 slots, and two legacy PCI slots. The PCI-Express x16 slots support ATI CrossFireX for multi-GPU systems and run at x16 speeds for the blue slot and X8 speeds for the orange slot.

 

The CPU area looks crowded, but there is plenty of room to work around it and I had no issues installing aftermarket CPU coolers and a water block for better cooling. The only complaint I have is that it is hard to plug and unplug the 8-pin CPU power lead with big fingers like I have, and I actually nicked my finger on the heatsink near it. The socket only supports 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 1666MHz, overclocked. The MA790XT-UD4P has an 8+2 power design for more efficient power delivery to the CPU and the rest of the components. Another perk for the MA790XT-UD4P is that it will accept ECC memory with a processor that supports it. As such, this would make a great high end workstation or server board.

 

 

On the bottom are the headers, which allow you to expand your system as needed. Starting from the left, there is a COM port header, a parallel port header, a FireWire header, two USB 2.0 headers, front panel headers, and two fan headers. Flipping up to the right side of the board, you will notice there are eight SATA ports, six blue and two purple. The six blue SATA ports are controlled via the SB750 Southbridge, and support SATA 3.0Gb/s speeds with RAID 0, 1, 5, 10, and JBOD. The two purple ports are also SATA 3.0Gb/s, however these are controlled via the Gigabyte SATA II chipset, which includes the JMicron JM322 chips. The JM322 chips provide smart backup capabilities, as well as hardware based RAID 0, 1, and JBOD. 

 

 

 

To keep the cool look of the board and add to the Ultra Durable 3 design, Gigabyte has used a heatsink and heatpipe combination designed to lower the temperatures for the critical parts of the board. There is a large heatsink that covers the voltage area of the board by the CPU, and it connects down to the heatsink over the Northbridge and Southbridge chips. The design uses aluminum for efficient cooling.

 

 

Now that the MA790XT-UD4P is out, let's move over to the next board.

Closer Look (MA770T-UD3P):

This board is a bit different from the previous one. This particular model, the MA770T-UD3P, is designed around the AMD 770 and SB 710 chipset. This design gives a cost effective solution for those who want a balance of power and speed. The board supports socket AM3 processors up to the Phenom II and Athlon II for a quick and powerful system at a low cost. Gigabyte offers a three year warranty on the board, as well as including the Ultra Durable 3 design for long lasting and efficient operability for the life of the product.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once the box is opened, you get your first glimpse of the accessories that are included with the MA770T-UD3P. The accessories are what Gigabyte generally includes with all its lower end boards. Included are the manual, installation guide, I/O shield, case badge, two SATA cables, one IDE cable, one floppy cable, and the driver CD.

 

 

 

The Gigabyte MA770T-UD3P has a very pleasing appearance. Gigabyte again chose to use the same blue-ish colored PC board, with a white and blue color scheme for the slots and brackets. As with the previous board, 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. Starting from the top, there are the two legacy PS/2 ports for your keyboard and mouse, an optical S/PDIF connector, a coaxial S/PDIF connector, 4-pin and 8-pin FireWire ports, eight USB 2.0 ports, one LAN port, and the audio ports, which are driven by the Realtek ALC889A codec. The LAN port uses the Realtek 8111C/DL chip, 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 MA770T-UD3P are four PCI-Express x1 slots, one PCI-Express x16 slot, and two legacy PCI slots. The PCI-Express x16 slot runs at x16 speeds for fast data transfer.

 

The CPU area on this particular board looks crowded, but like the previous entry, there is 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 only supports AM3 processors, including the Phenom II and Athlon II series up to 140 watts. There are four DIMM slots, which support up to 16GB of DDR3 memory up to 1666MHz, overclocked. The MA770T-UD3P uses an 8+2 power design for efficient power throughout the system.

 

On the bottom are the headers, which allow you to expand your system as needed. Starting from the left, there is a FireWire header, a parallel port header, a floppy port header, two USB 2.0 headers, front panel headers, a COM header and a fan header. Flipping up to the right side of the board, you will notice there are six SATA ports. The six blue SATA ports are controlled via the SB710 Southbridge, and support SATA 3.0Gb/s speeds with SATA RAID 0, RAID 1 and RAID 0+1. There is also a green IDE port supporting up to two IDE devices for your legacy hard drives or optical drives.

 

 

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, along with a smaller one that covers the Southbridge.

 

 

Two boards down, now we can move on to the next one.

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.

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.

