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MSI 890GXM-G65

AMD 890GX Unveiled: Three Motherboards Compared
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MSI was the only company to provide a microATX board for AMD’s chipset launch, though this particular form factor is the most likely place to find an upper-range integrated-graphics chipset. Its 890GXM-G65 still provides most of the features of the full-sized Asus rival, minus an eSATA controller and two expansion slots.

The rear panel does contain a single eSATA connection, improved to the 6Gb/s standard because it uses the chipset’s integrated controller. Like its rivals, the 890GXM-G65 also provides two USB 3.0 ports.

We think it’s a little humorous that all three motherboards provide HDMI display output, but not DisplayPort, since this AMD-backed interface is found on so many Intel-based motherboards. Yet, this particular board will likely find its way into many home-theater systems, where HDMI is the most common HDCP-compliant standard.

The 890GXM-G65 actually looks like a compact game system motherboard with its short and fat heat pipe cooler, dual PCIe x16-length slots and electronic pathway switches for dual x8 or single x16 slot modes, and many among the AMD faithful will certainly see fit to use it as such. Game performance is an area where AMD processors remain competitive, though the chipset’s Radeon HD 4290 integrated graphics will likely be of little use to value-seeking gamers.

The 890GXM-G65 lacks the FireWire controller builders rely on to activate the often-unused front panel connection of most media-center cases. Its forward-facing SATA ports are likewise unsuited for many of those cases, since the motherboard’s front edge will often be blocked by drive bays. On the other hand, compact game system builders will often find its outward-facing SATA port blocked by the heatsink of large graphics cards, so it appears that MSI’s only solution would have been to eliminate the Ultra ATA connector and try to place its SATA ports there.

Like Asus, MSI positions its front-panel audio connector in the motherboard’s bottom rear corner. MSI moved it slightly forward, however, and we’ve encountered many builds where the extra inch solves cable installation woes.

BIOS

Reference Clock190-690 MHz (1 MHz)
CPU MultiplierYes
iGFX Clock150-1500 MHz (1 MHz)
DRAM Data RatesREF x4-x8 (x1.33)
PCIe Clock90-190 MHz (1MHz)
CPU Vcore1.02-1.97V (10mV)
IMC Voltage0.39-1.46V (1mV)
890GX Voltage1.05-21.65V (6.25mV)
SB850 Voltage0.89-1.40V (5.3mV)
DRAM Voltage0.97-2.45V (~8mV)
CAS Latency4-12 Cycles
tRCD5-12 Cycles
tRP5-12 Cycles
tRAS15-30 Cycles


MSI applied full-sized overclocking features to its microATX 890GXM-G65, making it easy to extract peak performance from a portable gaming system. Underclocking is also possible, allowing reduced-noise cooling for “silent” PCs and media centers.

The 890GXM-G65 has a relatively broad selection of memory timings, which can be configured separately per-channel. MSI adds several drive-strength controls for enhanced stability when operating memory beyond its intended parameters.

Accessories

The 890GXM-G65 we received included an incomplete cable kit that doesn’t support an SATA hard drive and optical drive simultaneously. While many builders have cables to spare, those who don’t should take a second look at production samples to see if the package has been tweaked.

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