An ideal choice if you want to build a media centre PC, thanks to HD video decoding and a remote control.
AM2+, microATX, AMD 780G chipset, supports: Sempron, Athlon 64, Athlon 64 X2, Athlon 64 FX, Phenom, Phenom II
Asus’s M4A78-HTPC microATX motherboard is designed for media centre PCs and is available with or without a remote control.
We reviewed the remote control version, which comes with a USB infrared receiver and a helpful sticker over two of the board’s four USB ports to tell you where to plug it in. The remote is smaller than a typical Media Center remote, but it has a simple layout and clear symbols on the buttons. It worked perfectly with Windows Media Center without any need for configuration.
Another informative sticker points out a four-pin Molex connector that provides a dedicated power supply to the board’s VIA VT1718S audio processor. In our tests, we found that this reduced audio interference from the rest of the board, improving audio quality.
As with most Asus motherboards, the BIOS is a pleasure to use, offering plenty of overclocking options, even though most media PC builders are unlikely to need them. There’s a single PCI-E x16 slot for a graphics card, although the integrated ATI Radeon HD 3200 graphics processor can decode HD video, so it’s ideal if you plan to add a Blu-ray drive. There are two PCI-E x1 slots and a PCI slot, so you’ll be able to fit your choice of TV tuner and home theatre sound card.
The motherboard performed very well in our benchmarks, and is just as good for a desktop PC or a media centre. It’s not the cheapest motherboard but is well worth the premium if you need this range of features.
|Sempron, Athlon 64, Athlon 64 X2, Athlon 64 FX, Phenom, Phenom II
|Processor external bus
|200MHz (2GHz HyperTransport)
|Chipset north bridge
|Chipset south bridge
|Passively-cooled north bridge
|Supported memory type
|Maximum memory speed
|1x 24-pin ATX, 1x 4-pin ATX, 1x 4-pin Molex audio power connector
|PCI-E x16 slots
|Dual graphics architecture
|PCI-E x4 slots
|PCI-E x1 slots
|Serial ATA ports
|RAID chipset (max disks)
|Wired network ports
|VIA VT1718S (6x analogue audio out, stereo photo out, optical S/PDIF out, coaxial S/PDIF out)
|USB2 ports / headers
|Firewire ports / headers
|1x SATA, 1x IDE
|Norton Internet Security 2009
Setup and Overclocking
|CPU clock max adjustment