ECS A780GM-A Ultra AMD 780G+SB750 Motherboard
Author: Zahn Funk
Editor: Shawn Knight
Date: 12-22-2008
Provided by: Elitegroup Computer Systems

AMD released the 780G IGP chipset earlier this year, with its highly-acclaimed onboard HD3200 graphics and an emphasis on multimedia and casual gaming. Sporting such features as DX10, HDMI, Hybrid Crossfire and SidePort memory, the RS780 core became an instant favorite among HTPC builders and the entry-level home consumer market. If there was one black mark on the 780G platform architecture however it was AMD's incorporation of the SB700 southbridge, basically a minor revamp of the previous year's SB600 chip. Plagued by USB performance issues, no integrated network interface and only a handful of PCI-E 1.1 lanes, AMD's mantra seemed to be "wait for SB750".

SB750 boards began to appear mid-summer, starting with the top of the line 790FX/GX, and while it once again seemed to miss the mark when it came to some of the shortcomings of the SB700, the SB750 incorporates one unexpected bonus in the way of AMD's Advanced Clock Calibration. While AMD does not fully explain how it works, there is apparently a 6-pin interface between the CPU socket and southbridge chip that the new SB750 can take advantage of. This is supposed to not only improve communications to the southbridge but also enhance the overclock ability of AMD's K10 architecture.

The SB750 has by now begun to filter down to some of the lower end chipsets and manufacturers have been releasing updated revisions of their boards, such as this one, the A780GM-A Ultra from Elitegroup Computer Systems. While identical in appearance to their previous A780GM-A, the Ultra version frees up one extra SATA port by moving the eSATA connections off to an external JMicron controller, and adds support for RAID5 and the aforementioned Advanced Clock Calibration. ECS completes the "overclock-friendly" image of the Ultra by touting AMD OverDrive capability, incorporating all solid caps, integrated VRM heatsink and support for up to 160W for the CPU. While there are currently no AMD processors that are rated at 160W, this is a requirement for the ACC since top of the line Phenom CPUs such as the 9950BE can certainly approach that when overclocked.

The ECS A780GM-A Ultra is a full-size ATX, socket AM2+ board, not a microATX as you might expect given the IGP chipset. According to ECS it is or will be fully compliant with the AM2+ compatible Deneb core processors set to debut next month. The motherboard accessories are somewhat spartan. In addition to the instruction manual and software CD, the Ultra only comes with four SATA cables, an IDE cable and the rear I/O plate.

Continue as we take a closer look at the ECS A780GM-A Ultra motherboard.

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