Gigabyte GA-73PVM-SH2 mATX Motherboard

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Product(s): Gigabyte GA-73PVM-SH2 Motherboard
Provided By: Memory Express

Real-Time Price:

Introduction: 

There are literally hundreds of motherboard options on the market today, and it almost becomes overwhelming for some users that just want to build a new PC and don't really want anything too expensive, but still wants something reliable and also still wants a few features to be included. The Gigabyte GA-73PVM-SH2 is a board that is aimed at exactly that market, and with features like HDMI out, also could be a very popular choice for the HTPC market.

A couple weeks ago we took a look at another mATX board from Intel, the Intel DQ35J0, which is approximately in the same price range as the Gigabyte GA-73PVM-SH2 which we are going to be looking at today. Throughout the review I will be linking back to the Intel review since it will be great to compare the two to see how they compare performance-wise.

Let's get on with the testing....

 

First Impressions:

At first look this board looks pretty standard, nothing too flashy about it. Then you look at the inputs and realize that this board has a ton of features, features like DVI-Out, VGA-Out, HDMI-Out, eSATA, lots of USB ports and headers, RAID capable, SPIDIF-Out, onboard 1394, 7.1 channel capable soundcard, Gigabit Ethernet, and more. Not too bad for a board that retails for less than $90.00 CDN

 

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Box Front
boxback.jpg
Box Back

 

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Full View
board2.jpg
Side View

   

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Inputs/Outputs
ram.jpg
Memory/CPU Socket

 

As you can see on the back of the board, there are a lot of options. HDMI-out is a great feature for the HTPC crowd, and options like eSATA really make adding another hard drive down the road simple.

One drawback is the 2 memory slots, but for the average user and HTPC, there is really no need for 4 slots of memory, with a couple 2GB sticks of memory you will have plenty of memory for anything you need for the time being. Also not many mATX boards have 4 slots anyways, so the lack of memory slots really isn't a huge drawback for most.



Gigabyte GA-73PVM-SH2 Motherboard Specifications:


Product Info:

The GA-73PVM-S2H supports Intel latest high performance CPU delivers the most energy-efficient performance available today. Based on Intel's Micro Architecture, the Intel multi-core processors with 4 cores and two shared L2 caches provide the best capability-per-watt solutions and are an ideal choice for multi-media enthusiasts and intensive multi-tasking environments. This cutting-edge processor offers significant performance boosts and provides an overall more energy efficient platform.

The brand new NVIDIA® GeForce 7100 / nForce 630i MCP (Media and Communications Processor) features CineFX™ 3.0 Engine. This unique combination of MCP creates a single motherboard featuring a world-class DX9, Shader Model 3.0 GPU for faster and smoother game-play, a high quality video processing engine for advance quality of video and DVD playback.
 
Features:
  • Supports Intel® Core™ 2 multi-core processor with FSB1333
  • NVIDIA GeForce 7100 / nForce 630i Chipset
  • Solid Capacitor for CPU VRM
  • Windows Vista Premium Logo Certified
  • HDMI-The Next Generation Multimedia Interface
  • Supports DDR2 800/667 up to 4GB Memory
  • ALC889A Enables a Superior Audio Experience
  • SATA 3Gb/s storage interface
  • IEEE1394 motherboard
  • Gigabit LAN connectivity
  • RoHS compliant


Specifications:

Processor Support - Support for an Intel® Core™ 2 Extreme processor/ Intel® Core™ 2 Quad processor/Intel® Core™ 2 Duo processor/ Intel® Pentium® processor Extreme Edition/Intel® Pentium® D processor/ Intel® Pentium® 4 processor Extreme Edition/Intel® Pentium® 4 processor/ Intel® Celeron® processor in the LGA 775 package
(Go to GIGABYTE's website for the latest CPU support list.)
- L2 cache varies with CPU
   
Front Side Bus 1333/1066/800 MHz FSB
   
Chipset nVIDIA® GeForce 7100/nForce 630i
   
Memory 2 x 1.8V DDR2 DIMM sockets supporting up to 4 GB of system memory
Support for DDR2 800/667/533 MHz memory modules
(Go to GIGABYTE's website for the latest memory support list.)
   
