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Gigabyte A75-UD4H + A8-3850 Overclocked Review

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Gigabyte A75-UD4H Review


Today I will be giving you a closer look at the A75-UD4H – Gigabyte's flagship FM1 motherboard paired with AMD's top of the line Fusion APU, the A8-3850.

CONTENTS
The Box
The Board
The Kit
The Bios
The Importance of RAM
Overclocking
Game Tests
3D Benchmarks
2D Benchmarks
Conclusion

THE BOX


The front of the box is boasting a score of over 5600 marks in 3dmark Vantage at the performance setting. I later found that this score was unattainable without overclocking the platform so I don't really see the merit of printing '5600+'. I'm not saying the board can't achieve that score as it definitely can, but at the very least you have to take the ram over what the CPU and board are rated for. It gives of a '10ghz e-bay advert' vibe to it and they could of easily marked it as 7000+, why stop at 5600?



The Back of the box explains the meaning of "Super 4" as being;

Super Safe, the combination of Dual Bios, 50,000 hour Japanese solid state capacitors and One fuse per port. I Don't believe I've ever witnessed a USB fuse pop but if one did on this board the rest would remain functional.

Super Speed, Ultra Durable Design, 3X USB Power Boost + On Off charge ( The ability to charge portable apple devices whilst the PC is switched off ) And finally Ultimate DX11 graphics performance. It goes on to say you can achieve a boost of up to 45% by using AMD dual graphics ( Hybrid Crossfire with he APU and a discrete card ). Which is wrong as the figure seems to be more like 95% from looking at recent performance figures. Toms hardware showed just over 95% scaling in World of Warcraft for example.

Super Savings, Lower RDS(on) Mosfets, Lover CPU zone temperatures, Higher Power efficiency. All of which can be explained through the VRM setup and mounting solution used.

Super Sound, This board uses a Realtek ALC889 audio codec. There are problems using 5.1 sound and you have to select 7.1 channel audio and disable the side speakers to get clear sound through the rear speakers but other than that it's pretty good as far as on-board audio goes.

That completes the blurb from the back of the box, lets open her up.


We get all the usual goodies in here;

4 serial ATA cables, 2 angled, 2 straight.

2 case badges, Dolby Digital and a powered by Gigabyte sticker.

1x Colour coded I/O shield.

Multi lingual, French and English Manuals are included as well as the obligatory driver disc. As this contains AMD ( ATI ) drivers I strongly recommend you download the latest ones.


THE BOARD


Upon opening the box you are welcomed with a small piece of red foam was wedged between the VRM heat-sink and the I/O units. This is because the VRM sink is on push pins and is very loose to the touch. The fact that 4 power phases up top are left completely uncovered gives me confidence the bad contact on the VRM sink is negligible but it's always nice to have and not a difficult fix... The heat-sinks are made of aluminum and the FCH heat-sink uses a hardware mounting solution which gives a very good mount.

There are 4 fan headers in total. 2 at the top of the board ( The main CPU header is PWM ) which is handy for people using a push pull fan configuration, one in between the 24 pin power and the ram slots then a final PWM header next to the FCH heat-sink.




This board sports a ISL6324A 4+1 phase controller for the APU with an 8+2 power phase design. 4935N/4921N 38 amp mosfets are used throughout the board and do run very cool.


The FM1 socket on this board is provided by foxconn and uses 2 separate hold downs but retains backwards compatibility with previous AMD coolers, both stock and after-market with the hole spacing being exactly the same as previous AM2/+/AM3/+ boards. This new mounting solution is meant to increases airflow to the RAM and VRM's when using a downward facing heat-sink






You can see here the hardware mounting solution for the FCH heat-sink, this gives great contact unlike the VRM heat-sink. There is also a metal backplate for the hold-down.


You will notice we finally have staggered dimms which is a growing trend among AMD's motherboard partners. The previous dimm arrangement blocked ram with wider spreaders from being used and caused issues with airflow so it's definitely a welcome sight.

Single phase power for the memory and a fan header nearby.





