Gigabyte GA-890GPA-UD3H Motherboard
According to certain objective stats, Gigabyte is very close to outrunning ASUS and becoming the leading motherboard maker. This is hardly a surprise for those who regularly review products of both companies and keep track of their commercial actitivies. Of course, ASUS has lots of interesting motherboards. Perhaps, the possibility of losing the leadership will urge the company to make more. But those BIOS issues (and resulting criticism from users posted on a number of forums, including ASUS technical support forum) stirred up rumors about quality of ASUS products. Obviously, Gigabyte managed to use that to its advantage. And also assumed the image of the most "generous" mid-end motherboard maker -- mainly thanks to promoting CPU VRM power-saving schemes which gradually found their way to inexpensive boards as well. Today, you can find thicker voltage and ground planes, along with other Durable series attributes, in some $60-$70 motherboards. But, of course, you don't buy motherboards because of a CPU VRM alone. So another key element of company's strategy is equipping their products with as many slots, features and peripheral interfaces as possible. Models based on AMD integrated chipsets are quite exemplary, because the chipsets are rich-featured, and it's not that hard to make a decent motherboard on one of them. Let's see if GA-890GPA-UD3H confirms that.
This time company engineers installed just two graphics slots, but they provided double space in-between. This is really convenient, if you want a CrossFire configuration based on a couple of dual-slot graphics cards with reference cooling. Such cards are often the best choice, because they are cheaper than those with custom coolers, but they still drive hot air outside the enclosure. As a result you can use fewer auxillary coolers, even if you're building a powerful gaming station. And fewer coolers means quieter operation.
It's nice that Gigabyte makes neat edges around peripheral connectors. This is as convenient as those readable inscriptions.
On the downside, you still have to use a jumper cap or a metal item to clear CMOS. Come on, it's high time you installed a button. This would've reduced the risk of accidentally damaging such delicate electronics with an electrostatic charge.
Seems like everything's here: three primary video outputs, six USB ports (including two USB 3.0). There's even FireWire -- one interface that gets removed first while they add USB 3.0 features, because it needs its own controller. But wait, where's eSATA? Even an older version? Aside from SATA 6Gb/s, GA-890GPA-UD3H features a controller for two SATA 3Gb/s ports. They could've placed one on the back panel. This would've come in handy independently on USB 3.0 prospects. Those who already have eSATA devices will have to look for a back-panel bracket themselves.
Gigabyte has been using similar cooling systems of late. Which is good, because the design they use -- with two heatsinks connected by a heatpipe -- is optimal in terms on compabilitity with CPU coolers. Whether or not the company has heard our complaints about those plaques covering heatsinks almost entirely -- and not helping convection -- but this motherboard doesn't have one on the second heatsink. This is definitely good. The thing is that GA-890GPA-UD3H has full-fledged means to overclock the integrated graphics core. Meaning that additional cooling may come in handy. As for the typical mode, heatsinks naturally don't get too warm.
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