New Test Board
Posted 26 November 2012 - 11:14 PM
So, first up - I have been running a small server, as I am sure many of you are aware. This server was sitting on a very (!!!!) cheap Gigabyte M68MT-S2. That is a Micro-ATX board with very little going for it. The fact that it worked at all for my purpose was surprising enough. My media center also ended up absorbing most of my gaming machine (which I have yet to rebuild... waiting for next gen Intel gear). So I went shopping today, with the wife's blessing ("It had better be CHEAP!")
So now I am the proud (?) owner of the Gigabyte 970A-DS3. Ok - if you guys take nothing else from this entire blob, take this. This board is INSANELY cheap (at least locally). After the whopping $15 rebate, this puppy is $55! Doesn't sound cheap yet? Ok, consider that it uses 100% solid caps, and has USB 3.0, and SATA 6. Still doesn't sound cheap? Add in the CROSSFIRE compatibility, and the dual freaking bios! This is a very, very nice board for the money. As expected though, you get next to NOTHING to go with it. Basic 5.1 audio. No fancy 7.1 stuff, or digital outputs. No Firewire. No box full of cables (apart from a pair of black SATA cables). Only a decent array of USB ports, and a single network jack. Not even a cheap aluminum heatsink for the VRM's!
However, the essentials are all present and accounted for. UEFI? Check. 6 Sata ports? Check. Case fan headers? 3. Front panel USB connections? 3. Solid coils? Check. 4 ram slots? Check.
So for anyone dead set on an AMD based gaming machine, with crossfire, dirt cheap, yes I wholeheartedly suggest going this route.
Now the reason that this ended up here instead of just in the motherboard thread, software.
There are a series of questions that continue to be a problem for some people. The main one I am thinking of is regarding Windows 8 and DVD playback. The question quickly came up, what will happen to those people who want to watch DVDs and built their own machines? The answer, is that even on this dirty cheap board, Power DVD 10 was included. No trial, no limits (well - no BR support, but Windows didn't ever support it). It was included for people to use. Actually, Gigabyte was kind enough to include a considerable amount of software, OC tools, network analysis tools, FireFox (3.6!), and so on.
It is actually nice to see companies step up here, and take the high road.
Posted 26 November 2012 - 11:37 PM
It turns out that the 6770 I picked up some time ago, to solve a different problem, does NOT have a crossfire bridge! WTF
I paid damned good money for that card, and MSI couldn't even be bothered to include the connection for a bridge...
No matter, in an interesting note, the remaining 5770 I have actually works with the 6770 in crossfire through the PCI-E bus! So I do have full crossfire support. Remember to thank the good guys at AMD that actually supported this, even though on the 54xx series and 64xx series were officially supported.
Posted 27 November 2012 - 03:45 AM
Posted 27 November 2012 - 02:35 PM
Snyper you are right about that - most companies don't bother with a refined BIOS in their entry level products, this is quite a surprise to see that Gigabyte has.
Posted 04 April 2013 - 10:44 PM
So first up, the total hardware package.
Board: Gigabyte 970A-DS3 (duh)
CPU: AMD Sempron 145EE
RAM: 2GB (2x1GB) Patriot 25th Anv Spec ed 1333Mhz
Hard drive: Hitachi 320GB drive (some random thing that was laying around...)
Video card: Nvidia 550Ti ( I love re-purposing these parts)
Power: Antec EW 385
CPU Cooling: A very old ThermalTake Blue Orb. (bought this when I built my AMD 4200+ Socket 939).
Now, the fun part. I decided to OC this puppy and see what I could get out of it. To be honest, this board and that chip are impressive in ways that shouldn't even make sense.
This is the chip I could never manage to unlock correctly. I tried several times, across different boards, and it was always unstable.
Not on this puppy.
Both cores are 100% stable. So stable, in fact, that I decided to try and push the limits. What I found, I think, are the limits of the board and cooling. Not the chip.
Currently, the CPU is running along at a happy 4102Mhz on a 293Mhz bus! Yes, that is 1400Mhz over stock! That is better than 50% OC on top of the dual core unlock! On top of this, I currently have that 1333Mhz ram running at 1563Mhz 10-9-9-30 timings. I did have that ram up to 1620, but the CPU itself wasn't able to keep cool enough (and thus stable enough) at those speeds. The blue orb itself has been around my place for quite some time, and seen a fair number of rigs. It is a capable cooler, but nothing like the V8 or 10X Flex. Truthfully, with a bit better cooling, this CPU could easily remain stable to the boards limits.
Speaking of board limits, it would appear that I am actually not far from them. With the ram and HT links cut back some more, I could get the system to POST all the way up to 310Mhz. Anything beyond that was a failure. I don't think this was a fault of the CPU, just the edge of what the board is willing to do. It is also more than likely the reason I was seeing instability increase drastically the closer I got to 300Mhz.
Now, three important notes for anyone getting one of these to OC on.
1. There are MULTIPLE bus speed holes in this board! I know for a fact, I identified 2 in this board. I honestly thought I would never get past the 220Mhz range, until I skipped it and went straight to 240Mhz. I found another hole a short time later. Don't give up hope.
2. This board will auto-recover from MOST OC failures. Not all. However, if it doesn't recover, just shut off power, wait 15~20 seconds, and power it back on. It will recover eventually.
3. I added my own cooling for the VRM's. I don't need anything exploding. If you are going to OC, I would suggest you do the same!
So once again, I find myself extremely impressed with this board. Even more impressed with how far a Sempron can be pushed!