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Gigabyte MA770T-UD3P Motherboard

Classic mid-end with a solid PSU

November 25, 2009



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Features



The motherboard is based on the AMD 770 chipset (AMD 770 Northbridge and SB700/710 Southbridge). There are six SATA/300 ports (drives connected to these ports can form RAID 0, 1, and 0+1). Just like all motherboards with modern chipsets for the AMD platform, this model has a single chipset-based IDE channel supporting two PATA/133 drives.

The board also has the following additional controllers:

  • Integrated audio (8-channel HDA codec Realtek ALC888), optical and digital S/PDIF outputs on the rear panel.
  • Gigabit Ethernet (Realtek 8111C, PCIEx1) 10/100/1000 Mbps.
  • FireWire (TI TSB43AB23, PCI) supporting three IEEE 1394a ports: two of them are installed on the rear panel as 4- and 6-pin connectors.
  • System monitoring (ITE IT8720F), fully automatic fan speed control in BIOS (CPU and system fans) depending of their sensor readings. Manual control is available via Easy Tune. Speed control is available for 3- and 4-pin fans.

We assessed the analog output quality of the integrated audio system in the 16 bit 44 kHz mode using RightMark Audio Analyzer 6.2.3 and the ESI Juli@ sound card.


Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB: +0.01, -0.03 Excellent
Noise level, dB (A): -89.1 Good
Dynamic range, dB (A): 89.1 Good
THD, %: 0.0015 Excellent
Harmonic distortion + noise, dB(A): -82.7 Good
Intermodulation distortion + Noise, %: 0.0099 Very good
Channel crosstalk, dB: -89.1 Excellent
IMD at 10 kHz, %: 0.010 Very good

General performance: Very good.

Pay attention to a very low level of distortions and acceptable dynamic range. Noise level can be lower only when analog circuits and the codec itself are brought out to a separate card, which happens only with expensive motherboards. So this motherboard has praiseworthy integrated audio.

Overclocking

Testbeds:

  • CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 810
  • RAM: 2 x Apacer DDR3-1333 CL9 (4 ++, DDR3-1333, 9-9-9-24-1T)
  • HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 (SATA, 7200rpm)
  • Graphics card: ATI RADEON HD4850, 512 MB GDDR3
  • PSU: AcBel ATX-550CA-AB8FB
  • OS: Windows Vista SP1 64-bit, Catalyst 9.2, latest chipset drivers

Benchmarks:

  • 7-Zip 4.65 x64
  • WinRAR 3.80
  • XviD 1.2.1
  • x264 r1129 x64
  • FarCry 2 (Ranch Medium)
  • Crysis (DX10, HOCbenchmark, VGA test, built-in demo)
  • Devil May Cry 4 (built-in benchmark)
  • World in Conlict (built-in benchmark)

To assess performance we measure time required to archive a 297MB set of 277 files of various types and convert a 636MB MPEG2 video using XviD and x264. We also measure frames per second in game demos. In FarCry 2 we run tests in 4 modes: low, medium, high and very high quality. The first three modes imply the aforesaid quality level, 1280x720 resolution, DX9 rendering, High Performance. The last mode implies: 1680x1050 resolution, Very High setting for both graphics and system, DX10 rendering. In Crysis we also use 4 modes at 1024x768 and 1280x1024 and run tests at Low and High quality in each mode. In Devil May Cry 4 we run two tests: 1280x720 (High DX9) and 1680x1050 (Super High DX10). In World in Conlict we run test in 4 modes: 1280x720 Low, 1280x720 Medium, 1680x1050 High, 1680x1050 Very High.

It's obvious which modes should be used with integrated graphics and which, with discrete graphics. Note that if a motherboard has no integrated graphics, performance tests are only used to check for serious layout or BIOS flaws and can be reduced to minimum. Vice versa, performance tests are indicative for motherboards with integrated graphics. And if a certain motherboard review lacks certain details, we might add respective test results to make up for it.

To assess capabilities of a motherboard and its BIOS, we overclock test CPUs (which ones depends on board's market segment) to a stable maximum with the help of Zalman CNPS9700 AM2 and Cooler Master Hyper Z600 coolers. At that we use all motherboard features, like CPU core voltage adjustments and, if needed, bus multiplier and clock adjustments (Hyper-Transport, CPU NB, etc.) For RAM we select a clock rate typical for this class of modules by adjusting its multiplier, or clock rate needed to maximize CPU core clock rate. The stability of an overclocked machine is assessed in Windows Vista with the help of AMD OverDrive stability test (all tests are run for 5 minutes). Note that since overclocking potential somewhat varies from one board to another, we are not focused on finding board's exact overclocking potential accurate to 1MHz. We just try to find out if a board hampers in CPU overclocking (due to insufficient voltage stabilizer power, etc.) and see how it performs in atypical modes, including automatic BIOS recovery in cases of overclocking issues (not requiring CMOS reset) and such.

