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ASUS M4A89GTD PRO/USB3 AMD 890GX Motherboard Review

ASUS M4A89GTD PRO/USB3 AMD 890GX Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: The ASUS M4A89GTD PRO/USB3 motherboard is built around the 55nm AMD 890GX and SB850 southbridge. It has 128MB of onboard DDR3-1333 sideport memory for the integrated DX10.1 ATI Radeon HD 4290 graphics. Its AM3 CPU socket will accommodate AMD Phenom II and Athlon II processors, right through to the six-core Phenom II X6.
 80% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: ASUS Mar 02 2010   Julian Apong  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > ASUS M4A89GTD PRO/USB3

AMD 890GX for Media Center? Yes

AMD's 890GX chipset has arrived in a major way, and for what seems like the first time in quite a while AMD has taken the lead in competing IGP core logic technologies away from Intel. The ASUS M4A89GTD PRO/USB3 motherboard incorporates a number of upgrades in the ATI Radeon HD 4290 IGP, such as dedicated bandwidth for the USB 3.0 ports and six native SATA 6Gb/s jacks via the AMD SB850 southbridge.

All of this has been well integrated by ASUS into an ATX motherboard with enough features and versatility to satisfy those looking to build powerful gaming rigs or a simple graphics-integrated HTPC/Media PC for home or work.

As a platform for intensive 3D gaming the ASUS M4A89GTD PRO/USB3 motherboard features dual PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots that can be run in a single x16 or CrossfireX x8/x8 modes. The AMD 890GX chipset has a lot of PCI Express bandwidth to throw around, so having features like USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gb/s ports don't require compromises like bridge chips or a loss of expansion ports. For those of you planning on upgrading to the six-core Phenom II X6 processor, this board is indeed 140W AMD CPU ready.

As much as we like the AMD 890GX, it's the AMD SB850 southbridge's native support for SATA 6Gb/s that steals the show. Competing integrated graphics boards from Intel (think: H55) won't match this until the Intel Platform Controller Hub found on all three of its recently introduced chipsets is overhauled. With current SSDs having their sequential read performance bottlenecked by the limits of SATA III 3Gb/s connections, having six SATA 6Gb/s connections capable of RAID 0, 1 5 and 10 means that the ASUS M4A89GTD PRO/USB3 has some real expandability options.... although we do wish ASUS had gone a step further by including four additional SATA II ports. Six SATA connections are great, but ten gives you more breathing room for future expansion.

I've discussed the benefits of USB 3.0 already, suffice to say that if you're shopping for a motherboard in 2010 you want this technology in your PC. ASUS's M4A89GTD PRO/USB3 motherboard's implementation of dual USB 3.0 ports is the best we've seen thus far, with both ports receiving full bandwidth without having to sacrifice any PCI Express expansion slots elsewhere.

As integrated graphics go, the ATI Radeon HD 4290 isn't dramatically different from the Radeon HD 4200 found on motherboards based on AMD's 785G chipset. Bumping the core clock up to 700MHz has improved 3D gaming performance a little, but its still not powerful enough to play modern 3D games. It is very easy to overclock the IGP (also the CPU and even unlock CPU cores) using ASUS' included TurboV Evo software, but the benefits are not that substantial. As far has High Definition content and 1080p video playback, and standard everyday 2D desktop applications, the integrated Radeon HD 4290 is entirely fine.

Overclocking the ASUS M4A89GTD PRO/USB3 motherboard was an absolute joy, PCSTATS pushed the bus speed to 285MHz without much effort. IGP overclocking was spotty, but increasing speed from 700MHz to 1050MHz wasn't difficult.

Features vs. Cost vs. Future Proofing

When all is said and done, the ASUS M4A89GTD PRO/USB3 motherboard shapes up into a very complete MediaPC/HTPC platform. Particularly when matched with AMDs value-oriented quad-core AMD socket AM3 processors. Given a retail price of $180 CDN, ($155 USD, £95 GBP) for the ASUS M4A89GTD PRO/USB3 motherboard, I think it's good value - if - SATA 6gb/s and USB 3.0 are on your list of must-have's.

If not, AMD 785G motherboards are priced around $100 and offer very similar integrated graphics performance that's suitable for mainstream office PCs. Boards like the ASUS M4A785TD-V posess nearly identical HTPC capabilities, but without SATA 6Gb/s or USB 3.0.

With six-core Phenom II X6 CPUs impending, our recommendation tilts slightly towards AMD 890GX boards + USB 3.0 functionality - the speed of that wonderful interface, coupled with the M4A89GTD PRO/USB3 motherboard's HDMI 1.3 output just screams HD Media PC in our books. It all depends if you're building a PC to be future proof, or a cheap-as-possible MediaPC right now.

Discuss this motherboard in the PCSTATS Forums. Find out about this and many other reviews by joining the Weekly PCstats.com Newsletter today! Catch all of PCSTATS latest reviews right here.

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Contents of Article: ASUS M4A89GTD PRO/USB3
 Pg 1.  ASUS M4A89GTD PRO/USB3 AMD 890GX Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  ATI Radeon HD 4290 Integrated Graphics
 Pg 3.  Introducing the AMD 890GX / SB850 Chipsets
 Pg 4.  Motherboard Highlights Photo Gallery
 Pg 5.  Overclocking CPU/IGP Tests and ASUS OC Software Report
 Pg 6.  Inside the BIOS Options
 Pg 7.  Power/SATA3 Benchmarks, Test System Specs
 Pg 8.  Motherboard Benchmarks: Sysmark 2007
 Pg 9.  Motherboard Benchmarks: Sandra 2009
 Pg 10.  Motherboard Benchmarks: PCMark Vantage
 Pg 11.  Motherboard IGP Benchmarks: 3DMark06
 Pg 12.  Motherboard IGP Benchmarks: 3DMark Vantage, FEAR
 Pg 13.  DX10 Motherboard IGP Benchmarks: Call of Juarez, Crysis
 Pg 14.  HD Playback CPU Load, ATI Stream testing
 Pg 15.  — AMD 890GX for Media Center? Yes

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