The space from the center of the socket to the far edge of the first dimm measures approximately 57mm's, this allows a venomous X to be mounted (114mm width ways when 2x 120x28mm fans are installed) with tall ram installed in the white dimms, cutting it close but it can be done.

It's usually better to use the pair of dimms furthest from the socket as per AMD's performance guides and from a heat standpoint.




Single phase power for the CPU PLL and FCH.




A total of 4 USB 2.0 headers including the ON/OFF charge port on the bottom of the board along with 2 USB 3.0 headers. Firewire, front panel connectors and audio as you would expect.

We are missing power, reset and CMOS buttons on this board which is disappointing for a flagship model. They have placed the Clear CMOS jumper above the front panel header so you could easily swap the reset button on your case for a clear CMOS switch but that's no excuse.

Each header is enclosed in its own little plastic case which is a really nice touch, it makes life a lot easier when working in a tight case.

The red and white USB header is the ON/OFF charge port for charging portable USB devices while the computer is switched off, the box states just apple devices but this isn't true as it does work on both my HTC and a friends blackberry. Definitely a nice feature so be sure to plug that one into the front of your case. This board can also charge devices up to 40% quicker than previous boards. A god send if your battery runs out as fast as mine does.




A familiar PCI layout from gigabyte, if it ain’t broke don't fix it.

There is a PCI x1 slot above the first PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot for your sound-card as not to block airflow to your discrete card.

2 PCIx1 slots underneath.

A second PCI-E 2.0 slot, only difference being this one will always run at x8 bandwidth. It will take a big card to saturate that and crossfire is supported ( Not sure if the SLI hack works but I presume it does.) But this board is really not aimed at those wanting to run crossfire with anything other than the APU in dual graphics mode. That being said, there is 3 slot spacing between the slots so if the urge to upgrade is tingling then the board can do it quite comfortably.

Then there are 2 legacy PCI slots at the bottom for your older expansion cards and my debug card since there isn't an on-board readout and it's quite hard to spot reboot loops through telepathy .



On the rear I/O panel we have; ( From left to right )

Quote:
PS/2 for keyboard or mouse,
2x USB 3.0,
VGA/D-SUB,
DVI-D, (2560x1600)
SPDIF,
HDMI, (1920x1200 Max resolution)
Display Port, (2560x1600 Max resolution)
2x USB 2.0,
Firewire,
e-sata,
Gigabit Ethernet,
2x USB 3.0,
7.1 channel audio.
In total you can have up to 8 USB 3.0 ports on your system, that's a lot. There is also support for up to 10 USB 2.0 ports including the ON/OFF charge port. We really are spoiled on the connectivity front but that isn't the end of it as I found out during the overclock testing.

THE KIT

The following hardware was used for testing.
Quote:
APU- Retail A8-3850
RAM, Elpida Hyper kits- Super talent 2000 C7 2x2gb, Kingston 2000 C8 3x2gb
RAM, PSC based- Geil 2133 C9 2x2gb
PSU- Corsair TX950w
GPU- APU's 6550D, Club3D ATI 5670, Sapphire ATI HD5870 for some 2D testing.
HDD- WD360 36gb Raptor for the OS + WD6401AALS 640GB Black Caviar for Storage.
OS- Windows 7 Professional 32bit
COOLING- Thermalright Venomous X with 2x Thermalright TR-FDB-12-1600 120mm fans.
SUB ZERO- Little Devil custom phase change unit.
Part of the reason this review is coming to you so late is because I wanted to wait it out and pick up my own retail APU rather than go with an es/media sample to give you the best possible idea of what you could achieve with this setup. Given the difference seen between es and retail chips currently I think it was a wise choice.

The other reason being there were some compatibility issues with my hyper modules. They work excellently in 2d testing but instantly fail any 3d load above the 1:8 divider at stock and on any divider with a healthy overclock despite being completely memtest and prime 95 stable. I can't really complain too much as they aren't listed on the support list but I notified gigabyte and within 24hours I received the F5a bios to help with ram compatibility. This didn't completely rid the problem but it's very nice to see Gigabyte being aggressive with bios support. Thanks to Hiviz for lending me his PSC's for testing.

