Articles: Mainboards

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Gigabyte GA-F2A88XM-D3H: Overview

Gigabyte's product packaging is uniform, too. On the front side of the box we can see the mainboard's name and logotypes of supported processors and technologies.

On the back of the box there is a short list of specifications and a picture of the mainboard where each key feature is described as in the picture below:

The accessories are not numerous but sufficient to start with:

  • Four SATA 6 Gbit/s cables with metallic locks (one pair with two straight connectors and another pair with one straight and one L-shaped connector)
  • I/O Shield
  • User manual
  • Installation guide
  • DVD with software and drivers

As opposed to ASUS’s gold color scheme and Gigabyte’s gaming and overclocker-friendly series, the GA-F2A88XM-D3H model has a rather dull appearance. This black-and-gray design has been used by Gigabyte for the majority of its mainboards over the last few years, so the company seems to think it appropriate.

Similar to ASUS’s 5X Protection, Gigabyte mainboards feature the Ultra Durable 4 Plus set of technologies. “Ultra Performance” refers to the use of long-lasting solid-state capacitors and low RDS(on) MOSFETs. “Ultra Safe” means the exclusive DualBIOS technology. Besides them, Ultra Durable 4 Plus includes a lot of other features such as short circuit and electrostatic discharge protection, and resistance to high humidity thanks to premium PCB materials.

The mainboard lacks an additional heatsink on power system components but has an 8-pin ATX12V connector. The rest of its specs coincide with the ASUS model's. Its four DDR3 SDRAM slots can take in up to 64 gigabytes of system memory clocked at 1333 to 2400 MHz. AMD Memory Profile and Extreme Memory Profile are both supported.

The mainboard offers one PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 and one PCIe 2.0 x16 (at x4 speed) for two graphics cards which can be united in a CrossFireX tandem. Besides them, there is one PCIe 2.0 x1 and one PCI slot for expansion cards. The mainboard has no additional onboard controllers. Its eight SATA 6 Gbit/s ports are implemented via the AMD A88X chipset. All of the SATA connectors are positioned upright.

The back panel is not fully populated, just like on the ASUS, yet the selection of connectors is different:

  • Four USB 2.0 ports (with four more via two onboard headers)
  • One PS/2 connector for keyboard or mouse
  • D-Sub, DVI-D and HDMI video outputs
  • Two USB 3.0 ports (blue connectors, based on the AMD A88X chipset, with two more available via a single onboard header)
  • Gigabit Ethernet connector (based on a Realtek RTL8111F controller)
  • One optical S/PDIF and three analog audio outputs (based on an 8-channel Realtek ALC887 codec)

We’ve always liked Gigabyte's mainboard schematics. They are neat, clean and easily understandable. You can see which controller is where at a glance. It’s a real pleasure to read a schematic like this one.

What we can find here are COM and LPT connectors (the latter is placed in an unconventional location) and three 4-pin fan connectors. The position of the CPU and first system fan connectors wouldn‘t be appropriate on any other platform because the installed CPU cooler and graphics card are going to hinder your access to them. However, Socket FM2+ mainboards will mostly be used with a processor-integrated graphics core rather than a discrete graphics card, so this downside isn’t critical for them.

Specifications Comparison

We've put together the specifications of the two mainboards in the following table for the sake of comparison.

Each mainboard has something special about it. The ASUS is somewhat smaller in width and has an additional heatsink on the hot power system components but powers the processor via a 4-pin ATX12V connector. It has three onboard headers for six USB 2.0 ports, as opposed to four such ports you have with the Gigabyte. The ASUS’s extra features include the MemOK! button and the GPU Boost switch. The Gigabyte, in its turn, sports two BIOS chips and a back-panel optical S/PDIF output. Otherwise, the specs are almost identical since we deliberately selected two models with comparable prices and capabilities.

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