Roundup: Four 790FX Socket AM3 Motherboards


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.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • i like that dial on the MSI... mmm.
  • 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!
  • 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!
  • ifko_pifko
    "Asus has clear performance leadership,..." :-)))
    1.66% better than the worst performer in the tests. :-)
  • tacoslave
    who said Phenom II has low cache size i think with those 86mb you can do amazing things!!
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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
  • 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'!!!
  • 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