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ECS A780GM-A AMD 780G Motherboard Review

ECS A780GM-A AMD 780G Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: The ECS A780GM-A motherboard is an affordable media center platform based on the mainstream AMD 780G chipset. This spunky little integrated graphics chipset is ideal for home theatre PC/media applications.
 83% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: ECS Jan 06 2009   Julian Apong  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > ECS A780GM-A

Final Word - AMD's Answer to HDMI Integration

The AMD 780G chipset has been a great companion for home theatre aficionados who want a richer feature set than what can be found on Intel's integrated graphics chipsets. For under a hundred dollars, you're getting a board that will let you do 1080p output over HDMI with seven-channel audio, is still small enough to fit into most home theatre PC cases, is compatible with the lowest-wattage processors on the market, and can be run completely silently provided you have the right CPU cooler.

This makes the ECS A780GM-A motherboard a very competitive option when the time comes to build a high-definition media setup. Standalone Blu-ray players still average around $280 CDN, largely because of the expensive computer-like processing required to decode high-bandwidth media. PC-based Blu-ray drives, however, can do their computer-like processing using an actual computer, which means their prices can drop as low as $140 CDN. The lower price will cover the cost of the motherboard and even some of the cost of a processor. In the end you'll have a Blu-ray player that can run HD content, let you surf the web on a big screen, and even play some classic arcade games via programs like MAME.

The versatility of an AMD 780G-based home theatre PC could even save you money in the long run, since it could potentially replace an AV receiver and multi-disc CD player once your audio CD collection is ripped to a hard drive.

Even for users who will be connecting the ECS A780GM-A motherboard to their monitors for everyday use instead of a HDTV for movies, the 780G chipset delivers. It's Radeon 3200 Graphics have enough integrated power to run Vista's Aero interface and even let you do some light 3D gaming, and you can always beef up the graphics performance by plugging a card into the x16 PCI Express slot and enabling Hybrid Crossfire. This solution isn't quite as nice as having two x16 PCI Express slots for Crossfire X, but 3D gaming was never really the purpose of this board.

ECS has really embraced the philosophy of the AMD 780G chipset with the A780GM-A motherboard. Despite the low price, it's got nearly everything needed to turn it into a gaming system, home theatre PC or desktop workstation. It's three PCI expansion slots and two PCI Express x1 slots mean it can still provide a home for your old 802.11g networking card and analog capture card, while the PCI Express slot lets you use newer X-fi cards and Firewire 800 cards. Four ram slots make for easy upgrades with inexpensive DDR2 memory, and ECS has even manage to pack in eSATA into the A780GM-A.

ECS' A780GM-A is aimed at the budget-conscious buyer, so it's not really surprising that it's not going to come with a lot of goodies included in the box - that being said, it's a little disconcerting to find only a manual, quickstart guide, driver CD and three hard drive cables provided. As it is if you want to use the ECS A780GM-A with a DVI monitor, you'll have to run out and buy a DVI to HDMI cable.

Having a standard-sized ATX motherboard with an integrated chipset used to be something of a paradox for system builders, since integrated graphics chipsets usually lagged behind their enthusiast counterparts in terms of feature sets. This is no longer the case with the ECS A780GM-A motherboard. For a mere $80 CDN ($70 USD, $35 GBP) you get integrated graphics that are more powerful than any of Intel's IGP boards, and a feature set that's comparable to what you'd find in Intel boards that are nearly double the price. The passive cooling for the integrated graphics and chipset, as well as the HDMI output and gigabit lan also let this board double as a media streaming home theatre box. It's got enough expansion capability to make it a good choice for a user who wants a low-price board but still wants to do some serious upgrades in the future. It's all of these features that make the ECS A780GM-A a great value for its price range.

PCSTATS Best Value Award

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Contents of Article: ECS A780GM-A
 Pg 1.  ECS A780GM-A AMD 780G Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  ATI Hybrid Graphics: High Definition Content over HDMI
 Pg 3.  ECS 780GM-A Motherboard Highlights
 Pg 4.  BIOS and Test System Specs
 Pg 5.  Motherboard Benchmarks: 3DMark Vantage, 3DMark06, FEAR
 Pg 6.  Motherboard Benchmarks: FEAR, Sysmark 2007
 Pg 7.  Motherboard Benchmarks: SiSoft Sandra, Super Pi
 Pg 8.  Motherboard Benchmarks: PCMark Vantage
 Pg 9.  — Final Word - AMD's Answer to HDMI Integration

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