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AMD 880G Mobo Roundup - New Mainstream Integrated Graphics

By Vincent Chang - 27 May 2010

Gigabyte GA-880GMA-UD2H

Gigabyte GA-880GMA-UD2H

We have seen Gigabyte's ability to get the most out of limited PCB space and with this board, the vendor does it again. There are five SATA 6Gbps ports onboard, with eSATA present at the rear. Then there's the IDE and floppy drive support, and FireWire too. And USB 3.0 ports too. All this on a microATX board. It does make for a rather crowded looking board, with barely any wasted PCB, but fortunately, layout issues are kept to a minimum. From what we can see, a dual-slot graphics card may lead to one SATA port being unusable, but that's the only compromise. Things may get a bit messy, especially if you're not into proper cable management, but there shouldn't be any other layout conflicts.

The integrated Radeon HD 4250 on the Gigabyte runs at the standard 560MHz, and there's no SidePort memory, a decision that should keep this board price competitive. It will mean that this board will suffer slightly in gaming applications but Gigabyte is probably betting that the compromise is worth it. Users can however choose to increase the clock speeds manually in the BIOS, but there's of course no way of adding SidePort memory. Hybrid CrossFireX is supported but no discrete CrossFireX is available. Though there seems to be dual PCI Express Graphics (PEG) slots, only one is a true PCIe 2.0 x16 slot, while the other suppots speeds up to x4 only. Since the PCIe lanes for both slots originate from the same internal interface from the chipset, plugging in an x4 card into the PCIe 2.0 x4 slot would mean crippling the neighbouring PCIe 2.0 x16 slot to also run at an x4 mode. At those speeds as well as the close physical placement of the slots, it doesn't really warrant CrossFireX support.

This Gigabyte 880G board is a microATX version that comes with a single PEG slot which has proper full PCIe 2.0 x16 interface and supports Hybrid Graphics. Take note that the second PEG-like slot is only a PCIe 2.0 x4 interface. Since both slots share the same interface, plugging in an x4 card in the x4 slot will downgrade the PCIe x16 slot to operate at x4 mode too. As such, discrete CrossFireX is not supported.

Despite its shrunken form factor, Gigabyte has managed to squeeze in USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports, S/PDIF outputs, LAN and FireWire ports among others. Don't forget the three different integrated graphics outputs.

The five SATA ports here are all SATA 6Gbps versions, though we would have preferred them to be angled at the edge of the board and not facing upwards. The rightmost port here may get in the way of a dual-slot graphics card.

Again, Gigabyte has managed to keep support for floppy and IDE despite the limited PCB space. It could get a bit cramped here in terms of cables if you really use them all.

There's only one PCIe 2.0 x16 slot for your discrete graphics needs, but then again you weren't thinking of running a proper CrossFireX configuration on such a small motherboard, were you?

This board runs cool enough that Gigabyte has opted not to add any heatsinks here as is generally the case. These also don't appear to be the more costly ferrite chokes found on higher-end Gigabyte boards.

A relatively clean area around the CPU socket.

The board itself appears to run cool enough not to require a heatsink where the power components are clustered and it looks like another clean, sensible microATX design and layout. The mainstream nature of this board is evident from the lack of more expensive components (solid capacitors however are standard) and Gigabyte's practice of having double the amount of copper in the PCB (part of its Ultra Durable feature) is still present. Overall, it looks like a very decent AMD 880G board, albeit lacking some frills.

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