The Motherboard

In Figure 1 you can have a good look at PI-AM2RS780G. It is a socket AM2+ motherboard, meaning that it supports the new HyperTransport 3.0 and the “split plane” technologies used by AMD CPUs based on K10 architecture (i.e., Phenom CPUs). For more information read our Inside AMD K10 Architecture tutorial.

 Sapphire PI-AM2RS780G Motherboard Figure 1: Sapphire PI-AM2RS780G motherboard.

As you can see this motherboard has one PCI Express x16 2.0 slot, allowing you to install a “real” video card in the future if you want to play games on your PC. As mentioned, the chipset supports Hybrid CrossFire technology, where the on-board graphics engine can work in parallel with the video card installed under CrossFire mode in order to increase performance. But in order for this technology to work, you must install a compatible video card (Radeon HD 2400 Pro, HD 2400 XT, HD 3450 or HD 3470, for example). You can install any video card you want, but you won’t have Hybrid CrossFire with non-compatible models. We will test this feature with a Radeon HD 3450.

This motherboard also has two standard PCI slots but no PCI Express x1 slots.

Sapphire PI-AM2RS780G Motherboard Figure 2: Slots.

Another highlight from this motherboard is the presence of four memory sockets. Usually low-end motherboards have only two memory sockets, so having four of them on this board is a blessing, as it will help you adding more memory in the future without needing to replace your current memory modules.

It is always good to remember that with AMD processors the memory controller is embedded inside the CPU, so the amount and types of memory the system supports depend on the CPU, not on the motherboard. Socket AM2 and AM2+ processors support only DDR2 memories, with AM2 processors (i.e., Athlon X2) supporting up to DDR2-800 and with AM2+ processors (i.e., Phenom) supporting up to DDR2-1066.

All socket AM2/AM2+ CPUs support dual-channel feature so for the best performance you must install two or four memory modules (do not install just one memory module). For enabling dual-channel feature you must install the modules on sockets with the same color, if you are installing two modules.

Sapphire PI-AM2RS780G Motherboard Figure 3: Four memory sockets.

Gabriel Torres is a Brazilian best-selling ICT expert, with 24 books published. He started his online career in 1996, when he launched Clube do Hardware, which is one of the oldest and largest websites about technology in Brazil. He created Hardware Secrets in 1999 to expand his knowledge outside his home country.