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ASUS M3A78-T AMD 790GX Socket AM2+ Motherboard Review

ASUS M3A78-T AMD 790GX Socket AM2+ Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: The on-board Radeon HD 3300 VGA powers the HDMI port that's located on the I/O panel of the ASUS M3A78-T motherboard, along with Analog-VGA and DVI display outputs. The HDMI port can output High Definition content at 1080p.
 81% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: ASUS Feb 26 2009   Julian Apong  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > ASUS M3A78-T

ASUS M3A78-T - Everything to Everyone?

ASUS' M3A78-T motherboard has a little of something for everyone. Extreme gamers can take advantage of its socket AM2+ Phenom II processor support and Crossfire capabilities. Those looking for a nice upgrade for their existing socket AM2 processor now have HDMI, HDCP and a half decent integrated videocard at their fingertips.

However as many experienced computer users know, any component that tries to do too much has to make some compromises. The ASUS M3A78-T has tradeoffs that are very similar to Foxconn's A7DA-S motherboard that PCSTATS reviewed in December. The extreme gamer may not be satisfied by CrossfireX running on dual x8 PCI Express 2.0 lanes and upgraders might balk at the price premium over an equivalent AMD 780G platform if they are using and AM2 processor.

The AMD Radeon HD 3300 was also a little too hot for extended benchmarking in PCSTATS' 3D gaming tests, so it's recommended to keep air blowing in its direction. Once it's got some active cooling the Radeon HD 3300 is still one of the fastest IGPs on the market, however that's still not enough to play the majority of today's games.

The AMD M3A78-T motherboard was a decent overclocker, and when paired with the new Phenom II 720 Black Edition processor it overclocked from 200MHz FSB up to 290MHz. It's difficult to judge the overall performance of the ASUS M3A78-T relative to other AMD motherboards since it's the first to be tested with the Phenom II 720, but future reviews should quickly yield a clearer perspective.

With a retail price of about $173.99 CDN ($145 USD, 95 GBP), the ASUS M3A78-T motherboard offers a lot for fans of the aging AMD socket AM2 or newer socket AM3 processors. While there's everything to like about the AMD 790GX chipset, CrossfireX on this board is unlikely to be used by most. That leaves the ASUS M3A78-T at a bit of a premium, or it's a motherboard with gaming potential. It all depends on what you have in store for it. There's no disagreeing that AMD's 780G chipset costs less, also has HDMI output and plays back Blu-ray movies just fine. The AMD 790GX's Radeon HD 3300 is a little bit faster than the Radeon HD 3200 it replaces, but both are too slow for gaming, and neither Sideport or Hybrid Crossfire are enough to change that.

If you can find the ASUS M3A78-T for a good deal, and don't mind adding a little extra cooling to its northbridge heatsink it could very well be the king of the AMD IGP motherboards - certainly better than what an Intel G45 platform provides.

With the M3A78-T you can run a socket AM2 processor now or upgrade to a socket AM3 Phenom II and enjoy the benefits of AMDs latest architecture without splurging on more expensive DDR3 memory. However, when a motherboard tries to fulfill the roles of an IGP and gaming platform, it's often the case that it masters neither one.

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Contents of Article: ASUS M3A78-T
 Pg 1.  ASUS M3A78-T AMD 790GX Socket AM2+ Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  Testing 1080P HD Video Playback
 Pg 3.  Total System Power Draw Comparisons
 Pg 4.  ASUS M3A78-T Motherboard Highlights
 Pg 5.  AMD 790GX Chipset - Videocard or IGP?
 Pg 6.  Overclocking the AMD 790GX and the BIOS
 Pg 7.  Motherboard Benchmarks: SYSmark 2007, Sandra 2009
 Pg 8.  Motherboard Benchmarks: PCMark Vantage
 Pg 9.  Motherboard IGP Benchmarks: 3DMark06
 Pg 10.  Motherboard IGP Benchmarks: 3DMark Vantage, FEAR
 Pg 11.  DX10 Motherboard IGP Benchmarks: Call of Juarez, Crysis
 Pg 12.  — ASUS M3A78-T - Everything to Everyone?

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