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Gigabyte MA785GMT-UD2H - Gigabyte MA785GMT-UD2H
It is a matter of personal taste but we would be happy to see the legacy connectors swept away with the exception of the ATA133. Having said that we are quite sure that some of the connectors will be life savers for a handful of potential customers so it's a minor complaint. The point is that Gigabyte has managed to squeeze the whole lot in neatly and elegantly despite the small size of the motherboard.
Tucked in behind the I/O panel there is an eight-pin EATX power connector which isn't necessary for such a lightweight motherboard but it is backwards compatible with the old four-pin plug and as a result it is compatible with every power supply on the market.
The power regulation hardware looks compact and basic as the 4+1 set-up is bare and takes up very little space, which is in stark contrast to the Asus M4A785TD-V EVO with its 8+1 hardware and large blue heatsink.
Firing up the MA785GMT-UD2H leads to a BIOS set-up that is very similar to pretty much every other Gigabyte on the market. It makes little concession to the integrated graphics and we could only find one relevant option which was to set the clock speed of the GPU. The Gigabyte comes with 128MB of DDR3 SidePort memory onboard which is plenty for such relatively weedy graphics however we have become used to having options to dedicate additional system memory to act as graphics memory. In our experience this is a waste of time and we feel that Gigabyte has taken a sensible decision to keep the BIOS clean and simple.
It's a similar story when it comes to overclocking. You get all the usual options for raising CPU, RAM and chipset voltages but nothing too extreme. The maximum Northbridge voltage is +0.3V=1.40V which is quite conservative and we have little doubt that this limits the scope for overclocking. You'll also find the options for fine tuning memory performance are limited as the steps between the memory dividers are quite large.
When we overclocked our Phenom II X4 810 we started by raising the graphics core speed in steps to 1,000MHz which was stable and then onwards to 1,100MHz at which point the system refused to POST. The BIOS presented us with an error screen and gave us the option to undo the problem. After that we raised the voltages and then cranked up the base clock speed. 225MHz worked perfectly well while 230MHz was a step too far and once again we got the error message. We stepped back to 225MHz for a CPU speed of 2.93GHz and once we had raised the memory speed to 1,200MHz the job was done.
Although the Gigabyte didn't achieve quite the same CPU speed as the Asus M4A785TD-V EVO the graphics speed was considerably faster with the result that the Gigabyte delivered considerably better performance. In Far Cry 2 we were able to play the game surprisingly well, albeit at low quality settings, with a frame rate that is three frames per second faster than the Asus.
With its powerful integrated graphics, video decoders, and a full complement of basic features, the Gigabyte is a snip at £65. Certainly, if you're building a media centre or small home PC, it should be high on your shopping list.