Gigabyte – GA-785GMT-USB3 review

Micro ATX AMD motherboard with USB 3.0
Photo of Gigabyte – GA-785GMT-USB3
£71

The Gigabyte GA-785GMT-USB3 is a Micro ATX motherboard that measures 243 x 243mm, yet despite its small size the board packs an impressive list of features.

Micro ATX motherboards tend to put an emphasis on the hardware features that come courtesy of the chipset and in that respect the GA-785GMT-USB3 follows a well-trodden path. The AMD 785G+SB710 chipset includes integrated HD 4200 graphics with HDMI, DVI-D and VGA outputs and if you prefer to use a dedicated graphics card, the Gigabyte also has a PCI Express 2.0 expansion slot. Gamers have no need to fear that their pleasure will be limited.

The impressive aspect of the 785GMT-USB3 is the way that Gigabyte has enhanced the basic features and has refused to let itself be restricted by the size of the Micro ATX form factor. This means that you get proper power regulation hardware that supports Socket AM3 processors with a maximum TDP of 140W where lesser motherboards can only manage models up to 125W or even 95W.

It’s a similar story with DDR3 memory support as the 785GMT-USB3 has four memory slots – some Micro ATX designs only have two – that allow you to install up to 16GB with a speed of 1666MHz, or 1800MHz if you overclock.

This attention to the list of features has been taken to surprising lengths, as the 785GMT-USB3 delivers an ATA133 connector which is handy for legacy optical drives and you also get a floppy connector. While we no longer feel the need for a floppy drive in a modern PC, we assume that the cost of this feature is quite low and doubtless some PC builders will welcome having the option.

On the board the expansion slots consist of the graphics slot, one PCI Express x1 slot and two PCI slots. The SB710 Southbridge can support six SATA 2.0 connectors, however Gigabyte has chosen to provide five internal connectors and one eSATA port on the I/O panel. The other ports and connectors include one PS/2 connector, the graphics outputs, full surround sound audio with digital optical, Gigabit LAN, the eSATA port, one Firewire and four USB ports.

Those four USB 2.0 ports may sound a bit lightweight and we generally like to see six USB 2.0 ports on the I/O panel, but this is where things get interesting. Two of the four ports are USB 2.0 and there are headers for four ports mid-board that take the total to six. It’s the other two ports on the I/O panel that drew our interest and, indeed, gave the motherboard its model code as they support the new and much faster USB 3.0 standard thanks to the NEC D720200F controller chip. That strikes us as a very useful feature that delivers a degree of future-proofing, as USB 3.0 peripherals have already started to come to market. The idea of super-fast USB flash drives appeals to us in a big way.

The colour scheme of the Gigabyte is understated and uses pale blue and cream, and the chipset coolers also look very stylish. The overall result is that the GA-785GMT-USB3 looks spacious and uncluttered despite the plethora of features. There are two fan headers, so once you connect the CPU cooler you only have one header remaining for a case fan.

As it happens we feel that a Micro ATX motherboard such as this is ideally suited for a small, quiet PC so we tested it with a low powered 1.8GHz Athlon II X2 260u CPU that has a tiny 25W TDP. In addition to using the integrated graphics, we also used a passively cooled ATi Radeon HD 5450 graphics card, an Intel X25-M SSD and 4GB of dual channel DDR3-1333 RAM running on 64-bit Windows 7 Professional. Performance was in line with other motherboards that use AMD chipsets, so it all comes down to your choice of CPU and other hardware.

With the HD 5450 graphics card installed we measured an idle power draw of 65W and 75W under load, which is only 10W-15W more than when we used the integrated graphics; a pretty impressive result.

Company: Gigabyte


Verdict
By the standards of other Micro ATX AMD motherboards this is a relatively expensive model, but we consider it to be excellent value for money as Gigabyte has packed in so many features. The feeling we are left with is that gamers may require a full-sized ATX motherboard but the vast majority of users will be perfectly well served by this small, cheap USB 3.0 Gigabyte board.