Graphics Integrated in the nVIDIA® GeForce 7100/nForce 630i chipset
   
Storage nVIDIA® GeForce 7100/nForce 630i chipset
- 3 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (SATAII0, SATAII1, SATAII2) supporting up to 3 SATA 3Gb/s devices
- 1 x eSATA 3Gb/s port on the back panel supporting up to 1 SATA 3Gb/s device
- Support for SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 0+1
- 1 x IDE connector supporting ATA-133/100/66/33 and up to 2 IDE devices

iTE IT8718 chip:
- 1 x floppy disk drive connector supporting up to 1 floppy disk drive
   
LAN RTL 8211B chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)
   
Audio Realtek ALC889A codec
- High Definition Audio
- 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
- Support for S/PDIF In/Out
- Support for CD In
   
IEEE 1394 T.I. TSB43AB23 chip
- Up to 2 IEEE 1394a ports (1 on the back panel, 1 via the IEEE 1394a bracket connected to the internal IEEE 1394a header)
   
USB - Integrated in the nVIDIA® GeForce 7100/nForce 630i chipset
- Up to 10 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (4 on the back panel, 6 via the USB brackets connected to the internal USB headers)
   
Back Panel I/O Ports 1 x PS/2 keyboard port Connectors
1 x PS/2 mouse port
1 x D-Sub port
1 x DVI-D port (Note 1)
1 x HDMI port
1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
1 x eSATA 3Gb/s port
1 x IEEE 1394a port
4 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
1 x RJ-45 port
6 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out/Rear Speaker Out/Side Speaker Out/Line In/Line Out/Microphone)

(Note 1) The DVI-D port does not support D-Sub connection by adapter.
   
Internal I/O Connectors

1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
1 x 4-pin ATX 12V power connector
1 x floppy disk drive connector
1 x IDE connector
3 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors
1 x CPU fan header
1 x system fan header
1 x front panel header
1 x front panel audio header
1 x CD In connector
1 x S/PDIF In/Out header
1 x IEEE 1394a header
3 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
1 x parallel port header
1 x serial port header
1 x chassis intrusion header
1 x power LED header

   
BIOS 1 x 4 Mbit flash
Use of licensed AWARD BIOS
PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.4, ACPI 1.0b
   
Expansion Slots 1 x PCI Express x16 slot
1 x PCI Express x1 slot
2 x PCI slots
   
Form Factor Micro ATX Form Factor; 24.4cm x 22.0cm
   
Unique Features Support for @BIOS
Support for Download Center
Support for Q-Flash
Support for EasyTune (Note 2)
Support for Xpress Install
Support for Xpress Recovery2
Support for Virtual Dual BIOS

 

Gigabyte GA-73PVM-SH2 Motherboard Testing:

Test Setup:

For the testing of this motherboard I am going to test the memory performance, hard drive performance, graphics performance, networking performance and some general testing to see how this motherboard performs.

 

Test System

  • Intel Core 2 Duo E6600
  • Gigabyte GA-73PVM-SH2 Motherboard - Provided by Memory Express
  • Onboard Geforce 7100 Video Card
  • 2 GB Kit of Crucial Ballistix Tracer PC2-8500 - Provided by Crucial
  • Western Digital 500 gig (16 MB Cache)
  • Windows Vista Ultimate

 

 

Memory Testing:

For memory testing I've included results from Sisoft Sandra and Everest Ultimate. Between these two tests we should get a pretty good estimate of what this board is capable of. If you refer to our review of the Intel DQ35J0 mATX board that we recently took a look at you'll see the results are quite similar.

 

 

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Click on Chart for Larger View

 

I'm happy enough with the memory performance; 2 GB of memory running at PC2-8500 is right about where it should be.

 

Hard Drive Testing:

Next up we've got the HDD testing, for this test I've used Sisoft Sandra.

