Skip to main content

MSI A78M-E35 Versus Gigabyte GA-F2A78M-D3H

Today we look at two AMD A78-based motherboards (MSI's A78M-E35 and Gigabyte's GA-F2A78M-D3H), to determine how they stack up against A88X.

Gigabyte F2A78M-D3H

Gigabyte's F2A78M-D3H is a sleek black square measuring 9.6x9.6 inches and sporting the same back-panel connections as MSI's board. With the additional real estate, we get access to four DDR3 DIMM slots (supporting up to 64GB), an additional PCIe x16 slot and a little more space between the SATA connectors. A word of caution: the second PCIe x16 link is wired to only four lanes, so it's better suited to high-end storage and networking controllers.

Image 1 of 4

Image 2 of 4

Image 3 of 4

Image 4 of 4

Though I do enjoy the labeled front-panel wiring diagram printed out on the board, I am disappointed in some of Gigabyte's other layout decisions. All of the fan connections are PWM-capable, but the system and APU headers are right beside each other and directly below the cooler's mounting bracket. It was very difficult to connect fans after installing our large heat sink. Also, the other fan header is in the top-right corner above the 24-pin ATX connector, where traditionally you would be in hard drive bay territory. Needless to say, wiring around there can be tricky. Overclockers reading this might be glad to see the eight-pin EPS connector for additional power.

Gigabyte's UEFI feels more like a traditional BIOS, and to me is easier to navigate. After the lack of voltage biasing from MSI's board, I was pleased to see that Gigabyte's firmware adds both voltage biasing and load-line calibration options. For this comparison, I did not fully test those features, but I suspect that this platform could achieve overclocking comparable to what you'd get from AMD's higher-end APU-oriented chipset.

Gigabyte's packaging states that the product is "Ultra Durable." Will this extra durability help drive my APU to peak out-of-box performance? In data I trust!