AMD’s Phenom II has proven to be quite a remarkable chip. Even though I consider AM2+ to be a stop-gap, Gigabyte has produced a quality board that will let you get a taste of Phenom II. Comparing the GA-MA790GP-DS4H to similarly priced 790GX motherboards, it falls right in with every other board on features, price, and layout.
Like most motherboard manufacturers, Gigabyte offers a 3-year warranty on their ATX motherboards. However, unlike most other manufacturers I’ve dealt with, Gigabyte seems to have their RMA system down with my typical turn around time ranging between 2 and 4 weeks. Considering how the motherboard is flown to China, thoroughly inspected for defects (their engineers were so precise they outlined the corroded capacitors around an X48 northbridge), repaired/replaced, and flown back to the consumer, 3 to 5 weeks is understandable.
Installing and setting up the GA-MA790GP-DS4H for stock operation was as easy as hitting the power button. Making the jump into overclocking was also just as simple but I did experience a few quirks regarding the onboard video. On a BIOS wipe it would at random decide it only wanted to display video via the integrated graphic processor. This was frustrating the first few times when I couldn’t exactly pinpoint what the problem was. Once I had identified this quirk, overclocking went quite smoothly.
If you are looking for an inexpensive yet expandable desktop platform, a Phenom II and a GA-MA790GP-DS4H would be a decent choice. At $139.99 plus shipping the Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4H is hard to pass up. You could also drop in an AM3 CPU if you wanted to re-use any DDR2 you had lying around before making the jump to DDR3. The integrated GPU won’t play any heavy games at high resolutions but it is sufficient for running Vista with Aero and decoding 1080p movies. Equipped with a silent heatsink, the GA-MA790GP-DS4H could potentially be a killer HTPC board.
Legit Bottom Line: The GA-MA790GP-DS4H is an effective multi-purpose board capable of filling all roles.