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GIGABYTE GA-GC330UD Mini-ITX - Dual Core Atom Tested - The Motherboard

Ultra low power from Intel gets a boost. Atom is strong, but will a second core help? With the use of GIGABYTE's GA-GC330UD, let's find out.

| Editorials in Motherboards | Posted: Aug 31, 2009 7:16 am
TweakTown Rating: 85%      Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

The Board

 

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Onto the board itself now. GIGABYTE loves to use their traditional blue PCB which looks quite attractive, even to this day. The board itself is a baby, only measuring 17x17cm. It fits right into the Mini-ITX form factor that VIA brought to the market. Funnily enough, Intel wanted it to be slightly bigger just to push VIA out of the market, but with hundreds of Mini-ITX cases out there already, the partners pushed Intel into the Mini-ITX department.

 

For a mini board the layout is very good. Going old school, the board only uses a 20-pin ATX power connector located behind the single DDR2 memory slot and the 4-pin power connector for the CPU is located behind the PS/2 rear I/O ports.

 

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With such a low power draw for the CPU, the board is fitted with only a single phase voltage regulation system for the CPU. This baby isn't designed for overclocking, so there is no need to go with hundreds of expensive capacitors and chokes if they aren't needed. It's funny to see how this board is cooled. The Atom 330D processor is cooled by a passive fan along with the ICH7DH Southbridge. It's the 945GCM Northbridge that required the larger heatsink and fan combo to keep it cool. Obviously it's the power hog and the major heat generator. The sad thing about this setup is the 945GCM Northbridge supports a dual channel memory controller. However, with Intel's tight reign on Atom platforms, only single channel memory is allowed to be used.

 

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Intel pretty much crippled the Atom for any sort of serious home entertainment purposes. To get the true Atom brand the board can't have any DVI ports or HDMI ports and is limited to AC'97 audio output. To that end, we have a single CRT monitor output and three audio ports that support up to 5.1 audio output; just good enough for DVD playback. There are no eSATA ports or any digital audio or video outputs.

 

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Lastly, we have the single expansion slot that the board supports and again with Intel's tight restrictions on Atom you only get a single PCI legacy slot. What we would like to see is a PCIe x1 or even a x16 slot since the chipset is capable of supporting this interface. There are also two SATA ports driven from two of a possible six that the ICH7 Southbridge supports.

 

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