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Summary

Our Score

8/10

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When we took our first look at the AMD 785G chipset in the shape of the Asus M4A785TD-V EVO we were generally quite pleased. The 785G is not much more than a makeover for 780G but the new chipset performs well. We would be happier if the 785G had the higher 700MHz clock speed of the 790GX, rather than the 500MHz speed that it shares with the original 780G, but we found the Asus board would overclock to 700MHz quite easily. In the meantime the 785G supports Socket AM3 CPUs, the graphics support DirectX 10.1 and the chipset contains dual movie decoders.

To our mind this makes the 785G a natural contender for media centre PCs and small, highly integrated PCs for the office and home. We don't expect many people would use the 785G for a high end gaming PC but it is worth noting that ASRock has claimed a world record for overclocking on its M3A785GXH/128M where a Phenom II X4 965 ran at 6095MHz.

That led to one of our criticisms about the Asus M4A785TD-V EVO as we didn't see why it sent us a full sized ATX model to review when a Micro-ATX one makes more sense. Particularly, as one of our readers commented, Asus has a Micro-ATX 785G in its range.

Gigabyte hasn't made the same tactical error as it sent us the MA785GMT-UD2H which is a compact Micro-ATX model that measures 244mm x 244mm. This means you don't get the second long PCI Express slot that you see on the Asus model but that's no loss as the 780G and 785G do not support CrossFireX.

When you look at the layout of the MA785GMT-UD2H it is clear that Gigabyte has worked hard to squeeze in a long list of features. On the I/O panel we get the headline features of the 785G chipset with HDMI, DVI and VGA outputs for the Radeon HD 4200 graphics. In addition there are six USB ports, one PS/2, one Firewire port, one eSATA, Gigabit LAN and full surround sound audio including optical S/PDIF.

Then we come to the main group of internal connectors and slots. The four DDR3 memory slots and the PCI Express x16, PCI Express x1 and two PCI slots take up most of the available space. In addition there are five vertical SATA connectors that look as though they might interfere with a long graphics card. We plugged in a Radeon HD 4890 and found that the cables actually clear the card by a small margin leaving all five connectors available for use.

It's a similar story with the passive cooler on the Northbridge on the chipset which looks terribly close to the PCI Express x1 slot. In fact the cooler has been profiled to provide enough room for you to plug in an expansion card such as a TV tuner or sound card without any problem.

Down by the SATA connectors the usual expansion headers are present and correct however you don't get any brackets in the package so you'll be relying on the ports that you have mounted on your case. There are three USB headers that support six USB ports and a Firewire header for a second port which is all very satisfactory. Head up the side of the board next to the memory slots and you'll find the main power connector, the ATA133 connector for legacy optical drives and a floppy connector. That sounds like a full house of expansion options but Gigabyte has also included a header for a COM port and a second header for a Parallel port.

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