 

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Click on Chart for Larger View

 

Once again if you'd like to refer to another board in the same price range, our review of the Intel DQ35J0 mATX board yielded approx. the same results with the Gigabyte board just edging it out performance-wise, but chances are good that extra 2-3% wouldn't be noticeable at all.

 

Network Testing:

For the network testing portion I've used handy iperf.

The results of my testing were pretty impressive, with the Gigabyte GA-73PVM-SH2 coming it at a whopping 67.6 MB/s, which is quite impressive and when compared to our other mATX board (Intel DQ35J0 mATX board), but to accomplish that CPU usage was around 20-25%, which is quite high for an onboard NIC.


Gaming Testing:

Now this board isn't necessarily marketed as the ultimate gaming board or anything, but I thought it would be interesting to see how the onboard Geforce 7100 would handle a game like Call of Duty 4. For all the Gaming testing I was using the Nvidia 169.25 drivers, which at the time of publishing were the newest official Nvidia drivers supported.

 

cod4.jpg
Click on Chart for Larger View

 

Well, as you can see, the onboard Geforce 7100 didn't do so well. Even at 640x480 with absolutely everything turned off, it wasn't even able to break 20 fps and was extremely choppy and pretty much unplayable. The onboard graphics are pretty weak, so don't expect to be doing much gaming with it. The onboard graphics did their job when playing movies and older games, but chances are good if you want to do any gaming with any recent titles, you're going to want to go out and buy a video card.

 

Just for fun I decided to run 3DMark06 on the onboard graphics to see how it fared....

 

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Click on Chart for Larger View

 

Well, as you can see the onboard graphics didn't do so well, and I'm actually quite surprised it was able to even complete the benchmark, but it did and scored a big 441 points. I decided to throw in a Geforce 8800GT 512MB video card, and was able to hit 9928, which is a 22.5x increase in performance. Once again I'll remind anyone who wants to play pretty much any game made in the last 2 years, your still going to want to get a video card, because the onboard Geforce 7100 just won't cut it. If all you want to do is use it for a HTPC and watch movies and other HTPC-related activities, the onboard video will be just fine.

 

Gigabyte GA-73PVM-SH2 Motherboard Final Conclusion:

There are lots of options if you're looking for a HTPC or basic motherboard, and the Gigabyte GA-73PVM-SH2 is yet another. If you start to compare feature-for-feature, you're going to have a tough time finding a board with more features than the GA-73PVM-SH2, and that's what makes this board a great choice.

The biggest reason people are going to buy this board is because of its value, not many boards on the market have features like HDMI-out on a ~$90.00 dollar motherboard. With all these features this is going to be a very popular choice for someone looking for an economical upgrade.

If your hoping to play any games on the onboard Geforce 7100, you're not going to be very impressed though, as the performance with any newer game isn't great at all, but in a sub-$100 dollar motherboard you can't be expecting to run much games-wise. As I showed in the testing it was pretty easy to drop in another video card, like the 8800GT, and increase your gaming performance by a huge amount. The onboard video runs all your HTPC-related tasks with no problem, and for the person who isn't going to be playing new 3D games, it's a great choice.

I really didn't have any issues with this board, it doesn't have any crazy overclocking features, or anything like that, but really for the price range this board is in, you can't expect that at all. For a sub $100 dollar board I really have no complaints.

At the end of the day I can quite easily recommend this motherboard if you're looking for a cheap upgrade, or want a board for your new HTPC. This board has a ton of options for a very reasonable price, and because of those reasons this board is a great buy. It's stable, very reasonably priced, and has tons of features, and that has earned the Gigabyte GA-73PVM-SH2 Motherboard out "Top Pick" award.

 

Pros:

  • Affordable Price
  • Very Stable
  • Lots of Features
  • Fantastic HTPC Motherboard

 

Cons:

  • Nothing Major

 

BCCRating

 

TopPick

I'd like to thank Memory Express for letting us review the Gigabyte GA-73PVM-SH2. If you have any questions, comments, or general feedback, please leave it at the "Comments" link below.