AMD doesn't make the fastest PC processors on planet Earth. We can all agree on that. But in terms of bang for your British buck, the world's second-string CPU maker still has plenty to offer.
Put simply, you get a lot for your money if you go with an AMD platform. Take this Gigabyte 880GMA-UD2H microATX motherboard. It's based on AMD's latest 880G integrated chipset and also sports the SB850 southbridge chip.
That means you not only get a very strong 2D video feature set including AMD's Avivo HD hardware video acceleration. There's also plenty of storage bandwidth on offer in the form of five SATA 6Gbps ports. The pair of USB 3.0 sockets are thoroughly welcome, too.
The Gigabyte 880GMA-UD2H is also an intriguing option for those who want high performance and low power consumption in a single package. Thanks to CrossFireX support, it's possible to switch between integrated and discrete graphics on the fly.
Normally, we associate AMD systems with lower overall system costs. Feature for feature, that just about holds true when comparing Gigabyte's 880GMAUD2H with an Intel board like the MSI H55M-ED55. Priced pretty much on a par, the Gigabyte motherboard gives you both USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gbps along with an integrated Radeon HD 4250 graphics core.
The Intel-compatible alternative from MSI lacks those high bandwidth interfaces and only offers integrated graphics in combination with certain dual-core Intel CPUs.
In performance terms, much obviously depends on the CPU you select. But with a six-core AMD Phenom II X6 1055T onboard, the 880GMA-UD2H is no slouch in multi-threaded software such as video encoding.
In fact, it's not far off matching an Intel platform running the much more expensive Core i7 870 chip. That said, the 3D performance of the Radeon HD 4250 graphics core is woeful and no faster than the integrated GPU in the supposedly outdated 785G chipset of Asus' M4A785TD-M EVO.
But for a home cinema system, you won't need to worry about an add-in card thanks to the boards solid hardware acceleration and a full set of video outputs.
As for overclocking, the BIOS menu is fully featured and our testing indicates you can expect decent bus speeds of around 260MHz.
What's more, despite the motherboard's compact microATX form factor, expansion options are extensive. PCI Express connectivity comes in the form of two 16-lane slots and a further single-lane port, although the second 16-lane slot only offers four electrical lanes. Gigabyte has also wired up an old school PCI port to the motherboard, giving you some legacy support to boot.