on 17 February 2014
"This is TINY!" is what my first reaction to this board, as this was my first Mini-ITX case.
For ~£70+ (At time of writing), this is no cheap board! However it has proper audio output (all the slots are there! Great if you have a Speaker system with AC-3 and AUX as the it can be used on your phone etc.) and it has the newer A88X Chipset and FM2+ CPU socket which was designed for Kaveri processors. It also has 2 USB 3.0 ports on the rear I/O and has a USB 3.0 header on board! This makes it much more future proof! It comes with an Intel WiFi card and an awesome magnetic aerial. The WiFi card also has Bluetooth. A massive RAM limit makes this great for a Gaming HTPC! (Which is what I use it for). It also sports Gigabyte's Ultra Durable branding which allows peace of mind for you as you know all the parts are well built and of high quality.
All in all, Highly recommended!
You're rather limited when it comes to ITX motherboards and even more so, it seems, when you want to build an HTPC around AMD's combination of CPU and GPU in one APU.
It's a tiny little board but it comes with all the information you'll need to get up and running and I had ZERO problems with my new build which has happily been running a Windows 8 build of XBMC and some light gaming.
The WiFi has been excellent.
Good product overall, would recommend. I put it into a Coolermaster Elite 130 case, as I plan to add a proper GPU down the line (probably a 750GTX TI when the price falls) and wanted something which would take a full size PSU.
on 16 July 2014
It's a great little motherboard so don't get me wrong when I slag it a little.
First I'm using it with cheap A6 FM2 3.9GHZ processor and it runs pretty good all around. However, this processor might be the reason for some of the negative feelings I have in general because I upgraded from an older Asus motherboard that used the first edition of the FM2 processor at only 3ghz and I feel that the 1gz increase with the extra cache, etc. showed little to no improvement over performance and on top of that, the old processor although a technically slower, never gave me a hickup or a headache. So perhaps it's just the crap processor that gives the bad impression and not just the board itself?
This system does seem unusually sluggish at times and I do have some top end 1800mhz performance ram.. and yes the BIOS is properly set up. You have to switch on the default memory profile to engage 1800mhz but it's easy. I have the cpu just slightly overclocked from 3.9 to 4.0ghz. When I looked into overclocking and tweaking the memory performance, I discovered that the settings were automatically set to higher timings so I just left it as is. I've checked and rechecked for something to tweak, but I find nothing. This system should have a little sparkle in it's eye, but it is for all intended purposes a bit of a dullard.
Another problem though trivial is the wi-fi cable is VERY short. It's really odd because it's actually two of those little standard DB9 plugs that each plug into their own little plug on the board? What were they thinking? One is for bluetooth and the other is wi-fi and they both share the single antena at the end, but I've had nothing but headaches with both signals. The bluetooth hates my mouse and drops the signal every 40 seconds for 8 seconds. I bought a cheap £1 bluetooth dongle at Poundland and it works like a dream.
And because the cable and areal are entirely non-standard, you won't find one on e-bay (or anywhere else for that matter). Proprietary Gigabyte technolgy perhaps? I don't know, I just know the design kinda sucks. And just try finding a way to extend the length of the cables. Simple right? Just buy a couple of 3 or 5 metre DB9 cables and extend both? It's not pretty but the problem should be solved? Nope. For some reason, extending the cables only made the connection very weak or non existenent. And these are good quality too. Expensive they were! I tried them with other hardware and they peformed fine.
I ended up switching off the wi-fi module entirely in bios and used my trusty old Awai USB modem and the Poundland Bluetooth dongle. The big selling point of this board is the wi-fi and bluetooth but both let me down.
By the way, the wi-fi/bluetooth module installed is just an ordinary full sized mini-pci card that you'd find in a laptop. Now I was thinking that I could pull out the wi-fi and perhaps use something in it's place. But the manual clearly states that the only thing this mini-pci slot can handle is indeed a wi-fi card and nothing else. Bummer!
