ASUS rarely makes only one motherboard per chipset. When a chipset successful and popular, the company may easily release ten boards on it or more. The AMD 785G series, for example, is only a bit shorter. Of course, some of those products are simple, utilitarian even, like the recently reviewed ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO. But some, today's board included, are quite original.
Firstly, note the features of design shared by all of the motherboard. Though you will hardly install a large graphics card onto such a board, the company has still provided for such an opportunity, at the same time letting you access all the other slots, except for one PCIEx1. This is nice. It's also good that, despite the board's compact size, all the peripheral ports have borders.
At first glance, 4 fan connectors is too many for a board that is meant to be installed into an HTPC, a machine with the minimum of fans and other noisy parts. But this is actually very convenient, because you won't have to lay cables across the entire board. Besides, in terms of noise, several low-speed fans are better than one speedy fan.
The board also has an additional power connector for the integrated audio subsystem. If you forget to use it, the board will remind you on system start. The very presence of the rather advanced VIA ENVY HD VT2020 audio codec is the board's key feature that confirms its home theater nature. Moreover, the analog output to front speakers is duplicated by a couple of gold-plated coaxial connectors. And there's also an optical S/PDIF Out on the rear panel.
The board's second key feature is the bundled remote control. To be more exact, there are two versions of this product, one of which is bundled with a remote -- it has the RC suffix added to the name. The remote itself is quite nice, as well as the ASUS Home Theater Gate utility offered as an alternative to the Windows MCE shell.
It lets you listen to CDs or tracks converted to lossy formats (no lossless support though), watch MPEG2, MPEG4, WMV videos, browse photos and listen to Internet radio.
In general, the utility worked fine and we were going to mention the progress in company's making bug-free software...
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