AMD 890GX Unveiled: Three Motherboards Compared

Motherboard Features

AMD’s multi-monitor advantage comes from the way it separates PCIe and GPU functions to deliver sixteen PCIe 2.0 lanes to graphics cards (up to two) without sacrificing integrated graphics functionality. Its Catalyst driver package controls both onboard and discrete Radeon graphics controllers simultaneously, seamlessly managing multiple desktop configurations. The three boards in today’s roundup have another advantage over those of our recent H55 comparison, in that those products didn’t support DVI dual-link mode for extra-large displays.

890GX Motherboard Features
 Asus M4A89GTD
PCB Revision1.01G1.01.0
ChipsetAMD 890GX/SB850AMD 890GX/SB850AMD 890GX/SB850
Voltage RegulatorTen PhasesFive PhasesFive Phases
BIOS0402 (02/09/2010)F3 (02/08/2010)V1.0B18 (02/22/2010)
200.0 MHz BCLK200.7 MHz (+0.35%)200.0 MHz (+0.0 MHz)200.0 MHz (+0.0 MHz)
Clock GeneratorICS 9LPRS477CKLRealtek RTM880N-793Realtek RTM880N-793
Sideport DRAMH5TQ1G63BFR-12C
128MB DDR3-1600
128MB DDR3-1600
128MB DDR3-1600
Internal Interfaces
PCIe x162 (x16/x0, x8/x8)2 (x16/x0, x8/x8)2 (x16/x0, x8/x8)
PCIe x1/x41/13/01/0
Legacy PCI221
USB 2.04 (8-ports)4 (8-ports)4 (8-ports)
Serial Port111
Parallel PortNoneNone1
Ultra-ATA 1331 (2-drives)1 (2-drives)1 (2-drives)
SATA 3.0 Gb/sNoneNoneNone
SATA 6.0 Gb/s665
4-Pin Fan221
3-Pin Fan221
S/PDIF I/OOutput OnlyBothOutput Only
Power ButtonNoNoNo
Reset ButtonNoNoNo
CLR_CMOS ButtonJumper OnlyJumper OnlyJumper Only
Diagnostics PanelPass/Fail LEDsPass/Fail LEDsPass/Fail LEDs
I/O Panel Connectors
P/S 2111
USB 2.0444
USB 3.0222
Digital Audio OutOpticalOpticalOptical
Digital Audio InNoneNoneNone
Analog Audio666
DVI Dual LinkYesUnverifiedYes
Dual MonitorYesYesYes
Mass Storage Controllers
Chipset SATA6x SATA 6Gb/s6x SATA 6Gb/s6x SATA 6Gb/s
Chipset RAID Modes0, 1, 5, 100, 1, 5, 100, 1, 5, 10
1x eSATA 3.0 Gb/s
1x eSATA 3.0 Gb/s
Add-In Ultra ATAJMB361 PCIeJMB363 PCIeJMB368 PCIe
USB 3.0NEC D720200F1NEC D720200F1NEC D720200F1
IEEE-1394VT6308P PCI
2x 400 Mb/s
3x 400 Mb/s
Gigabit Ethernet
Secondary LANNoneNoneNone
HD Audio CodecALC892ALC892ALC889
DDL/DTS ConnectUnspecifiedDolby Digital LiveUnspecified

Unfortunately, while Gigabyte’s dual-link mode appeared to accommodate our lab's 2560x1600 display, loading the driver seemed to break this feature. This is most likely a driver bug, since AMD’s Catalyst 10.3 Preview package is not yet finished.

Another advantage today’s motherboards have over the Intel H55-based competition is the chipset’s additional PCIe 2.0 lanes, one of which supplies each of today’s motherboards with the same USB 3.0 controller at its full 5.0 Gb/s interface bandwidth. Intel’s chipset lanes run at half-speed, so that two lanes and a costly PCIe switch are required to reach the controller’s maximum throughput.

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    Top Comments
  • 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...
  • Other Comments
  • 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.
  • Yuka
    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.
  • Anonymous
    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.
  • masterasia
    Oh man...!?! I was really pulling for AMD here. Looks like they haven't improved anything over my 790FX board.
  • void_pointer
    MSI bursts forward in Crysis, ...

    Bursts? Oh please. Hyperbole much? Especially when it refers to a bunch of soporific graphs with blanket-finish results!
  • Otus
    Wouldn't an SSD (e.g. ioXtreme) have been a better way to test the effects of SATA 6GB/s?
  • megamanx00
    Heh, Asus is borrowing cost saving tricks from it's ASRock division. I was expecting the new IGP to have at least 80 shaders and be DX11 in order to hybrid crossfire with a 4350/4550 or 5350 type card.
  • buzznut
    As an AMD fan, I find this disappointing. I would have expected more performance. I see no reason to change my 790gx board. SATA 3 looks nice on paper, but we don't have any drives that can use that bandwidth so what's the point of adoption right now?
  • victomofreality
    MSI bursts forward in Crysis, while the legacy motherboard tips towards the bottom.

    Rofl with a lead that couldn't be noticed without testing software.
  • gnesterenko
    How about some overclocking tests?
  • bill gates is your daddy
    I will wait for the 890FX
  • Onus
    On a possible new build later this Spring/early Summer, I'm still waffling between a AM3 or 1156. The former offers lower cost and more PCIE lanes / better expansion; CPUs for the the latter offer much lower power usage and better performance (that I may not notice). I'm not sure this makes my choice any easier.
  • kal326
    In all fairness they are comparing 3 fresh off factory floor boards with a mature product in the 790gx. Give it some time for the mobo makers to refine it and you will probably see a slight improvement over the current performance.