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The Gigabyte GA-E7AUM-DS2H is the first motherboard we've seen with Nvidia's new GeForce 9400 chipset but we have seen something similar in recent times; the Asus P5N7A-VM. This model uses the GeForce 9300 chipset, which is identical in almost every respect. Both support a Core 2 processor, with a front side bus up to 1,333MHz, and 800MHz DDR2 memory but there is a modicum of difference in the graphics core.
The 9300 core runs at 450MHz and has 16 Unified Shaders that are clocked at 1,200MHz while the 9400 core speed is 580MHz and the Shaders run at 1,400MHz. The graphics memory is 256MB or 512MB of shared system memory and clearly the speed is dictated by the type of memory that you choose. Nvidia states that GeForce 9300/9400 supports DDR2-800 and DDR3-1333.
Both Asus and Gigabyte have opted for DDR2 and it doesn't seem likely that there will be a DDR3 version any time soon so the memory speed will continue to be relatively slow. Gigabyte claims you can overclock the graphics to a heady 580MHz/1,800MHz with its Easy Tune 6 utility but we failed to get the software to do anything of the sort as any overclocking resulted in a frozen system.
The GA-E7AUM-DS2H is fundamentally similar to the Asus P5N7A-VM as both motherboards are Micro ATX designs with the latest integrated Nvidia graphics. Both models feature DVI-I, HDMI and VGA outputs for the graphics but the Asus distinguishes itself by including DisplayPort as well. This makes it the clear winner on that score but the GA-E7AUM-DS2H fights back with something more down to earth. It sports a Firewire port on the I/O panel along with a header for a second port, though the lack of brackets in the package make that second port less of a boon.
It's the same story if you require extra USB ports should the six provided on the I/O panel prove inadequate. We cannot help but think that a bracket would have increased the options available to the customer.
The layout is very neat and manages to cram a host of features into a small space without making the board look too crowded although a couple of oddities did catch our eye. For one thing there are headers for Serial and Parallel ports however the necessary brackets are not supplied in the package and we doubt they are readily available. Besides which, the inclusion of legacy ports seems a bit odd anyway.
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