iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Gigabyte MA790GP-UD4H Motherboard

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The motherboard is based on the AMD 790GX chipset (AMD 790GX Northbridge + SB750 Southbridge). It has six SATA/300 ports (RAID 0, 1, 0+1, and 5). 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 ALC889A), optical S/PDIF Out on the rear panel, additional S/PDIF In/Out on the bracket to be bought separately.
  • Gigabit Ethernet (Realtek 8111C, PCIEx1) 10/100/1000 Mbps.
  • FireWire (TI TSB43AB23, PCI) supporting three IEEE 1394a ports: one on the rear panel and two ports on a bracket.
  • System monitoring (ITE IT8718), fully automatic fan speed control in BIOS (CPU and two system fans) depending of their sensor readings. Manual control is available via Easy Tune. Speed control is available for 3- and 4-pin fans, a rare feature these days.

The integrated audio quality was tested in 16 bit 44 kHz mode using RightMark Audio Analyzer 6.2.2 and the ESI Juli@ sound card:

Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB +0.02, -0.15 Very good
Noise level, dB (A) -76.6 Average
Dynamic range, dB (A) 76.5 Average
THD, % 0.018 Good
Harmonic distortion + noise, dB(A) -70.5 Average
Intermodulation distortion + Noise, % 0.045 Good
Channel crosstalk, dB -81.0 Very good
IMD at 10 kHz, % 0.048 Good

General performance: Good.

The implementation of analog outputs in the DS4H had drawn criticism and, as we can see, this component migrated to the UD4H as it was. The problem is in a relatively low signal level, so we have to increase the usual sound volume in our tests. There wouldn't have been any problems about it, but for the fact that the noise level is quite typical, so it grows in this case. As a result, our tests register mediocre dynamic range, especially for this codec. Many users are not interested in integrated audio quality in such a motherboard, of course. Especially analog outputs, as you can get the sound in two more ways without installing a sound card: via S/PDIF and HDMI. But we always want a motherboard to use full potential of its installed components.



  • CPU: AMD Phenom X4 9550
  • RAM: 2 x Corsair CM2X1024-6400C4 (2GB, DDR2-800, 5-5-5-15-2T)
  • HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 (SATA, 7200rpm)
  • Graphics card: ATI Radeon HD3870, 512 MB GDDR4
  • PSU: AcBel ATX-550CA-AB8FB
  • OS: Windows XP SP2 32-bit, Catalyst 8.5, latest chipset drivers


  • WinRAR 3.70
  • XviD 1.0.2 (29.08.2004)
  • Doom 3 (v1.0.1282)
  • FarCry (v1.1.3.1337)
  • Unreal Tournament 2004 (v3339)

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; we also measure frames per second in game demos run at 640x480, 800x600, 1024x768 and 1600x1200 (DOOM3 - built-in demo, FarCry - Regulator second run, Unreal Tournament 2004 - ONS_dria). 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 cooler. At that we use all motherboard features, like CPU core voltage adjustments and, if needed, bus multiplier and clock adjustments. At that, if changing a certain option (e.g. reducing Hyper-Transport clock) doesn't improve overclocking, the multiplier is left default. For RAM we select a clock rate typical for this class of modules by adjusting its multiplier. The stability of an overclocked machine is assessed in Windows XP 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.

BIOS overclocking settings Availability Notes (adjustment range)
Memory timings +  
Memory frequency +  
HT bus frequency (multiplier) +  
CPU reference frequency + 200-600 MHz
CPU multiplier + Cores and CPU NB
Integrated graphics core frequency + 200-2000 MHz at 1MHz steps, SidePort video memory (333-667, which corresponds to DDR3-667 - DDR3-1333 by default)
SidePort video memory frequency + 333-667 MHz, which corresponds to DDR3-667 - DDR3-1333 (by default)
Core voltage + -0.600 - +0.600 V (CPU)
-0.600 - +0.600 V (CPU NB)
Memory voltage + +0.05-0.55V
Chipset voltage + -0.200 - +0.300 V at 0.025 V steps (Northbridge)
+0.1-0.3 V at 0.1 V steps (Southbridge)
+0.1-0.3 V at 0.1 V steps (SidePort video buffer)

(*) Adjustment range of CPU voltage as well as some other parameters in BIOS depend on a given processor. We publish results for our Phenom X4 9550. We used BIOS F1 dated 31/12/2008. As usual with Gigabyte motherboards, you can open full settings by pressing Ctrl+F1 in the main BIOS Setup menu.

BIOS settings are similar to those of the DS4H. There has been added an option to reduce CPU voltage below the nominal values, which is used by people who appreciate low-noise systems. They are ready to sacrifice frequency to significantly reduced voltage in order to reach minimal heat release. However, this option also appeared in latest BIOS versions of the MA790GP-DS4H.

