Pros: Fast in Windows 7 x64, USB 3.0 support
Cons: Only 2 fan headers, F2 BIOS not compatible with Windows XP Pro, Will not overclock
For the month of October 2011, I was tasked with building a computer system around the GeoVision GV800 16B PCI 16 Channel DVR card for use in a video surveillance system. Due to the high file demands that would be placed on the computer, I decided to use a Gigabyte A75M-UD2H motherboard and AMD A6-3650 FM1 APU. My experience with a similar motherboard, the Biostar TA75M+ DDR3 FM1 motherboard, had me believe that this Gigabyte product would offer similar quality but I was wrong.
In this review, I will answer the following questions in attempt to help you make an educated purchasing decision:
Can you overclock with the Gigabyte A75M-UD2H and how flexible is it?
Will the A75M-UD2H work with Windows XP Professional 32bit operating system?
How can you update the BIOS for APU AGESA support?
Read On To Find Out!
A motherboard is the heart of any desktop or video surveillance DVR system. You connect the CPU, memory, hard drives and DVD-ROM drive into it much like you would connect all the components of a stereo system into a central receiver.
A75M-UD2H Motherboard Includes DVI-D, HDMI And VGA Graphics Ports
The back panel of this motherboard has a wide range of connectivity options and was actually one of the primary reasons I decided to continue using it after all the other failures that were found. First, a combination keyboard or mouse port is included to help with legacy input device support. Next a DVI-D, HDMI and VGA graphic ports with HD display support will be found to give you Blu-Ray playback 1080P support. Then an optical S/PDIF connector and 6 audio jacks for your audio signal needs is there. Finally 6 USB and one eSATA port are included to help move files.
As an example of what this motherboard can really do, we connected a Sony 46" LED television to this back plane using the HDMI port and a ViewSonic VA2231wm Widescreen 22" monitor to the DVI-D port of the backpanel on this motherboard. Using Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64, we can now simultaneously stream the GeoVision 16 channel video feed to both display devices for monitoring the video events that occur.
USB 3.0 And SATA 3.0
The motherboard can address up to five SATA 3.0 hard drives and they can all be used in a RAID combination. Remember, the back panel gives you the ability to add another eSATA 6.0Gbs drive. USB 3.0 is a fantastic new external device technology that allows you to transfer multiple gigabyte files in seconds. A total of four USB 3.0 ports, 2 internal and 2 external, allow you to transfer files almost as fast as most SATA hard drives.
Motherboard Installation And Fan Port Availability
A Tragic Lack Of Fan Headers
Any modern motherboard offers multiple fan header ports to give you the capability to cool down your system based on temperature conditions. The website for this Gigabyte A75M-UD2H motherboard lists the following fan ports: 1x APU fan header, 1x system fan header and 1x power fan header. Yet the owner's manual and actual A75M-UD2H motherboard only has 1x APU fan header and 1x system fan header. The result for me was a poorly implement video surveillance computer system that lacked dynamic thermal control. I worry that my computer will overheat during the summer when temperatures exceed 95 degrees Fahrenheit outside and the air conditioning systems in my Texas warehouse struggle to keep up.
The other real problem with the fans on the Gigabyte A75M-UD2H motherboard is its lack of any BIOS based fan control. You cannot tell the system or processor fans to run at 100% so overclocking this Gigabyte board will be quite difficult for any serious PC user.
DDR3 Memory Support
The motherboard has 4 DDR3 memory slots with the capability of supporting up to 32Gb. Since I am using this motherboard as the core of a 16 channel digital video surveillance system, I wanted fast memory access to support the I/O needed to record 30 fps. Yet again, I was foiled by the BIOS and its unwillingness to let me set my four Kingston Hyper X 4Gb KHX1600C9D3K2/8GX DDR3 memory chips to 1600 Mhz. Every time I set the BIOS to 1600 Mhz the system would reboot and indicate an overclock error then reset the memory speed back to 1333Mhz. According to the manual, you can only use 1866 Mhz memory speed with just two DDR3 sticks. Appears this is also the case for 1600 Mhz.
The BIOS in your new motherboard is the interface to processor and peripheral control, outside of the operating system. To get the latest support for processors and DDR3 memory, I strongly suggest updating the BIOS on your motherboard. My board came with BIOS version 2. The Gigabyte A75M-UD2H now has BIOS version F4 which adds many new updates like: modify memory compatibility, add CPU C6-state item, APU AGESA 188.8.131.52, AMD Surround View support and many other features.
The motherboard uses the integrated Q-Flash Utility v2.23 to update its BIOS software. I had a difficult time with this utility since the neither the website nor the latest product manual, version 1002, fully covered its operation so I gave up on it. Next, I tried @BIOS which the instruction manual did cover and indicated would work under Windows. The utility offers the ability to update from the Gigabyte server or using your own downloaded file. I downloaded the F4 BIOS and after 3 minutes had it loaded on my A75M-UD2H motherboard. @BIOS then asked me to reboot Windows 7 and it came back up with no hassles.
Installing The Operating System
As the years have passed by, I have realized that one of most helpful portions of a motherboard review is a discussion of its ability to run various operating systems. We all assume that since Gigabyte offers drivers and states support for its product, that it must work. As you will soon see, that is not the case with the A75M-UD2H FM1 motherboard!
