Again, the gaming tests were not intended to compare the Phenom II X3/ASRock M3A785GMH/128M with an i7 system, a powerful rig costing twice as much as the AMD based rig, the i7 numbers were added to give a reference point. But the AMD Phenom II X3 rig proved quite respectable, maintaining very playable FPS, and not as far behind the i7 as you'd expect.
The ASRock M3A785GMH/128M proved to be a nice stable platform for the Phenom II AM3. Though it is an mATX board, it has everything I'd need for a full system. It doesn't have multiple video card capabilities, but I (and most gamers I suspect) don't normally use SLI or CrossfireX. The integrated graphics, something I didn't test, support DX 10.1, and are suitable enough for gaming, though at low graphics settings. Or use an ATI mainstream video card and get a boost from Hybrid Crossfire.
Not only does the board have eSATA, it even has an onboard HDMI port. That port, mATX form factor, and ASRock's Blu-ray Audio Support, make the M3A785GMH/128M an excellent choice for an HTPC rig.the best candidate I've seen considering the price of the board.
The BIOS is set up well, definitely among the better I've seen for overclocking. Every overclock relevant setting is in one menu, no need to go to other menus, not even to submenus contained on the overclock page. Only thing missing is real-time CPU speed display, which is also missing on many motherboards costing much more. The BIOS' EZ Overclocking is very convenient, either select a setting and go, or use the setting as a beginning point for further tweaks.
I guess the only thing I found that might cramp the style of some is only four USB ports on the I/O panel, but every other AMD mATX motherboard I looked at, most costing much more than the M3A785GMH/128M, only have four. Unlike many full ATX boards, and every AMD mATX board I looked at, the M3A785GMH/128M has three internal USB connectors, giving the capability of six more USB ports either on-chassis or from an empty expansion slot. (no, a USB expansion bracket is not included to keep costs down)
The ASRock M3A785GMH/128M sells for $80 at my favorite online retailer. Couple that with the impressive $120 Phenom II X3 720, along with a Blu-ray ROM drive, and you could build a great HTPC rig for around $550! Or ditch the Blu-ray, add a powerful video card such as the $175 GTX 260 in the test rig and a better PSU and build a respectable gaming rig for under $700. Either way, the M3A785GMH/128M is definitely a bargain. ThinkComputers.org gives the ASRock M3A785GMH/128M AM3 motherboard a 10 out of 10 score.
- Lots of features for a budget priced mATX board
- Onboard HDMI and Blu-ray Audio Support make it a perfect choice for an HTPC rig
- BIOS among the better laid out for overclocking we've seen
- Excellent internal connector layout for an mATX board
- $80 price tag