When looking for a motherboard there are many things that need to be considered. I am not building a gaming machine so I don’t need powerful graphics, but I am planning on running Windows Vista Ultimate so it still needs a good graphics chip. The GigaByte GA-MA78GPM-DS2H has all the features that I was looking for.
- Supports AMD Phenom/ Athlon series processors
- Dual Channel DDR2 1066
- Integrated 128MB DDR3 1066/ 1333(OC)MHz SidePort Memory
- Integrated ATI Radeon HD3200 graphics (DirectX10)
- PCI-E 2.0 x16 interface with ATI Hybrid CrossFireX support
- Gigabit Ethernet and IEEE1394
- High quality 106dB SNR ALC889A HD audio
- Dolby Home Theater audio
- Integrated HDMI/ DVI interface with HDCP
The main reason I chose this motherboard is because I can reuse the CPU, memory, and hard drive that I salvaged from my old MSI Media Live case.
The next reason I picked this motherboard is because it uses the AM2+ chipset which means I can use my old AM2 CPU, but I will be able to upgrade the CPU later if I need to, like when Windows 7 comes out.
Next, this motherboard has a built-in ATI Radeon HD3200 graphics chip and has 128MB of DDR3 SidePort memory built-in and dedicated to the GPU. With these, my new HTPC should be able to handle Vista, which was a problem for the MSI Media Live. Also, the motherboard has an HDMI plug which supports HDCP. This means if I ever want to I can upgrade to a Blu-ray player and get high definition output.
The motherboard design is nothing extraordinary. However, while putting it together I found a problem. What I found is that if you want to install a full size PCI card you cannot use the bottom two PCI slots because the card would cover up the internal USB ports, this leaves only one PCI slot left. So I when I installed my old TV tuner card I had to put it in the top slot. If you have a smaller card then you should not encounter this problem.
The motherboard is filled with all sorts of connectors, both internal and external. The internal connectors consist of:
- 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
- 1 x 4-pin ATX 12V power connector
- 1 x floppy disk drive connector
- 1 x IDE connector
- 5 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors
- 1 x CPU fan header
- 1 x system fan header
- 1 x front panel header
- 1 x North Bridge fan header
- 1 x front panel audio header
- 1 x CD In connector
- 1 x S/PDIF In/Out header
- 1 x IEEE 1394a header
- 4 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
- 1 x parallel port header
- 1 x serial port header
- 1 x chassis intrusion header
- 1 x power LED header
The external connectors consist of:
- 1 x PS/2 keyboard port
- 1 x PS/2 mouse port
- 1 x D-Sub port
- 1 x DVI-D port (Note 4)
- 1 x HDMI port
- 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
- 1 x eSATA 3Gb/s port
- 1 x IEEE 1394a port
- 4 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
- 1 x RJ-45 port
- 6 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out/Rear Speaker Out/Side Speaker Out/Line In/Line Out/Microphone)
The motherboard performs really well, as I said before I got this motherboard specifically for the built-in graphics chip and memory. As you can see from this image the Vista score is really good and when I played video, especially HD video, it was very smooth and I did not encounter any problems like I did with the MSI Media Live. I am not going to play any games on this machine so I don’t really care if it scores well in that area. Areo is also not a concern for me because this machine spends all its time in Windows Media Center.
I could not find much warranty information on the GigaByte website, but after considerable digging I found that this motherboard comes with a 2 year parts and 3 year labor warranty. I would like to see this much higher considering it does not have any moving parts.
This motherboard exceeded all my expectations. I was able to accomplish all my goals without the need of overclocking or an expensive graphics card. This motherboard is perfect for a HTPC like what I am using it for. If you are in the market for a motherboard for a HTPC or even a low end gaming machine, then I think you will be very happy with this one. As always compare prices before purchasing.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|