The F5a bios I was given had a couple of major differences to the F3 I used for testing. The first being it had the Northbridge straps completely removed ( When I got to around 140 FSB on air it was necessary to drop this multiplier to maintain full 3D stability on the F3 bios, gigabyte said they have tested this auto NB feature up to 170 FSB but my particular settings carried over from F3 to F5a resulted in instability, it didn't seem to drop down a strap which could cause an issue for people overclocking 3650's. In light of this I would like to see gigabyte put the options back in the final release.). The second being the addition of easy ram OC profiles with options up to 2400mhz, it's really nice to see Gigabyte taking notice of how import ram speed is on this platform as I will demonstrate and it should be able to surpass the 5600+ 3dmarks advertised on the front of the box now via these profiles. I will attach the bios to this post so you can try for yourself.

THE BIOS

Here is a quick video tour around the bios along with a few little tips to make things that a bit easier. The Bios used is F5a.



THE IMPORTANCE OF RAM

The motherboard supports DDR3 1866 natively and any more is only achieved via overclocking but this, to me, is probably the most important aspect of this motherboard( or any APU board for that matter ). If you have ever benchmarked a low end GPU you will know that it's all about the memory, if the memory is rubbish, your scores are going to be total rubbish. The same can be said for the APU, only more so as it's using system memory. If this boards RAM handling isn't up to par then the overall scores are going to be tosh, if the board handles it well it will put it head and shoulders above the rest in the tests.

This effect hasn't come over-night. You may recall seeing side-port memory on some motherboards with an IGP, this is not only to free up more ram but for better 3D performance, the only difference being a traditional IGP is going to be slow before and slow after, Llano however, is quite decent.

To illustrate the point further, here is a run of 3Dmark Vantage at the boards fail safe settings. 1333 7-7-7



Just 3600 marks...

Now lets crank it up to 1866 7-8-7


4311 3dmarks, around a 20% increase from a relatively small increase in speed.

Not enough for you? Lets see what we get with a little more. CPU at stock with the ram at a stable overclock of 2240 with baggy timings of 9-11-9 and just 1.65 volts.


5680 3dmarks! That's over a 57% increase in performance almost entirely from increasing ram clocks.

Don't forget Ram speeds contribute a lot to all round performance not just for 3D so don't skimp out when choosing your ram. A nice 4gb 2133mhz can be had now for under £50 so sack off the value kit and treat yourself.

THE OVERCLOCKING

With this being a new platform I had to start from scratch, there are no guides floating around and nobody really knows what they are doing yet so to start things off I mounted the phase unit as it's often easier to spot the system limits and problems with some of the cooling limitations removed removed. Even tho the architecture is still based off of K10 stars, overclocking proved to be very different.

The Bad


VGA/D-SUB analogue video output: Very soon after increasing the base clock video output became heavily corrupted. You may want to invest in a DVI adapter.

The I/O panel: This board seems to have aspirations of becoming an X58-OC. Much of the I/O panel ceases to function after 115 on the base clock whilst the rest continues to work all the way up to 160. The lack of USB ports seems to be isolated to ports that aren't native to the southbridge, I.E the Entrontech controlled USB 3.0 ports in blue. The USB 2.0 ports in yellow continue to function along with the 6 USB 2.0 ports on the bottom of the board and the on/off charge header(I don't have anything with a USB 3.0 header to test that but I presume they both work as well.). The ps2 provided by the ITE super I/O chip remains functional as does the audio codec. It would of been nice for Gigabyte to leave the majority of ports on the back native to the southbridge for this reason.

Ram: CPU-Z doesn't read the timings or speed when in single channel so doing any meaningful single channel validation runs isn't possible. It also won't read tRC below 25, not that it's a big deal.

Temp sensors: They are all over the place on this board. It's been hot here this weekend, 23°C which is practically tropical for Buxton yet the core temperatures read as low as 6° at idle. ( Temp sensors on cpu's and boards are tuned for higher temps and become inaccurate lower down the scale but it's usually better than this. ) Clearly reading below ambient which is impossible no matter how cool Llano may run. Then there is TMPIN1 in hardware monitor, this reads as high as 102°C under load and around 90° at idle, I have no idea what this sensor is reading but I've been around the board with my probe and found nothing even close to that hot.