CPU CPU Clock, MHz Reference clock (multiplier), MHz Core voltage (according to BIOS), V HT bus frequency (multiplier), MHz Notes
Phenom X4 9550 (2.2 GHz) 2695 245 (x11) 1.28 2205 (x9) Increased reference clock
2915 265 (x11) 1.38 2120 (x8) CPU NB multiplier decreased
Phenom X4 9850 Black Edition (2.5 GHz) 3000 200 (x15) 1.50 2000 (x10) Increased multiplier (ACC OFF)
3248 203 (x16) 1.52 2030 (x10) Increased multiplier (ACC +2%)
Phenom II X3 720 (2.8 GHz) 3755 203 (x18.5) 1.50 2639 (x13) Increased multiplier (ACC OFF)
Phenom II X4 810 (2.6 GHz) 3770 290 (x13) 1.47 2613 (x9) Increased reference clock and reduced CPU NB multiplier

The new model has a minimal advantage over the DS4H (with Phenom processors), which can be discarded as a measurement error. What concerns overclocking Phenom II, we already mentioned that successful overclocking depends little on a given motherboard. Models from different price ranges demonstrated the same overclocking level even with Phenom II X4 940 because of its radically reduced power consumption. What concerns slower processors with lower appetites, we can assume that it will all depend on availability of necessary options in BIOS (adjustable frequencies and multipliers), while circuitry (VRM designs, chipset cooling systems) will take a backseat. Read the details about overclocking Phenom II X3 720 and X4 810 in this article.

We managed to overclock the integrated graphics core to 1000 MHz, voltage raised by only 0.150 V. It's the best result among motherboards with AMD 790GX we've ever tested. And the necessity to increase voltage by such a small degree can be partially explained with Ultra Durable innovations. Temperature of the chipset heatsink did not exceed 40°C under long load. Some of the praise may also go to the good design of the cooling system on this motherboard, which will be ventilated regardless of the orientation of a CPU cooler.

Performance and power saving

We decided to compare our motherboard under review with Gigabyte MA790GP-DS4H.

Test Int. graphics Discrete graphics
Gigabyte MA790GP-DS4H Gigabyte MA790GP-UD4H Gigabyte MA790GP-DS4H Gigabyte MA790GP-UD4H
Archiving with WinRAR, min:sec 1:35 1:34 1:35 1:33
MPEG4 (XviD) encoding, min:sec 4:40 4:36 4:39 4:39
Unreal Tournament 2004 (Medium, 800x600), fps 54.0 55.6 59.0 59.1
Unreal Tournament 2004 (High, 1024x768), fps 49.2 50.8 59.2 58.8
Unreal Tournament 2004 (Highest, 1600x1200), fps 29.8 31.1 59.6 59.4
FarCry (Medium, 800x600), fps 109.7 108.4 136.3 135.3
FarCry (High, 1024x768), fps 76.5 78.4 137.3 135.8
FarCry (Highest, 1600x1200), fps 35.1 36.0 137.9 135.2
DOOM III (Medium, 800x600), fps 70.8 73.5 157.2 157.7
DOOM III (High, 1024x768), fps 50.6 52.6 160.9 161.4
DOOM III (Highest, 1600x1200), fps 24.5 25.8 158.1 156.0

Slightly higher power consumption of this motherboard in the idle mode is compensated by power saving under load. That's apparently the effect of circuitry improvements, which promise higher energy efficiency as operating currents grow.

Power consumption (entire system unit)

Phenom X4 9550 (Cool'n'Quiet OFF) Int. graphics Discrete graphics
Gigabyte MA790GP-DS4H Gigabyte MA790GP-UD4H Gigabyte MA790GP-DS4H Gigabyte MA790GP-UD4H
Text editing, W 43 48 71 76
Playing FarCry, W 76-96 72-84 100-124 100-112

Slightly higher power consumption of this motherboard in the idle mode is compensated by power saving under load. That's apparently the effect of circuitry improvements, which promise higher energy efficiency as operating currents grow.


The previous Gigabyte series of motherboards with AMD 700 chipsets was quite successful and can be recommended both for Phenom and Phenom II processors (with the updated BIOS version, all our tests of the new processors were performed with Gigabyte MA790GP-DS4H). But we can only welcome thicker power and ground layers in the PCB of the new model. What concerns other differences between this motherboard and its predecessor, they will hardly affect your choice, because they are insignificant, and people will probably prefer a newer model, provided it has a similar price tag.

The motherboard provided by the manufacturer.

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