Tom's Hardware's 2010 Gift Guide: Part 1, For System Builders

Motherboard: Gigabyte 890FXA-UD5
By: Tony Celeste

If you’re looking for an affordable alternative to Intel’s performance-oriented X58-based motherboards, or if you're simply a devoted customer of all-things AMD, Gigabyte’s 890FXA-UD5 motherboard complements the Phenom II X2 processor we picked for our value-oriented build. 

The 890FXA-UD5's Socket AM3 interface supports not only the enthusiast-class Phenom II CPUs, but also more moderately-priced Athlon II processors, though this $190 platform might be overkill for anyone running a more budget-friendly chip not planning to overclock. With that said, you can also go the other way and drop a six-core Phenom II X6 in this board as well. As its name suggests, Gigabyte's platform centers on the AMD 890FX northbridge, laden with 42 PCI Express 2.0 lanes. Four of those lanes are used to provide an exceptionally fast connection to AMD’s SB850 southbridge, the first chipset with integrated support for SATA 6Gb/s, not to mention full software-based RAID 0/1/5/10 support as well.

AMD was the first desktop processor vendor with an integrated memory controller, enabling the fastest possible memory to processor connectivity. Gigabyte's 890FXA-UD5 accommodates AMD's on-die memory circuitry through a quartet of DDR3 DIMM sockets, supporting up to 4 GB of RAM when used with 32-bit operating systems and up to 16 GB of RAM with 64-bit operating systems. 

The 890FXA-UD5 includes the expandability you need to future-proof your system. In addition to the SB850's six SATA 6Gb/s ports, a Gigabyte controller adds a pair of 3 Gb/s SATA ports, while a legacy IDE connector takes up to two ATA/133 devices. Though most competing vendors ditched IDE support long ago, the connector could come in useful if you're still rolling old school with an aging optical drive. Plus, a JMicron chip exposes two extra eSATA ports at 3 Gb/s on the board's rear I/O panel. USB-oriented connectivity is also well-handled here. There are eight rear-panel USB 2.0/1.1 ports, six internal USB 2.0/1.1 ports, and two USB 3.0 ports accessible through the back of the 890FXA-UD5. Support for FireWire drives and devices is enabled via two externally-facing IEEE-1394 ports and one internal header.

Of course, Gigabyte's 890FXA-UD5 offers full support for AMD CrossFire graphics technology. Not surprisingly, SLI is a no-show here. Unlike some similarly-priced mainstream Intel boards, which interface with a CPU armed with 16 lanes of PCIe that have to be split up in CrossFire mode, this motherboard has enough connectivity for two cards running at full x16 transfer rates. The -UD5 goes a step further by including additional x16 slots for three-way CrossFire support using dual-slot cards. All told, there are four x16 slots operating at speeds of x4 to x16, depending upon your configuration, plus two x1 slots, and one PCI slot. 

Obviously, this is not the only motherboard available with an AMD 890FX northbridge. We specifically chose the 890FXA-UD5 because its relative value, reasonable price tag, and modern features. It's nice to get the SATA 6Gb/s support for future upgrades to SSDs able to move more than 300 MB/s, plus USB 3.0 is a welcome addition after waiting for our 64 GB flash drives to transfer disk images over USB 2.0. Gigabyte's On/Off  support for charging iPads/iPhones/iPods, even when the PC is turned off, is a super-convenient addition, too.

Create a new thread in the US Reviews comments forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
Comment from the forums
    Your comment
    Top Comments
  • alexttlyrocks
    I'm only reading this article to look at the chicks
  • LuckyDucky7
    Alternative title:
    Gift Guide Part 1, for Deep Pockets :)
  • Other Comments
  • alexttlyrocks
    I'm only reading this article to look at the chicks
  • rohitbaran
    ^ Keep reading!
  • dogman_1234
    Wait until SB and BD.
  • Anonymous
    Radeon 6870 girl ... someone forgot to photoshop her ^^
  • LuckyDucky7
    Alternative title:
    Gift Guide Part 1, for Deep Pockets :)
  • squanto
  • cangelini
    LuckyDucky7Alternative title:Gift Guide Part 1, for Deep Pockets

    Phenom II for under $100? You must have those pockets that are sewn shut at the top, for decoration! =)
  • Bluescreendeath
    girls > computer parts that we already know about
  • Silmarunya
    Nice review, but I'd have liked to see advice for different budgets. For example, you could recommend a budget, mid range and high end product. For example, I'm currently in the market for a discrete sound card, but don't such an expensive one. On the other hand, I wouldn't be satisfied with a Phenom II X2. It's still a great article, mind you, but it'd have been nice to see some love for every end of the market.
  • Onus
    ntrRadeon 6870 girl ... someone forgot to photoshop her ^^

    No, it's the taint that a Diamond product radiates. They're #2 on my personal "Do not buy" list, right after Belkin.
  • garyshome
    The ps costs as much as the cpu and mb? So much for the budget.
  • sandmanwn
    Ed: You'll have to pardon this little gem missing out on the gift guide photo shoot.

    Off with his head!!!
  • nevertell
    The phenom II x2 555 is some of the BEST bang for the buck. I dropped it in my build, got a quad core running at 3,6 ghz for about 25 $ per core, and I didn't even have to disable any of the powersaving features or anything actually to get it working like this.
  • mi1ez
    Why the hell does the US site work fine and the UK site have it'ss CSS in a twist?
  • tony singh
    Some one gift me please....:)
  • cknobman
    I have no clue what products Toms is actually recommending here, too busy looking and the beautiful product modelers and not the actual products!!!
  • fausto
    Toms needs to spend more money on the holiday Models department. seen much better chicks at Quakecon 2008. No offense to the ladies but some of you are not booth babe material
  • ta152h
    Bluescreendeathgirls > computer parts that we already know about

    If you're that desperate to see pictures of girls, you're probably right; you must know computer parts better than girls.

    It's pretty sad when pictures of girls gets so much of a reaction. I swear if you get out of the house, you'll actually see them in real life. I'm not lying. You can even say "Hi" to them, and they'll probably even give you a response. I know it sounds far fetched, but I'm really confident about this, so just trust me.
  • ta152h
    faustoToms needs to spend more money on the holiday Models department. seen much better chicks at Quakecon 2008. No offense to the ladies but some of you are not booth babe material

    The pathetic part is, how it's still getting these desperate guys worked up.

    Some of the pictures are just bad too, like the one with the Radeon.
  • accolite
    TA152H, I'm not desperate... I'm married, but I enjoy a good looking woman more than looking at some hardware components after all we are guys! If you don't your probably a woman yourself or a homo!