So far, Gigabyte has released five motherboard models based on the AMD A75 chipset for the new AMD A-Series of CPUs with integrated graphics chip (“APUs”), with prices ranging from USD 100 to USD 130. Let’s take a look at the A75M-UD2H, a microATX model that is sold for USD 110.
First, let’s talk about the main differences between the models offered by Gigabyte. The A75-D3H and A75-UD4H models use the ATX form factor, while the A75M-S2V, A75M-D2H, and A75M-UD2H models use the microATX. The main difference among the microATX models is the number of video output connectors available on the motherboard. The A75M-S2V has only VGA and DVI-D connectors; the A75M-D2H has VGA, DVI-D, and HDMI connectors; and the A75M-UD2H adds DisplayPort to the mix. Also, on the A75M-UD2H, one of the SATA-600 ports was routed to the motherboard rear panel, to become an eSATA-600 port, and it has eight USB 2.0 ports, while the other microATX models have six.
AMD released two chipsets for the new socket FM1 platform, the A55 and the A75. Both are single-chip solutions. The A55 is an entry-level solution, supporting six SATA-300 ports, 14 USB 2.0 ports, and four x1 PCI Express lanes. The A75 is a high-end solution, with six SATA-600 ports, four USB 3.0 ports (making it the first chipset with an integrated USB 3.0 controller), eSATA port multiplier (“FIS-based switching,” which allows you to install more than one hard drive to a single SATA port) and the other features found on the A55. Click here to learn more.
The Gigabyte A75M-UD2H comes with two PCI Express x16 slots, one PCI Express x1 slot, and one standard PCI slot.
The first PCI Express x16 slot is connected directly to the CPU integrated PCI Express controller, and it always works at x16 speed. The second PCI Express x16 slot is connected to four PCI Express lanes on the A75 chipset, so it always works at x4 speed.
If you install a dual-slot video card in the first PCI Express x16 slot, you will “kill” the PCI Express x1 slot. If you install a dual-slot video card in the second PCI Express x16 slot, you will need a case with more than four expansion slots (several SFF and HTPC cases have four or fewer expansion slots), and you may block the headers located at the motherboard edge.
[nextpage title=”Memory Support”]
AMD CPUs have an embedded memory controller, meaning that it is the processor, not the chipset, that defines what memory technologies and the maximum amount of memory you can have. The motherboard, however, may have a limitation as to how much memory can be installed.
The integrated memory controller from socket FM1 processors supports only DDR3 memories, up to 1,866 MHz under dual-channel architecture.
The Gigabyte A75M-UD2H has four memory sockets, and since DDR3 memory modules can now be found in capacities up to 8 GB, you can have up to 32 GB with this motherboard if you use four 8 GB modules.
The first and third sockets are white, while the second and fourth are blue. In order to achieve the maximum performance, you should install two or four memory modules in order to enable dual-channel architecture. When only two modules are used, install them in the white sockets.
[nextpage title=”On-Board Peripherals”]
The AMD A75 chipset is a single-chip solution and is also known as an FCH (Fusion Controller Hub). This chip supports six SATA-600 ports with RAID (0, 1, and 10). On this motherboard, one of these ports was routed to the motherboard rear panel and is available as an eSATA-600 port. The SATA ports are located on one of the corners of the motherboard. While a video card installed in the first PCI Express x16 slot won’t block them, a video card installed in the second PCI Express x16 slot will block at least one of them.
There is no support for a floppy disk drive controller or an ATA-133 port.
This motherboard has eight USB 2.0 ports, four soldered on the rear panel and four available through two headers located on the motherboard. It also has four USB 3.0 ports, two available on the motherboard rear panel and two available through a front panel connector, controlled by the chipset.
This motherboard has two FireWire ports, one soldered on the motherboard rear panel and one available through a header on the board. These ports are controlled by a VIA VT6308P chip.
This motherboard supports 7.1+2 audio format, i.e., eight channels plus two independent channels for audio streaming. On this motherboard, the audio is generated by the chipset using a Realtek ALC889 codec, which is a professional-grade solution, providing an impressive 108 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog outputs, 106 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog inputs, and up to 192 kHz sampling rate for both inputs and outputs. This means you are able to capture and edit analog audio (e.g., converting LPs to CDs or MP3s, converting VHS to DVDs or any other digital format, etc.) with this motherboard without adding any background noise.
The portrayed motherboard comes with independent analog audio outputs, meaning that you won’t need to use the line in or mic in jacks when connecting an eight-channel analog speaker set and an optical SPDIF output. You also can add a coaxial SPDIF output using the available “SPDIF_O” header.
This motherboard has one Gigabit Ethernet port controlled by a Realtek RTL8111E controller.
In Figure 5, you can see the motherboard rear panel, with a shared keyboard/mouse PS/2 connector, four USB 2.0 ports, VGA connector, DVI-D connector, optical SPDIF output, HDMI connector, DisplayPort connector, one FireWire port, one eSATA-600 port, one Gigabit Ethernet port, two USB 3.0 ports (blue connectors), and independent analog 7.1 audio outputs.