Windows XP Professional SP2 32Bit Was A Fail!
I made several attempts to install Microsoft Windows XP using this motherboard but kept getting BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death) messages upon initial load of the setup screen. Now it must be noted that I made no attempts to install Windows XP Pro after updating the BIOS to version F4. A novice PC user without access to any other operating system needs to know about this issue prior to purchasing the Gigabyte A75M-UD2H FM1 motherboard.
Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
My install went without a problem using a Targus ADV01US External DVD Drive connected to the USB 3.0 port on the back panel of this motherboard. After approximately 2 hours of install time, the computer was operational and I used the supplied Gigabyte AMD Fusion Utility DVD to update the AMD APU and network drivers. The whole system seems very fast in Windows 7 and gave me no problems once I installed the GeoVision GV800 16B PCI 16 Channel DVR card. I then tested the system for 48 hours recording 15 cameras at NTSC_M 704x480 resolution to a Seagate Barracuda Green 2Tb SATA hard drive. While I complain repeatedly in this review about overclocking potential, the computer seems to very stable when given a arduous like DVR stream recording over its PCI bus.
The performance of any motherboard is largely affected by the components attached. For the following benchmarks I used an AMD A6-3650 APU, four Kingston Hyper X KHX1600C9D3K2/8GX DDR3 memory chips, Thermaltake TR2-600NL2H power supply and two Seagate Barracuda Green 2Tb SATA hard drives running under Windows 7 Ultimate x64. The inability to overclock, muted my expectations of comparing this motherboard to other FM1 models on the market today.
Windows Experience Index Results For Gigabyte A75M-UD2H Motherboard
Here are the results for this motherboard.
Processor: Calculations per second; 7.2
Memory (RAM): Memory operations per second; 7.4
Graphics: Desktop performance for Windows Aero; 5.9
Gaming graphics: 3D business and gaming graphics performance; 6.5
Primary hard disk: Disk data transfer rate; 5.3
SuperPi is an application that extrapolates the specified digits of PI into a text file. The calculation is single threaded in this version so you only see the performance of one cpu core. In this test, I analyzed the performance using the 1,000,000 digits of Pi calculation. I overclocked the 32nm AMD A6-3650 to different frequencies and ran the test three times and reported the shortest time returned in the list below.
AMD A6-3650 2.600 Ghz, stock speed: 28 seconds
Here is how the AMD A6-3650 Quad Core stacks up against the competition in Super Pi:
Intel Celeron 1.8Ghz 400Mhz FSB Socket 478: 2 minutes 20 seconds
AMD A8-3850 2.900 Ghz Processor: 26 seconds
AMD PHENOM II 4X Z965 AM3 BLACK EDITION Processor: 20 seconds
1090T 3.2GHz AMD Phenom II X6 Six-Core Processor: 19 seconds
Intel Xeon E5450 3.0Ghz 12Mb cache four core processor: 15 seconds
Intel i7 920 Socket 1366 processor 2.667Ghz: 14 seconds
Intel Core 2 Duo E8600 3.33Ghz processor: 13 seconds
POV-Ray 3.7 RC3 64Bit
A new version of the freeware 3D animation utility has been released that offers SSE2 enhanced processing extensions. POV -Ray stresses the floating point unit and memory bandwidth of the processor to render stunning 2D images. The free raytracing software package also makes use of all available logical cpu cores in your computer system to render images. For this reason, POV is my processor benchmarking package of choice!
For this test, I am using the benchmark.pov file with QuickRes.ini value of 512x384 NO AA since it is provided with all new installations of POV.
AMD A6-3650 2.600 Ghz, 100 Mhz FSB, stock speed: 1 minute 56 seconds
For a quick comparison, take at look at what these AMD and Intel processors can do with the same benchmark.
AMD Sempron 140 Socket AM3 2.7Ghz Processor: 13 minutes 11 seconds
Intel E1400 Celeron Dual Core 2.0 Ghz, stock speed: 5 minutes 51 seconds
Intel Celeron Dual-Core E3300, 2.5 GHz (BX80571E3300) Processor: 4 minutes 0 seconds
AMD A8-3850 2.900 Ghz Processor: 1 minute 53 seconds
Dual AMD Opteron 6128 Processors for 16 total cores: 48 seconds
The new AMD APU Graphics processors are exciting technology but this product is not what you should use to take advantage of them. After using the Gigabyte A75M-UD2H for two weeks, I have concluded that is an average product for experienced computer users but below par for the consumer. The BIOS update from F2 to F4 was a huge hurdle that would stop any user with just Windows XP and no other operating system options. Additionally, its inability to overclock the AMD A6-3650 FM1 processor or Kingston Hyper X 4Gb DDR3 1600Mhz memory should leave you running elsewhere. Finally, only having two fan headers left my computer without any robust dynamic cooling options. The GeoVision video surveillance system I based on this motherboard will now never perform to its highest potential because of these glaring inadequacies by Gigabyte product designers. I was able to get the computer system running and stable for recording 16 channels of video 24/7 but the video quality is hampered by memory bandwidth issues.
I recommend the Biostar TA75M+ DDR3 FM1 motherboard which comes out of the box with broad support capabilities that will not leave you with a BSOD and has been proven to overclock the AMD A8-3850 2.900 Ghz Processor.