Roundup: Four 790FX Socket AM3 Motherboards

Overclocking, Power, And Heat

All of the motherboards in today’s comparison provide frequency ranges that exceed by far any realistic expectations of stability and most voltage ceilings are far beyond any realistic expectations of reliability. Experienced overclockers know not to shoot for the limit at first, but instead determine the maximum supported speed and required voltage by making small changes and retesting repeatedly.

BIOS Frequency And Voltage Settings (For Overclocking)

 

Asus
M4A79T Deluxe

DFI LANParty DK
790FXB-M3H5

Gigabyte
MA790FXT-UD5P

MSI
790FX-GD70

CPU Ref Clock

200-600 MHz (1 MHz)

200-700 MHz (1 MHz)

200-500 MHz (1 MHz)

200-600 MHz (1 MHz)

CPU Multiplier

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

DRAM Data Rates

800/1066/1333/1600

800/1066/1333/1600

800/1066/1333/1600

800/1066/1333/1600

PCIe Clock

100-150 MHz (1 MHz)

100-250 MHz (1 MHz)

100-200 MHz (1 MHz)

100-150 MHz (1 MHz)

CPU Vcore

0.80-1.70V (0.0125V)

-800-+775mv (25mv)

+25-600mV (25mV)

0.98-1.93V (0.01V)

IMC Voltage

0.80-1.55V (0.0125V)

+3.57, 7.14, 10.71%

+25-600mV (25mV)

0.85-1.83V (0.01V)

790FX Core

1.10-1.40V (0.02V)

1.12-1.50V (0.04V)

+0.1, +0.2, +0.3 V

0.75-1.83V (0.01V)

SB750 Core

1.20-1.35V (0.15V)

1.20-1.50V (0.20V)

+0.1, +0.2, +0.3 V

0.85-1.83V (0.01V)

DRAM Voltage

1.50-2.50V (0.02V)

1.50-2.49V (0.22V)

+50-750mV (50mV)

1.19-2.40V (0.01V)

CAS Latency

4-12 Cycles

4-11 Cycles

4-12 Cycles

4-12 Cycles

RAS To CAS Delay

5-12 Cycles

5-11 Cycles

5-12 Cycles

5-12 Cycles

Row Precharge

5-12 Cycles

5-11 Cycles

5-12 Cycles

5-12 Cycles

tRAS

15-30 Cycles

16-30 Cycles

15-30 Cycles

15-30 Cycles


The two boards with the “smallest” CPU voltage regulators also have the most aggressive voltage levels, but we limited our CPU core to 1.45 V to assure longevity.

The two motherboards with 10-phase power regulation finished first and last, with Gigabyte providing the highest stable CPU clock at our chosen voltage levels.

MSI has the best reference clock stability. A combination of first-place reference clock and second-place CPU stability could make the 790FX-GD70 a top overclocking choice for multiplier-locked processors.

Dropping timings all the way back to 9-9-9-28 at 2T wasn’t enough to get most configurations beyond DDR3-1600, though Asus did break that barrier with four modules installed.

The two five-phase power regulators placed first and last in thermal performance. MSI’s win is probably due to its enormous VRM sink.

All of today’s motherboards appear energy efficient, yet none stand apart. Chipset and CPU manufacturer AMD gets all the credit for an overall good showing.

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38 comments
    Your comment
  • Anonymous
    i like that dial on the MSI... mmm.
    -1
  • NitroSuperSonic
    AMD Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition
    (2.80 GHz, 86.0 MB Cache)

    I never knew any AMD processors had that much cache!
    4
  • judeh101
    NitroSuperSonicAMD Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition(2.80 GHz, 86.0 MB Cache)I never knew any AMD processors had that much cache!


    Super CPU!
    4
  • ifko_pifko
    "Asus has clear performance leadership,..." :-)))
    1.66% better than the worst performer in the tests. :-)
    6
  • tacoslave
    who said Phenom II has low cache size i think with those 86mb you can do amazing things!!
    1
  • tacoslave
    sorry about the double post but i would have liked to have seen these benchmarked with two 4870x2's... since they keep talking about them so much.
    1
  • cangelini
    Super CPU fixed ;)

    Not much point in throwing that much GPU horsepower at a motherboard review; the card Thomas used is our current reference--and it's more than ample for showcasing the differences between these boards.

