Packaging and Initial Impressions
The motherboard arrived in a fairly standard “Asus like” box, indicating the model name in large font at the front and it’s key features. At any rate, it certainly seems to have survived it’s journey across the country. As we expected, the internals were as they should be and packed in a very secure fashion. Included in the box other than the motherboard were two SATA cables, an I/O Shield, an IDE cable, manual and CD, a fairly standard accessory list.
Here’s the M4A785TD-V EVO in the flesh. A rather mean looking motherboard given it’s target market. Physically speaking, the board seemed very well built and it seems as though a fair amount of thought has gone into it’s layout, with a sensible combination of PCI, PCI-E 1x and PCI-E 16x slots and Audio/USB/SATA placements. The absence of 90* rotated and stacked SATA II ports was to be expected for a motherboard of this class but again would have been a nice feature for Asus to have implemented for the sake of aiding cable management and also making the board more “tidy”, so to speak.
The Northbridge and Southbridge are cooled by separate passive, aluminum heatsinks. The 55nm 785G and SB710 shouldn’t really require anything more substantial and I’m glad that Asus did not take the more elaborate (and expensive) heatpipe route. Both heatsinks are installed by pushpins and can be easily removed if you wish to install a waterblock or aftermarket cooler. The contact between the cores and heatsink base appeared to be very good, preventing unnecessarily high temperatures that may cause instability or limit one’s overclock.
The installation process was quite uneventful until the power button for the test setup was pressed…
“Now imagine it’s Christmas morning and you’re sat there with your final present to open. It’s a big one, and you know what it is. It’s that Goodmans stereo you picked out the catalogue and wrote to Santa about. Only you open the present and it’s not in there. It’s your hamster Richard. It’s your hamster in the box and it’s not breathing. That’s how I felt when I peeled back the foil and saw this” Source.
The predicament that I was in suddenly cast my mind back to this agitated, albeit hilariously written complaint to Virgin Atlantic by a passenger who was less than satisfied about his in flight experience. Upon powering on this shiney new Asus 785G based motherboard, I was presented with a spectacular array of flickering and vertical lines of the greenish variety. Not quite as horrendous as a meal that looked like a dessert but wasn't, although it was disappointing all the same. Naturally, it’s understood that like all electronics, a small minority of motherboards may leave quality control with defects but I've been left in a situation that has prevented us from being able to test the key feature of this motherboard.