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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.