With performance so very close, benchmark results aren't much of a differentiator. The best thing we can hope to accomplish is to help you sift through the different features these boards boast in order to see what suits your needs the best. Here's the breakdown:
Easily the most unique board in the roundup, ASRock's offering is the only 785G board able to offer eight PCIe lanes of bandwidth to each graphics cards in a CrossFire configuration. This is also the only board that features a triple-CrossFire option for three graphics cards, although the third card is limited to PCIe x4 signaling rates. The M3A785GXH/128M is a fully-featured AM3-based ATX board with good BIOS control for the enthusiast. At $100 online, it's not the cheapest or the most expensive 785G platform you can buy, but it's a compelling choice for anyone who can make use of what it offers: the best CrossFire options in its class.
Asus M4A785TD-V EVO
The Asus M4A785TD-V EVO is a full-sized AM3 board targeted at the enthusiast with advertised DDR3-1800 overclocking support and a 10-phase voltage regulator. While you won't find some legacy connectivity options on this board (no serial, parallel, or floppy option here) you will find a solid backbone with the ability of running at least 1,600 MT/s memory and potentially even more, which is a rare capability among 785G products. Even though the board lacks enthusiast-class features like BIOS profiles and a clear CMOS button, it does offer the capability of unlocking dormant CPU cores in conjunction with the ACC function. The M4A785TD-V EVO remains a solid choice for the Phenom II overclocker on a $100 budget.
Biostar TA785GE 128M
This microATX Biostar board is an excellent upgrader's choice, supporting the AM2+ socket interface in conjunction with DDR2 memory and allowing for compatibility with older Athlon X2 and Phenom processors. Without CPU multiplier control in the BIOS, this might not be ideal for the enthusiast, but it's still quite capable of handling most overclocking settings. This microATX board isn't as fully featured as some of its competitors, given a 5.1 channel audio codec, no on-board FireWire, no PCIe x1 slots, and no eSATA ports. But at about $80 online, it's a gem of a board for those with an older CPU or memory who want a future upgrade path.
Foxconn Cinema Premium
The only other AM2+/DDR2 board in our roundup, the Foxconn Cinema Premium is targeted at home theater enthusiasts who desire both DTS Connect and Dolby Digital Live support. However, if audio capabilities are this board's focus, we're not sure why Foxconn passed over the premium Realtek ALC889 codec and instead opted for the ALC888. It's also a little puzzling that this upgrade-friendly AM2+ board is missing an IDE hard drive option. Having said all that, it works well and has a solid base of BIOS options for the tweakers. At about $110 online, the Cinema Premium will likely appeal to specific home theater enthusiasts who want both DTS and Dolby Digital options.
Gigabyte's entry is the most fully-featured ATX AM3-based board in the 785G roundup. It is the only board that supports all legacy connectivity, such as floppy, serial, and parallel ports (although the serial and parallel ports require cables not included in the bundle). The enthusiast will appreciate the flexibility of eight BIOS profiles, good BIOS control, and the ability to choose ACC modes that will either unlock disabled CPU cores or just allow ACC to work normally. The board also sports the premium Realtek ALC889 codec. It's not the most memory overclocking-friendly option, but at $80 online, there is a lot of value here for folks who want a solid AM3 platform.
There is little to complain about on the hardware side when considering the A785GM-M, which is a forward-looking AM3 piece featuring a lot of enthusiast-friendly features, such as on-board power, reset, and clear CMOS buttons, as well as a diagnostic panel. This board has the distinction of being only one of two in our roundup able to run our Mushkin memory at 1,600 MT/s.
The hardware is willing, yet the BIOS is restrictive as though they were designed by two separate teams with different goals. There is no BIOS-profile feature, PCIe clock control, or memory command rate control. And worst of all, there is no ACC option. If ECS publicly released the special testing BIOS it let us use, we could recommend the A785GM-M wholeheartedly as a fantastic enthusiast board for a very reasonably-priced $90 online. But with the stock BIOS, we're not nearly as enthusiastic.
MSI supplies both rich features and the small microATX form factor with the 785GM-E65. With all the trimmings, excellent legacy connectivity options, the premium Realtek ALC889 audio codec, and SidePort memory, the MSI board only gives up a secondary PCIe slot compared to its ATX competitors, while offering good BIOS control for the enthusiast including the choice to unlock dormant CPU cores in conjunction with the ACC function. At $90 online, this is a great option for folks who value the microATX size and don't want to give up the trimmings.
In the final analysis, we can see that the 785G chipset isn't limited to just one kind of budget machine. There's an entire spectrum of platforms that utilize this chipset in different ways to really suit different users. Choice is always good, and there's no lack of that in the 785G offerings on the market today.
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Very informative article. Nice to see there are motherboards with different features for different users/tasks.Reply
Just what i needed to see thanks toms!Reply
Great article, I think this shows pretty conclusively that there is no benefit to upgrading to an AM3 based system. If you already have an AM2+ system, you can easily just drop in a new CPU and you system will be every bit as good as a brand new system with DDR3. You just need to make sure your motherboard supports the power requirements of whatever you want to drop in.Reply
Hooray AMD for having cheap solutions in these hard-economic times!Reply
Boo @ Intel! i like the product, but my wallet & Girl do not like the cost!
jonpaul37Hooray AMD for having cheap solutions in these hard-economic times!Boo @ Intel! i like the product, but my wallet & Girl do not like the cost!+1Reply
Girl has more money for clothes!
Well bpdski there is no point upgrading if you're AM2, but if you're building a new PC AM3 is the way to go in terms of your computers longevity. Very informative article.Reply
thanks alot for the info , my first choice was allways asus , but now i now what i need when im going to unlock core , and now i saw the benefits of sideport memory .Reply
We were successful in achieving a 900 MHz stable overclock with the integrated graphics chipset by setting the BIOS to increase northbridge voltage by +.210mV.Well, .210 mV = 210 microvolt. I don't think it would make much of a change. Maybe it is 210 mV or, .210 V. :)
"Now we're seeing another benefit for the AM2+/DDR2 boards: both the Foxconn Cinema Premium and Biostar TA785GE 128M are drawing less power than their AM3/DDR3 counterparts."Reply
How comes? Didn't we all agree a long time ago that ddr3 supposed to be more energy efficient out of the two? (Lower voltage and stuff?)
Great article, this will help a lot of people to make their AMD budget motherboard choice easier, thank you Don.Reply