Closer Look:

All the boards by Gigabyte use the same installation and programs to help you get the most out of your purchase. To install the software, all you need to do is pop the CD into the drive and the Autorun feature will bring up a box for you to run the installer. Once the installer starts, you will be sent to the main installation screen. This screen has several tabs that will allow you to install drivers and software, view the manuals for the programs, contact Gigabyte support, check your system's specifications, and access the download center for updated drivers, BIOS, and software. For the drivers, there is a button for Xpress Install, which will install all the drivers automatically, rebooting when necessary on its own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

@BIOS & Easy Energy Saver:

Two of the utilities included with the motherboards are designed to keep you up to date and save you energy. The @BIOS program allows you to update your BIOS in Microsoft Windows from either a disk or from Gigabyte's online servers. This makes keeping your BIOS updated easier than ever. The Easy Energy Saver utility allows the user to set energy saving settings, such as CPU throttling and Dynamic Voltage, so that power is not wasted when the computer is not being used at its fullest potential.

 

 

Easy Tune 6:

The Easy Tune 6 utility allows you to seamlessly overclock and tweak your system without having to restart and enter the BIOS every time you want to make a change. There are several tabs on the top that allow you to change and monitor your system. The CPU tab gives you current specifications and information for your system. The Memory tab does the same as the CPU tab, but for your memory, showing you speed and latencies. The Tuner tab has two sub menus, for Frequency and Voltage. These sections let you adjust bus speed, multipliers, and system voltages for overclocking. The Graphics tab allows you to overclock your video card as well, if it is supported. The Smart tab allows you to control the smart fan settings and adjust the C.I.A. 2 settings for instant overclocking based on system loads. Lastly, we have the Hardware monitor tab, which gives you the ability to view incoming power currents and set warning limits.

 

 

 

 

Now that we have the software installed, we can take a look at the BIOS of the boards.

Closer Look:

When it comes to the overclocking magic, all of it is done in a little known part of the computer called the BIOS. The BIOS, which stands for Basic Input/Output System, is a small chip on your board that tells your hardware how to act on startup, such as clock speeds, voltages, and more. Gigabyte chose to go with the Award BIOS for these boards. The Award BIOS has many features that allow you to tune and tweak your system, with easy navigation and quick save/load profiles. This BIOS also features an advanced overclocking section called the Motherboard Intelligent Tweaker, or M.I.T. for short. We will look at the M.I.T. closer in the next page of the review. To give you a look at the options available, I will break the BIOS down in sections and explain a little of what each one has to offer.

 

Main Screen, Standard CMOS, & Advanced BIOS:

When you first boot into the BIOS, you are presented with the main screen, which is designed to help you easily navigate the BIOS without wasting time searching for the areas you need to change. This screen also gives you quick access to saving profiles and entering Q-Flash, which I will touch on below. The Standard CMOS Features section is basically where you set the drive parameters and the BIOS time. Underneath the Standard CMOS Features is the Advanced BIOS Features section, where you have control over advanced features such as C1E Support, Cool 'n' Quiet, Boot Priority, and Display Priorities for the graphics cards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Integrated Peripherals & Power Management:

The Integrated Peripherals Section is where you change settings for the IDE and SATA ports, such as running in RAID, or ACHI mode - which is a hot swap setting for your drives. You can also make changes to the onboard devices, such as the FireWire port, USB controllers, legacy devices, and LAN ports. In this section is Smart Backup as well, which is controlled by the SATA II feature from Gigabyte, and allows you to setup the hardware RAID and backup settings for each channel.

 

 

 

 

PC Health Status, Profiles, & Q-Flash:

Next up is the PC Health Status screen, which displays the current system voltages coming into the motherboard from the power supply, as well as the CPU VCore and DDR3 voltage. It will also show you the CPU and system temperatures, as well as the fan speeds. You can set warning levels for the temperatures and fans, which will alert you to an error or shut the system down. When you set up your BIOS you do not want to have to redo it for a bad overclock each time, so you can save profiles to load later. There are eight slots that you can save to and name whatever you desire. Last up here is Q-Flash, which is a BIOS-based utility that allows you to flash your BIOS to a newer version. When you press F8 and enter the Q-Flash utility, a menu will come up letting you update or save the BIOS from CDs or even thumb drives.

 

 

 

Now we move on to the second part of the BIOS, which is where the overclocking takes place.

Closer Look:

Motherboard Intelligent Tweaker:

Now we get to the overclocking section of the BIOS. This section is called the M.I.T., or Motherboard Intelligent Tweaker. This section is where all the voltage changes, clock speeds, and latencies get set to push your system to the limits. The top part of the M.I.T. is where you set the CPU specs, such as the clock speed, CPU multiplier, and the Northbridge frequency. The CPU multiplier can be set in x0.5 increments, and the HT link can be changed in x1 increments. There is also a selection for ACC, or Advanced Clock Calibration. ACC allows you to simply overclock the CPU, either one core or all cores, to a percentage, which is 12% above the stock clock speeds. Near the bottom is where you change the voltages for the components, such as the CPU, Northbridge, and memory, to achieve stability and greater performance.

