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In-Depth Review: Gigabyte's J1800N-D2H Mini-ITX Motherboard

 

(Part 3: The BIOS)

 

 

Pressing the <esc> key – rather than the usual <del> key, for whatever reason – on this here boot screen does the trick.

One small note before I start, though. My Gigabyte GA-J1800N-D2H shipped with the F2 BIOS, but a newer F3 version was available on their site, so I flashed it with a bootable USB key. (An even newer F4 version has since appeared.) These screenshots come from the F3 revision after the “Restore Defaults” setting was invoked.

 

 

Here's the Main page. This board uses one of those newfangled UEFI interfaces, but you wouldn't guess it just by looking at it. While some of Gigabyte's other boards have fancy graphics and mouse support, the J1800N-D2H's firmware looks just like the one on that old Dell Dimension in your closet.

As you can see, I have 4GB of RAM installed (two modules), and I've set the system date and time properly. Honest.

 

 

This is the Advanced tab. The J1800N-D2H's UEFI has a fair amount of options in general, but those who enjoy tweaking their systems might be astonished by the complete lack of overclocking and fan control options.

 

 

Indeed, here's the hardware monitoring screen, where the fan controls usually live. Nothing here. Connected fans are temperature controlled though; more on that later.

 

 

CPU Configuration screen under the Advanced tab. “Power Technology” is usually set to “Energy Efficient,” but I've set it to “Custom” here to display all of the possible options.

Though it won't matter to most people, the presence of Virtualization Technology, even on as cheap a chip as the Celeron J1800, is nice to see.

 

 

PPM Configuration screen under the Advanced tab. The “Max CPU C-State” option seemed interesting (C-states are processor power states), but setting it to either C6 or C7 seemed only to lock the Celeron to 2.41Ghz and prevented it from idling at 1.33Ghz.

 

 

The Compatibility Support Module Configuration screen under the Advanced tab. By default, you can boot the J1800N-D2H with legacy devices as well as with UEFI boot devices (such as the Windows 8 setup disc).

This screen is noteworthy because “CSM Support” was, by default in the F2 BIOS, set to disabled (which removed all of the options underneath, and set the board to only use UEFI to boot). This might be the reason behind all the bad reviews this motherboard was getting from early adopters, who were having trouble installing any OS other than Windows 8.

You need to enable CSM and set the options to “Legacy first” in order to use a bootable USB key to flash the new BIOS. This can also help with installing things like Linux and, ultimately, Windows 7. It sure did for me.

 

 

IGD Config screen, under the North Bridge Config screen under the Chipset tab. I know I'm flying through these pages, but a lot of the options I'm skipping will be very familiar to anyone who has installed a motherboard in the past few years. It's the usual “enable/disable onboard audio” and “enable/disable AHCI on the SATA ports” kinds of stuff.

Anyway, these here are options that have to do with the Celeron J1800's HD Graphics. You can turn off the Turbo Boost option, as well as change settings relating to the DVMT memory allocation.

Some of these options are real question marks though – “GFX Boost,” for example, sounds promising, but enabling it didn't affect any of my graphics benchmarks, and it's neither explained in the UEFI nor in the manual. Again, I used the default settings for my testing, so the option was disabled for the entire run.

 

 

The Security tab. The usual setup passwords can be configured here, along with Secure Boot for those operating systems that support it (including, once again, Windows 8).

 

 

The Boot tab. You can set which connected drives (including USB-connected drives) to boot off of first, as well as enable or disable the boot logo.

 

 

We end at the all-important Save & Exit tab. You can also boot directly off of an attached drive through this page.

 

(Part 4: Benchmarking Methodology)

So, at long last, we're preparing for benchmarking. Here is the setup.

 

 

Indeed, I'm testing the GA-J1800N-D2H without a case, mounted on four nylon pegs from the Baby AT days. I made sure that the heatsink wouldn't see any actual airflow, though, to emulate the conditions it might face in a cramped, fanless case.

That's what that business card next to the power supply is for – it's blocking one of the vents. Don't worry, it'll be fine. To provide a point of comparison, I will also be running my set of benchmarks on a system based on a single-core, 2009-era desktop AMD Sempron processor.

Both setups will use the same power supply, storage drive, monitor, keyboard, mouse, and operating system. I'll be comparing general performance and power consumption between the two setups. After that, I'll be checking how well Gigabyte's giant heatsink cools the Celeron J1800, as well as how the board's invisible fan controls work.

In addition, while the Sempron setup will run its integrated graphics throughout its session, I will, at a few points, include a few benchmarks with an ATI Radeon HD 4350 discrete graphics card instead. This will be to see how well the Celeron J1800's integrated graphics compare to a budget graphics card from a few years ago. I'm anticipating some interesting results.

All of that said, here are the detailed specifications (with driver versions where applicable) for the four total setups we'll be testing today. I'll make a note right here that the Celeron J1800 sustained its turbo clockspeeds for both CPU and GPU throughout the entire test session. 

 
Processor
Intel Celeron J1800
AMD Sempron 140
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-J1800N-D2H Rev 1.0 (BIOS F3)
Gigabyte GA-MA78LMT-S2 Rev 3.4 (BIOS F13)
Chipset(s)
N/A (Intel INF v9.4.4.1006; Intel TXE v1.1.0.1064)
AMD 760G+SB710 (SB Driver 13.12)
Memory 2x Corsair CMSO4GX3M2A1333C9 2GB DDR3 1x Corsair CMSO4GX3M2A1333C9 2GB DDR3 2x Kingston KVR1333D3N9/2G 2GB DDR3
Memory Timings 1333 Mhz, 9-9-9-24-1T
1066 Mhz, 7-7-7-20-1T
Storage SanDisk SDSSDP-064G-G25 64GB
Graphics Intel HD Graphics (Driver v15.33.64.3374)
ATI Radeon 3000 (Driver 13.9)
ATI Radeon HD 4350; 512MB DDR2 [Sapphire 11142-07-20G] (Driver 13.9)
Power Supply
SeaSonic SS-300ES 300w
Monitor
Samsung SyncMaster 170N: 1280x1024, VGA d-sub input
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit
 

Here are the benchmarking apps and their versions that I will be running. Each will be run three times with default settings and reboots between each attempt. The online tests will additionally have the involved browser clean-reinstalled between attempts.

 

The copy of Windows 7 I'm using has Service Pack 1 already baked in. The only software installed are the benchmarking apps above that use installers, the hardware drivers (downloaded from Gigabyte's site in the J1800's case, as the driver DVD doesn't include Windows 7 drivers), and whatever updates are downloaded and installed with that version of Internet Explorer 11.

In regards to Windows 7 settings, I switched off the timers for “Turn off the display” and sleep mode, disabled Windows Update, and hid all of the Action Centre notifications. That's all. Only the browser tests and Futuremark benchmark suites were done with a TP-LINK WN727N USB wireless module attached.

Right, let's begin.

 

 
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