The general board design is very nice, and it's good to see that, since last year
, Gigabyte has refined the styling and colour scheme to be more shades of blue and white, which certainly adds to the aesthetic appeal.
The 55nm chipsets are low power, but the small heatsinks do get quite hot. However, having seen them reach 83°C with the early D1 BIOS, we know the board can certainly withstand some heat and be stable. With the launch F1 BIOS we are reviewing here, the temperature has dropped considerably to between 50 and 60°C.
Underneath this heatsink Gigabyte has not taken AMD up on the offer of Sideport memory in this board version, but in typical Gigabyte fashion it has more 785G SKUs than there are stars in the sky, so keep an eye out for the GA-MA785GPMT-UD2H if you are looking for a Sideport enabled board with an extra 128MB of DDR3 soldered on.
Included is a 938-pin AM3 socket and the dimensions for socket AM2+ are the same so current coolers will fit. There are also four DDR3 memory slots that Gigabyte rates to a devilish 1,666MHz and more.
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On the power front, the board uses a 4+1 setup with three MOSFETs per choke, one for northbridge and one for memory too, and despite sounding a bit thin Gigabyte rates it to support 140W CPUs. In the Ultra Durable 3 stead, the whole board gets a full complement of solid aluminium capped capacitors (Sanyo SPEC), and the usual 2oz of copper in the ground layers of the PCB.
Not only does the IDE port still make the grade (unsurprising), but floppy, parallel and RS232 serial also still make the grade (the latter two are pin-outs). While these come at no extra cost, it's valuable board space extra SATA ports could use, and of the SATA ports included none are unfortunately angled at 90 degrees to the board edge. That said, five SATA is plenty for a small board given the size of such cases, with the sixth taken up with permanent eSATA duties.
There is still a x16 PCI-Express 2.0 slot for graphics cards should you feel the need to upgrade, with two legacy PCI slots and a single x1 PCI-E in there too. The northbridge heatsink does seem to get in the way a bit of the x1 slot though.
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Those interested in audio for the HTPC front, you'll be pleased to hear the Realtek ALC889a is included. Generally speaking, this chipset is very high quality as far as onboard audio goes, but if you want your audio processing done a little more professionally then there's always the HDMI or S/PDIF options that are also included on the rear I/O. Compared to specific home theatre boards like the Asus HTPC range, it does lack the addition of an extra molex socket to power the audio chipset independently, offering a cleaner ground signal and (theoretically) better SnR.
A single Gigabit Ethernet socket and IEEE1394a Firewire are included too, and Gigabyte adds other great features such as dual BIOS support among other BIOS features explained over the page.