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The memory portion of the BIOS for the boards generally have many features as well, depending on the model. The memory speed can be changed using preset straps based on the CPU speed. The options are x4, x5.33, x6.66, and x8. The DRAM Configuration sub-menu is where you can set the latencies and memory settings to achieve tighter timings and stable overclocks. You can choose to run the memory Ganged or Unganged with the CPU, as well as change just about every option possible allowing for maximum memory bandwidth.

 

 

 

Now that we have the BIOS configured, we can move on to the testing.

Specifications:

 

Model Number
MA790XT-UD4P  MA770T-UD3P  MA785GMT-UD2H  MA785G-UD3H
CPU
1. Support for Socket AM3 processors: AMD Phenom™ II X4 processor / AMD Phenom™ II X3 processor 1. Support for Socket AM3 processors: AMD Phenom™ II X4 processor / AMD Phenom™ II X3 processor 1. Support for Socket AM3 processors: AMD Phenom™ II X4 processor / AMD Phenom™ II X3 processor 1. Support for Socket AM3 / AM2+ / AM2 processors: AMD Phenom™ II processor/ AMD Phenom™ processor/ AMD Athlon™ II processor/ AMD Athlon™ processor/ AMD Sempron™ processor
HyperTransport BUS 1. 5200 MT/s 1. 5200/2000 MT/s 1. 5200 MT/s 1. 5200/2000 MT/s
Chipset
1. North Bridge: AMD 790X
2. South Bridge: AMD SB750 
1. North Bridge: AMD 770
2. South Bridge: AMD SB710 
1. North Bridge: AMD 785G
2. South Bridge: AMD SB710
1. North Bridge: AMD 785G
2. South Bridge: AMD SB710
Memory
1. 4 x 1.5V DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 16 GB of system memory (Note 1)
2. Dual channel memory architecture
3. Support for DDR3 1666(OC)/1333/1066 MHz memory modules
 1. 4 x 1.5V DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 16 GB of system memory (Note2)
2. Dual channel memory architecture
3. Support for DDR3 1666(OC)/1333/1066 MHz memory modules
4. Support ECC memory (Note 3)
1. 4 x 1.5V DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 16 GB of system memory (Note 1)
2. Dual channel memory architecture
3. Support for DDR3 1800 (OC)/1666/1333/1066 MHz memory modules
1. 4 x 1.8V DDR2 DIMM sockets supporting up to 16 GB of system memory (Note 1)
2. Dual channel memory architecture
3. Support for DDR2 1333(O.C.) /1066/800 MHz memory modules (Note 2)
OnBoard Graphics
N/A
N/A Integrated in the North Bridge:
1. 1 x D-Sub port
2. 1 x DVI-D port (Note 2) (Note 3)
3. 1 x HDMI port (Note 3)
Integrated in the North Bridge:
1. 1 x D-Sub port
2. 1 x DVI-D port (Note 3)(Note 4)
3. 1 x HDMI port (Note 4)
Audio
1. Realtek ALC889A codec
2. High Definition Audio
3. 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
4. Support for Dolby Home Theater
5. Support for S/PDIF In/Out
6. Support for CD In 
1. Realtek ALC888 codec
2. High Definition Audio
3. 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
4. Support for S/PDIF In/Out
5. Support for CD In
1. Realtek ALC889A codec
2. High Definition Audio
3. 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
4. Support for Dolby Home Theater
5. Support for S/PDIF In/Out
6. Support for CD In
1. Realtek ALC889A codec
2. High Definition Audio
3. 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
4. Support for Dolby Home Theater
5. Support for S/PDIF In/Out
6. Support for CD In
LAN
1. Realtek 8111C/DL chip (10/100/1000 Mbit) 
1. Realtek 8111C/D(L) chip (10/100/1000 Mbit) 1. Realtek 8111C chip (10/100/1000 Mbit) 1. Realtek 8111C chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)
Expansion Slots
1. 1 x PCI Express x16 slots, running at x16 (PCIEX16_1)
2. 1 x PCI Express x16 slots, running at x8 (PCIEX8_1)
   (The PCIEX16_1 and PCIEX8_1 slots support ATI CrossFireX technology, and conform to PCI Express 2.0 standard.)
3. 3 x PCI Express x1 slots
4. 2 x PCI slots
1. 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIE_16)
   (The PCI Express x16 slot conforms to PCI Express 2.0 standard.)
2. 4 x PCI Express x1 slots
3. 2 x PCI slots
1. 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16)
   (The PCI Express x16 slot conforms to PCI Express 2.0 standard.)
2. 1 x PCI Express x1 slot
3. 2 x PCI slots
1. 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16_1) (Note 5)
2. 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x4 (PCIEX4_1) (Note 6)
   (The PCIEX16_1 and PCIEX4_1 slots support ATI Hybrid CrossFireX technology and conform to PCI Express 2.0 standard.)
3. 3 x PCI Express x1 slots (The PCIEX1_2 and PCIEX1_3 slots share the same PCIe bus with the PCIEX4_1 slot.) (Note 6)
4. 2 x PCI slots
Storage Interfaces
South Bridge:
1. 1 x IDE connector supporting ATA-133/100/66/33 and up to 2 IDE devices
2. 6 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors supporting up to 6 SATA 3Gb/s devices
3. Support for SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID5, RAID 10 and JBOD

