iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Gigabyte MA78G-DS3H Motherboard

Full ATX and rich features, including multi-GPU support.

August 28, 2008

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System monitoring (ITE IT8718F-S, BIOS Setup)

  • CPU and memory (1.8 V) voltage, +3.3 V, and +12 V
  • RPM of four fans
  • CPU and system temperatures (by the corresponding embedded sensors)
  • Smart FAN Control -- fully automatic speed control for CPU and system fans (manual control is available in Easy Tune utility) depending on readings of corresponding sensors. Two modes are supported -- changing voltage (for 3-pin and 4-pin fans) and more accurate speed control via the Power Management pin (4-pin coolers only). Fan speed was controlled during our tests to maintain CPU temperature at 42°C, system temperature was kept at 38°C.

Onboard ports, sockets, and connectors

  • Processor socket (Socket AM2, Socket AM2+ compatible, officially supports all Phenom, Athlon 64/X2/FX, and Sempron processors for Socket AM2 and Socket AM2+ with TDP up to 125 W, the list of products, tested for compatibility, is published on the web site)
  • 4 x DDR2 SDRAM DIMM (up to 16 GB of DDR2-400/533/667/800/1066, dual-channel mode in case of symmetrically filled slots, the list of compatible devices is published on the web site)
  • 2 x PCIEx16 2.0 (the first slot always works in x16 mode, the second slot is configured as x1 by default, but when the second graphics card is installed, it's automatically reconfigured to x4)
  • 3 x PCIEx1 2.0 (when the second graphics card is installed, only the first of them stays active)
  • 2 x PCI
  • Power connectors: standard ATX 2.2 (24 pins) and 4-pin ATX12V to power a processor
  • 1 x FDD
  • IDE (Parallel ATA) for two ATA133 devices -- "chipset-based"
  • 6 x chipset-based SATA-II (Serial ATA II) for six SATA300 devices, connected disks can form RAID 0, 1, and 0+1
  • 4 connectors for rear panel brackets with 8 x USB
  • 2 connectors for brackets with 2 additional FireWire ports
  • 1 x CD/DVD audio connector
  • Connectors for analog audio ins and outs on the front panel
  • Connector for a bracket with S/PDIF-In/Out
  • LPT-port connector
  • COM-port connector
  • Connector for a Chassis Intrusion sensor
  • Four fan headers supporting automatic speed control and monitoring. The 4-pin CPU fan header is backward compatible with 3-pin fans.

Back panel (left to right, blockwise)

Click for the isometric view.

  • PS/2 mouse and keyboard
  • VGA, DVI-D
  • HDMI
  • S/PDIF-Out (optical)
  • 2 x USB, 1 x FireWire 400 (6-pin)
  • 2 x USB, 1 x RJ-45 (Gigabit Ethernet)
  • 6 x Analog Audio (Center/Sub, Side-Out, Rear-Out, Line-In, Front-Out, Mic-In).

Package Contents

  • Package: a small box of the S-Series design in a light-gray palette
  • Documentation: User Manual in English and a brief installation guide in 25 languages
  • Cables: 2 x SATA, 1 x ATA66, 1 x FDD
  • Rear I/O shield
  • CD with drivers, Gigabyte utilities, and Norton Internet Security 2005 (antivirus and firewall).

The set of proprietary utilities includes standard tools to flash BIOS in Windows and search/download the latest BIOS version on the official web site (@BIOS), Face-Wizard to change the boot logo, I-COOL to manage power saving modes, C.O.M. (Corporate Online Manager) to monitor system parameter via LAN, and EasyTune5 Pro for local system monitoring, overclocking and managing SmartFan modes (you can choose fan speed from 0 to 100% and temperature thresholds).

Integrated controllers

  • HDA codec -- Realtek ALC889A, 7.1 channel, separate front panel HDA stereo output and S/PDIF In/Out
  • Gigabit LAN -- Realtek 8111C, 10/100/1000 Mbps
  • FireWire 400 -- Texas Instrument TSB43AB23, 3 ports.

The integrated audio quality was tested in 16 bit 44 kHz mode using RightMark Audio Analyzer 6.0.5 and the ESI Juli@ sound card:

Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB: +0.01, -0.04 Excellent
Noise level, dB (A): -89.5 Good
Dynamic range, dB (A): 89.6 Good
THD, %: 0.0042 Very good
THD + Noise, %: -82.0 Good
Intermodulation distortion + Noise, %: 0.0099 Very good
Channel crosstalk, dB: -90.5 Excellent
IMD at 10 kHz, %: 0.0100 Very good

General performance: Very good. It's a good result, and this codec sounds clear for an integrated solution. Don't forget about its support for DTS Connect. That is it can encode multichannel audio to transmit it via the digital output to play it on your home theater.

Proprietary technologies and peculiarities

  • Q-Flash -- flashing BIOS by pressing F8 at startup (BIOS image can be saved on a floppy, flash drive, or a hard drive (but only formatted to FAT/FAT16/FAT32); in this case you don't need to boot up to your operating system, which may be problematic in case your boot sector is damaged)
  • Dual BIOS -- loading a backup BIOS version in case of emergency from the second chip, where the current BIOS version is recorded automatically before updating the main BIOS version with Q-Flash or Windows @BIOS
  • Xpress Recovery 2 -- backing up hard drive partitions and restoring them using a built-in BIOS utility. The difference from the traditional utilities (like Acronis True Image) is that you don't have to boot up from a CD to restore data. But its functions and interface are certainly more unassuming: in particular, you can keep only one backup image.

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Article navigation:

Page 1: Introduction, design

Page 2: Interfaces, package, controllers

Page 3: BIOS, overclocking, performance

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