AMD and Nvidia Platforms Do Battle

ASRock A780FullDisplayPort

This is one of the first motherboards to come with a Display Port interface, which is royalty-free and more flexible than DVI or HDMI. The protocol is not serial, rather working on a packet basis, and it supports audio and video, embedding the clock into the data signal. ASRock’s implementation of Display Port is version 1.1 compliant, so it supports HDCP copy protection, which you need for HD video playback from Blu-ray. Display Ports supports chip-level communication, so it can talk to display panels directly and replace LVDS in notebook designs as well. Future implementations are expected to support multiple video streams in a single physical connection, so you could cascade your display cabling.

Standard Connectivity and Features

The A780FullDisplayPort is based on the AMD 780G chipset, but comes with an additional Firewire controller by VIA. The Gigabit Ethernet controller for PCI Express is provided by Realtek (RTL8111C). All the other features find their origin on the AMD chipset.

Due to the MicroATX format, which is common for low-cost motherboards — this one retails for around $90 — there is not much board real estate for additional components. We found a x16 PCI Express 2.0 slot, which holds either a discrete graphics card or the Display Port adapter, an additional x1 PCIe slot, two 32-bit PCI slots for your legacy cards and four DDR2 DIMM sockets, which will run anything up to DDR2-1066 if a Phenom processor is used. For Athlon 64 X2 CPUs, you will have to overclock your system to reach these memory speeds.

Six Serial ATA/300 ports with NCQ support should be sufficient for most users. The chipset is capable of running four UltraATA/133 devices, although ASRock decided to only implement one controller, which is sufficient for two drives; instead, ASRock decided to include a floppy connector. The HD-audio solution on our sample is powered by a Realtek physical unit, although the website talks about an Avance Logic ALC662 device.