AMD 890GX Unveiled: Three Motherboards Compared

Gigabyte GA-890GPA-UD3H

Gigabyte’s first entry into the 890GX world comes with a few extra features compared to chief-rival Asus, with a full seven expansion slots, automatic PCIe x16 to dual x8 slot switching, and an added SATA connection.

Except for its missing eSATA port, the 890GPA-UD3H I/O panel could have been lifted directly from the Asus board. Gigabyte seems to be of the opinion that most eSATA users would rather connect their devices via the front panel ports of select cases, placing both additional connections internally. Two USB 3.0 ports highlight the I/O panel’s added features.

A row of pathway switches behind the top x16-length slot mean that Gigabyte's customers won't need to mess with pathway switch cards, and can simply insert a second graphics card or remove it at will (though this does add to cost). Like Asus, Gigabyte provides what would have previously been noticed as an exceptional number of internal USB 2.0 ports to support up to eight devices, and goes one step farther by adding a second internal FireWire connection.

Windows XP users who would like to take full advantage of the chipset’s AHCI or RAID capabilities will appreciate Gigabyte’s retention of a floppy interface, though putting it under the lowest PCI slot does make access inconvenient. On the other hand, SATA and Ultra ATA connectors are ideally positioned near the center of the motherboard’s front edge, for easy access to both upper and lower drive bays.

Gigabyte has, for a long time, put its front-panel audio connector near the center of the motherboard’s rear edge for easier access from above, though some users who’s cables would have been long enough to reach the bottom have mentioned that it makes the cable harder to hide.

BIOS

Reference Clock200-500 MHz (1MHz)
CPU MultiplierYes
iGFX Clock200-2000 MHz (1 MHz)
DRAM Data RatesREF x4-x8 (x1.33)
PCIe Clock100-150 MHz (1MHz)
CPU Vcore-0.6 to +0.6V (25mV)
IMC Voltage-0.6 to +0.6V (25mV)
890GX Voltage0.90-1.60V (20mV)
SB850 VoltageNot Adjustable
DRAM Voltage1.28-2.45V (15mV)
CAS Latency3-11 Cycles
tRCD3-15 Cycles
tRP3-15 Cycles
tRAS3-31 Cycles


Overclockers will love the variety of configurable settings provided in Gigabyte’s GA-890GPA-UD3H BIOS. We prefer to see actual (rather than offset) voltage listed, but Gigabyte makes it easy to see “where you’re going” by also listing the expected result.

Memory timing selections are only mildly advanced beyond the basic overclocker’s needs, but do include drive-strength control.

Eight custom BIOS configurations can be saved in a protected area of the BIOS IC as user profiles.

Users who forget to save a user profile in BIOS can still retrieve previous settings, since the motherboard automatically retains the “last known good” configuration.

Accessories

We were disappointed to find only two SATA cables in Gigabyte’s installation kit, though retail samples might contain more.

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  • 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.

    Cheers!
  • 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
    Quote:
    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
    Quote:
    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.