Power consumption is assessed in the light mode (with text editor running) and in the heavy mode (FarCry 2, high quality, 1280x720). At that we enable processor's standard power-saving features. Also, if a board has proprietary power-saving features, we examine their efficiency separately.


BIOS overclocking settings Availability Notes (adjustment range)
Memory timings +  
Memory frequency + DDR3-800 to DDR3-1600
HT bus frequency (multiplier) +  
CPU reference frequency + 200-500 MHz
CPU multiplier + Cores and CPU NB
Advanced Clock Calibration + Auto, -12% to +12% (each core)
Core voltage + -0.600 to +0.600 V (CPU)
-0.600 to +0.600 V (CPU NB)
Memory voltage + 1.6-2.4 V, DRAM VTT (0.9-1.3 V)
Chipset voltage + 1.1-1.8 V (Northbridge)
1.20-1.58 V (Southbridge, HT bus)
1.8-2.2 V (PCIE bus)

CPU voltage adjustment range and some other BIOS options depend on the given processor. We publish results for the Phenom II X4 810 processor and the BIOS F4. As usual with Gigabyte motherboards, you can open full settings by pressing Ctrl+F1 in the main BIOS Setup menu. But overclocking settings, including voltage controls, are open by default. Hidden options include really rare settings, for example, an option to limit the number of PCI Express lanes for each port.

The menu provides a sufficient set of overclocking settings. All frequently used options are grouped in one section. It was a nasty surprise that automatic restoration of default settings was unstable. Gigabyte motherboard have had no problems with this feature for a long time. Besides, there is no option to save user profiles, which creates certain discomfort, as you had to clear CMOS with a jumper and then restore all options manually. Thus, you'd better overclock your processor gradually here, at least initialization will be stable.

There is a sufficient choice of necessary parameters for typical overclocking experiments, it's even advanced for such an inexpensive motherboard. Only the core voltage step is too big (25 mV).

  CPU Clock, MHz Reference clock (multiplier), MHz Core/CPU NB voltage (according to BIOS), V CPU NB frequency (multiplier), MHz HT bus frequency (multiplier), MHz Memory frequency, MHz Notes
Phenom II X3 720 (2.8 GHz) 3800 200 (x19) 1.475/1.30 2400 (x12) 2000 (x10) DDR3-1333 Increased multipliers (CPU core, CPU NB)
Phenom II X4 810 (2.6 GHz) 3822 294 (x13) 1.475/1.30 2352 (x8) 2058 (x7) DDR3-1176 Increased reference clock, reduced HT bus multiplier

Excellent results! The motherboard designed for DDR2 disappointed us with unstable operation with the reference clock above 255-260 MHz. In this case the motherboard can do better (overclocking results are limited by a CPU in combination with a 64-bit operating system). Overclocking a CPU with an unlocked multiplier was also successful, only champion motherboards allowed higher CPU NB frequencies.

Perhaps, overclocking capacity is not exclusive of the DDR3 modification. We have information that even the motherboard for DDR2 overclocks better with updated BIOS versions.

Performance and power saving

We decided to compare our motherboard under review with ASRock M3A770DE based on AMD 770.


Test ASRock M3A770DE Gigabyte MA770T-UD3P
Archiving with 7-Zip, min:sec 2:28 2:27
x264 encoding, min:sec 1:27 1:26
Crysis (High@1280x1024), fps 42 42
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear Sky (DX10-Full Dynamic Lighting @1680x1050), fps 39 39
World in Conflict (Very High@1680x1050), fps 29 29

Results are apparently identical.

Enclosure power consumption

The power consumption was measured by the wattmeter integrated into the PSU.


Phenom II X4 810 + RADEON HD4850 ASRock M3A770DE Gigabyte MA770T-UD3P
Text editing, W (Cool'n'Quiet ON) 72 (IES Off)
67 (IES On)
66 (EES Off)
66 (EES On)
Text editing, W (Cool'n'Quiet OFF) 84 86
Playing FarCry, W 132-168 134-182

Even though this Gigabyte motherboard allows to change the number of active phases in the voltage regulator, this option in Easy Energy Saver had no effect on the registered power consumption level. Nevertheless, it did not stop the motherboard from demonstrating good power saving in the idle mode versus the ASRock model. However, Gigabyte MA770T-UD3P still has a big appetite under load.

Conclusions

Thorough approach to the power system design has expectedly brought overclocking success. On the whole, we are glad that Gigabyte engineers added all Ultra Durable features to this inexpensive motherboard. Two years ago we couldn't assume that a motherboard of such level can have a 10-phase power circuit. This feature was exclusively used in the most expensive motherboards from ASUS at that time (and even those motherboards had worse power circuits - for example, there were no ferrite chokes). On the other hand, this option does not come free of charge. So in order to keep the price to an acceptable level, engineers had to save on something else. But it does not stick out (only the lack of eSATA ports, although it affects the overall price in the minimal degree).


The motherboard provided by the manufacturer.

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