Today we are going to take a look at M61PME-S2P, a new motherboard from Gigabyte for socket AM2 and AM2+ processors from AMD, based on GeForce 6100 chipset with nForce 430 south bridge.
This motherboard has brought some surprises. First, the fact that the chipset used it is very old: we reviewed ECS C51G-M754, a socket 754 motherboard based on this chipset more than three years ago. And three years is a lifetime in computer hardware terms.
The next surprise was when we look at the board carefully: near the CPU socket we could see an "AM2+" marking. Even though AM2+ processors (and even AM3 under certain conditions) are compatible with AM2 motherboards, that does not mean that this board is really an AM2+ model. The chipset determines if the board is AM2 or AM2+ (or even AM3) and GeForce 6100 is an AM2 one. Thus, this writing seems to be misleading advertising, trying to make the consumer to believe that the product is something that it is really not.
The only explanation for a major manufacturer to launch a motherboard based on a near obsolete chipset is the buying a large quantity of these chips for a very low price. Of course, not all customers need the maximum performance. Sometimes a computer doesn't require a lot of performance and the lowest cost of acquisition (picture a large store offering several in-store price consulting terminals for their customers, for example), and there is certainly a market for equipment that would be too basic for the domestic consumer. A pity this is not the case with M61PME-S2P, because many current motherboards (some of them offering a real socket AM2+) can be found in stores for similar ou even lower prices.
You can install a Sempron, an Athlon X2, a Phenom or even a Phenom II CPU on this motherboard, but in the case of AM2+ processors using HyperTransport 3.0 bus, they will work at a lower HT speed (4,000 MB/s transfer rate offered by HyperTransport 2.0), will not use DDPM technology and the memory controller will work at a lower clock rate (1.6 GHz). To learn more about these limitations, please read our HyperTransport Bus Used By AMD Processors and Inside AMD K10 architecture tutorials.
Another problem with GeForce 6100 chipset is that its on-board video is obsolete, with a DirectX 9.0 (Shader 2.0) graphics engine.
Let's take a closer look at M61PME-S2P main features.
click to enlarge
Figure 1: M61PME-S2P motherboard.