GIGABYTE SATA2 chip:
1. 2 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (GSATA2_0, GSATA2_1) supporting up to 2 SATA 3Gb/s devices
2. Support for SATA RAID 0, RAID 1 and JBOD

iTE IT8720 chip:
1. 1 x floppy disk drive connector supporting up to 1 floppy disk drive 
South Bridge:
1. 1 x IDE connector supporting ATA-133/100/66/33 and up to 2 IDE devices
2. 6 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors supporting up to 6 SATA 3Gb/s devices
3. Support for SATA RAID 0, RAID 1 and RAID 0+1

iTE IT8720 chip:
1. 1 x floppy disk drive connector supporting up to 1 floppy disk drive
South Bridge:
1. 1 x IDE connector supporting ATA-133/100/66/33 and up to 2 IDE devices
2. 5 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors supporting up to 5 SATA 3Gb/s devices
3. 1 x eSATA 3Gb/s port on the back panel supporting up to 1 SATA 3Gb/s device
4. Support for SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 10 and JBOD

iTE IT8718 chip:
1. 1 x floppy disk drive connector supporting up to 1 floppy disk drive
South Bridge:
1. 1 x IDE connector supporting ATA-133/100/66/33 and up to 2 IDE devices
2. 6 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors supporting up to 6 SATA 3Gb/s devices
3. Support for SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 10 and JBOD

iTE IT8718 chip:
1. 1 x floppy disk drive connector supporting up to 1 floppy disk drive
IEEE 1394

T.I. TSB43AB23 chip
1. Up to 3 IEEE 1394a ports (2 on the back panel, 1 via the IEEE 1394a bracket connected to the internal IEEE 1394a header)

