The ECS A780GM-A Ultra is definitely not a boring-looking motherboard. As the chipset heatsink denotes, it is one of their Black Series, which you might think refers to the color of the PCB. While it is true that many of Elitegroup's boards are black in color, very few of them share this title, which seems to be reserved only for those that are designed with overclocking in mind, offering a true enthusiast-level platform. The Black Series are distinguished by their high power handling capacity and all solid capacitors. The A780GM-A Ultra adds AMD OverDrive and Advanced Clock Calibration support.
The AM2+, a newer revision of the original AM2 socket, supports the latest Hypertransport 3 and Phenom K10 processors. Dual banks of DDR2 memory slots allow up to 32Gb of RAM to be used, however since only up to 4Gb modules exist today and those are uncommon among most manufacturers, the practical limit for most users will be 4x2Gb modules for a total of 8Gb. Standard 24-pin ATX power and 40-pin IDE supporting up to two devices can also be found at the front of the board. At the opposite corner, six internal SATA 3.0GB/s connectors and three USB 2.0 headers, supporting up to six additional ports, are handled by the AMD SB750 southbridge. The AMIBIOS chip is soldered directly to the motherboard, with no secondary backup, so hopefully no BIOS corruption or bad flashes occur. Power and reset buttons are incorporated directly onto the PCB, a nice touch for reviewers and others who test out hardware without benefit of a full case or external switches. Unfortunately the Clear CMOS jumper is positioned unfavorably close to the end of the 16x PCI-E 2.0 slot, and is rendered inaccessible upon installation of most full-size video cards.
Floppy and audio connectors are located at the rear corner edge of the A780GM-A, where small cases and tight confines may make access difficult. There are three PCI, two 1x PCI-E and one 16x PCI-E 2.0 slots available for expansion cards, and Hybrid Graphics operation is available between the onboard HD3200 based chipset and a compatible discrete video card. Currently only the Radeon HD2400Pro and HD3450 are supported. At the other end of the board, a VRM heatsink handles voltage regulator chip cooling and an 8-pin EPS connector supplies additional +12V power to the CPU. The I/O ports on the rear of the motherboard consist of a PS2 keyboard/mouse, 15-pin DSUB VGA, HDMI, six USB 2.0, one eSATA and six audio connections, one line-in, four line-out and one optical SPDIF out. HDMI audio is handled by a Realtek ALC888 CODEC and the Gigabit LAN is supplied by the Realtek RTL8111C. The eSATA port is provided via a Jmicron JMB361 chip, which frees up the SB750 to handle all six internal SATA ports.
Now let's boot up and have a look at the BIOS details.