The PCI-E is now linked in with the APU along with most of the traditional northbridge functions and is the main reason behind the lack of I/O activity. Gigabyte fixed the HDD detect issue with this F3 bios as that's down to the chipset and not the APU.

The Good
Voltage scaling: Take it how you will but voltage scaling is nearly non-existent on these chips, too high a voltage to the APU in any form ( CPU-NB, PLL, VCORE) seems to really aggravate the chip, the plus side being you can achieve your max overclocks on air with low voltages across the board and even under volt.

Ram handling: These new IMC's really can make your ram FLY. AMD have caught up to Intel really fast in terms of ram speed and have done it well. This board takes full advantage of that with the right kit in tow. Finally the limit is put on your ram kit rather than the IMC.

The system limits.

The limits I hit were as follows;

Base clock. http://valid.canardpc.com/show_oc.php?id=1905401

CPU-Z validations are reporting as double the applied base clock hence the rejection. The real clock is 160.17mhz. That issue is fixed in later bios's.

CPU. http://valid.canardpc.com/show_oc.php?id=1902490
This was done on single stage phase cooling.

Ram Limit, Powerchips. http://valid.canardpc.com/show_oc.php?id=1915635
These don't have the friendliest SPD profiles in the world but they work.

Ram limit hypers http://valid.canardpc.com/show_oc.php?id=1902289
1400Mhz, loosening the timings further didn't really help.


The Overclock

As this is a mainstream platform, extreme balls to the walls testing isn't really appropriate. Rather than go down the more traditional Benchtec route of slamming the system and pushing each benchmark to it's maximum I will be finding a stable overclock that you could use every day and going with that. Only after that shall the balls to the walls benchmarking commence

I'm not sure if other reviewers just completely disregarded temperatures, forgot they were on AMD or my sample has an incredibly high leakage but boy does it run hot. At stock volts and 3.5ghz I was on the ugly side of 60°C when running prime 95 so I left the CPU there for the stable testing. I could go close to 4ghz on air and stay on stock voltage in the process but temps under load would have been off the scale.

For maximum throughput I raised the base clock and dropped the CPU multiplier. The NB was set to X19 to maintain stability and the GPU was taken off auto and set to 600. The 1:8 divider seemed to play nicer than the 9:33 divider so it's another reason to crack that base clock if you don't mind the lack of I/O function.


I used prime 95 blend as a stability test as it still really hits the button on AMD in a way linpack just can't. It stresses the ram and IMC ( northbridge ) properly in a way even memtest doesn't seem to. Prime 95 is a torture test and linpack is more of a tickle test on AMD.

I did try running furmark at the same time but it actually dropped the temperature as it lowered overall CPU usage and I presume it dropped the priority on prime95.

Temperatures at stock for reference.


In hardware monitor TMPIN0 is the system temperature, TMPIN2 is the CPU and TMPIN1 just seems to be nonsense.
Edited by el gappo - 7/28/11 at 12:52am
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post #2 of 9
Thread Starter 
THE BENCHMARKS

Testing was done in 3 main stages. The first being optimized stock settings, then a round through the 3D portion with the ATI 5670 for comparisons sake, followed by a complete round of testing with a healthy overclock. CCC settings were left on auto, AMD optimized tessellation included. All testing was done on a fresh install of Windows 7 Professional 32bit.

I used several real game tests that don't have built in benchmarks, thankfully most games are riddled with scripted cut-scenes so these were used as a benchmark. So here they are along with some testing methodology.

Game benchmarks

Call of Duty: Black Ops. To make this consistent for all testing a game of free for all an Array was stored in theater mode and played back on each config. Graphics were set to maximum at 1920x1080.

Here are the highlights from the clip used. That's how you get a proper final killcam in FFA


Going by average FPS we see a 33% increase over stock for the OC profile and 59% for the 5670!

