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.