Does 790FX + SB750 = High-End Overclocking?

M3A79-T Deluxe Software, BIOS, and Accessories

All AMD chipsets have supported the company’s overclocking utility since its Spider platform launch one year ago, which we will address in the overclocking comparison of this article. Asus adds its own Cool’n’Quiet software interface, along with the expected Asus Ai Suite.

Unfortunately, Ai Suite appeared ineffective at overclocking or reducing power consumption, while the Cool’n’Quiet interface appears to be a simple speed and voltage monitor.


One problem with figuring out BIOSs on Socket AM2+ motherboards is that manufacturers often use the term “northbridge” to define both the actual north bridge (790FX) and the memory controller of the processor. The low “northbridge” voltage settings below reflect this issue.

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CPU Reference Clock200 - 600 MHz (1 MHz)
Clock Multiplier AdjustmentYes
DRAM RatioAll CPU On-Die Memory Controller Ratios
PCIe Clock100 - 150 MHz (1 MHz)
HT Link Multiplier1x - 13x CPU Reference Clock
CPU Vcore0.800 - 1.700 Volts (0.0125 Volts)
Core to IMC Voltage0.800 to 1.6875 Volts (0.0125V)
NB HT Voltage1.20 - 1.50 Volts (0.02 Volts)
NB Core/PCIe Voltage1.10 - 1.40 Volts (0.02 Volts)
CPU VDDA Voltage2.50 - 2.80 Volts ( 0.06V)
DRAM Voltage1.80 - 2.50 Volts (0.02 Volts)
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tCAS: 3-7; tRCD: 5-12; tRP: 5-12; tRAS: 15-30

The advanced BIOS menu has settings for clock speeds, ratios, and voltages. Memory timings are found in a submenu.

Asus OC Profile has two registers to save settings to a reserved portion of the BIOS IC, plus the capability to store settings to a file on a USB flash drive. Saving settings to a flash drive also allows them to be transferred to a second (matching) motherboard.

The M3A79-T Deluxe also has the Asus EZ Flash 2 BIOS flashing utility, which allows updating media from non-bootable floppy disks and USB flash drives.


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Documentation & SoftwareMotherboard Manual
Row 1 - Cell 0 Motherboard Driver DVD
Row 2 - Cell 0 Asus Case Badge
Hardware6x SATA Data Cable
Row 4 - Cell 0 1x Port Breakout Plate (2x USB, 1x IEEE-1394)
Row 5 - Cell 0 1x Asus Q-Connector Kit
Row 6 - Cell 0 2x AMD/ATI CrossFire Bridge
Row 7 - Cell 0 1x 4-pin to SATA power adapter (two-device)
Row 8 - Cell 0 1x 80-conductor Ultra ATA cable
Row 9 - Cell 0 1x I/O Panel Shield

Asus includes an adequate selection of cables, going so far as to include two CrossFire bridge connectors. The M3A79-T does not, however, include the brand’s supplemental heat pipe fan, which is meant to compensate for airflow lost when liquid cooling is used. Cost reduction in a cash-tight AMD market is the most likely explanation for the lack of auxiliary devices.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • afrobacon
    very nice review
  • neiroatopelcc
    "Also notice the removable BIOS IC, a feature that makes bad-flash recovery as easy as plugging in a replacement."
    I don't know about you guys, but I haven't had a flash going wrong since a P2B board from the stoneage
  • cangelini
    neiroatopelcc"Also notice the removable BIOS IC, a feature that makes bad-flash recovery as easy as plugging in a replacement."I don't know about you guys, but I haven't had a flash going wrong since a P2B board from the stoneage
    Call it paranoia from a guy who changes BIOSs on an almost daily-basis on one board or another (me, not Thomas, though he does his fair share of updating, too).
  • neiroatopelcc
    Perhaps it's just the luxury of gigabyte's dual bios that makes me not care for removable ic's but I just don't see the relevance. Nobody has an eprom writer for those chips at home anyway, and with prices of many motherboards closing in on what a new chip would cost it's only truely useful for the expensive boards - and if an amd board is expensive, then it's targetted at the wrong people.
  • slomo4sho
    Thanks for the review. As you have stated, only way that AMD can compete with INTEL is to provide better clock speeds on their chips. Intel has shot forward with giant improvements and AMD has been stuck on the side lines. Their 45nm chips are still not on the market and Intel is already making moves to switch to 32nm.

    Sadly, this is going to be tough hill to climb for AMD to become competitive again. I wish them luck though, the consumer is always the winner when corporations compete :)
  • Tropoc
    Im sorry, but this is rubbish:

    Ive got a phenom x4 9950 placed on a ASUS m3a32 mvp deluxe motherboard.

    With stock voltage and stock cooling ive cranked it up to 3.2ghz and it runs perfectly stable. (this was done by only adjusting the multiplier)

    A friend of mine have the same setup as me but an aftermarket cooler (noctua nh-u12p) and hes overclocked it up to 3.4ghz, again running stable.

    On Overclocking forums i read about people cranking this CPU up to 3.6ghz on air (noctua nh-u12p) without any wizardry.

    This test is flawed and im very dissapointed about tomshardware and what i feel is an effortless test of this setup.

    Im an Intel guy myself but at least im honest about intels oponents, and in this case the review should end up with AMD being amazing value for money and that the future is a bit (not alot) brighter for AMD.
  • slomo4sho
    You realize that the Q6600 can also be overclocked to 3.6GHz on air as well without much difficulty? Both processors are at the same price point. The only difference is that the 9950 is AMD's top end chip and the Q6600 is a entry level quad core from Intel...

  • Tropoc
    im aware of that yes, but the problem here is tomshardware not the q6600... why? they didnt get it over 3.12ghz, which frankly is pathetic.

    and the 9950 is cheaper then the q6600 its cheaper then about every intel processor out there (even the dual cores such as e8400 etc).

    Im not saying it is a better processor then what intel has lined up, what im saying is that it is amazing value for money. and much better at overclocking then tomshardware managed to get out of it thats all :D
  • marzzes
    Oh my God, you guys went with a Jetway over a DFI board! Not to mention just one vidio card and a mid range one at that, how about two 4870X2’s??.. I mean isn’t that what we buy these boards for?…….Oh and what kind of memory each board can handle or why didn’t you go with a Thermalright cpu cooler, hell if your going to oc water cooling is the way to go!
    Obviously Tom wasn’t interested in doing this review!……..
  • geckoar
    I got my 9950 running at 2.85 ghz so thir numbers are not too bad. Im running it on a 790FX+SB600 K9A2 mobo. I could go more but my DDR2 800 RAm is holdinmg me back... I guess I should have gotten DDR2 1066 RAM.
    But I game at 1080P res. wiht a 4870 and I get over 30FPS in most of my games At max setting.

    Good Review.