AMD 890GX Unveiled: Three Motherboards Compared


With an integrated SATA 6Gb/s controller, AMD’s SB850 southbridge is probably the best reason to select an 890GX motherboard over the products it replaces. While neither the new or old interfaces could approach the limits of their technology, H2benchw test showed a 42% bandwidth increase between the best 890GX implementation and the chipset it replaces.

But what about the rest of the benchmarks?

Leaving synthetics out of the equation, the only reason to chose AMD’s latest northbridge over its predecessor is its support for DirectX 10.1 graphics features, compared to the earlier part’s DX10 support. We don’t see that minor improvement as a significant reason to upgrade, and instead refer to our original assessment that SATA 6Gb/s is the only apparent reason to pick the new part over the old.

We say apparent only because AMD has not completely clarified and changes that might be required to support its next processor core. We’d like to believe that old motherboards will find new life with nothing more than a BIOS update, but AMD has not yet provided the additional information. We do know that these three 890GX platforms are slated for what AMD refers to as "planned compatibility" with Phenom II X6, but the jury is out on 790GX.

We expect that next month’s 890GX motherboard prices will be similar to those of last month’s 790GX parts, so buyers should find the SB850’s new SATA controller a bargain. But while true bargain-hunters might also consider seeking out clearance prices on previous-generation motherboard models, some may find that they’ve painted themselves into a corner by doing so. For us the SB850 is a “good enough” reason to chose the 890GX, and the increased likelihood of supporting AMD’s next-generation core seals the deal.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • -Fran-
    I kinda agree there... Lackluster chipset launch.

    Come on AMD, you can do it better.

  • JohnnyLucky
    I am not excited about this one.
  • 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.
  • jitpublisher
    Nothing to see here.
  • 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
  • xkche
    is a good MoBo to upgrade from AM2+ old Mobo...
    Wait the 890X mobos's!
  • 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.