Gigabyte launches its AMD 800-series boards

Expects to ship over five million USB 3.0 boards by end of 2010

THE 800-SERIES CHIPSETS from AMD have by now been officially launched and it looks like AMD has managed to drum up some good support from the motherboard manufacturers, at least if the wealth of new boards available is anything to go by. We attended a press conference at Gigabyte earlier today, and although Gigabyte’s line-up isn’t quite as extensive as Asus’, the company still seems to have a pretty solid range of boards.

In total Gigabyte announced nine new models, although only a couple of them were on display at the press event. As with yesterday’s event we’re looking at 880G, 870, 890GX and 890FX based boards.

The first board we’ll start with is the GA-880GM-UD2H which is the most basic model on offer from Gigabyte. It’s a mATX board with a fairly standard set of features in this category. You do get both DVI and HDMI ports and for an entry level model it’s impressive to see both eSATA and FireWire included. Gigabyte is using the SB710 rather than the new SB850 on this board and as such all of the SATA ports – five internal plus the eSATA port – support only SATA2 3Gbps.

The next model up is the GA-880GM-USB3, which as the name implies adds USB 3.0 support. Although this board has some slight design changes compared to the GA-880GM-UD2H, it offers the same functionality.

The last of the mATX boards is the GA-880GMA-UD2H, which is Gigabyte’s fully featured mATX board. This board has a slightly unusual design by having two x16 PCI Express slots right next to each other, although the second slot only offers four lanes worth of bandwidth. This model not only features USB 3.0, but also the SB850 which adds SATA3 6Gbps support. It also has a special USB port for Gigabyte’s new On/Off Charge feature that we reported about a couple of days ago. The rest of the features are again similar to the previous two models with some changes to the general component layout.

As with Asus, Gigabyte also has a standard ATX board based on the 880G chipset called the GA-880GA-UD3H, although there’s also a model called GA-880G-UD3H. Presumably the difference between the two models is that the non-A version lacks USB 3.0 support, but as the product page isn’t up yet, we don’t actually have any details on this board. The GA-880GA-UD3H has a few extra features over the mATX boards, such a pair of additional SATA2 3Gbps ports in addition to the six native SATA3 6Gbps ports. Oddly enough this board doesn’t offer eSATA, but appears otherwise to offer the same connectivity as the GA-880GMA-UD2H. It also features a second PCI Express x16 slot, but again this is limited to four lanes worth of bandwidth.

Gigabyte has only a single 870 board, although just as with Asus, this appears to be the sweet spot, as Gigabyte has kitted out the GA-870A-UD3 with just about everything you could possibly want or need. Around the back this board has two USB 3.0 ports, two eSATA ports, two FireWire ports and a pair of Gigabit Ethernet jacks. Beyond the six SATA3 6Gbps ports native to the SB850 Gigabyte has also added two additional SATA2 3Gbps ports. You also get a second x16 slot, but again, this is limited to four lanes worth of bandwidth. The power design on this board features 8+2 phases and for anyone who’s not looking at running CrossFire, this is the board to go for.

Gigabyte’s 890GX board is the GA-890GPA-UD3H which is also a standard ATX board. This model has already been on sale for a little while now along with all 890GX boards, although this is the first model in Gigabyte’s line-up to support CrossFireX, albeit in dual x8 mode.

If you’re a serious gamer and favour AMD processors, then you really want to take a closer look at Gigabyte’s 890FX boards. The first model is the GA-890FXA-UD5, which features the same rear ports as the GA-870A-UD3, although the board layout is quite different. This board has four x16 slots, although the fourth slot isn’t operational unless you switch the first slot to x8 mode and the third slot only operates at x4 mode. This board also gets a couple of extra SATA2 3Gbps ports in addition to the six SATA3 6Gbps ports.

The pièce de résistance is the GA-890FXA-UD7, which we mentioned a week ago, and this is Gigabyte’s first XL-ATX board. It supports four-way CorssFireX and it has an additional two x16 PCI Express slots that operate at x4 mode. Again, this model carries the same I/O port layout as the GA-870A-UD3 and most of its features are very similar to the GA-890FXA-UD5 with the exception of the slot layout and the addition of a POST 80 debug LED and a waterblock fitted to the chipset heatsink. The extended size of this board means that it won’t fit in most cases and if you intend to run this board in quad CrossFireX with dual-slot cards, then you’ll need a case with no less than nine rear slots, otherwise it should fit in cases with eight rear slots. Gigabyte provides a list of tested cases that you can find here (PDF).

During the presentation Gigabyte was also saying that it’s expecting to sell in excess of five million USB 3.0 equipped motherboards by the end of this year and considering that Gigabyte has already sold well over one million boards with USB 3.0, this shouldn’t be too hard for it to achieve. Gigabyte’s statistics are also showing Europe as the biggest market for USB 3.0 motherboards with Asia and North America having about equal shares.

Gigabyte was also keen to point out the fact that during its On/Off Charge demo during the presentation, the iPad used for testing pulled 1.71A and as such this was better than the result Asus delivered yesterday. However, and this might not be of great importance, but what we found interesting was that Gigabyte pointed out that it has re-designed its boards to offer wider lanes for the USB power and this in combination with a special type of dedicated fuse for each of the USB ports was said to reduce the voltage drop for the USB ports. This is apparently something of an issue when it comes to adding support for charging or powering high-power devices directly from a single USB port.S|A

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