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

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A board's layout is important in several regards. The positioning of components can dictate compatibility with other products (third party heatsinks mainly) and ease of installation. Poorly placed power connectors can also disrupt airflow and make the system more thermally challenging.


The M3A78-T has a pretty good layout without any obvious problems. All the important connectors are out of the way at the edges of the board — power connectors, IDE and SATA ports, though three of the five SATA ports are placed parallel to the PCI slots. While the board has an onboard IGP, it is an ATX board, with multiple PCI Express 16x slots for users who want to implement a CrossFire configuration. Hybrid CrossFireX with a low-end ATI graphics card working in tandem with the IGP is also supported.

Another look.

Three heatsinks help cool the board's chipsets and VRMs. The southbridge cooler is low-profile, but broken up into many fins to maximize surface area. The northbridge cooler has very broad fins and its overal size is impressive, though not so tall as to interfere with most third party CPU coolers. The VRM cooler's fins are taller than usual, making it easier to catch airflow from a typical tower heatsink/fan.

Back panel connectors.

The back panel is fully-loaded with S/PDIF, HDMI, DVI, VGA, eSATA, and FireWire ports. The only connectivity feature the M3A78-T seems to lack is Wi-Fi.

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