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Conclusion

Roundup: Four 790FX Socket AM3 Motherboards
By

Average performance is a key factor in many purchasing decisions, although we take a more balanced approach.

Asus has clear performance leadership, but is it the best motherboard choice? Let’s consider our options.

With a performance “disadvantage” of less than one-half percent, the MSI 790FX-GD70 provided superior graphics card slot spacing and overclocking compared to the M4A79T Deluxe. MSI’s motherboard is also slightly less expensive and includes several added features, such as dual-Gigabit LAN and support for three more SATA devices.

But both Asus and MSI have some trouble in the area of cable header placement, with audio and FireWire connections in the lower-rear corner that are nearly impossible to reach with the cables of top-panel ports. Additionally, both companies have neglected the stubborn Windows XP market for which floppy drives are occasionally useful, by putting the floppy header beneath the lowest expansion slot.

With a performance deficit of less than a tenth of one percent compared to MSI, the Gigabyte GA-MA790FXT-UD5P also had the highest CPU overclock and the best cable header layout. The only disadvantage is its use of only two PCIe x16 slots, but the remaining slots don’t steal any pathways from the x16 slots. Thus, it could be a better board for anyone considering one or two dual-GPU graphics cards, rather than three or four single-GPU units.

Finally there’s the DFI LANParty DK 790FXB-M3H5, which is nearly average in every way except priceit’s around 20% cheaper than other 790FX Socket AM3 solutions, and could be the basis for a reduced-cost gaming system.

MSI’s best-in-class features make the 790FX-GD70 a top value among the three most expensive boards, but most of our editors would probably choose the Gigabyte MA790FXT-UD5P for its cable header placement.

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  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , April 22, 2009 6:22 AM
    i like that dial on the MSI... mmm.
  • 4 Hide
    NitroSuperSonic , April 22, 2009 6:35 AM
    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 Hide
    judeh101 , April 22, 2009 6:50 AM
    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!
  • 6 Hide
    ifko_pifko , April 22, 2009 7:02 AM
    "Asus has clear performance leadership,..." :-)))
    1.66% better than the worst performer in the tests. :-)
  • 1 Hide
    tacoslave , April 22, 2009 7:21 AM
    who said Phenom II has low cache size i think with those 86mb you can do amazing things!!
  • 1 Hide
    tacoslave , April 22, 2009 7:46 AM
    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 Hide
    cangelini , April 22, 2009 8:12 AM
    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 Hide
    EQPlayer , April 22, 2009 8:28 AM
    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 Hide
    Crashman , April 22, 2009 8:31 AM
    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 Hide
    Proximon , April 22, 2009 9:42 AM
    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 Hide
    cangelini , April 22, 2009 9:52 AM
    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.
  • 2 Hide
    wira020 , April 22, 2009 10:00 AM
    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... ;) 
  • 0 Hide
    SpadeM , April 22, 2009 10:01 AM
    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 Hide
    coolgod , April 22, 2009 11:00 AM
    phenom ii out for testing tomorrow we hope :) 
  • 0 Hide
    EQPlayer , April 22, 2009 11:25 AM
    The Editor's Note kinda confirms that theory, yeah. ;) 
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , April 22, 2009 2:18 PM
    They are using a 260 for the video card. Will these boards SLI as well as Crossfire?
  • 3 Hide
    curnel_D , April 22, 2009 2:26 PM
    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 
  • 0 Hide
    sublifer , April 22, 2009 2:33 PM
    To avoid confusion with the AM2+ based 790FX boards they ought to call it 793FX or something different...
  • 1 Hide
    monkeysweat , April 22, 2009 3:29 PM
    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.
  • 0 Hide
    SpadeM , April 22, 2009 3:34 PM
    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.
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