TODO alt text

Sapphire IPC-AM3DD785G review

A board that straddles the commercial and consumer markets, but doesn't really satisfy either

Our Verdict

A board that straddles the commercial and consumer markets and probably satisfies neither.

For

  • Good stock clocked performance
  • Supports all AM3 CPUs, in theory

Against

  • BIOS update issues
  • Pricey given the limited feature set

Workhorse motherboards aimed at embedded and commercial applications tend not to make fine fillies in the context of home PCs. With that in mind, what chance has the Sapphire IPC-AM3DD785G in the Mini-ITX motherboard stakes?

Despite being categorised as an industrial motherboard – the marketing bumpf speaks of information kiosks and digital signage, not games and movies – the Sapphire IPC-AM3DD785G does seem to tick all the boxes required for a compact home cinema system.

The AMD 785G chipset is certainly multimedia friendly and theoretically works with all the latest AMD CPUs including the top six-core Thuban chips. Sapphire has even found space for a pukka PCI-e x16 port on this vanishingly small Mini-ITX board.

A high performance AMD-based alternative to Mini-ITX boards such as Zotac's H55-ITX WiFi is therefore not out of the question. But the real story of the Sapphire IPC-AM3DD785G's suitability for home systems only begins when you fire it up.

Usability is where industrial PCs tend to fall flat. It's therefore not exactly shocking to find the Sapphire IPCAM3DD785G doesn't always make life easy for the end user. A good example of this is the BIOS updating routine.

Sapphire ipc-am3dd785g

DOS throwback

Nearly all consumer class motherboards now come with idiot-proof Windows applications for updating the BIOS. But not this little Mini-ITX board. Courtesy of some moderately baffling and garbled instructions, you must create a bootable USB stick and then resurrect your DOS prompt skills.

Our DOS talents obviously weren't good enough and the result was a thoroughly bricked board. Luckily, we had a spare to hand and discretion being the better part of valour, we left the BIOS well alone.

Unfortunately, however, without a BIOS update the IPC-AM3DD785G won't play ball with six-core Thuban chips. Another symptom of this board's overtly commercial remit is the utterly threadbare BIOS menu.

The demand for overclockable kiosks being, we imagine, pretty minimal Sapphire has omitted controls for the CPU multiplier, memory dividers, voltages and more. Only the main bus frequency can be tweaked and even then only in steps of 6-8MHz up to a maximum of 250MHz. As it happens, even that is optimistic as the board flakes out at just 230MHz.

Having said all that, performance with a Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition is actually quite impressive. That includes gaming performance with a discrete GPU where it beats AMD-based microATX boards, such as Asus's M4A785TD-M EVO and the Gigabyte 880GMA-UD2H.

Tech Specs

Product TypeDesktop Motherboard
Chipset ManufacturerAMD
Chipset Model785G
Onboard VideoOn-board Video Chipset
Number of PCI Express x16 Slots1
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
Processor SocketSocket AM3 PGA-941
Brand NameSapphire
Form FactorMicro ATX
Processor SupportedPhenom II X4
Total Processor Supported1
Maximum Memory8 GB
64-bit ProcessingYes
Number of Memory Slots2
Graphics Controller ManufacturerATI
Graphics Controller ModelRadeon HD 4200
Audio Channels5.1
Gigabit EthernetYes
Number of IDE Interfaces1
Number of SATA Interfaces4
RAID SupportedYes
Number of Total Expansion Slots1
HDMIYes
Network (RJ-45)Yes
Total Number of USB Ports6
PS/2 PortYes
Number of PS/2 Ports1
Total Number of Onboard USB Ports2
Total Number of PCI Express Slots1
Processor TechnologyCool'n'Quiet Technology
Width170 mm
Depth170 mm
ManufacturerSapphire, Inc
Product ModelIPC-AM3DD785G
Product NameIPC-AM3DD785G Desktop Board
Controller TypeSerial ATA/300, Ultra ATA/133 (ATA-7)
Manufacturer Part Number52031-01-40R
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.sapphiretech.com/en/
Marketing Information

Sapphire IPC-AM3DD785G Desktop Board is Mini-iTX motherboards designed with rich functionality and reliable performance in a small footprint that measure just 170 x 170 mm. The highly integrated platforms features low power consumption of less than 100 Watts and have one basic PCI-E X16 expansion slot for graphics card.