AMD 780G: Best Ever Integrated Mainstream Chipset?

CPUs|Motherboards
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March 6, 2008 by Lawrence Lee

Product Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H AM2/AM2+ motherboard
Manufacturer Gigabyte
Street Price US$95

When AMD purchased ATI, it was a controversial move that led many nay-sayers to proclaim their demise. Others applauded the decision, predicting that it would pave the way for an integrated CPU/GPU which would allow AMD to remain competitive. While this positive outcome has yet to come to pass, the acquisition has been paying other dividends. AMD's 690G chipset was a resounding success, and after a full year, it's time for a refresh. The 780G chipset supports DirectX 10 and Shader Model 4.0, bringing it in line with Intel's G35 chipset. It also promises better 3D performance, superior high definition playback, and lower power consumption.

The 690G chipset introduced SurroundView, which allows users to use leave the X1250 IGP enabled for extra displays when a discrete graphics card is installed. The 780G chipset supports SurroundView as well, and a new feature which takes it in a whole different direction. "Hybrid Graphics" enables its integrated HD3200 graphics processor to work in tandem with a separate video card in a pseudo-CrossFire mode to increase 3D performance. So whether you want extra displays or better performance, the onboard video will never go to waste.


Our 780G bundle came with the processor and memory pre-installed.

To help us investigate this feature and the chipset as a whole, AMD graciously provided us with one of their new energy efficient processors, the X2 4850e, some Corsair memory, and the star of the show, a 780G motherboard, the Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H.

Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H: Specifications (from the product web page)
CPU 1. Support for Socket AM2+/ AM2 processors: AMD Phenom™FX processor/ AMD Phenom™ processor/ AMD Athlon™ 64 FX processor/AMD Athlon™ 64 X2 Dual-Core processor/AMD Athlon™ 64 processor/AMD Sempron™ processor
Hyper Transport Bus 1. 5200/2000 MT/s
Chipset 1. North Bridge: AMD 780G
2. South Bridge: AMD SB700
Memory


1. 4 x 1.8V DDR2 DIMM sockets supporting up to 16 GB of system memory (Note 1)
2. Dual channel memory architecture
3. Support for DDR2 1066 (Note 2)/800/667 MHz memory modules
Audio 1. Realtek ALC889A codec
2. High Definition Audio
3. 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
4. Support for DTS (dts NEO:PC)
5. Support for S/PDIF In/Out
6. Support for CD In
LAN 1. Realtek 8111C chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)
Expansion Slots 1. 1 x PCI Express x16 slot (The PCI Express x16 slot conforms to PCI Express 2.0 standard.)
2. 1 x PCI Express x1 slot
3. 2 x PCI slots
Storage Interface South Bridge:
1. 1 x IDE connector supporting ATA-133/100/66/33 and up to 2 IDE devices
2. 5 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (SATAII0, SATAII1, SATAII2, SATAII3, SATAII4) supporting up to 5 SATA 3Gb/s devices
3. 1 x eSATA 3Gb/s port on the back panel supporting up to 1 SATA 3Gb/s device
4. Support for SATA RAID 0, RAID 1 and RAID 10 iTE

IT8718 chip:
South Bridge:
1. 1 x IDE connector supporting ATA-133/100/66/33 and up to 2 IDE devices
2. 5 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (SATAII0, SATAII1, SATAII2, SATAII3, SATAII4) supporting up to 5 SATA 3Gb/s devices
3. 1 x eSATA 3Gb/s port on the back panel supporting up to 1 SATA 3Gb/s device
4. Support for SATA RAID 0, RAID 1 and RAID 10

iTE IT8718 chip:
1. 1 x floppy disk drive connector supporting up to 1 floppy disk drive 1 x floppy disk drive connector supporting up to 1 floppy disk drive

IEEE 1394

T.I. TSB43AB23 chip

1. Up to 2 IEEE 1394a ports (1 on the back panel, 1 via the IEEE 1394a bracket connected to the internal IEEE 1394a header)

USB

Integrated in the South Bridge

1. Up to 12 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (4 on the back panel, 8 via the USB brackets connected to the internal USB headers)

Internal I/O Connectors

 

1. 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
2. 1 x 4-pin ATX 12V power connector
3. 1 x floppy disk drive connector
4. 1 x IDE connector
5. 5 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors
6. 1 x CPU fan header
7. 1 x system fan header
8. 1 x front panel header
9. 1 x front panel audio header
10. 1 x CD In connector
11. 1 x S/PDIF In/Out header
12. 1 x IEEE 1394a header
13. 4 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
14. 1 x parallel port header
15. 1 x Trusted Platform Module (TPM) header
16. 1 x serial port header
17. 1 x chassis intrusion header
18. 1 x power LED header

Back Panel Connectors

1. 1 x PS/2 keyboard port
2. 1 x PS/2 mouse port
3. 1 x D-Sub port
4. 1 x DVI-D port (Note 3)
5. 1 x HDMI port
6. 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
7. 1 x eSATA 3Gb/s port
8. 1 x IEEE 1394a port
9. 4 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
10. 1 x RJ-45 port
11. 6 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out/Rear Speaker Out/Side Speaker Out/Line In/Line Out/Microphone)
I/O Controller 1. ITE IT8718 chip
H/W Monitoring System voltage detection

1. CPU/System temperature detection
2. CPU/System fan speed detection
3. CPU overheating warning
4. CPU/System fan fail warning
5. CPU/System fan speed control (Note 4)
BIOS 1. 1 x 8 Mbit flash
2. Use of licensed AWARD BIOS
3. PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.4, ACPI 1.0b
Unique Features 1. Support for @BIOS
2. Support for Download Center
3. Support for Q-Flash
4. Support for EasyTune (Note 5)
5. Support for Xpress Install
6. Support for Xpress Recovery2
7. Support for Virtual Dual BIOS
Bundle Software 1. Norton Internet Security (OEM version)
Operating System 1. Support for Microsoft Windows Vista/ XP
Form Factor 1. Micro ATX Form Factor; 24.4cm x 24.4cm
Remark 1. Due to different Linux support condition provided by chipset vendors, please download Linux driver from chipset vendors' website or 3rd party website.
2. Due to most hardware/software vendors no longer offer support for Win9X/ME. If some vendors still has Win9X/ME drivers available, we will publish on website.
Note
(Note 1) Due to Windows XP 32-bit operating system limitation, when more than 4 GB of physical memory is installed, the actual memory size displayed will be less than 4 GB.
(Note 2) Whether 1066 MHz memory speed is supported depends on the CPU being used.
(Note 3) The DVI-D port does not support D-Sub connection by adapter.
(Note 4) Whether the CPU/system fan speed control function is supported will depend on the CPU/ system cooler you install.
(Note 5) Available functions in Easytune may differ by motherboard model.

The MA78GM has a long list of features. A few things caught our eye:

1. 5 SATA ports, eSATA, FireWire, HDMI - this board must cost a fortune! Actually the MA78GM's projected street price is only $95US. The feature-set exceeds that of the much more expensive Asus P5E-VM HDMI we reviewed a few months prior.

2. Though the DVI port on the back panel appears to be DVI-I (both digital and analog), it's in essence a DVI-D port as Gigabyte warns that it can't be used to convert to an analog signal.

3. The SB700 southbridge chip only supports RAID 0, 1 and 10 (as did the SB600 before it). If you require RAID 5 support look for a board with the SB750 southbridge..





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