GIGABYTE's boards are extremely impressive; their use of colours is quite attractive and even for the most demanding aesthetics users this board looks fantastic. The board itself is a full sized 30x24cm ATX PCB with six layers of PCB and two layers of copper to help reduce EMI and to remove extra heat from the system.
The 24-pin power connector is sensibly behind the four DDR2 memory slots along with a single green IDE port. The board is equipped with a total of four DDR2 memory slots which are capable of running 1066MHz memory when utilising AM2+ or AM3 processors. The 4/8 pin EPS power connector is located at the top left of the motherboard just behind the PS/2 port towers and just above the heatpipe assembly. This is a much more sensible place as some boards have the 4/8 pin connector between the PS/2 ports and the heatpipe that tends to shred knuckles when or if you ever have to remove the power cables.
The CPU area is extremely clean of any high rise components; in fact, since the use of solid state components, these new components are a great deal smaller. The CPU is given its power through a 5-phase voltage regulation system that also runs through GIGABYTE's DES. The system is cooled by a heatpipe assembly that cools the Mosfets and the 790GX Northbridge, while the SB750 is cooled by an independent heatsink.
Moving along down the right hand side of the board, GIGABYTE has arranged the SATA data ports with four of the six SB750 controlled ports stacked upon each other and rotated 90 degrees. The last two are in the traditional up/down placement just below the other four SATA ports.
Moving along to the rear I/O ports, GIGABYTE has just about everything you will need here. Thanks to the 790GX Northbridge this board has its own IGP powered by the HD Radeon X3300 GPU with a dedicated 128MB of DDR3 Sideport memory, which we will come to explain a bit more about later on.
To that end there are three display ports with a traditional CRT port, a DVI-I port and a HDMI port for connecting to large HD displays such as Full HD TV's. As for the rest they are pretty standard including six stereo audio ports, a single FireWire port with a extra header on the bottom edge of the board, USB ports and a single Toslink S/PDIF-out port.
Lastly on the list we have the expansion slots and the chips that run the additional onboard features. Normally we just cover the slots but to help out a bit we have decided to give a bit more of an explanation of the components used here.
First off, the control chips used for this board are the AMD 790GX Northbridge which is paired to the SB750 Southbridge through a PCIe x4 NB to SB link. The Northbridge is equipped with 20 PCI Express lanes and 16 of them are used for PCIe graphics slots and four are used to connect the Northbridge to the Southbridge. As mentioned before, AMD is integrating graphics into its mainstream chipsets. The 790GX chipset has a HD Radeon X3300 based graphics processor which isn't the most powerful out there but its capabilities are good enough for basic 3D gaming and running Windows. What makes the 790GX a much better option than any of NVIDIA's IGPs is Sideport memory.
AMD has finally listened to the users out there and has setup a memory bus on the IGP to allow a 128MB 400MHz GDDR3 memory chip to be installed. In the BIOS you can configure the graphics system to work in a variety of ways; UMA, Sideport or Sideport+UMA. With Sideport+UMA you can dedicate some system memory to the GPU. If the Sideport memory gets full it will move graphics data into the system memory; a very handy setup to increase the overall 3D performance. Also, the 790GX supports Hybrid Crossfire allowing you to combine the power of the IGP plus a discrete GPU to increase gaming performance, or you can use the IGP to run Physics rendering and use one or two discrete GPU's for graphics rendering; it's really endless.
The board is equipped with two PCI Express x16 slots, one blue and one yellow. Since the 790GX has only 16 lanes for graphics, if you want to run Crossfire it's limited to an 8/8 setup where eight lanes from the blue slot are routed to the yellow slot to give you the balanced setup. Three PCI express x1 slots are also included which run off the SB750's extra six lanes of PCIe connectivity. LAN is handled by a PCIe x1 Realtek Gigabit Ethernet controller and the FireWire is handled by a PCI based Texas Instruments two port FireWire chip. There are no additional SATA or PATA controller chips as AMD still provides IDE support on the SB750 and six SATA ports are deemed enough for this board.
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