T.I. TSB43AB23 chip
1. Up to 3 IEEE 1394a ports (2 on the back panel, 1 via the IEEE 1394a bracket connected to the internal IEEE 1394a headers)
T.I. TSB43AB23 chip
1. Up to 2 IEEE 1394a ports (1 on the back panel, 1 via the IEEE 1394a bracket connected to the internal IEEE 1394a header)
T.I. TSB43AB23 chip
1. Up to 3 IEEE 1394a ports (1 on the back panel, 2 via the IEEE 1394a bracket connected to the internal IEEE 1394a header)
USB
Integrated in the South Bridge
1. Up to 12 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (8 on the back panel, 4 via the USB brackets connected to the internal USB headers) 
Integrated in the South Bridge
1. Up to 12 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (8 on the back panel, 4 via the USB brackets connected to the internal USB headers)
Integrated in the South Bridge
1. Up to 12 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (4 on the back panel, 8 via the USB brackets connected to the internal USB headers)
Integrated in the South Bridge
1. Up to 12 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (6 on the back panel, 6 via the USB brackets connected to the internal USB headers)
Internal Connectors
1. 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
2. 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
3. 1 x floppy disk drive connector
4. 1 x IDE connector
5. 8 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors
6. 1 x CPU fan header
7. 2 x system fan header
8. 1 x power fan header
9. 1 x front panel header
10. 1 x front panel audio header
11. 1 x CD In connector
12. 1 x S/PDIF In header
13. 1 x S/PDIF Out header
14. 1 x IEEE 1394a header
15. 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
16. 1 x serial port header
17. 1 x chassis intrusion header
18. 1 x power LED header
1. 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
2. 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
3. 1 x floppy disk drive connector
4. 1 x IDE connector
5. 6 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors
6. 1 x CPU fan header
7. 2 x system fan headers
8. 1 x power fan header
9. 1 x front panel header
10. 1 x front panel audio header
11. 1 x CD In connector
12. 1 x S/PDIF In header
13. 1 x S/PDIF Out header
14. 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
15. 1 x IEEE 1394a header
16. 1 x parallel port header
17. 1 x serial port header
18. 1 x power LED header
19. 1 x chassis intrusion header
1. 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
2. 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
3. 1 x floppy disk drive connector
4. 1 x IDE connector
5. 5 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors
6. 1 x CPU fan header
7. 1 x system fan header
8. 1 x North Bridge fan header
9. 1 x front panel header
10. 1 x front panel audio header
11. 1 x CD In connector
12. 1 x S/PDIF In/Out header
13. 3 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
14. 1 x IEEE 1394a header
15. 1 x parallel port header
16. 1 x serial port header
17. 1 x chassis intrusion header
18. 1 x power LED header
19. 1 x clearing CMOS jumper
1. 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
2. 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
3. 1 x floppy disk drive connector
4. 1 x IDE connector
5. 6 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors
6. 1 x CPU fan header
7. 2 x system fan header
8. 1 x power fan header
9. 1 x front panel header
10. 1 x front panel audio header
11. 1 x CD In connector
12. 1 x S/PDIF In/Out header
13. 2 x IEEE 1394a header
14. 3 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
15. 1 x parallel port header
16. 1 x serial port header
17. 1 x chassis intrusion header
18. 1 x power LED header
19. 1 x clearing CMOS jumper
Back Panel Connectors
1. 1 x PS/2 keyboard port
2. 1 x PS/2 mouse port
3. 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
4. 1 x coaxial S/PDIF out connector
5. 2 x IEEE 1394a port
6. 8 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
7. 1 x RJ-45 port
8. 6 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out/Rear Speaker Out/Side Speaker Out/Line In/Line Out/Microphone)
1. 1 x PS/2 keyboard port
2. 1 x PS/2 mouse port
3. 1 x coaxial S/PDIF Out connector
4. 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
5. 8 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
6. 2 x IEEE 1394a ports
7. 1 x RJ-45 port
8. 6 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out/Rear Speaker Out/Side Speaker Out/Line In/Line Out/Microphone) 
1. 1 x PS/2 keyboard port or PS/2 mouse port
2. 1 x D-Sub port
3. 1 x DVI-D port (Note 3)(Note 4)
4. 1 x HDMI port (Note 4)
5. 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
6. 1 x eSATA 3Gb/s port
7. 1 x IEEE 1394a port
8. 6 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
9. 1 x RJ-45 port
10. 6 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out/Rear Speaker Out/Side Speaker Out/Line In/Line Out/Microphone)
1. 1 x PS/2 keyboard or PS/2 mouse port
2. 1 x D-Sub port
3. 1 x DVI-D port (Note 4) (Note 5)
4. 1 x HDMI port (Note 5)
5. 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
6. 1 x IEEE 1394a port
7. 6 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
8. 1 x RJ-45 port
9. 6 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out/Rear Speaker Out/Side Speaker Out/Line In/Line Out/Microphone)
I/O Controler
1. ITE IT8720 chip  1. iTE IT8720 chip 1. ITE IT8718 chip  1. ITE IT8718 chip
H/W Monitoring System voltage detection
1. CPU/System temperature detection
2. CPU/System fan speed detection
3. CPU overheating warning
4. CPU/System fan fail warning
5. CPU/System fan speed control (Note 3) 
System voltage detection
1. CPU/System temperature detection
2. CPU/System/Power fan speed detection
3. CPU overheating warning
4. CPU/System/Power fan fail warning
5. CPU fan speed control (Note 4)
System voltage detection
2. CPU/System temperature detection
3. CPU/System fan speed detection
4. CPU overheating warning
5. CPU/System/Power fan fail warning
6. CPU/System fan speed control (Note 4)
System voltage detection
1. CPU/System temperature detection
2. CPU/System fan speed detection
3. CPU overheating warning
4. CPU/System fan fail warning