As you can imagine with this being the first game test I ran I found myself looking over to double check I hadn't left a graphics card in the system. I really was blown away by these numbers, especially when you consider how poorly optimized Black Ops is in the first place.



Left for Dead 2. There aren't really any lengthy cut scenes here to make use of so I set the game to the first chapter of the parish which is the most uneventful chapter in the entire game and rushed through. The median average of 3 runs was used for the final fps numbers on each configuration. Obviously the chapter was restarted each time I got boomed or jokey'd which was quite often, it took some time...Graphics were set to maximum at 1920x1080.






A 27% increase for the overclock and a 63% increase for the 5670.

One of my all time favorites and I'm pleased to see the game is perfectly playable even when maxed out.

Portal 2. Another Source engine game for good measure. There is a lengthy scene in the first chapter when Ricky Gervais Swings you about the place in a room and you have to look at some art. Minimal human interaction so this was used as the benchmark. Again the median of 3 runs was used. Graphics were set to maximum at 1920x1080.





Just 19% for the OC this time and massive 57% gain for the 5670.

Despite looking fantastic Portal 2 pulled higher numbers than L4D2 across the board, I guess this is down to all the time I spent looking at the art for science!

Battlefield BC2. This one puts a real strain on the system. The long cut-scene at the beginning of the campaign was used for this one, from the moment the text disappears up to the moment you come out of the water. This was the only game that had trouble maxed out, graphics were set to advanced.




A 32% increase for the OC this time and 70%! for the 5670.

We all knew I was going to struggle with this one but what doesn't struggle in BC2? Saying that I am on advanced and without being greedy we could have had perfectly playable FPS here.

Synthetic Benchmarks
3Dmark03

STOCK = 22057



5670 = 32001



OVERCLOCKED =29166



A 32% increase over stock for the OC and a 45% increase for the 5670.

3Dmark05

STOCK = 13828


5670 = 18164


OVERCLOCKED = 17705


A 28% increase for the OC and 31% increase for the 5670. A very CPU dependent benchmark.

3Dmark06

STOCK = 7409



5670 = 11408



OVERCLOCKED = 9715



A 31% increase for the OC and a whopping 53.9% for the 5670.

3Dmark Vantage

STOCK = P4311



5670 = P5927



OVERCLOCKED = P5853



A 35% increase for the OC and 37% increase for the 5670. Minimal differences here with a particularly CPU heavy benchmark.


3Dmark 11


STOCK = P1138



5670 = P1633



OVERCLOCKED = P1529


A 34% increase for the OC and 43% for the 5670. This bench is almost purely GPU powered, a pretty good reference point out of all the synthetics for todays games.

2D benchmarks

Wprime, 1024 + 32m

STOCK

13.229s for 32m and 417.051s for 1024m.

OVERCLOCKED

11.264s for 32m and 361.047s for 1024m.

Super pi, 1m + 32m

STOCK

25.116s for 1m and 21m 58.327s for 32m.

1m OVERCLOCKED

20.967s.

32m OVERCLOCKED

18m 21.488s.

Geekbench.


STOCK
http://browse.geekbench.ca/geekbench2/view/440204
5574 points overall.


OVERCLOCKED
http://browse.geekbench.ca/geekbench2/view/440205

6730 points overall.

The CPU itself was never going to be a stunner in 2D applications, roughly on a par with Phenom II as expected.

CONCLUSION


As always, I've had the board up and running for a couple of weeks or so as my daily driver to try and find as many bugs as possible and to enable me to be completely honest, there really isn't that much to report. No unexpected Blue screens or anything of the sort. Issues with sleep mode are now fixed and most of the major bugs squashed, it has been a pleasure to use.

Overclocking didn't come without it's fair share of issues but at the end of the day it was fun. There was a fair amount of tweaking involved to stabilize higher RAM and FSB frequencies etc that I've been missing lately. It's like a trip back to the core of overclocking, taking something cheap and making it go like stink to get the best bang for buck, in the case of the Lynx platform you feel like you are getting something for free and it's great to see the boosts you gain from a little extra effort.

Being able to play today’s latest games, even at a high resolution, really did amaze me. If you've ever tried to game on any previous generation or Intel IGP, you will understand.

