Asus M3A78 Pro: An ATX 780G Motherboard

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BIOS

BIOS options on mATX boards are typically very spartan. The presence of an IGP and the more limited cooling associated with an mATX platform makes manufacturers nervous about allowing users the ability to customize their clock/voltage settings. ATX boards are usually more tweaker-friendly and the M3A78 Pro is no exception.


"Advanced" options.

Compared to the M3N78 Pro, Asus provides a few more options in the M3A78 Pro's BIOS. All the typical voltage and frequency controls you'd see on a budget enthusiast mainboard are present.

Notable Available BIOS Adjustments
Setting
Options
CPU Frequency 200Mhz to 600Mhz in 1Mhz increments
PCI-E Frequency 100Mhz to 150Mhz in 1Mhz increments
Memory Frequency 533/667/800Mhz (may depend on CPU)
Memory Timings Various
CPU Voltage 0.8000V to 1.7000V in 0.025V increments
Memory Voltage 1.90V to 2.25V in 0.05V increments
Northbridge Voltage 1.10V to 1.40V in 0.10V increments
Video Memory Size 32MB, 64MB, 128MB, 256MB, 512MB

Wide ranges are given for CPU frequency and voltage, but memory settings are more restricted. Unlike the M3N78, The M3A78 offers full memory timing control for those of you who are into that kind of thing.


"Hardware Monitor."

The Hardware Monitor section is fairly spartan. CPU and MB temperatures are reported as well as fan speeds from all three fan headers. The Q-FAN feature is available with three different settings: Performance, Optimal, and Silent. There is no separate option for CPU and Chassis fans meaning one of two things: only the CPU fan can be controlled, or all the fans that can be controlled use the same profile.

We should also note that almost every time we changed a major setting in the BIOS, such as voltage, frequency, or Q-FAN profile, the system failed to POST afterwards. The system had to be powered off and on again, which as you can imagine can be very annoying. A BIOS update failed to resolve this issue. While it isn't a game-breaker, it certainly be a deciding factor if you do enjoy tweaking the BIOS frequently.

EXPRESS GATE

Asus Express Gate is a recently added feature that allows users almost instant access to a web browser, photo viewer, chat client (Pidgin) and VOIP (Skype). It is powered by Splashtop, an instant-on Linux desktop developed by DeviceVM. Instead of waiting for up to a minute for the main operating system to boot-up, Express Gate is available as soon as the system POSTs. On budget models like the M3A78 and M3N78, Express Gate requires installation on your primary hard drive (it creates a hidden folder to house itself) prior to use. On premium models, Express Gate is available right out of the box.


The SlashTop desktop.




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