AMD 890GX Unveiled: Three Motherboards Compared

MSI 890GXM-G65

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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    Top Comments
  • outlw6669
    Nice southbridge update AMD!
    It is a shame you could not have added native USB 3 in there along with the SATA 3.0.

    A bit more lackluster on the northbridge though.
    Other than the DX10.1 update, I really see nothing new...
    18
  • Other Comments
  • outlw6669
    Nice southbridge update AMD!
    It is a shame you could not have added native USB 3 in there along with the SATA 3.0.

    A bit more lackluster on the northbridge though.
    Other than the DX10.1 update, I really see nothing new...
    18
  • anamaniac
    Nice boards.
    Though honestly, I'm just awaiting a Quantum Force (Foxconn) X68 board to replace my Bloodrage. Good to see atleast someone is getting SATA 6Gb/s.

    Come on AMD, give us some more juice. I don't know if my second system will be a desktop or laptop yet, and a good integrated GPU will help me decide (720p gaming on what will hopefully be a 50" plasma).
    How about triple channel memory too? I'd think it'd help the GPU somewhat also.
    I'm not against paying bucket loads for a motherboard (but I expect to get what I pay for).

    One last thing...
    DisplayPort. Give it. The faster nvidia/integrated adopt it, the faster Samsung/Dell etc. will put them on their monitors.
    The industry adopted HDMI like it was nothing. DP has less licensing fees, but DP monitors are in the $500 range (granted, IPS panels etc.). We want $150 1080p DP panels please.
    4
  • knowom
    Horribly unexciting launch on AMD's part the only good part is that their other mobo's might come down a bit in cost hopefully.
    1
  • Yuka
    I kinda agree there... Lackluster chipset launch.

    Come on AMD, you can do it better.

    Cheers!
    -4
  • JohnnyLucky
    I am not excited about this one.
    -5
  • falchard
    Why still bothering with Ultra ATA? I like how MSI decided to trim the unnecessary in this mobo. I hope in the future a mobo manufacturer does this to the extreme. No IEEE-1394, no Ultra ATA, no floppy, no CD In, no MIDI, no PS/2 ports. You get the picture.

    There are a couple things I like about the SB850. Obviously the native SATA 6.0, and also the integrated Gigabyte ethernet. No more crappy Realtek Ethernet.

    The more time goes on, the more I realize a Server Mobo would be more ideal for my workstation.
    -5
  • jitpublisher
    Nothing to see here.
    3
  • Anonymous
    Very very unimpressive. Call me when you have a rv710 level northbridge on a 40nm process. That would hurt 5450? maybe, but 5450 is a joke to begin with, shoud've been redwood/2, would be pretty much the same die size and would allow gaming with old stuff like Wow, asian mmorpgs, etc
    0
  • xkche
    is a good MoBo to upgrade from AM2+ old Mobo...
    Wait the 890X mobos's!
    2
  • Pei-chen
    I wish AMD's product actually caught up with marketing. The on board graphic is far too weak to have "integrated gaming" that was promised to us when 690G was launched. They should put a 5450 in there or something.
    7
  • masterasia
    Oh man...!?! I was really pulling for AMD here. Looks like they haven't improved anything over my 790FX board.
    -5
  • void_pointer
    Quote:
    MSI bursts forward in Crysis, ...


    Bursts? Oh please. Hyperbole much? Especially when it refers to a bunch of soporific graphs with blanket-finish results!
    8
  • Otus
    Wouldn't an SSD (e.g. ioXtreme) have been a better way to test the effects of SATA 6GB/s?
    3
  • megamanx00
    Heh, Asus is borrowing cost saving tricks from it's ASRock division. I was expecting the new IGP to have at least 80 shaders and be DX11 in order to hybrid crossfire with a 4350/4550 or 5350 type card.
    -5
  • buzznut
    As an AMD fan, I find this disappointing. I would have expected more performance. I see no reason to change my 790gx board. SATA 3 looks nice on paper, but we don't have any drives that can use that bandwidth so what's the point of adoption right now?
    1
  • victomofreality
    Quote:
    MSI bursts forward in Crysis, while the legacy motherboard tips towards the bottom.


    Rofl with a lead that couldn't be noticed without testing software.
    2
  • gnesterenko
    How about some overclocking tests?
    2
  • bill gates is your daddy
    I will wait for the 890FX
    7
  • Onus
    On a possible new build later this Spring/early Summer, I'm still waffling between a AM3 or 1156. The former offers lower cost and more PCIE lanes / better expansion; CPUs for the the latter offer much lower power usage and better performance (that I may not notice). I'm not sure this makes my choice any easier.
    2
  • kal326
    In all fairness they are comparing 3 fresh off factory floor boards with a mature product in the 790gx. Give it some time for the mobo makers to refine it and you will probably see a slight improvement over the current performance.
    4