Legit Motherboard Reviews
AMD 780G Chipset - Gigabyte MA78GM-S2H Motherboard
|Product:||Gigabyte MA78GM-S2H Motherboard|
|Date:||Tue, Mar 11, 2008 - 12:00 AM|
|Written By:||Nathan Kirsch -|
AMD and Gigabyte said we would be impressed with the BIOS on the GA-MA78GM-S2H motherboard, so we are going to spend some time checking it out. The area more enthusiasts will be intersted in is known as the MIT (MB Intelligent Tweaker) interface. This is where you have control over the HyperTransport link speed, integrated graphics core clock, CPU ratio, CPU host clock control, PCI Express frequency, and memory clock speed. Before we go on we need to hit 'ctrl+f1' to unlock the advanced features of the BIOS.
After entering the advanced user mode you'll see that the CMOS setup utility start menu has changed. You now have access to the advanced Chipset features menu and have the ability to adjust the memory timings among other things.
When it comes to setting up a home theater PC almost everyone will want to visit the Advanced BIOS Features menu. This is where you can select either the DVI or HDMI to pair with the standard VGA output as only one digital output at a time can be used. This is ideal if you leave both DVI and HDMI connections plugged in at the same time otherwise it will use the digital output that is in use at the time. This is also the menu where you can adjust the UMA Frame Buffer Size for the integrated graphics. This menu also hosts the settings for SurroundView, Boot Device Order, Virtualization and more.
Secondly, lets take a look at what is under MIT (MB Intelligent Tweaker) the interface. Are you shocked? For a micro-ATX motherboard it has many of the same settings you would expect to see on a full ATX motherboard. With the 780G chipset one can actually expect to overclock! You won't be passing up what the 790FX chipset can do by any means, but it will easily bump up the performance for those wanting some extra kick.
If you enter 'ctrl+f1' on the main menu of the bios it will unlock the advanced features as previously mentioned and you will now be able to adjust the memory timings. Our Corsair XMS2 PC2-6400C4 memory kit is SPD set to 5-5-5-15, so by entering this menu we were able to correctly set the memory timings of the kit. This is one example of why you will want to enable the advanced user settings in the BIOS.
One of the most interesting BIOS options on the Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H motherboard is the ability to overclock the GPU core speed. The ability to adjust the integrated graphics of the 780G chipset is not an option in the CATALST control center (CCC), which is different from what many would think. The stock speed of the GPU is 500 MHz in most cases but AMD has told us 750 MHz should be easy to hit. We were able to hit 800MHz with ease, as you will see a little later. If you want to push core clock on the IGP beyond 500MHz it is advised that you use active cooling as this chipset gets really hot with the GPU clock increased.
One of the biggest issues we had with many of the 690G based motherboards was the fact they had no voltage options. If one was to buy the popular Corsair XMS2 PC2-6400C4 memory kit with 4-4-4-12 timings they wouldn't be able to get it to work as that kit needs 2.1V to operate since it uses ProMos memory ICs. The Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H motherboard allows for 1.8V to 2.1V to be used on the memory, which is enough for most mainstream memory kits. This is a plus for those that want to run CAS Latency 4 timings or for overclocking.
The CPU voltage can be adusted in in 0.02500V increments from 0.8000V to 1.5500V and then in 0.0500V increments from 1.5500V to 1.9000V. AMD processors like the Athlon BE-2400 and 4850e only use 1.25V at default settings, so this should be plenty of voltage options.
One other nice feature found on the Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H motherboard are voltage options for the northbridge, which will be nice for overclocking the processor and maybe even the integrated graphics.
Many users don't feel comfortable editing settings in the BIOS and if you are one of those have no fear as AMD Overdrive is for you. When we originally got the Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H motherboard we couldn't get AMD OverDrive to work, but a quick BIOS flash with version F3e and AMD Overdrive works great. Updating the BIOS was also easy with Q-Flash. We downloaded the BIOS from Gigayte and placed it onto a USB Flash drive, plugged it into the comptuer and restarted the computer. Once the system posts, hit delete to enter the BIOS and then F8 to fire up Q-Flash. No floppy needed with this board.
Next Page - The Test System
Page 1 - The AMD 780G Chipset Arrives
Page 2 - The AMD Athlon X2 4850e Processor
Page 3 - The Board Layout
Page 4 - The BIOS
Page 5 - The Test System
Page 6 - Sandra XII SP1 Memory Bandwidth
Page 7 - Cinebench R10 and Pov-Ray 3.7
Page 8 - Crysis, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. & World in Conflict
Page 9 - HD DVD Movie Playback
Page 10 - IGP Overclocking
Page 11 - Power Consumption
Page 12 - Final Thoughts and Conclusions