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Gigabyte GA-E7AUM-DS2H review



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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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November 27, 2008, 4:35 pm

I think the point of the M/B is maybe for creating a Media PC, the 9400 would make for a good H264 Decoder etc. As for a gaming, on-board has always been lacking in that department, So for Value if your building a Media PC, then I'd say it would get a better than 6, but for gaming yes, not much use really.

Leo Waldock

November 27, 2008, 7:51 pm

Keith, I quite agree that the Gigabyte 9400 would make a good Media Centre but the cheaper GeForce 9300 (and Intel G45 for that matter) will also suffice. The problem with GeForce 9400 is that it is in a sort of limbo between Media Centre and Gaming.


November 27, 2008, 8:42 pm

@leo, Well if the 9400 is about 30% faster than the 9300, even for a Media PC I'd go 9400,. As you most likely know H264 encoding can be GPU/CPU intensive, and even more so for H264 Encoding, and having my H264 encoding being hopefully 30% faster sounds good to me. :) So I'm not sure its stuck in the middle, but higher up on the Media PC front. And at the end of the day it's not that much dearer than the G45. But like I said, for gaming it wouldn't be the M/B for me.


November 28, 2008, 5:48 pm

Hi Leo,

Anyway you could compare the GF 9300 vs GF 9400 on things like: HD playback performance / HD sound quality.

The Gigabyte uses the exclusive ALC889A Dolby Home Theatre Audio chipset.

I’m not sure about the ASUS, but Gigabyte has 1x eSATA connector on the I/O panel.

Also, when you reviewed the ASUS board, to be fair, the US$ to the Pounds was much better.

Looking around now, the ASUS board is much higher in price, where as the Gigabyte is relative to today’s current exchange.

The ASUS is now on average going for 䀋inc VAT

Where as Scan/dabs are selling the Gigabyte between 𧴥 ~ 𧴫inc VAT

This board is really not targeted for gaming, no on-board graphics can currently replace the almighty discrete Graphics card ;-)


January 6, 2009, 7:04 pm

GigaMan is right

The Gigabytes ALC889a would be better for Blu-ray playback as the Asus board has the newer ALC1200 (no Digital out but better quality than 888) this still 8 channel and a Dolby ultra stereo for headphones but no Dolby/DTS connect or the like, so if you were putting together a HTPC and wanting to play blu-ray without a sound card the Gigabyte is the better (if not more expensive) option.

Steve 18

June 6, 2009, 4:05 am

I have built 2 machines using this M/B.The video and audio are very good.The HDMI output is perfect.I put a Core 2 duo E6750 on it with 4 gigs of G.skill ram @ 1066 speed(I had from a upgrade)Win 7 performance gives the ram 5.5 CPU-6.0 graphics desktop 4.8 graphics gaming 4.3 Western Digital 500 gig a 5.9 Overall score 4.3 This M/B is loaded with many extras- 6 rear usb ports 1-1366 rear port DVI and VGA.Very nice HTPC board.


July 30, 2009, 4:15 pm

No sound via HDMI with Win XP Pro SP3. Perfect sound via HDMI from additional PCI-E VGA card. NVIDIA HD audio driver presents, but can't be set as default. The Default - Realtek and can't be changed. Used the latest BIOS - F3a & F3f. Anybody met this problem?

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