5. CPU/System fan speed control (Note 7)
BIOS
1. 2 x 8 Mbit flash
2. Use of licensed AWARD BIOS
3. Support for DualBIOS™
4. PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.4, ACPI 1.0b 
1. 2 x 8 Mbit flash
2. Use of licensed AWARD BIOS
3. Support DualBIOS™
4. PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.4, ACPI 1.0b
1. 2 x 8 Mbit flash
2. Use of licensed AWARD BIOS
3. Support for DualBIOS™
4. PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.4, ACPI 1.0b
1. 2 x 8 Mbit flash
2. Use of licensed AWARD BIOS
3. Support for DualBIOS™
4. PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.4, ACPI 1.0b
Unique Features
1. Support for @BIOS
2. Support for Q-Flash
3. Support for Virtual Dual BIOS
4. Support for Download Center
5. Support for Xpress Install
6. Support for Xpress Recovery2
7. Support for EasyTune (Note 4)
8. Support for Easy Energy Saver
9. Support for Time Repair
10. Support for Q-Share 
1. Support for @BIOS
2. Support for Download Center
3. Support for Q-Flash
4. Support for EasyTune (Note 5)
5. Support for Xpress Install
6. Support for Xpress Recovery2
7. Support for Virtual Dual BIOS
8. Support for Easy Energy Saver
1. Support for @BIOS
2. Support for Q-Flash
3. Support for Xpress BIOS Rescue
4. Support for Download Center
5. Support for Xpress Install
6. Support for Xpress Recovery2
7. Support for EasyTune (Note 5)
8. Support for Easy Energy Saver
9. Support for Time Repare
10. Support for Q-Share
1. Support for @BIOS
2. Support for Q-Flash
3. Support for Virtual Dual BIOS
4. Support for Download Center
5. Support for Xpress Install
6. Support for Xpress Recovery2
7. Support for EasyTune (Note 8)
8. Support for Easy Energy Saver (Note 9)
9. Support for Time Repair
10. Support for Q-Share
Bundled Software
1. Norton Internet Security (OEM version) 
1. Norton Internet Security (OEM version)
1. Norton Internet Security (OEM version) 1. Norton Internet Security (OEM version)
Operating System Support
1. Support for Microsoft Windows Vista/ XP
1. Support for Microsoft Windows Vista/ XP
1. Support for Microsoft Windows Vista/ XP 1. Support for Microsoft Windows Vista/ XP
Form Factor
1. ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 23.3 cm 
1. ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 21.0cm 1. Micro ATX Form Factor; 24.3cm x 24.3cm 1. ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 22.9 cm
Notes
(Note 1) Due to Windows Vista/XP 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.
(Note 2) For optimum performance, if only one PCI Express graphics card is installed, be sure to install it in the PCIEX16_1 slot. The PCIEX8_1 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIEX16_1 slot. When PCIEX8_1 is populated with a PCI Express graphics card, the PCIEX16_1 slot will operate at up to x8 mode.
(Note 3) Whether the CPU/system fan speed control function is supported will depend on the CPU/ system cooler you install.
(Note 4) Available functions in EasyTune may differ by motherboard model.
(Note 1) We recommend that you enhance heat dissipation for the CPU VRM area if an AMD Black Edition CPU is installed and the Advanced Clock Calibration is enabled.
(Note 2) Due to Windows® XP 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.
(Note 3) Use of a CPU that supports ECC is required if you wish to install ECC memory.
(Note 4) Whether the CPU/ system fan speed control function is supported will depend on the CPU/ system cooler you installed.
(Note 5) Available functions in EasyTune may differ by motherboard model. 
(Note 1) Due to Windows Vista/XP 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.
(Note 2) The DVI-D port does not support D-Sub connection by adapter.
(Note 3) Simultaneous output for DVI-D and HDMI is not supported.
(Note 4) Whether the CPU/system fan speed control function is supported will depend on the CPU/system cooler you install.
(Note 5) Available functions in EasyTune may differ by motherboard model.
(Note 1) Due to Windows Vista/XP 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.
(Note 2) Whether 1066MHz or above memory speed is supported depends on the CPU being used.
(Note 3) The DVI-D port does not support D-Sub connection by adapter.
(Note 4) Simultaneous output for DVI-D and HDMI is not supported.
(Note 5) If you are installing a PCI Express graphics card, be sure to install it in the PCIEX16_1 slot.
(Note 6) The PCIEX1_2 and PCIEX1_3 slots share bandwidth with the PCIEX4_1 slot. When the PCIEX4_1 slot is populated with a x4 card, the PCIEX1_2 and PCIEX1_3 slots become unavailable.
(Note 7) Whether the CPU/system fan speed control function is supported will depend on the CPU/ system cooler you install.
(Note 8) Available functions in EasyTune may differ by motherboard model.
(Note 9) Due to the hardware limitation, you must install an AMD AM3/ AM2+ series CPU to enable support for Easy Energy Saver.
Remarks
1. Due to different Linux support condition provided by chipset vendors, please download Linux driver from chipset vendors' website or 3rd party website.
2. Due to most hardware/software vendors no longer offer support for Win9X/ME. If some vendors still has Win9X/ME drivers available, we will publish on website. 
1. Due to different Linux support condition provided by chipset vendors, please download Linux driver from chipset vendors' website or 3rd party website.
2. Due to most hardware/software vendors no longer offer support for Win9X/ME. If some vendors still has Win9X/ME drivers available, we will publish on website.
1. Due to different Linux support condition provided by chipset vendors, please download Linux driver from chipset vendors' website or 3rd party website.
2. Due to most hardware/software vendors no longer offer support for Win9X/ME. If some vendors still has Win9X/ME drivers available, we will publish on website.
1. Due to different Linux support condition provided by chipset vendors, please download Linux driver from chipset vendors' website or 3rd party website.
2. Due to most hardware/software vendors no longer offer support for Win9X/ME. If some vendors still has Win9X/ME drivers available, we will publish on website.

