Gigabyte’s Intel-based motherboard is this month’s winner, but the GA-MA78GM-S2H gives you many of the same features in an AMD-compatible package.
It’s a cheaper and smaller board, using the microATX form factor, so not surprisingly it isn’t as versatile as its sibling. You get fewer expansion slots and, while the BIOS offers the same excellent support for overclocking the CPU, you can’t overclock memory in the same way. There’s no dual RAM support, either – you’re left with DDR2 only, although that’s hardly an imposition. And, surprisingly, you can fit up to 16GB of RAM.
The GA-MA78GM-S2H also has a particular strength of its own: an integrated Radeon HD 3200 GPU, complete with HDMI output, making it a splendid starting point for a budget desktop PC or entertainment system. The graphics are based on the same core as the old Radeon HD 2400 Pro, so it will decode HD video in hardware and can even run 3D games, but don’t expect high resolutions or awesome visual effects. The board supports Hybrid CrossFire, too, so you can pair the onboard graphics with a graphics card, squeezing a little extra out of a low-cost solution (see page 58).
The GA-MA78GM-S2H’s power consumption was a shade lower than its brother’s, coming in at 96W. It lacks the Dynamic Energy Saver feature, but the integrated graphics let you save a lot of power by cutting out the graphics card. Without one, idle power consumption plummeted to 67W.
With the arrival of the new Phenoms, AMD processors are starting to look good again. And, while the GA-MA78GM-S2H may not exactly be a luxury model, it’s an affordable and flexible way to get on the bandwagon.
This Review appeared in the August, 2008 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine
Source: Copyright © PC Pro, Dennis Publishing