Moving along to today's test candidate, we have the GIGABYTE GA-73UM-S2H motherboard. Micro ATX is the base here; it's not meant for the high-end market, but that doesn't mean we won't criticize the board for poor design. After all, in the tight and restrictive Micro ATX cases you need to keep air flow as best as possible.
The layout of the board for a Micro ATX design is very efficient in terms of connector placement; the IDE and 24-pin power connector along with three SATA ports are all located behind the two memory slots that the board features. The extra 4-pin power slot is located behind the PS/2 port tower at the top left of the board, this keeping all the large cables out of the way for maximum cooling of the CPU and surrounding components.
The CPU is clear of large components that can obstruct the installation of large aftermarket heatsinks and heatpipes. In a small case, large heatsinks usually find their way in allowing for better cooling. The CPU gets fed its voltage though a 4-phase solid state voltage regulation system, thus making it run cooler and more efficient than previous voltage systems.
The new GeForce 7150 chipset only supports a single channel DDR memory controller which limits the amount of memory you can install to 4GB using 2x2GB modules. Behind the modules are three of the four southbridge controlled SATA ports, the extra port is routed to the e.SATA port on the back of the board.
GIGABYTE has added just about every possible expansion port you're going to want for a Digital Home based PC; this includes two monitors through a DVI-D and CRT port. One thing of note is you can't use DVI to CRT converters on the DVI port, so if you want dual monitor support you're going to need at least one DVI monitor. Thanks to the 7150 chipset, HDMI function is supported and a HDMI port makes its appearance along with a Toslink S/PDIF audio-out making up the digital audio/video components. One of the four onboard SATA channels is routed to a single e.SATA port on the back that makes its appearance below the Firewire/USB port combo.
Lastly we look at the expansion slots. Being a Micro ATX board you are down to a bare minimum of slots. While having onboard graphics, NVIDIA has listened to what the market wants and that is the ability to put in a discrete graphics system which is possible thanks to a single PCI Express x16 slot. For additional expansion you have one PCI Express x1 slot and two PCI 32-bit slots. To give the board Firewire support the board also comes with a Texas Instruments PCI based Firewire chip.
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