AMD 890GX SB850 Chipset Debut: Phenom II X6 Ready

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To test the AMD 890GX chipset, we got our hands on a couple of high-end motherboards from Asus and Gigabyte, the M4A89GTD PRO/USB3 and the 890GPA-UD3H, respectively.




Asus M4A89GTD PRO/USB3 Motherboard

The M4A89GTD PRO/USB3 is part of Asus' Xtreme Design family of products. As its name makes blatantly obvious, the board supports USB 3.0 though the use of dedicated NEC controller, but unlike many previous implementations of said chip on the Intel P55 platform, it is linked to the 890GX via PCI Express Gen 2, and doesn't require a bridge chip for max bandwidth.

The M4A89GTD PRO/USB3 includes a typical assortment of accessories, and like the other motherboards in the Xtreme Design family, it is built upon a dark colored PCB, with dark and light blue and white accents. There are relatively large heatsinks in the VRM and on the 890GX Northbridge, linked together via a heat-pipe and a smaller heatsink on the SB850 chip. As is typically the case, Asus does a good job with the layout and all major connectors and headers are spread out nicely around the edges of the board, and all are clearly labeled.

The slot configuration on the M4A89GTD PRO/USB3, consists of a pair of PCI Express x16 slots (1x16 or 2x8), a single PCI Express x1 slot, a single x4 slot, and a pair of PCI slots. Outputs in the I/O backplane are plentiful and include Firewire, USB 3.0, and eSATA.

Not visible in the pictures are the M4A89GTD PRO/USB3's extensive system BIOS options and some other Asus only features. The M4A89GTD PRO/USB3 supports a Quick Hot key feature for quick core unlocking with some Phenom II and Athlon II processors, Auto Tuning with Turbo Profiles in the BIOS, new fan controls in the BIOS as well, and GPU Boost. Asus has also revamped their AiSuite and EPU software for the M4A89GTD PRO/USB3.




Gigabyte 890GPA-UD3H Motherboard

The Gigabyte 890GPA-UD3H is aesthetically similar to virtually all of the company's enthusiast offerings. It features Gigabyte's trademark blue PCB with orange, blue, and white slots / expansion headers. What stands out the most on this board from a physical standpoint is its large cooling solution, which cools the VRM and the chipset. The board's slot configuration consists of dual PCIe x16 slots, a trio of PCIe x1 slots, and a pair of PCI slots. Like the Asus board, the Gigabyte 890GPA-UD3H features USB 3.0 through the use of NEC's controller, and overall the layout is very good, with well placed headers and connectors that are all clearly labeled.

The Gigabyte 890GPA-UD3H's system BIOS is very well appointed, with a full array of overclocking tools. And it too has a couple of proprietary features. Gigabyte touts the 890GPA-UD3H's support for "USB Power 3X", which essentially triples the maximum power output that both the USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports are capable of, for better compatibility with power hungry USB devices. And the Gigabyte 890GPA-UD3H also features dedicated hardware dubbed "Precision OV" which offers better voltage control options for the CPU, chipset and memory than previous offerings, with linear real time voltage control.

Of course, the 890GPA-UD3H also supports many of the other features Gigabyte is known for, like Dual-BIOS and 2oz copper layers, but we've covered those many times before in previous articles.

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rapid1 4 years ago

Why Sata 3 (6Gbps), and no USB 3 which was released just before the SATA protocol was? Either way it looks like a good new board otherwise, just kind of strange.

realneil 4 years ago

I'll have to pass on this for now. It doesn't bring enough newness to the table to shake me off of this 'Intel Tree' I find myself holding onto. Maybe it will really rock with a Six core CPU on it, but it's not so impressive all by itself.

rapid1 4 years ago

That's one thing that kind of confuses me a bit. Why release a 6 core processor, if you have an 8 core on tap at a smaller nm construction factor, which supposedly will be compatible with existing AM3 chip socket boards?

Nethersprite 4 years ago

"That's one thing that kind of confuses me a bit. Why release a 6 core processor, if you have an 8 core on tap at a smaller nm construction factor, which supposedly will be compatible with existing AM3 chip socket boards?"

Really? Can you give me a link? Because I heard the 8-core, 32nm chips (Bulldozer?) will use a different socket, will only support DDR3 (as opposed to AM3 which supports both DDR2 and DDR3), and at that point it would also make sense for it to be triple-channel too. If it won't be compatible with AM3, then 6-core makes perfect sense as an upgrade for some people before Bulldozer comes out in the middle of next year.

rapid1 4 years ago

Seems to be the same strategy the 5000 series GPU is following, which is flood the market with every conceivable iteration of a device type period.

Drago 4 years ago

Im actually glad that the new SB850 doesnt have USB3. This let AMD keep costs down since USB3 is a whole another animal vs the sata 6gbps update. USB3 will be integrated in the next chipset iteration for buldozer in 2011, and there isnt much point in having it now when there are only a hand full of devices that use USB3. On the other hand, SATA 6gbps has lots of new SSD's on the market due to the fact that the SATA II interface bottlenecks current SSD's.

Seriously rapid1, learn to edit your posts instead of double posting to up your post count.

Komando_93 4 years ago


ironleg 4 years ago

I am waiting for this 6 core chip to upgrade from my intel Q6600.AMD rocks

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