    If you want to see quad-CrossFire for any specific reason, feel free to let us know and we can put together a story idea!
    1
  • EQPlayer
    I think people would like to see a dual-295/dual-4870x2 series of benches if only for the "OMG BEASTLY!" factor. I dunno. XD
    1
  • Crashman
    ifko_pifko"Asus has clear performance leadership,..." :-)))1.66% better than the worst performer in the tests. :-)


    Consistent would have been better if not for the fear of people pointing out ever tiny inconsistency. Just remember, if you're 5'11" tall it's clear to just about everyone that you're not 6'!!!
    -1
  • Proximon
    cangelini...the card Thomas used is our current reference--and it's more than ample for showcasing the differences between these boards.


    Could you clarify that a bit Chris? Are you saying you would not expect any difference in crossfire between the MBs? If so, that's OK. However, if there's going to be a difference, that is the main reason to buy a 790FX. If you aren't going to crossfire might as well get a GX.

    I suspect the chipset isn't the whole story and the various manufacturers could still screw up the PCI-E voltages or something :p
    1
  • cangelini
    Prox,

    It depends on the numbers you're looking for. I interpreted the OP's request to mean he wanted performance results with 4870 X2s, which are overkill for comparing these boards. If it's a matter of comparing PCI Express scaling (the reason for going FX instead of GX), check out this piece: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/crossfire-pci-express,2095.html. It isn't on the AMD platforms, but it still illustrates fairly well how much/little performance you'd lose with PCIe 2.0 x8 vs. x16.
    1
  • wira020
    i think comparing dual gpu and single gpu would be a great idea... there could be inconsistency between the motherboards at crossfire setting... i mean u did test using 2 ram and 4 ram rite... and there's a difference in performance... hope this makes sense.. and yeah it's also bout the beastly impact and stuff... ;)
    2
  • SpadeM
    I think that a quad crossfire would be of interest to a motherboard review. Just to answer questions like: Are two 4870X2 better then 4 x 4870 or 4890 or 4850? Does the PCIe pathways bottleneck (if it happens) the GPUs when running in 8x mode? How about the stability of the system with 4 physical cards instead of 2 or just 1 ... and so on.

    Granted my request isn't based on the real needs of the consumer, it's more of a scientific curiosity behind it. But I remember a while back tom's had an article about nvidia's SLI with 2, 3 or 4 cards in different configurations and that was an interesting read.

    PS: Just to clear something up in the 2 x 4870X2 vs. 4 x 4870 or other versions. I know that 4x4870 are more $$ then 2x4870X2 but if you buy a 4 slot PCIe motherboard what if you start out with a single 4870 or 4890 and just add in cards over the period of a year since prices change and people might not have all the cash to get 4 cards at the same time.
    0
  • coolgod
    phenom ii out for testing tomorrow we hope :)
    0
  • EQPlayer
    The Editor's Note kinda confirms that theory, yeah. ;)
    0
  • Anonymous
    They are using a 260 for the video card. Will these boards SLI as well as Crossfire?
    0
  • curnel_D
    Lol, basically these guys want an article that would have taken another day or two to write, and a thick stack of video cards so they could see the performance differences between 2x 4870X2's, 4x 4870's, and then perhaps any combination of 4870's and an 8800gt thrown in the mix for physiX. :P
    3
  • sublifer
    To avoid confusion with the AM2+ based 790FX boards they ought to call it 793FX or something different...
    0
  • monkeysweat
    I just question why you would buy a board for AMD's spider platform,,then use a Nvidia product?? seems kinda weird to me,, if i was buying something "high end", I'm not going to buy an accessory whether it works properly or not from a competitor to complement it. I would have liked to at least see the comparison using AMD products.
    1
  • SpadeM
    cangeliniIf you want to see quad-CrossFire for any specific reason, feel free to let us know and we can put together a story idea!


    "We guys" just made a suggestion since Chris stated he's opened to ideas. The asrock X58 article a few days back is another good example of a story that can be looked at from a more technical perspective. Since that board and these two AMD ones share 4 PCIe ports and ATI & Nvidia cards support ATI STREA/CUDA one would be inclined to have a look beyond the "can it run crysis" comment. And I'm sure finding 4 identical cards isn't an issues since the time that takes to right an article wasn't up for debate.
    0