Normally I roll my eyes when I see a mythical creature on a motherboard box. This time, however, the dragon fits with AMD’s latest “Dragon” platform marketing move.
There is nothing special here, just a couple of SATA cables, IDE and FDD cables, a multi-language manual, and a driver disk.
For an $80 motherboard it is rather well equipped. Whoever used to do the color scheme at Gigabyte must have moved to ASRock; we’ve got more colors than I can count with no easily discernible pattern.
Rated for 140w CPUs, the PWM on this board features the standard 4+1 phase setup. The lack of heatsinks on the mosfets was a bit disheartening with mosfet temps skyrocketing during testing.
Hiding in the shadow of the aluminum north-bridge heatsink is a single 128MB DDR3 module to provide memory for the integrated HD3200 graphical processor.
For a budget board the M3A780GXH is rather well equipped for storage options. There is one IDE connector, 6 SATA connectors (5 via SB710), three USB2.0 headers, and a Firewire header.
The expansion slots are laid out rather well. The top PCIe 1x slot is only usable by short cards due to the northbridge heatsink being so close to the slot. Electrically the PCIe x16 slots are wired x16 x8 x4.
I haven’t seen a PCIe toggle card in a while. With it you can either select x16 x0 or x8 x8 functionality for the first and second PCIe x16 slots. I left it in x16 mode as I wasn’t testing CrossFire.
Like all AMD 780G chipset powered motherboards, the M3A780GXH comes well equipped with onboard DVI, VGA, and HDMI output along with an optical SPDIF connector. A healthy smattering of USB slots along with a gigabit Ethernet port, eSATA port, Firewire port, and 6 audio jacks round everything out. Hidden behind the HDMI connector is a second SATA II port that can be used for an external drive.