Articles: Mainboards

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PCB Design and Functionality

After the first encounter with Gigabyte GA-A75-UD4H mainboard we got a solid impression that Gigabyte has two independent engineering teams: the first one works on Intel products, while the second one deals with mainboards for AMD platform. Moreover, the “AMD team” is only secluded in some geographically remote location, but even speaks a completely different language. This is why Gigabyte GA-A75-UD4H designers seemed to have no idea about new mainboard design trends, such as stylish black textolite and same-color slots. This is the only explanation we have for the fact that GA-A75-UD4H doesn’t look anything like mainboards for enthusiasts in the Intel segment, which have been available in the market for the past 6 months. While Gigabyte GA-A75-UD4H is a completely new product, it looks like a solution from 2009-2010 model line-up.

However, this is just the first impression. In reality, GA-A75-UD4H is a quality contemporary mainboard from the company’s signature Ultra Durable 3 series, i.e. it is uses super-reliable high-quality electronic components and a doubled-layer copper PCB.

I can’t complain about the features either. Overall, considering the peculiarities of the AMD A75 chipset, the features set is quite typical. Gigabyte GA-A75-UD4H equipped with a Socket FM1 is compatible with all A-series processors. Besides, the mainboard supports integrated Llano graphics as well as external graphics accelerators, which can be installed into the two PCI Express x16 slots. These slots share 16 PCI Express 2.0 lanes that is why they will switch to x8 mode if two graphics cards are installed. As for multi-GPU configurations, the board supports traditional CrossFireX as well as AMD Dual Graphics technology, which allows using integrated processor graphics together with an external GPU.

The PCI Express x16 graphics bus controller in Llano based systems is located inside the CPU. Therefore, there is no need t use high-speed HyperTransport bus to set up the connection between the processor and the chipset. Lynx platforms use a special UMI (Unified Media Interface) for that matter, which is similar to PCI Express x4. In fact, AMD A75 chip is a South Bridge, which delivers most of the functions and features of the mainboard in question.

Among these features we should mention support for additional PCI Express x1 and PCI slots, five SATA 6 Gbps ports, four USB 3.0 ports and a set of USB 2.0 ports. In addition to that Gigabyte engineers doubled the number of USB 3.0 ports by putting a pair of Etron controllers, implemented two IEEE1394 ports with a VIA VT6308 controller and integrated a Realtek RTL8111E Gigabit network controller.

As a result, GA-A75-UD4H mainboard is even more advanced than many of the Z68 based boards in terms of expansion and connectivity capabilities. Just look how loaded the back panel is:

Here you can find the following ports and connectors:

  • A complete set of monitor Outs including D-Sub, Dual-Link DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort;
  • Four USB 3.0 ports;
  • Two USB 2.0 ports;
  • PS/2 connector for mouse or keyboard;
  • Gigabit network port;
  • IEEE1394 port;
  • eSATA 6 Gbps connector;
  • Optical S/PDIF Out;
  • Six analogue audio jacks.

At the same time, there are a few free onboard pin-connectors that can be transformed into additional ports: eight USB 2.0, four USB 3.0 and one serial port.

I have to say that all USB ports on Gigabyte GA-A75-UD4H are designed to support much higher current than declared by the official specifications. USB 2.0 ports can produce up to 1.5 A, while USB 3.0 ports – up to 2.7 A. this allows charging all sorts of contemporary gadgets really fast using USB ports.

The processor voltage regulator circuitry is composed of 10 phases, two of which are assigned to the graphics core and memory controller. Half of the transistors in this circuit (Gigabyte’s traditional Lower RDS(on) MOSFET) are cooled with a heatsink fastened using push-pins with springs. The other half of transistors do without any additional cooling.

The chipset is topped with a low-profile but very broad heatsink held in place very tightly with retention screws. It warms up moderately and doesn’t require additional cooling. Nevertheless, Gigabyte GA-A75-UD4H has four fan connectors, two of which are four-pin ones.

There is enough room around the processor socket to accommodate large processor coolers. The only thing we could be concerned with is probably the fact that memory DIMM slots are located a bit too close to the Socket FM1. As a result, tall memory modules may interfere with some coolers. By the way, note that even though the retention frame around the processor socket has been slightly transformed and now consist of two separate parts, Gigabyte GA-A75-UD4H mainboard is still fully compatible with all the existing Socket AM3 coolers.

Overall, the design of Gigabyte GA-A75-UD4H is pretty convenient for system assembly and use inside a closed case. However, even though this mainboard is targeted for advanced users and overclockers, it is missing some very handy little things. While it is the top-of-the-line Gigabyte product for Socket FM1 processors, it has no Power On, Reset and Clear CMOS buttons, no contact spots for manual voltage monitoring, no POST-controller, no info-LEDs, etc. It is a real pity. However, omission of all these things allows pricing Gigabyte GA-A75-UD4H at a really affordable level.

Let’s sum up all the major features of our today’s hero – Gigabyte GA-A75-UD4H:

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