MSI 790FX-GD70 AM3 Motherboard

Introduction & Specifications

The latest socket AM3 compatible Phenom II processors have been available for several weeks now and they had proven in our initial coverage to be excellent chips, a notable improvement over their predecessors in several respects, including overclocking and in their support for higher clocked DDR3 memory. Thanks to the Phenom II's ability to use both DDR2 and DDR3 memory types, they can be used in existing AM2+ boards, which is an excellent solution for many current AMD users. The AMD 790GX chipset offers an excellent low cost DDR2 solution for Phenom II owners but currently available implementations lack some of the higher-end bells and whistles that many enthusiasts and gamers want. The 790GX chipset technically supports Hybrid CrossFireX, allowing two or more discrete graphics cards to team up with the IGP, but many currently available boards generally only offer a single physical PCI-E x16 slot, there are exceptions of course but only a few.

While AMD's new Phenom II chips can also support DDR2 and are compatible with existing AM2+ boards, their full potential is only realized when equipped with a few sticks of fast DDR3. Unfortunately, so far, the pool of available DDR3-enabled AM3 boards has been rather small with only a few choices. The majority of available DDR3 equipped AM3 boards also lack the multiple PCI-E x16 slots necessary to support CrossFireX. One of the few boards with both DDR3 and full CrossFireX support is ASUS' M4A79T Deluxe, which we briefly checked out in our initial look at the AM3 Phenom IIs. Today, we'll be examining the second DDR3 full CrossFireX capable AM3 board to hit our labs, the MSI 790FX-GD70, and we'll be putting it up against the M4A79T, head-to-head to see how it stacks up.


MSI 790FX-GD70 Motherboard
Specifications & Features
Processor and Chipset
Based on AMD 790FX chipset
AMD SB750 southbridge
Supports AMD Phenom II Processors
HyperTransport 3.0 supporting speed up to 5200MT/s

4 x DIMM, Max. 16 GB, DDR3 2133(O.C.)/1800(O.C.)/1600(O.C.)/1333/1066/800 Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory
Dual channel memory architecture
Expansion Slots
4 x PCIe 2.0 x16 slots (2x16 and 2x8 mode)
1 x PCIe 2.0 x1 slot
2 x PCI slots
6 x SATA 3Gb/s ports (RAID 0/1/5/10/JBOD)
2 x SATA 3Gb/s ports (RAID 0/1/JBOD)
1 x eSATA 3Gb/s port
1 x IDE channel (Ultra DMA 66/100/133)
Chipset integrated by Realtek® ALC889
Flexible 8-channel audio with jack sensing
True Blu-ray Audio Support

Dual Realtek PCI-E GbLAN controller 8111DL
Integrated Fast Ethernet MAC and PHY in single chip
Supports 10Mb/s, 100Mb/s and 1000Mb/s
Internal IO
ATX 24-pin power connector
ATX 8-pin 12V CPU power connector
4 x FAN connectors
1 x CD-in connector
1 x Front panel audio connector
1 x Front panel connector
1 x Chassis intrusion switch connector
2 x USB 2.0 connectors
1 x Floppy disk drive connector
8 x Serial ATA II connectors
1 x ATA133 HD connectors
1 x Serial port connector
1 x SPDIF-Out connector
1 x IEEE1394 connector
1 x TPM module header

Special Features
All Solid Capacitors
All Shielded Choke
APS - Active Phase Switching
OC Dial
Easy Button
Auto Max FSB

Back Panel I/O
7 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
1 x eSATA/USB shared port
1 x PS/2 Keyboard
1 x PS/2 Mouse
1 x S/PDIF Out Coaxial
1 x S/PDIF Out Optical
1 x IEEE1394 port
2 x RJ45 LAN jacks
8 -Channel Audio I/O

4 x SATA data cables
2 x SATA power cables
2 x PCI-E Crossfire bridges
1 x M-Connector set
1 x USB 2.0 rear IO panel
1 x IDE cable
1 x FDD cable
1 x IO shield

Solid Capacitors

Offers a longer lifespan, better stability when at high frequencies, can operate at higher temperatures, and no longer runs the risk of exploding.

Shielded Chokes
A shielded choke could reduce core power loss, lower EMI interference. Store energy longer at higher frequency, achieving higher efficiency.

ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.5 cm )

At first glance, the 790FX-GD70 appears to be a very well equipped board. With four full-length PCI-E x16 slots, the 790FX-GD70 is quad-CrossFireX ready. The GD70 also packs a lot in the storage department with 8 internal SATA ports and an additional eSATA port which can also be used for USB 2.0. Speaking of USB, there are 8 ports on the rear IO panel if you count the shared eSATA/USB port. The GD70 also gets the benefit of an all solid capacitor design and all the chokes are also shielded, which helps with overall stability.

MSI has equipped the 790FX-GD70 with a full suite of additional special features, most notably the DrMOS chip, which was first introduced with MSI's P45 boards. The DrMOS chip takes the traditional MOSFET configuration of several discrete chips and combines them into a single IC. The result, according to MSI, is lower temperatures, lower power consumption and better response speed. The GD70 is also equipped with MSI's Active Phase Switching tech, which is a hardware-based phase switching solution.


In terms of the bundle, the 790FX-GD70 comes well equipped with a plethora of cabling, as well as a high quality user manual and driver CD. The bundle includes four SATA cables, IDE and floppy cables and a pair of SATA power cables. Also included are two CrossFire bridges in case your video cards didn't come with any, a USB rear I/O panel and a M-Connector set. The M-Connector set is essentially MSI's version of ASUS' Q-connectors. They are just convenient connector stubs which let you hook up your chassis' front-panel connectors to the M-connector, then the whole stub connects to the motherboard's front-panel I/O pins in one go, saving you the hassle of muddling with individual connectors and cables on the traditionally cramped I/O pins. Overall, the 790FX-GD70's bundle includes everything you need to get started with most system configurations.

Tags:  AMD, MSI, Motherboard, Phenom, AM3

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