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

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FINAL THOUGHTS

The Asus M3A78-T features the universal video decoder found on previous AMD boards, but the IGP has been revamped, making it the most powerful ever, at least incrementally. The southbridge has also been improved — SB750 finally gives AMD users RAID-5 support out-of-the-box. In addition, it is fully loaded with almost every feature one may desire: eSATA, FireWire, S/PDIF, HDMI, CrossFire, etc. The board is also well-cooled — Asus placed a very large heatsink on the northbridge and more importantly, one to cool the VRMs. VRM overheating was something of an issue on previous AMD boards that prevented the use of high TDP CPUs on some models — with the M3A78-T, this is something you won't have to worry about. And finally as silent PC fanatics, we appreciate the ability to control three fans without requiring to dish out for a fan controller.

The IGP is undoubtedly superior to anything else out there — the level of performance more or less matches low-end discrete cards. Keep in mind though that it is still not great for playing modern games at higher resolutions. HD 3300 is no substitute for a good discrete graphics card for 3D gaming. Luckily, the M3A78-T gives you many graphics options. You can use the IGP on its own, Hybrid CrossFireX, a single discrete card, or two discrete cards in CrossFire — the choice is entirely yours. If you do decide to onboard graphics is enough for you, keep in mind the higher power draw compared to the 690G, 740G, and 780G chipsets.

Overall the M3A78-T is an excellent motherboard. While we have talked a lot about the IGP, ultimately, whether the M3A78-T is a good buy will depend on how many of its other features will be used on a regular basis. It offers a lot more functionality than your typical budget board, and it comes at a price.

PROS

* Fastest IGP ever
* Versatile feature set
* Well cooled
* Good HD video playback
* 3 fans can be controlled
CONS

* High power consumption
* Pricey


Our thanks to ASUSTeK for the Asus M3A78-T sample.

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