Introduction, Chipset, Layout, Features
Today we bring you Gigabyte's most feature-rich 8-series Micro-ATX motherboard; the 880GMA-UD2H. This motherboard supports the latest dual, quad and six core Phenom II processors, features SATA 3.0 6GB/s with RAID 0,1,5 and 10, four DDR3 memory slots, NEC's SuperSpeed USB 3.0, integrated ATI Radeon HD 4250 DirectX 10.1 graphics processor and HDMI/DVI digital outputs for Full HD 1080p Blu-ray playback with HDCP support, all in a compact 24.4cm x 24.4cm package.
This motherboard is based on the latest Dorado platform encompassing the 880G Northbridge and SB850 Southbridge (or optional SB810). In comparison to the previous 7-series integrated chipsets the 880G brings an updated RV620-core based ATI Radeon HD 4250 IGP (Integrated Graphics Processor) which supports DirectX 10.1, with 40 stream processors and packs the latest HD video decoder features for an IGP. The rest of the specifications are almost identical, except the inclusion of the new SB850 Southbridge boasting native support for SATA 3.0 6Gb/s and RAID abilities without the need for a third-party solution.
Whilst the changes in the Northbridge are minimal, the Southbridge makes up for it, gaining our attention soon after Gigabyte condensed this platform into a Micro ATX form factor - the small size makes for an interesting and quite capable office and home theatre PC motherboard.
In the box we find two SATA cables (one with an L-shaped connector), an IDE ribbon cable for up to two devices, a driver and software DVD, user manual and I/O panel. This is a pretty standard collection of parts, but a couple of extra SATA cables would have been nice.
Here's the AMD chipset diagram and motherboard specifications as provided by Gigabyte:
HDMI, DVI and VGA connectors are present thanks to the integrated Radeon HD4250 graphics processor, allowing for plug and play home theatre PC integration or desktop/office PC setup. The GA-880GMA-UD2H also includes gigabit Ethernet, one eSATA 3Gb/s port, optical S/PDIF output, six USB connectors on the back panel (the two blue ones being USB 3.0/2.0), six analogue 3.5mm outputs, one 6-circuit alpha FireWire 400 connector and a combo PS/2 port for either keyboard or mouse.
Moving on to the internal I/O connectors and design, the GA-880GMA-UD2H features two PCI-Express x16, one PCI-Express x1 and one PCI slot. The first PCI-Express X16 slot utilises a full x16 link, however the second slot does not. The second PCI-Express x16 slot is physically limited to x4 speeds. This is due to limitations in the 880G chipset, and the reason why this motherboard doesn't support CrossFireX in its full form (leaving it for high-end chipsets). It does support Hybrid CrossFireX that allows for another low-end card to be paired with the onboard video solution.
All in all, the board layout is as clean as you can get with a motherboard of this size and feature set. Gigabyte have made an effort to keep things organised and grouped together where they could, while maintaining clear access to power, SATA and external USB/Firewire connections.
Gigabyte has implemented a variety of technologies with the GA-880GMA-UD2H. The core features include:
Ultra Durable 3 Classic technology includes a 2oz copper design for a lower working temperature and a reduction of hotspots, better overclocking, better power efficiency allowing electric current to flow with less resistance and enabling more power efficient circuits with lower power loss and less heat generated.
SATA 3.0 and USB 3.0 - AMD's SB850 South bridge provides five native SATA 3.0 storage interfaces with superfast 6Gb/s speeds (great for SSD's) and RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 support without the need for a third party solution. USB 3.0 support is provided by NEC's D720200F1 controller due to no chipset offering a native USB 3.0 solution.
ATI Hybrid Graphics Technology allows both the AMD integrated graphics processor and a discrete graphics processor to work co-operatively to provide a boost in gaming performance. While we did try this with a spare Radeon HD 3650, this feature is limited to very low end cards like the HD5450/3400-series.
DualBIOS - This feature includes a second BIOS chip on the motherboard. If something goes wrong during a BIOS flash the system will automatically revert to a previous version stored on the backup BIOS chip without hesitation.
EasyTune6, @BIOS and Easy Energy Saver are Gigabyte's own software tools to help you make the most of your motherboards capabilities. EasyTune 6 gives Windows access to tweaking and overclocking with the touch of a few buttons, @BIOS allows for easy BIOS flashing from Windows and Gigabyte's Easy Energy Saver helps power saving fanatics to dynamically alter your systems performance while not in use to save those precious watts.
ON/OFF Charge Technology provides a set of white and red coloured USB pin headers that can easily be connected to your system's front USB 2.0 ports allowing extra amperage for your iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad to charge correctly. Unlike traditional design Gigabyte's ON/OFF technology will allow you devices to keep charging even while your PC is off or in a variety of standby modes.
Other Gigabyte features and technologies include Q-Flash, Xpress Install, Xpress Recovery2, Smart Recovery, Auto Green, Q-Share and Easy Energy Saver support. More details of these can be found on Gigabyte's website.
All original content copyright James Rolfe.
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