I wouldn't have a problem recommending this board to someone looking for an entry level gaming rig or just a daily machine with a little extra oomph in the graphics department.


Thank you for reading and thanks to Gigabyte for the review sample.
Edited by el gappo - 7/28/11 at 12:51am
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post #3 of 9
Nice review Gappo
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post #4 of 9
It's been very useful and a pleasure to read! Nice pics too!
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post #5 of 9
nice job man
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post #7 of 9
Just the kind of look into Llano I've been wanting to see.
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Xeon 3060 @ 3.6GHz MSI P35 Platinum EVGA Geforce GTS 250 512MB 2GB OCZ Fatal1ty + 2GB ADATA Premier DDR2 
Hard DriveOptical DriveCoolingOS
Samsung HD161HJ DVDRW Xigmatek Dark Knight Windows 7 Home Premium x64 
MonitorPowerCaseMouse
Compaq S1922A Cheifmax 650W Raidmax Smilodon EB Logitech LX3 
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Lounge Machine
(17 items)
 
Doc Wallace
(14 items)
 
Cap'n Crunch
(12 items)
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Core i5-2500K @ 4.70 GHz Asus P8P67 Pro XFX Double D R9 280 [1200/1600] 8GB G.Skill Sniper DDR3-2133 [9-11-10-28] 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
Mushkin Chronos 120GB SATA3 Samsung Spinpoint F3 500GB Asus DRW-24B1ST XSPC Rasa 750 RS240 
OSMonitorKeyboardPower
Windows 7 Pro x64 Asus VH236H Rosewill RK-7300 Rosewill RX750-S-B 
CaseMouseAudioOther
Lancool PC-K62 Logitech Mx518 Realtek HD 192KHz Visiontek Killer 2100 NIC 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Phenom II X4 955 @ 3.80 GHz ASRock 770iCafe AM3+ EVGA Geforce GTX 460 1GB 8GB G.Skill Sniper 1866 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
Corsair Nova 30GB WD Caviar Blue 640GB Lite-On DVDRW Corsair H50 
OSMonitorPowerCase
Windows 7 Pro x64 Asus VH236H Corsair CX430 Diablotek EVO RPA-6170 
Mouse
Logitech LX3 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Xeon 3060 @ 3.6GHz MSI P35 Platinum EVGA Geforce GTS 250 512MB 2GB OCZ Fatal1ty + 2GB ADATA Premier DDR2 
Hard DriveOptical DriveCoolingOS
Samsung HD161HJ DVDRW Xigmatek Dark Knight Windows 7 Home Premium x64 
MonitorPowerCaseMouse
Compaq S1922A Cheifmax 650W Raidmax Smilodon EB Logitech LX3 
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post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Cheers guys, glad you liked it

Quote:
Originally Posted by metal_gunjee View Post
Just the kind of look into Llano I've been wanting to see.
Someone had to do it
One gear, GO!
(14 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardRAMHard Drive
FX8150 Crosshair V Formula G.Skill PIS 2200 cl7 Acard ans9010 raid 0+Corsair Force 3 
Cooling
OCN Marksman 
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One gear, GO!
(14 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardRAMHard Drive
FX8150 Crosshair V Formula G.Skill PIS 2200 cl7 Acard ans9010 raid 0+Corsair Force 3 
Cooling
OCN Marksman 
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post #9 of 9
Nice stuff man
    
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
E8400, E8600, 980BE T2RS+, P5E3, TA890FXE 8800GTS's,GTX's,GS,Ultra's,9600GT Lots of D9's and some crap DDR3 
Hard DrivePowerCase
Seagate 250GB + 80GB WD for benching TT 875w, Corsair 650TX Custom bench station 
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CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
E8400, E8600, 980BE T2RS+, P5E3, TA890FXE 8800GTS's,GTX's,GS,Ultra's,9600GT Lots of D9's and some crap DDR3 
Hard DrivePowerCase
Seagate 250GB + 80GB WD for benching TT 875w, Corsair 650TX Custom bench station 
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