Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4H Motherboard Review :: Gigabyte MA-790GP-DS4 Layout

09-01-2008 · Category: Motherboards

By Ben Sun

Gigabyteís board comes with an AMD Socket AM2+ interface, designed to work with all current AMD CPUs including the Phenom B3 stepping 9950, and 9850 which had so many compatibility problems with the earlier 780G chipset. There is one row of capacitors along the right hand side of the CPU Socket; because otherwise the CPU area is free of obstructions allowing the use of after-market coolers like the big CPU cooler we use in testing.


Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4H Motherboard Review CPU Socket

CPU Socket

Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4H Motherboard Review SilentPipe

SilentPipe

Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4H Motherboard Review Southbridge

Southbridge

Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4H Motherboard Review Back of PCB

Back of PCB


Gigabyte cooled the Northbridge with their SilentPipe cooling system. This consists of a heatsink covering the Northbridge with two heatpipes leading out to a second heatsink around the CPU Socket area. The SB750 chip is cooled by a small low-profile heatsink, meaning that the Southbridge chip runs cool.


Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4H Motherboard Review PCI Express x16

PCI Express x16

Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4H Motherboard Review PCI Express x1

PCI Express x1


One of the ways that the new chipset differentiates itself from the 780G chipset is the ability to run two graphics cards in CrossfireX mode. The 780G chipset motherboards on the market only have 1 PCI Express x16 slot for discrete graphics. The 790GX chipset on the other hand has up to two PCI Express x16 slots allowing the end-user to install two ATI video cards to improve gaming performance. The MA-790GP-DS4 has two PCI Express x16 slots that are Generation 2.0, two PCI Express x1 slots and two PCI slots.


Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4H Motherboard Review SATA II ports

SATA II ports

Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4H Motherboard Review LPT port

LPT port


Gigabyte includes six SATA II ports controlled by the SB750 Southbridge. One thing that I have to ding AMD for with their motherboards is the total inability to run their AHCI controller in RAID mode. Many including the Tech Report, have been unable to run RAID on their AMD chipsets so the six SATA ports are a bit useless as they are running in IDE mode no matter what I or many others have tried with the chipset. A FDD port and an IDE port are also present. Gigabyte includes four headers for USB 2.0 and another header for Firewire bringing the total to twelve and three respectively.


Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4H Motherboard Review IDE port

IDE port

Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4H Motherboard Review Sideport memory

Sideport memory

Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4H Motherboard Review Memory DIMMS

Memory DIMMS

Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4H Motherboard Review USB 2.0 headers

USB 2.0 headers


Gigabyte uses the Realtek ALC889 CODEC for the onboard sound on these motherboards. Onboard sound has improved to the point where discrete sound cards are nearly unnecessary. This has led to Creative Labs declaring bankruptcy and numerous sound card companies like Aureal to go out of business. Intel announced their High Definition Audio standard. The ALC889 is Realtekís latest version of their audio solutions and supports Dolby Home Theater audio.


Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4H Motherboard Review 24-pin power

24-pin power

Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4H Motherboard Review 8-pin power

8-pin power

Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4H Motherboard Review Firewire

Firewire

Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4H Motherboard Review ITE chip

ITE chip


One of the benefits of having integrated graphics is the ability to run the computer without a graphics card installed. With the recent NVIDIA troubles with their 8600/8500 graphics cards, the ability to run integrated graphics in an emergency is a plus. Further, integrated graphics can be used in a Home Theater PC that can run without adding heat to the mix from an add-in card. The Gigabyte board has a DVI-D Dual-link connector, a HDMI connection and a VGA connection. Note, that a DVI-I connection requires four pins surrounding the long pin and cannot be used. The rest of the IO area includes a SP/DIF port, the PS/2 mouse and keyboard ports, four USB 2.0 ports, a Firewire port, a RJ-45 jack for the onboard Gigabit Ethernet and six jacks for the onboard audio.


Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4H Motherboard Review IO

IO