Asus M3A78-T: AMD's IGP Gets Another Boost

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Asus M3A78-T: AMD's IGP Gets Another Boost

October 25, 2008 by Lawrence Lee

Product Asus M3A78-T
AM2/AM2+ Motherboard
Manufacturer ASUSTeK
Street Price US$150-160

Earlier this year, the release of AMD's 780G chipset brought new respectability to onboard graphics. The HD 3200 took 3D performance in an IGP to unprecedented levels, provides excellent video playback, and did it all without breaking the bank. While AMD struggle to keep up with Intel CPUs, an affordable and functional budget chipset allows AMD to compete successfully in the value market segment. In fact, Intel's IGPs still can't match the 780G for 3D performance.

Not content to sit on their lead, AMD recently released the 790GX chipset featuring a further improved IGP, the HD 3300. While the chip innards have changed little from the 3200, its die has shrunk to a smaller 55nm size, it has a significant 200Mhz bump in core clock speed, and it can take advantage of Sideport memory. Sideport is a single chip of fast DDR3 memory integrated for the purpose of speeding up the GPU and making it less necessary to tap large amounts of system memory for its use. The amount of Sideport memory depends on the board — the Asus M3A78-T has 128MB of Sideport memory running at 1333Mhz.

Another shiny motherboard box from Asus.

The oddly named M3A78-T is yet another in a recent line of ATX boards from Asus with onboard graphics. Along with the 790GX northbridge chip, the M3A78-T also features the improved SB750 southbridge that brings RAID-5 support to AMD's SATA controller for the first time. The board also has a whack of other features including CrossFire and Hybrid CrossFireX, FireWire, eSATA, HDMI and S/PDIF outputs. This isn't your grandmother's motherboard.

The package contents. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Asus M3A78-T: Specifications (from the product web page)
AMD Socket AM2+ / AM2 Processors
AMD Phenom™ FX / Phenom / Athlon™ / Sempron™
AMD Cool'n'Quiet™ Technology
Support CPU up to 140W
AMD 790GX/SB750
System Bus
Up to 5200 MT/s HyperTransport™ 3.0 interface for AM2+ CPU
2000 / 1600 MT/s for AM2 CPU
4 x DIMM, Max. 16 GB, DDR2 1066/800/667 ECC,Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel memory architecture
*Due to AMD CPU limitation, DDR2 1066 is supported by AM2+ CPU for one DIMM per channel only.
**Please refer to or user manual for Memory QVL(Quality Vender List).
***When installing total memory of 4GB capacity or more, Windows® 32-bit operation system may only recognize less than 3GB. Hence, a total installed memory of less than 3GB is recommended.
Expansion Slots
3 x PCIe x16 (Support PCIe 2.0 / 1.0 Architecture ) (Dual x8 or Dual x16/x4; Triple x8/x4/x8)
1 x PCIe x1
2 x PCI 2.2
Integrated ATI Radeon™ HD 3300 GPU
SidePort Memory - onboard 128MB DDR3 1333 memory
Supports HDMI™ Technology with max. resolution up to 1920 x 1200 (1080P)
Supports Dual-link DVI with max. resolution up to 2560x1600 @60Hz
Supports D-Sub with max. resolution up to 2560x1440 @ 75Hz
Hybrid CrossFireX™ Support (For Windows Vista only)
Supports Microsoft® DirectX 10, OpenGL 2.0, Pixel Shader 4.0
Maximum shared memory of 512MB
Storage Southbridge
1 xUltraDMA 133/100
5 xSATA 3 Gb/s ports 1 x eSATA 3Gb/s ports with RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10 support
LAN Gigabit LAN
Audio Realtek® ALC1200 8 -Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
-Coaxial S/PDIF out port at back I/O
-DTS Surround Sensation UltraPC
12 USB 2.0 ports
ASUS Unique Features
ASUS Express Gate
ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution:
- ASUS AI Gear 2
- ASUS Q-Fan2
- 4+1 Phases ASUS Power Design
ASUS Crystal Sound
- ASUS Noise Filter
- ASUS Q-Shield
- ASUS Q-Connector
- ASUS O.C. Profile
- ASUS EZ Flash 2
Overclocking Features Intelligent overclocking tools:
- AI Overclocking (Intelligent CPU Frequency Tuner)
- ASUS AI Booster Utility
Precision Tweaker 2
- vCore: Adjustable CPU voltage at 0.125V increment
- vChipset (N.B.): 25-step voltage control
- vDIMM: 35-step DRAM voltage control
SFS (Stepless Frequency Selection)
- FSB tuning from 200MHz up to 600MHz at 1MHz increment
- Memory tuning from 533MHz up to 1066MHz
- PCIe frequency tuning from 100MHz up to 200MHz at 1MHz increment
Overclocking Protection:
- ASUS C.P.R. (CPU Parameter Recall)
Special Features Uses 100% All High-quality Conductive Polymer Capacitors!
ASUS MyLogo 2
AMD OverDrive Support*
* Advanced cooling system is required when advanced overclock functions of AMD OverDrive are enabled.

Back Panel I/O Ports

1 x PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse
1 x S/PDIF Out (Optical)
1 x HDMI
1 x DVI
1 x D-Sub
1 x External SATA
1 x IEEE 1394a
1 x RJ45 port
6 x USB 2.0/1.1
8-Channel Audio I/O
Internal I/O Connectors 3 x USB connector (6 ports)
1 x Floppy disk drive connector
1 x IDE connector
5 x SATA connectors
1 x CPU Fan connector
2 x Chassis Fan connectors
1 x Power Fan connector
Front panel audio connector
1 x IEEE 1394a connector
1 x S/PDIF Out Header
Chassis Intrusion connector
CD audio in
24-pin ATX Power connector
4-pin ATX 12V Power connector
System Panel
BIOS 8 Mb Flash ROM
DMI 2.0
WfM 2.0
ACPI 2.0a
ASUS EZ Flash 2
Accessories UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable
FDD cable
SATA cables
SATA power cables
User's manual
3 in 1 Q-connector
Support Disc Drivers
Express Gate
ASUS Update
Anti-virus software (OEM version)
Form Factor ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.5 cm )

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