[nextpage title=”Other Features”]
The Gigabyte A75M-UD2H has other features. The most important is the presence of two BIOS chips. If the main BIOS is corrupted by an unsuccessful BIOS upgrade or virus, you can still turn on your PC and fix the defective BIOS using the backup chip.
Each USB port has a fuse, so if somehow there is a short-circuit with your USB device or the power wires are inverted, the fuse will burn, protecting the USB port and the motherboard. Furthermore, since each USB port has its own fuse, the other ports will still be functional.
The motherboard has a legacy serial port on a header labeled “COM” and a parallel port on a header labeled “LPT.” You will need to buy adapters if you want to use these ports. It also supports the installation of a TPM (Trusted Platform Module), which increases security by encrypting data that is handled by the system.
In Figure 7, you can see all the accessories that come with this motherboard.
[nextpage title=”Voltage Regulator”]
The CPU voltage regulator circuit of the Gigabyte A75M-UD2H has four phases for the CPU main voltage (VDD a.k.a. Vcore), one for the CPU VDDNB voltage (integrated memory controller), and two for the CPU VDDP voltage (integrated video controller). Therefore, it uses a “4+1+2” configuration.
This motherboard uses solid ferrite-core coils, which present less energy loss than iron-core coils (i.e., they improve efficiency), solid capacitors, and low RDS(on) transistors (i.e., higher efficiency).
If you want to learn more about the voltage regulator circuit, please read our tutorial on the subject.[nextpage title=”Overclocking Options”]
The Gigabyte A75M-UD2H offers some overclocking options, listed below (F2 BIOS):
- CPU ratio: From x8 to x49 in x1 increments (for unlocked CPUs)
- CPU base clock: From 100 MHz to 500 MHz in increments of 1 MHz
- GPU clock: From 300 MHz to 2000 MHz in increments of 1 MHz
- CPU core voltage: From -0.600 V to +0.600 V in increments of 0.025 V
- Memory controller (“CPU NB”) voltage: From -0.600 V to +0.600 V in increments of 0.025 V
- GPU (“APU VDDP”) voltage: From 0.725 V to 1.835 V in increments of 0.005 V
- CPU PLL voltage: From 2.100 V to 2.900 V in increments of 0.020 V
- Chipset (FCH) voltage: From 0.625 V to 1.735 V in increments of 0.005 V
- Memory voltage: From 1.025 V to 2.135 V in increments of 0.005 V
- Memory termination (VTT) voltage: From 0.515 V to 1.145 V in increments of 0.005 V
For a better understanding of what these options do, please read our Understanding All Voltage Configurations from the Motherboard tutorial.
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
The main specifications for the Gigabyte A75M-UD2H motherboard include:
- Socket: FM1
- Chipset: AMD A75
- Super I/O: ITE IT8720F
- Parallel ATA: None
- Serial ATA: Five SATA-600 ports controlled by the chipset (RAID 0, 1, and 10)
- External SATA: One eSATA-600 port controlled by the chipset
- USB 2.0: Eight USB 2.0 ports, four soldered on the motherboard rear panel and four available through two headers on the motherboard
- USB 3.0: Four ports, two soldered on the motherboard rear panel and two available through one header on the motherboard, controlled by the chipset
- FireWire (IEEE 1394): Two ports, one soldered on the motherboard rear panel and one available through a header on the motherboard, controlled by a VIA VT6308P chip
- On-board video: Yes, controlled by the CPU; VGA, DVI-D, HDMI, and DisplayPort connectors
- On-board audio: Produced by the chipset together with a Realtek ALC889 codec (eight channels, 24-bit resolution, up to 192 KHz sampling rate for both the inputs and outputs, 104 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the inputs and 108 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the outputs), on-board optical SPDIF output
- On-board LAN: One Gigabit Ethernet port controlled by a Realtek RTL8111E chip
- Buzzer: No
- Infrared interface: No
- Power supply required: ATX12V
- Slots: Two PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots (x16/x4), one PCI Express x1 slot, and one standard PCI slot
- Memory: Four DDR3-DIMM sockets (up to DDR3-1866, 32 GB maximum)
- Fan connectors: One four-pin connector for the CPU cooler and one four-pin connector for an auxiliary fan
- Extra Features: Legacy parallel port, legacy serial port, support for TPM, two BIOS chips
- Number of CDs/DVDs provided: One
- Programs included: Motherboard utilities
- More Information: http://www.gigabyte.com
- Average price in the US*: USD 110.00
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this First Look article.[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]
The Gigabyte A75M-UD2H is clearly an entry-level motherboard for the new A-Series CPUs from AMD, with a few extras. The highlights of this motherboard include professional-grade audio quality with optical SPDIF output, the presence of four different kinds of video connectors (VGA, DVI-D, HDMI, and DisplayPort), one of the SATA-600 ports routed to the motherboard rear panel as an eSATA-600 port, and two FireWire ports. Allied with the microATX form factor, this motherboard is a terrific candidate for an HTPC (Home Theater PC) or an SFF (Small Form Factor) computer based on the new A-Series CPUs from AMD. Other features include four USB 3.0 ports and five SATA-600 ports, but since these are controlled by the chipset, any motherboard based on the A75 chipset also has these features.