GIGABYTE 880GMA-UD2H Motherboard Review

GIGABYTE's 880GMA-UD2H board joins the company's ever growing AMD lineup, with full support for the latest six core processors, chipset based SATA 6G support, and USB 3.0 support. Don't let its small form factor fool you though, this board packs a punch.

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BIOS

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GIGABYTE chose to pair the 880GMA-UD2H with a Phoenix AWARD BIOS, with the BIOS version shown below and used in testing F4a. Note that inputting the Ctrl-F1 key combination from the top level menu enables expert mode settings in several of the listed screens.

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The MB Intelligent Tweaker(M.I.T.) menu is the central location for configuring all performance related options, with configuration options located either in the top level menu itself or in a branching submenu. Note that to the right of many of the listed options are displays of the calculated speed of the device, or the current voltage settings for the device option in question. The CPU Clock Ratio setting configures the CPU multiplier with available values in 0.5 increments. The processor speed can be calculated by multiplying the CPU Clock Ratio and CPU Frequency(MHz) settings. The CPU Northbridge Freq. setting configures the Northbridge chipset speed via multiplier, with a 10X maximum allowed. Similar to the CPU speed, the Northbridge chipset speed is determined by multiplying the CPU Northbridge Freq. and CPU Frequency(MHz) settings. The Turbo Boost mode becomes user configurable and enabled with the Core Performance Boost setting enabled. Using the CPB Ratio setting, you can set the target ratio for Turbo Boost mode. Note that Turbo Boost mode is only supported on AMD Phenom II X6 processors and only increases the processor speed for up to 3 cores. In addition, Turbo Mode is an automated processor feature, activated when the internal CPU logic detects a need for more processing power. Setting the CPU Host Clock Control option to manual allows for manual configuration of the CPU Frequency(MHz) setting up to a maximum of 500MHz. The PCI Express bus speed can be set to operate at up to 150MHz. The HT Link Width, which controls the upstream and downstream bandwidth of the HyperTransport bus, works in conjunction with the HT Link Frequency setting to configure the HyperTransport bus operation. This bus controls traffic between the CPU and Northbridge chipset, and is configured via the use of multipliers with a 10X maximum available. The HyperTransport bus operating speed is determined by multiplying the HT Link Frequency and CPU Frequency(MHz) settings. The system memory speed also works based on a multiplier settings, with an 8X maximum settable. The actual memory speed is determined by multiplying the Memory Clock and CPU Frequency(MHz) settings.

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The IGX Configuration submenu, accessed via a link at the top of the MB Intelligent Tweaker menu, contains all settings related to configuring the Southbridge integrated Radeon HD 4250 graphic controller. You can customize the memory size dedicated to graphics related operations using the UMA Frame Buffer Size option, with a maximum of 512MB of system memory allowed to be allocated. The Onboard VGA output connect setting controls the active ports, with settings available to activate the DVI or HDMI integrated ports. The physical controller speed can be configured via the VGA Core Clock(MHz) option, with a maximum setting of 2000MHz available.

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The system voltage settings are user configurable with the System Voltage Control option set to Manual. The CPU power regulation circuitry voltage is configured through the CPU PLL Voltage setting, with a maximum setting of 3.1V. The DRAM Voltage control option configures the board's DDR3 memory voltage setting, with a 2.50V ceiling. Note that the DDR VTT Voltage Control setting cannot be configured unless the DRAM Voltage control option is set to Normal. You have the ability to configure the Northbridge chipset voltage for maximum operation at 1.50V, while its power regulation circuitry can be set to a 2.10V maximum using the NB/PCIe/PLL Voltage Ctrl setting. The CPU NB VID Control option configures the CPU internal memory controller voltage through the use of additive voltage settings, with a maximum of +0.600V. The CPU voltage is configured similarly, also with a maximum setting of +0.60V.

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The DRAM configuration submenu, accessed from a link located within the MB Intelligent Tweaker menu, houses all memory related performance settings. The DCTs Mode option sets the memory operating mode, with Dual Channel memory mode enabled by selecting the Unganged value. The available memory timing settings are accessible with DDR3 Timing Items option set to Manual. The following memory timing settings are user configurable: CAS latency; RAS to CAS delay; RAS precharge delay (Row Precharge Time); active to precharge delay (Minimum RAS Active Time); command rate (1T/2T Command Timing); write to read delay (TwTr Command Delay); row refresh cycle delay (TrfcX for DIMMz) on a per module basis; write recovery time; precharge delay; row cycle time; and RAS to RAS delay. Note that on the memory timings listed, the numerically lower setting forces the more aggressive memory operation. The internal memory signal drive strength can be manipulated through the settings listed under the DCTs Drive Strength section, while the internal memory signal delays are configurable via the settings within the DCTs Addr/Cmd Timing section. Both Bank and Channel related interleaving options are available as well, but only with an active/inactive settings.

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The Advance BIOS Features menu houses system initialization and boot related settings, in addition to several internal CPU related settings. The following CPU specific settings are configurable: C1E support, hardware virtualization, Cool & Quiet support, CPU core unlocking support, and per core disabling features. Device startup access order is also configured from within this top level menu, with USB devices a selectable value.

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The Integrated Peripherals menu contains all settings for configuring the various onboard and integrated devices. The following devices are configurable via the top level menu: the USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, the IEEE 1394 ports, the Realtek audio subsystem, the JMicron ATA-133 IDE controller, and the AMD SB850 SATA 6G controller. The AMD SB850 chipset's SATA controller operating mode can be configured through the OnChip SATA Type and OnChip SATA Port4/5 Type options. With the Onchip SATA Type option set to RAID, the AMD RAID boot BIOS shows on system startup. Note that via the Onchip SATA Port4/5 Type option, you have the option of leaving one of the AMD controlled SATA 6G ports and the e-SATA port in the rear panel configured for standalone operation when configured with the IDE setting.

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The PnP/PCI Configurations menu contains setting for configuring the PCI bus and IRQ settings and assignments. From within the top level menu, you can configure PCI Latency Timer, as well as the interrupt assignment for the onboard PCI slot. With the Resources Controlled By option set to Manual, the IRQ Resources submenu becomes user accessible. Through this submenu, you have the ability to set the interrupt device pool settings.

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The PC Health Status menu contains real-time statistics for all BIOS monitored fan speeds, system temperatures, and board voltages. In addition, you have limited ability to configure system fan speed operation, and CPU based temperature alerts.

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The BIOS contains a built in BIOS update applet named Q-Flash, accessible by hitting the F8 key from within the main menu. The Q-Flash utility allows for storage and retrieval of BIOS images to or from a local hard drive, USB, or floppy device.

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Additionally, the BIOS allowed for full BIOS profile storage and retrieval. The BIOS profile save menu is accessible after pressing the F11 key from the main menu. This menu gives you the option to store up to 8 uniquely named profiles. You can retrieve and load BIOS profiles from the BIOS profile load menu, accessed by hitting the F12 key from the main menu. The load menu allows for retrieval of the stored BIOS profiles created through the F11 menu. In both menus, you have the option of storage and retrieval from external drive devices, including attached and detected USB type devices.