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Gigabyte GA-M720-US3 review



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Gigabyte GA-M720-US3
  • Gigabyte GA-M720-US3
  • Gigabyte GA-M720-US3
  • Gigabyte GA-M720-US3
  • Gigabyte GA-M720-US3
  • Gigabyte GA-M720-US3
  • Gigabyte GA-M720-US3
  • Gigabyte GA-M720-US3
  • Gigabyte GA-M720-US3
  • GA-M720-US3 Desktop Motherboard - nVIDIA nForce 720D Chipset (ATX - Socket AM2+ PGA-940 - 2600 MHz, 1000 MHz HT - 16 GB DDR2 SDRAM - Ultra ATA/133 ATA-7 - Serial ATA/300 - 7.1 Channel Audio)


Our Score:


The chipset at the heart of the Gigabyte GA-M720-US3 is the Nvidia nForce 720D. It's a chipset model code that is a bit misleading not least because the final digit is D for Delta rather than a zero. That and the fact the nForce 720D is a single chip and therefore not really a chipset at all.

Although the model code nForce 720D may sound as though it should have a great deal in common with the nForce 720a there are some important differences. For one thing the 720D doesn't have integrated graphics and for another the AM2+ socket on this Gigabyte also supports the latest AM3 Phenom II processors. AM3 uses one pin less than AM2+ so you can fit an AM3 CPU in a Socket AM2+ board but cannot fit an AM2+ CPU in a new AM3 board.

This places the 720D in select company among Nvidia chipsets as there are only three models that support AM3. The nForce 980a SLI supports triple graphics slots, the nForce 740a SLI works with dual graphics cards and this 720D supports a single graphics card.

The Gigabyte GA-M720-US3 supports both AM2+ and AM3 processors which might be seen to pose a problem as the memory controller is in the CPU core rather than the chipset. AM2+ processors support DDR2 while AM3 Phenoms support both DDR2 and DDR3 memory.

Gigabyte has equipped the GA-M720-US3 with four DDR2 slots that support up to 16GB of dual channel 1,200MHz memory which may sound a bit odd. After all, who would want to use a new AM3 CPU with DDR2-1066 memory instead of faster DDR3-1333 which requires less power?

The answer seems to lie with those avid gamers who love AMD processors but who are keen to upgrade from Phenom to Phenom II without dumping the high end DDR2 memory that they have recently bought.

That's the theory but we're not so sure. Fast DDR2 used to cost a fortune but these days you can get 2GB of the fastest 1,200MHz memory for less than £100 and 2GB of 1,150MHz DDR2 only costs £40.

Fast DDR3 can be relatively expensive but Phenom II works perfectly well with DDR3-1,333MHz which is far cheaper than you probably think. Would you believe £40 for 4GB?

This is intriguing as it means that we can see little reason to use DDR2 with Phenom II but it also gives us an opportunity to separate out the elements of the AMD Dragon platform. We know that Phenom II with an AMD 790 chipset and DDR3 memory is an effective combination but what about Phenom II with an Nvidia chipset and DDR2? Here's where we find out.


April 16, 2009, 6:31 am

Hmm, I think it would have made more sense if each motherboard was a different colour on the Performance Results graphs (Green, then Yellow, then Blue etc.), with different processors tried, being different shades of that colour.

As it is, I find it a bit confusing to read, especially with having to scroll down (on my monitor at least) to see the key for most of the graphs.


April 16, 2009, 2:03 pm

Hi Pbryanw,

I totally agree but due to time concerns and Excel 2003 having a rubbish selection of graph colours, these had to do. I'd have needed to create each graph then manually fill in each bar with a different colour in Photoshop to do what you suggest. Not impossible but very time consuming.

Leo Waldock

April 16, 2009, 7:54 pm

The key points with the Gigabyte are that it is quite an average AM2+ motherboard at stock speeds and overclocked although it is very cheap. Once you install a tri-core X3 and unlock the fourth core it becomes a bargain.


August 17, 2009, 1:55 pm

This board is more a gem than you realise.

I'm using the f4 bios revision and I've unlocked a phenom II x2 550 black edition up to a phenom II x4 b50. Yep I've unlocked two extra cores and it's all stable.

People need to remember with this board that it uses nvcc, not acc and as such requires an extra 0.05 volts on the vcore to stabalise all four cores on the x2 compaired to amd chipsets but the unlocking procees is pretty much guarenteed. Pluss at leat 80% of all phenom II x2 550 black editions seem to have four healthy cores so this board combined with the x2 cpu is an enthusiasts dream.

RE: The ddr2.

While ddr3 can give much more bandwidth, more bandwidth does not necisarily mean more speed especialy when you concider the latency of ddr3. I mean it's nearly double the latency of ddr2 for a small bandwidth increase so that extra bandwidth becomes sort of redundant. Thats why ddr2 is still in use and pretty much the way to go in my book. Perhaps if they can lower the lattency on ddr3 it will rule all but not untill that day.


August 17, 2009, 3:13 pm

Just to add to the above...

Given my cpu is a black edition, I'm getting an excellent overclock from my cpu, with little effort. My phenom ii x2 550 @3.1 2 core stock is running as a phenom ii x4 b50 @ 3.6ghz. Thats an everyday overclock. I've had it up to a stable 3.9ghz on all 4 cores on air cooling by increasing just the freq multiplier and a small increase in vcore.

Odviously with the above I'm using an aftermarket cooler. A xigmatek thors hammer.

To switch on all 4 cores successfully on a phenom x2 with this board I would advise setting the vcore to aprox 1.40 volts then switching on nvcc.


August 30, 2009, 5:46 am

hey josey, can u help me out and tell me how to unlock the 2 other cores? i hav the exact same processer and motherboard


August 21, 2010, 9:39 pm

I have this board, and I had a lot of trouble with it trying to feed too low an amperage to a 8800 GTS and a Phenom 955 BE, constantly crashing to loss of total power to the computer.

Fixed this by upgrading the PSU, but still crashed to desktop during L4D gameplay. Swapped the Phenom for a Athlon and it now flies like a rocket and is very stable. This board and the Phenom 955 do not like each other, so am looking for a motherboard to compliment the Phenom 955 BE, a Zotac GTX 460, and DDR2 memory 1066. Anyone any ideas?

Barry Jillett

October 4, 2010, 3:56 pm

Windows7 X64

Phenom 955BE C3 @ 3.93Ghz great overclocker (everyday overclock)OCZ Vendetta2 cooler Air

GTX 470 @ 860/1740/4000 loves this board 23626 Vantage score

Ensure you have the latest bios release

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