iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






ASUS M4A785G HTPC/RC Motherboard

A microATX board with a high-quality audio codec and a remote.

February 5, 2010

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But then Internet radio settings confused us. Firstly, it was based on the 20-day shareware mediaU Player Mercury for some reason. Secondly, the interface was in Chinese. Most likely, this will be fixed. But when we tested the board, the official website could only offer the same Home Theater Gate v1.02.14 with the Chinese interface.

Returning to the remote. Essentially, it's a standard MCE USB IR device, so you can set it up to control lots of applications, related to home theaters or not. Girder is probably one of the most convenient and advanced utilities for that. It lets you bind keyboard commands to the buttons on the remote. As you know, most applications have built-in macros, though most users forget about that, preferring to use mice. Winamp, for example, has so many that you'll need a few remote controls. Or stick to just one and select the macros you use most.

The manufacturer recommends that you connect the remote control to one of the two ports, which even have helping stickers. This is only needed to start the PC (wake it from sleep, etc.) by means of the remote. Those two ports have the necessary power supplied for the IR receiver to work.

Now let's change the topic and look at the cooler which is stylish yet again. We have already mentioned that the AMD 785G chipset gives leeway for such aesthetic liberties, or saving on cooler at all.

The CPU voltage stabilizer has 5 channels, each with 4 FETs: two standard and two with Low RDS(on). The circuitry also features 8 x 560µF and 3 x 270µF solid capacitors. This is quite luxurious for a board of this class. Strangely enough the list of compatible processors only has models with TDP of up to 125W. Obviously, this board will most likely be used with 45-95 W TDP processors. This is quite enough for an HTPC. But in this case just a couple of regular FETs per channel would do. Perhaps, such redundancy is needed to make this unit silent -- both electrically, to reduce noise pickup, and acoustically. This maybe sound like carping, but power circuitry on some boards does emit high-pitched noise you can actually hear. Redundancy, as well as high-quality parts, have been a proven way to get rid of that.

The box is standard and compact, but the bundle is good. Except for two SATA and one ATA/133 cables, it includes a couple of Q-Connectors to simplify connecting the front panel, including a USB port. The CD, aside from the aforementioned Home Theater Gate, only has a regular set of tools for upgrading BIOS and system monitoring. Third party software is Norton Internet Security. Speaking of manuals, there is a standard user's guide and a quick start guide.

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