The feature set of both 785G boards we have here in house are eerily similar. They both feature the same number of ports, expansion slots, display outputs, and I/O as each other. For added IGP performance, they both also ship with 128MB of DDR3 Sideport memory. It's almost as if ASUS and Gigabyte had a copy of each others playbook for 785G. We'll go in ABC order though, starting with ASUS.
ASUS M4A785TD-M EVO
The ASUS M4A785TD-M EVO is one of the first ASUS motherboards to sport a PCB that uses 2-ounces of copper for the power and ground layers of the board, just like Gigabyte. This is a move designed to reduce the operating temperature of the motherboard, which in turns help to reduce the temps of the board's underlying components.
Besides the 2-ounce copper PCB, we were also particularly pleased to see ASUS equip the M4A785TD-M EVO with Express Gate. ASUS Express Gate provides end users with quick and easy access to the Internet, without having to wait 30-60 seconds (or more) to boot up Windows. You can also use Express Gate to chat via Skype, view photos, or use the built-in chat utility for instant messaging.
Since this is a value-oriented motherboard, this is a software, rather than hardware-based implementation of Express Gate. This means that you'll have to install the app to your hard drive rather than the native solution that's built-in to high-end ASUS motherboards. The software solution takes a little longer to boot up: 15 seconds to load Express Gate via software versus the 5-seconds it takes to load up from dedicated hardware – and a little longer to load the apps for web browsing, Skype, and chat, but still, waiting for Express Gate to load is a lot quicker than waiting to load Windows, then launch your favorite web browser just so you can check hotmail, Yahoo Mail or Gmail.
For audio ASUS has sourced an 8-channel CODEC from VIA, their VT1708S chip.
As you can see in the pictures, the M4A785TD-M EVO features one x16 PCIe graphics slot and one x1 PCIe slot. For additional expansion, ASUS also includes two PCI slots.
Out back you'll find HDMI, DVI, and VGA video outputs along with 6 USBs, 1 eSATA, and 1 Firewire port.
The BIOS ASUS provides for the M4A785TD-M EVO is quite good for a micro-ATX solution. For overclocking, HyperTransport speeds ranging from 200-550MHz are available in 1MHz increments. Clock multipliers range from 8.0 up to 35.0, with half multipliers in between. As a result, you could theoretically dial up clock speeds up to 7GHz if you had a processor capable of hitting such high speeds.
GPU Overclocking is also supported, so you can OC the Radeon HD 4200 IGP for added performance. Speeds range from 500-1500MHz in 1MHz increments (we managed to hit speeds up to 780MHz on the IGP with complete stability). PCIe speed adjustments range from 100-150MHz in 1MHz increments, while memory multipliers are available in BIOS for DDR3 speeds up to 1600MHz.
Voltage adjustment is also supported. CPU voltages range from 0.975V-1.7V in increments of 0.00625V. Voltage settings for HyperTransport (1.25-1.385V in 0.01500V increments), North Bridge (0.8-1.55V in 0.00625V increments), DDR3 memory (1.5-2.31V in 0.015V increments), and South Bridge voltage (1.1-1.61V in 0.0150V increments) are also available.
For those of you with dual or triple-core CPUs, the board's BIOS also offers the ability to unlock all the processing cores on your CPU, effectively giving you a quad-core part, but keep in mind that not all processors will function properly once all four cores are unlocked: none of the dual or triple core processors we have here in the labs works with this feature.
Overall the ASUS M4A785TD-M EVO should offer more than enough features for DIY'ers looking for a low-cost 785G solution. Its flexible BIOS should also allow plenty of room for enthusiasts to push the limits when OC'ing.