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Five AMD 890FX-Based Motherboards Compared

ASRock 890FX Deluxe3

The only board in today’s roundup to include two USB 3.0 controllers, ASRock’s 890FX Deluxe3 provides users with twice the 5.0 Gb/s connectivity, in addition to a surprisingly large 10-phase CPU voltage regulator. Normally known as a value brand, a PCB designed to host only two high-end graphics cards is the 890FX Deluxe3’s biggest concession towards a lower price.

Gaming fanatics can still get their quad-GPU fix using two Radeon HD 5970 graphics cards in CrossFireX, and the triple-spaced x16 slots even allow improved airflow to the top card in this type of configuration. A third x16-length slot at the board’s bottom edge can still host a graphics card at reduced bandwidth, while its four PCIe 2.0 pathways are adequate for most desktop-expansion needs.

ASRock continues its northward trend for front-panel connections, placing the front-panel button connector, internal FireWire, and a dual-port USB 2.0 header just below the 24-pin ATX connection. This allows for easy cable reach for cases that have ports and buttons near the top, and builders with excess cable length can usually stuff it behind an adjacent drive cage. The front-panel audio connector is placed ahead of the rear-panel analog jacks for similar reasons.

The SB850’s six SATA 6Gb/s ports face forward, allowing cables to slip under the ends of extra-long graphics cards, while mandating that the builder choose a case that doesn’t block access to the motherboard’s front edge. Two additional SATA 6Gb/s ports are stuffed into the bottom-rear corner, but the second of these is shared with eSATA. Thus, while most SATA cables would be long enough to reach the lower drive bays of most tower cases, most builders will likely leave the added-in ports unused.

A CLR_CMOS jumper, port 80 diagnostics display, power, and reset buttons are located at the bottom-front corner, all handy for bench testing. Remaining connectors are conveniently placed for case mounting, with the exception of the rarely-used floppy header beneath the four-lane x16-length bottom slot.

BIOS Features

The ASRock OC Tweaker menu provides convenient access to frequency and ratio controls, along with a few automatic overclocking modes that experienced users will likely avoid. Likely a carryover from its 890GX boards, 890FX core voltage is confusingly labeled “mGPU Voltage.”

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Three custom BIOS configurations can be saved as user profiles.

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The 890FX Deluxe3’s Memory Timing submenu includes a full range of controls with independent “automatic” settings for each timing.

Accessories

Windows XP users who prefer AHCI mode will be happy to see that the 890FX Deluxe3 includes a floppy cable, which is necessary for loading drivers at the F6 prompt during setup. The installation kit is otherwise ordinary, including only four SATA cables.

  • makwy2
    Great article. Very informative!

    One little suggestion, in the features comparison it would be nice to include a row on the cost of these mobos. As one eventually reads in the Conclusion there is quite a bit of difference between them in this area but if this 'stat' was featured I would be able to focus only on the boards within my price range. I know that it would be hard to keep up to date and such but it would really be a service to those of us who are not made of money.
    Reply
  • wintermint
    I own a gigabyte mobo and I'm happy with it :)
    Reply
  • Lmeow
    I'd personally go for the Crosshair IV Formula simply because of the kickass colour scheme. :D
    Reply
  • xurwin
    uhuh! i really like the crosshair IV formula for its design and Awesome color! wish every mobo has a creativity design
    Reply
  • joytech22
    Ugh this year i already made some horrible decisions, honestly didn't think the Asus board would look so beautiful! i really wanted that board too but i already ordered a different Asus board for SLi support (with AM3)..

    *Sigh*
    Reply
  • liquidsnake718
    interesting and very persuasive article as i was seriously thinking of getting an AMD based system instead just a few weeks ago until I finally bought a new processor. I still dont have the mb yet but reading this article made me want to get the Asus or the Gigabyte board. I would have possibly gone for a phenom II x4 or even x6 but its too late! What a good read this was and I am slowly understanding the value oriented target market that AMD and ATi offer to beginners and enthusiast builders and overclockers.

    Truly.... if not for getting my i7930 I would have bought these motherboards first!

    I have just purchased a i7 chip x58 chip but reading this article actually made me regret it! I have yet to buy a mb as the ud4 isnt available in Manila yet.

    I will build this pc slowly but make it the best possible in the timeframe while I eke out the best of my current c2d system and netbook in the meantime.
    Reply
  • alexcheng
    URRGH!!! X58 or 890FX?!?!! AMD and Intel are causing me a mental breakdown!!!!!!!
    Reply
  • dEAne
    I have a gigabyte mobo and Its good, One thing I don't like is that DDR3 cannot use past 1333 range if you want to use 1600 only few slots are available.
    Reply
  • aquicl
    wow
    Reply
  • xurwin
    dEAneI have a gigabyte mobo and Its good, One thing I don't like is that DDR3 cannot use past 1333 range if you want to use 1600 only few slots are available. now now. breathe slowly. ASUS CROSSHAIR IV FORMULA 890FX!!!
    Reply