The Gigabyte GA-880GMA-UD2H follows a traditional formula for the type of highly integrated Micro-ATX motherboard that can sit at the heart of a relatively cheap PC. This Micro-ATX design uses an AMD 880G + SB850 chipset to support a Socket AM3 CPU from AMD with a maximum TDP of 140W.
This gives you a huge choice of CPUs, from a £30 Sempron through a dual core Athlon II at £60 and all the way up to a quad core Phenom II X4 or hexa-core Phenom II X6 priced around £200. Once you’ve selected your CPU you can install up to 16GB of DDR3-1800MHz memory in four DIMMs or, more realistically, you can buy 4GB of RAM in two modules.
The next major decision about the build of your new PC centres around the graphics. The 880G chipset includes an integrated Radeon HD 4250 graphics core which is a lower clocked version of the core in the high-end 890GX chipset. If you fancy playing games on your new PC you are best advised to install a graphics card in the PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot.
Gigabyte has provided another option, as the GA-880GMA-UD2H has dual graphics slots that support CrossFire, however the Micro-ATX form factor means that there isn’t much space for the dual slots, with the result that they are positioned close together. Try as we might we are unable to think of two single slot AMD Radeon graphics cards that we’d choose to install in CrossFire when a single HD 5770 is available for £100.
This inclusion of dual graphics slots would be a strange choice in any circumstances but it is especially true of the GA-880GMA-UD2H as the layout of the board looks rather crowded. In part this is due to Gigabyte’s modus operandi of packing in an enormous array of features, both legacy and cutting edge. The result is that you can connect pretty much any device under the sun to this Gigabyte motherboard. Internally there are five native SATA 3.0 connectors on the SB850 Southbridge with the sixth connection used as an eSATA port on the I/O panel. In addition to the CrossFire graphics slots there is a PCI Express x1 slot and a PCI slot, so upgrades should be a breeze.
The I/O panel is fairly crowded as space has had to be found for the HDMI, DVI-D and VGA graphics outputs from the Radeon HD 4250 graphics. In addition to the audio connectors and Gigabit Ethernet there is a legacy PS/2 connector, the eSATA port already mentioned, one Firewire port, four USB 2.0 ports and two USB 3.0 ports. At the foot of the board there are headers for another six USB 2.0 ports and one Firewire port, so while it’s true that the GA-880GMA-UD2H looks very busy and slightly messy, it is impressive how many features are included on this model.
The first task with the Gigabyte was to update the BIOS from a USB flash drive and after that we used the CPU unlock and CPU core control features in the BIOS to unlock the fourth core of our Phenom II X3 720 processor.
Once we’d done that we installed the Gigabyte Easy Tune 6 utility and overclocked the CPU within Windows by adjusting the core voltage and clock multiplier to raise the CPU speed from 2.8GHz to 3.7GHz. Although the software delivers decent results it isn’t as user-friendly as we might hope, but if you persevere you’ll gain some useful extra clock speed.