Packaging & Appearance
The Gigabyte MA790GP-DS4H takes on a different approach to the MSI in that there is no weird alien race looking to hunt you down, gone are the spacecraft and motherships of yesteryear replaced instead by a basic, minimalist yet professional and mature design. Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder but in my humble opinion the Gigabyte offering is a much more sublime and attractive design which perhaps is intended to appeal to the more mature end of the market. Of course I could be speaking utter tosh here but, at thirty something I feel like a spotty teenager buying items with aliens and gargoyles on the front of PC products, so this is, for me at least, a much more attractive package.
Like the MSI, the Gigabyte board offers similar features in being ATI Crossfire compatible and having Sideport Memory. The Gigabyte board also offers something which the MSI does not - DualBIOS which is often taken for granted on Gigabyte boards as it has been around for sometime now but it is still revered as a valuable feature, especially come the dreaded BIOS update time. The rear of the package goes on to advertise the IGP Radeon HD3300 graphics core, 128mb of Sideport Memory, full HD 1080p Blu-Ray playback capability and an all-solid motherboard capacitor design.
In comparison to the MSI, the accessories are sparse. Immediately apparent is the missing Crossfire bracket. Lacking a Crossfire bracket is not the best idea considering this is a Crossfire capable motherboard and especially as MSI are generous enough to include two! Four Quick latch SATA cables are included however along with an IDE and floppy ribbon cable. For the price of the motherboards on test today I would prefer to have seen the inclusion of rounded IDE/Floppy cables but both parties are guilty of this crime, not just the Gigabyte. The backplate is clearly labelled so there should be no confusion as to which port is which and along with the USB PCI bracket, this completes the included accessories for the Gigabyte board.
Like the MSI, Gigabyte are keen to continue the 'explosion in a Crayola factory' theme, utilising a range of colours which don't particularly follow any order. If the board was aimed at the enthusiast aged from 2+ then that would be OK but I don't believe for one second Gigabyte are in competition with Mothercare. While this may not be an issue with users who don't have a window in their case, those that do may consider the colour scheme to be enough not to buy a motherboard, such is the high standard of competition these days.
Luckily for Gigabyte though, it does redeem itself with the actual design of the motherboard. Everything is in pretty much the right place with the majority of the ports situated on the perimeter of the motherboard. If there was one fault I could aim at the board (colour aside), it would be the SATA placement. I would prefer to have had them at the very edge of the board and possibly at a 90 degree angle. The inner most SATA ports may become blocked if a large GPU is used in the 2nd PCI slot.