Another negative worth mentioning. It comes marketed with this snazy cutting edge BIOS called the GIGABYTE UEFI DualBIOS. It's supposed to let you update your bios from within the operating system itself using some stellar no-brainer new-fangled technology. There is also an alternative snazzy way to do it with a single usb stick, while booting up. It supposed to read ordinary fat32 or ntsf formated usb sticks. Sounds dreamy huh? No more running the risk of booting up off of old dodgy dos partitioned USB sticks and manually updating.
However, although my board was marked as the very latest revision and release, the bios that it shipped with was the very first BUGGY AS ALL HELL release. It not only failed to support USB 3, but it didn't suppor the new bios updated scheme. How do I know? When I went to use it, it said, Warning, you're BIOS is too old to support this feature." Genius! But thanks for telling me though!
The old bios by the way gave me constant blue screens of death when installing Windows 7 x64. Finally after several attempts at installing and thinking something was broken (but not knowing what exactly??) I finally got windows running. Then it was a true and genuine headache and testement to mans unflinching will to achieve, that after several hours of work getting wi-fi installed and being able to connect to the internet, I was finally able to download the latest BIOS. I couldn't use an external usb modem and be sneaky about it because when I plugged the modem in to any usb port, I got a blue screen of death.
Thats when I discovered that it was not going to be easy to update the Bios. No I had to create a windows98 DOS bootable USB stick (seriously). Lucky for me I had an old 2GB usb stick, becuase as it turns out, you cant use anything bigger. I tracked down an old utility called HPUSBDisk.exe which will let you burn a standard DOS file partition system to the usb stick or in this case, allow you to select your custom partition files. In this case, it was the system files for win98.
Well setting all that to the side for a minute;
At the end of the day, i'ts an OK system. The game perfomance isn't as good as my old outdated system. The one with "first generation" 3ghz FM2 processor. So perhaps it's just the processor and not the board.? I don't know. However, my old memory was 1300mhz and the cpu was a full 1GHZ slower. Surely it should be a tad bit better? Sadly not.
However, one last thought to give the devil his due! It does have this Ultra-Durable technology which means that it's guaranteed to work very well over a long period of time because it uses solid capacitors which last 20x longer than old chemical caps. They've come to understand that computers die from poor quality electricity and they've tackled it to some degree. So that gives me confidence. Lots of BIOS updates and it seems pretty stable and ok. I don't think a power outage is going to wreck it. It also runs really cool and quiet and the stock spu fan doesnt' make any noise. It doesn't give off the nasty computer electrical sonic vibes that pc's have done for generations now.. I like the peace and quiet and I think I'm going to stick to mini-itx for a long time. I just like it all around over traditional pc's, though they have some odd quirks.
To get almost no noise at all, I use a 160watt laptop power supply and one of those 12V Pico MINI ITX ATX Power Supply modules I found on e-bay for £12. Way better than traditional power supplies that give otu all that toxic electromagnetic noise. Goodbye traditional power supply! I highly recommend this if you appreciate silence.
One last thought. I updated the BIOS lately. I couldn't be bothered learning their new fangled improved BIOS update process they had previously dazzled me with. It seems like a headache, so I used the old skool method that I employeed with the DOS Win98 system files. I feel like the toughest nerd on campus with a set of knuckle busters. Don't mess with me!
Anyway, now that it's upgraded it can handle the latest FM2+ processor, so I'm willing to give the board the benefit of the doubt and see if it doesn't finally shine with this new processor. If it does it will be in part due to the motherboard and the very expensive top end memory I put in it. I get the feeling it's this lowly A6 FM2 processor that's holding it back. If it doesn't then I'll salvage my new processor and memory and head off in a new direction with a different brand.
BUT BE WARNED. If you plan on buying this board along with the latest FM2+ processor. You will need the very latest BIOS installed to run anyt FM2 with the "+". It just won't boot up at all and people generally complain bitterly when things just don't boot up as expected. Don't be one of those people!
Good luck and send me a message if you want to chat about this board. I'm happy to help!