Page 2: The Chipset & Board
The AMD 770 is the entry level chipset of the 7-series familiy. Its designed for consumers who want the latest technology at an affordable price. Its flexibility shows with support of both the Athlon and Phenom processors. Also, HyperTransport 3.0 technology greatly increases CPU communications bandwidth while PCIe 2.0 improves graphics performance.
The board has a pretty nice layout with a dark purple color scheme. There is plenty of room around the CPU socket for any type of heatsink you may decide to use. The four memory sockets can hold a maximum 32GB of DDR2 according to the documentation. Although I've never come across any 8GB memory sticks, if the need were to arise then this is the board you want. ECS also included a couple of low profile, aluminum heatsinks for the northbridge and southbridge chips.
You can find the data and power ports along the edges of the board which helps with cable management and system airflow. There are four, black SATA II ports located near the southbridge heatsink. I had an issue with the vertical orientation of these connections. The GTX 280 videocard I installed for this review blocked ports 1 and 2 and left me with only two usable ports. With the size of current videocards reaching considerable proportions, designing these to be right angle SATA connections would solve this issue.
The A770M-A has one PCIe 2.0 x16 slot for support of latest graphics cards. There are also two PCIe x1 slots and three PCI expansion slots. The PCI Express x1 slot is designed to house less bandwidth intensive cards up to 250MB/sec while the remaining PCI slots support various expansion options such as LAN, USB and SCSI cards.
The rear panel houses a diverse collection of ports that should fit the needs of any system builder. I love the fact that ECS included an eSATA port along with the other standard connections you would find on a motherboard. And having six USB 2.0 ports along with the onboard 8-channel audio is a nice touch.