Is this Gigabyte motherboard the best mid-priced µATX board supporting the AMD 785 chipset? With integrated class leading AMD HD4200 graphics, Firewire, eSATA and RAID 0,1 and 5 could this be the board to buy for an ultimate budget setup? Hopefully I can let you know by the end of the review.
Some products are given catchy names in a marketing ploy to entice buyers like the asus maximus range of motherboards or the bloodiron range by . However gigabyte don’t tend to buy into this and their motherboards end up with names like GA-MA785GM-US2H which whist being descriptive don’t exactly stick in the memory or give themselves well to being repeated in a review like this.
Anyway, names apart lets take a look at what it is exactly that gigabyte have produced for us. This board features the new 785G chipset from AMD which pairs integrated 4200 graphics with an AM2+ socket and upto 16GB of DDR2 memory. At this time the 4200 graphics is the fastest onboard graphics available just squeezing ahead of the 3300 that’s integrated into the earlier 790G northbridge.
This particular Gigabyte board doesn’t support sideport memory with which to give the graphics that little extra boost but it should be very capable all the same. In fact there’s even a statement on the box that this board is capable of passing 2000 marks in 3DMark06 with the 785G.
In terms of other features this is a fairly feature full motherboard for a relatively cheap uATX option. Nothing is conspicuous in it’s absence, there’s even a firewire chip supporting 1 rear panel socket and an additional on board header. You also get 5 SATA, 1 IDE and 1 Floppy connector onboard for your internal drives and 3 USB headers support connection to upto 6 USB ports. Also available for connection should you want them are serial and parallel headers, one of each and a S/PDIF audio header.
Then on the rear panel we find an additional 6 USB ports, the firewire port mentioned earlier, an eSATA port, a PS2 port for either a mouse or a keyboard, the audio connectors and the display connectors.
The onboard graphics offers output via D-Sub, DVI-D and HDMI although the DVI-D and HDMI cannot be used simultaneously. This shouldn’t be an issue at all for average user of a board in this class, most people will use one video output. HTPC (Home Theatre PC) users may want a TV output and a PC monitor output simultaneously so the likely combinations for this are either the VGA for TV with a DVI-D monitor or VGA for the monitor and a HDMI for the TV.
Packaging and Contents
The first thing that struck me when I lifted the motherboard box from the delivery package was that it’s really quite heavy. Remember this is a microATX board and is therefore smaller and subsequently lighter than an equivilent full ATX board. Also it only has heatsinks on the northbridge and southbridge with the VRM and other voltage components left un-cooled. Add to this the fact that the southbridge heatsink is tiny and you wonder where all the weight comes from.
The answer to this is on the front of the box. Apparently Gigabyte have used 2oz copper throughout the power layers of the motherboard which if you believe the hype leads to improved stability and reliability. Whether it leads to significant improvements will be hard to tell as the exact same board is not available in a traditional copper version but the only possible downside I can see is the added weight and it at least is noticeable. However it is unlikely that any online seller will mention this as a selling point to the product and the amount of these boards sold from off a display shelf must surely be minimal so it’s only through reviews and discussions that anyone would know that they are getting 2oz copper.
The pickings are slim when it comes to accessories with a motherboard in this price competitive class and this Gigabyte board is no exception. Cables are limited to an IDE cable and two SATA cables, you obviously get an IO shield although it is of the basic thin sheet of metal type. Then a large number of leaflets, guides, a driver CD and of course the manual.
Taking these away leaves you with the board itself in an anti-static bag. As I said earlier the board really is surprisingly heavy for this type of board.