 Note: All information taken from Gigabyte Website for each motherboard.

 

Features:

 

Testing:

Now we get to the best part of the review, the testing phase. To test these boards, I will be running a series of scientific and video-based benchmarks designed to push the hardware to the limits and show their potential. Once the results are in. they will be placed next to each other to show how well they perform amongst each other. To make sure there are no outside variables that would affect the scores, all the hardware will be run at their stock speeds, latencies, and voltages.

 

DDR3 Testing Setup:

 

DDR2 Testing Setup:


 

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings MA790X-UD4P:

Overclocked settings: MA770T-UD3P

Overclocked settings: GA-MA785GMT-UD2H

Overclocked settings: Gigabyte MA785G-UD3H

To test the overclocking for the boards, I started off pushing the multiplier up a little at a time until I hit at wall and could no longer boot. Then I would switch over to the BUS speed and slowly increase it up until again the computer would not boot. Once I reached a comfortable number for the multiplier and the BUS speed, the overclocked settings were dialed in and set for the testing. The 790X board clocked a bit higher than the 770 board, while the 785G boards came in last. The average clock speed was 3.8GHz between all four of the boards when overclocked.

 

 

 

 

 

Benchmarks:

  1. Apophysis
  2. WinRAR
  3. Excel 2007
  4. PCMark Vantage Professional
  5. Sandra XII
  6. ScienceMark 2.02
  7. Cinebench 10
  8. HD Tune 2.55
  1. Far Cry 2
  2. Crysis Warhead
  3. BioShock
  4. Call of Duty: World at War
  5. Dead Space 
  6. Fallout 3 
  7. Left 4 Dead
  8. 3DMark 06 Professional
  9. 3DMark Vantage

 

Testing:

The first part of our testing will be the system specific benchmarks.

 

Let's get started with 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. We will use 10MB, 100MB and 500MB files and test the time needed to compress these files. Time will be measured in seconds; the lower the better.

 

ZIP:

   

 

 

RAR:

 

 

 

The 790X and the 785GMT boards were in the better half for the Apophysis and WinRar tests.

Testing:

Excel 2007 Big Number Crunch: This benchmark uses mathematics to perform complex calculations in Excel 2007, which puts a heavy load on the processor. The measurement is in seconds that it takes to complete the task. The benchmark is performed three times and then averaged for the final score.

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PCMark Vantage is used to measure complete system performance. We will be running a series of tests to gauge the performance of each individual motherboard to see which board, if any, rises above the others.

 

Again the 790X and the DDR3-based 785G were on top.

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

 

File System

 

Physical Disks

 

Power Management Efficiency

 

In Sisoft Sandra, the trend continues with the 790X chipset in the lead followed by the DDR3-based 785G.

Testing:

ScienceMark tests real world performance instead of using synthetic benchmarks. For this test, we ran the benchmark suite and will use the overall score for comparison.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

Higher is Better

 

CineBench 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

 

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

 

Higher is Better

 

 

Lower is Better

 

The scores were closer in these tests, but the 790X was once again on top.

Testing:

Far Cry 2:

Featuring a new game engine named Dunia, this game looks to be another one to stress your video card. Built specially for Far Cry 2, this engine allows for real-time effects and damage. This next generation first-person shooter comes to us from Ubisoft, surprisingly - not from Crytek. The game is set in a war-torn region of Africa where there is a non-existent central government and the chaos that surrounds this type of social environment. If you have seen the movie Blood Diamond, you know the setting. Ubisoft puts the main storyline of the game into focus with these statements: "Caught between two rival factions in war-torn Africa, you are sent to take out "The Jackal," a mysterious character who has rekindled the conflict between the warlords, jeopardizing thousands of lives. In order to fulfill your mission you will have to play the factions against each other, identify and exploit their weaknesses, and neutralize their superior numbers and firepower with surprise, subversion, cunning and, of course, brute force." In this Far Cry game, you don't have the beautiful water, but instead the beauty and harshness of the African continent to contend with. Most games give you a set area that can be played through, while Ubisoft has given the gamer the equivalent of 50km2 of the vast African continent to explore while in pursuit of your goals. The settings used are just a few steps below the maximum in-game settings and offer a good blend of performance vs. visual quality.

 

Settings:

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the resolution grew, the790X board pulled further ahead.

Testing:

Crysis Warhead is a standalone expansion pack situated in time with the storyline of the original Crysis. As Sergeant "Psycho" Sykes, you have a secret mission to accomplish on the far side of the island. Along the way there are EMP blasts and Aliens to contend with, as you hunt down the KPA chief. This game uses an enhanced version of the CryEngine 2.

