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Sep 26, 2014

New Gigabyte H81M-WW Motherboard Is Actually More of a Sound Card with PC Hardware Support




Gigabyte has just released a new entry-level motherboard, except that, the with the way it goes on and on about its audio quality, you'd think that it's actually a sound card disguised as a mainboard for whatever reason.

Sure, the product page has a lot of information on every little detail, but it says a lot when a product whose main role is to act as support platform for a CPU has a description that starts off by praising its audio technology. Then again, it's not like motherboard makers have much else to go on when trying to reel in customers. Not when every other facet of a PC's prowess is determined by the CPU, GPU and storage/memory devices. As ironic as it sounds, audio technology is the only means that companies like Gigabyte can use to set their products apart from the rest of their cohort. So despite that the Gigabyte H81M-WW is a low-end motherboard, it has audio quality above mainstream-level, if you know how to go about it.

The Gigabyte H81M-WW audio technology

Everything revolves around a Realtek ALC887 HD audio CODEC, which technically has a 6-channel configuration but can be rigged to work on 8-channel mode if you plug two channels through the jack wired to the front-panel audio header. Essentially, instead of activating the headphone mode, the motherboard can just add the speakers you plug there as two extra satellites. The codec has under 90 dBA SNR, but Nichicon audio-grade electrolytic capacitors and ground-layer isolation from the rest of the board ensures it works better and more clearly than it otherwise would.

The technical specs of the mainboard

They aren't much to look at, really. There are two DDR3 memory slots wired to the LGA 1150 CPU socket, which can only support up to Haswell CPUs (Core ix-4000 series), not Haswell-E (5000X series). On that note, the 3-phase CPU VRM is wired to a single PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot. There are two SATA 6.0 Gbps ports as well, plus a pair of SATA 3.0 Gbps connectors, a PCI Express 2.0 x1 slot, and a legacy PCI slot. As for display connectors, there is only a D-Sub analog VGA port, with a max resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels. It kind of puts a damper on the idea of using this thing for an HTPC. At least Gigabit Ethernet and USB 3.0 weren't left out. Two serial COM ports can be found on the rear panel as well.

Availability

It is unclear. The product has been posted on Gigabyte's website, but we'll have to wait for retailers to list it before we know anything more, like the price.

Gigabyte H81M-WW
Image credits to Gigabyte

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