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Asus M4A79T Deluxe

Roundup: Four 790FX Socket AM3 Motherboards
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Features and Layout

Four PCIe 2.0 slots and an eSATA port make the M4A79T Deluxe an enthusiast part, but the single Gigabit Ethernet port separates it from other high-end boards.

We’re not going to second-guess Asus’ design decisions, but the reason AMD originally pushed four-slot 790FX motherboard designs was for four-way CrossFireX support. The configuration is possible on the M4A79T Deluxe, but only with single-slot cards such as the Radeon HD 4850 with reference-design cooling.

Electronic switches allow the M4A79T Deluxe to automatically configure its x16-length slots as dual x16, quad x8, or single x16 and dual x8 pathways. A fifth switch for each secondary slot allows it to use alternative pathways when an x1 card is installed.

An internal feature “missing” from the M4A79T Deluxe is any third-party hard drive controller. Asus instead directs one of the chipset’s SATA 3.0 Gb/s ports to I/O-panel eSATA, resulting in five internal ports. Two of the ports face forward, which could be problematic for some older case designs that have a hard drive cage blocking access.

Three of the remaining ports that face outward from the surface are ideally placed for nearly any mid-tower case, but some full-towers will require extra-long SATA cables to reach the upper bays. Any dual-GPU card could cover up these ports in the center black slot, but the blue slots are the proper places for a pair of Radeon HD 4870 X2s. Single-GPU cards typically used in three- and four-card configurations are short enough to prevent conflicts.

Power, fan, Ultra ATA, and USB port interfaces are all in acceptable locations, but a quick look at the bottom rear corner provides reason for a few complaints. Front-panel audio (off-white) and FireWire (red) connectors are far too difficult to reach with cables coming from upper-bay front-panel ports, while the floppy header—usually required only for adding AHCI or RAID drivers during Windows XP installation—is too far away from a standard case’s external 3.5” bay.

BIOS

A list of voltage and frequency ranges can be found in the overclocking comparison of this review.

The Asus Ai Tweaker menu contains many basic and a few advanced-clock and voltage controls.

DRAM timings are found within an Ai Tweaker sub-menu.

EZ Flash 2 allows updating BIOS from non-bootable media, while Asus OC Profile stores custom BIOS settings for future use.

Accessories

Two CrossFire bridges and a short SATA cable add value to a traditional accessory kit. However, the outdated floppy cable is gone. Good riddance, we say.

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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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