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The scores were very close – almost dead on for all boards.

Testing:

BioShock is one of the creepier games you can play. The building of a perfect Utopian society undersea gone horribly wrong. Its inhabitants driven mad with the introduction of tonics and genetic modifications. Now Rapture is just a shadow of its former glory with little girls looting the dead of what little they have left while being shadowed by guardians known as "Big Daddys". It is a demanding game that will make your hardware scream for mercy. This first-person shooter allows for an infinite number of weapons and modifications to provide a unique experience each time it is played. The environment, as well as the storyline, will wrap you up for hours on end.

 

Video Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In BioShock, the boards are almost identical again.

Testing:

Activision's Call Of Duty: World at War goes right back to the bread and butter of the franchise - WWII FPS action. In this rendition, you start off in the South Pacific and move through a series of missions that flip back and forth between the Russian front and the island hopping advance toward the Imperial Japanese homeland. Included is a mission on Peliliu Island, arguably one of the more difficult and costly battles in the Pacific theater. The gameplay in the single player mode is rather short, but the game makes up for this shortcoming in online gameplay. If you thought COD4 looked nice, this game is amazing with the graphics maxed out playing at a large resolution. This game just may be my reason to move to a 30-inch monitor. I will use Fraps to measure a section of gameplay in the Semper Fi map on Makin Island to compare performance of these video cards.

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The DDR2 785G board trailed in the Call of Duty tests.

Testing:

In Dead Space, as part of the crew of the USG Kellion you are headed on a repair mission to repair a ship in distress. Things go from bad to worse, starting with the crash landing of the seemingly silent and "dead" ship, the USG Ishimuru. Offering a non-traditional, over-the-shoulder viewing angle, the game gets right into the action as soon as the ventilation systems are activated. From there things get worse with the appearance of the Necromorphs. Survival now becomes a primary concern for the primary character Isaac Clarke. Survive and you may find the loved one that was aboard the Ishimuru.

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

The boards were very close again.

Testing:

Fallout 3 takes place after the nuclear holocaust that nearly wipes out civilization and leaves the world an irradiated mess. The vault, or fallout shelter, you are born in is Vault 101, situated in the Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia area. The premise of the game is that the Vault has been sealed for 200 years and now your father has opened the vault and escaped without a trace. The Overseer believes you are involved, so you must escape as well into the wasteland that was once our nation's capital. I find myself looking for landmarks since I am familiar with the streets of Washington DC.

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

The boards were dead on through the majority of the testing.

Testing:

Left 4 Dead is a new release from Valve that leaves you as part of a group of survivors in a world where an infection has rapidly turned the populace into a zombie horde. Your goal is to make it to a rescue point, all while fighting what seems like overwhelming odds. Along the way there are safe houses where you can replenish your weapons and health. The movie "I Am Legend" comes to mind to set the stage for this game. But unlike the movie, there are four characters and not just a lone gun and his faithful companion. The horde is not at all like the typical slow walking, foot shuffling zombies. These zombies are quick and work with pack mentality. You have but one job; survival!

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

Even overclocked, the numbers were close.

Testing:

3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest begins. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how these boards fare. The settings we will use are listed below.

 

Settings:

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

The 790X and the DDR3 785G board were on top again.

Testing:

Featuring all-new game tests, this benchmark is for use with Vista-based systems. "There are two all-new CPU tests that have been designed around a new 'Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computation.' CPU test two offers support for physics related hardware." There are four preset levels that correspond to specific resolutions. "Entry" is 1024x768 progressing to "Extreme" at 1920x1200. Of course, each preset can be modified to arrange any number of user designed testing. For our testing, I will use the four presets at all default settings.

 Settings:

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the resolution grew larger, the scores became closer and closer as the video card limitations were reached.

Conclusion:

All in all, the boards performed very well. None were absolutely a shocker when it came to overclocking or blowing away one another, but they are designed to provide decent power at a minimal price and that is exactly what they do. Priced $90 - $124 depending on the model you choose, you will have a solid platform for your computing needs. The MA785GMT-UD2H uses a mATX form factor, which is great for HTPC and cases that have limited space. With the integrated video, it would also serve great as a base for a gaming server that you have always wanted to build. The only drawback that I have with the majority of the boards, with the exception of the 790X board, is that the SATA ports become blocked or partially blocked when using large video cards. It would be nice to have all the boards using the 90 degree SATA ports like the 790X board has to eliminate the issue. Other than that small quirk, these are rock solid motherboards that have a lot to offer the user, without breaking the bank. If you are in the market for a mid range board without all the frills of the higher end ones, then the Gigabyte lineup would be a big asset to your systems.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: