ASUS M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3 Motherboard Reviewajmatson - October 19, 2010
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When you get the ASUS M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3 board laid out you can see how sexy the design is. Like with most of the ASUS EVO boards, everything is aligned and placed very elegantly. This board uses the ATX form factor measuring 12 inches by 9.6 inches. ASUS chose to use the dark PC board with the clash of blue and black slots and heatsinks which offer a pleasing look when placed in a case with a window. The design of the board uses ASUS's Xtreme Design technology. Xtreme Design brings performance to a new level with Hybrid features including TurboV EVO, Turbo Key II and Xtreme Phase. The Xtreme Design also includes Xtreme Reliability by using Stack Cool 3+ which includes 2 x 2 ounces of copper in the PC board for ultimate heat transfer and all solid capacitors for longer life and cleaner voltage. Finally, Xtreme Design is number one in safety with better EMI shielding to protect other devices. On the back of the board there is the socket retention bracket for the CPU. The board is built around the 880 chipset which uses an 880G Northbridge with integrated Radeon HD 4250 graphics and the SB850 Southbridge. There is also a dedicated 128MB DDR3-1333MHz SidePort memory chip to give the integrated video a boost before tapping into the shared memory.
The CPU area on the M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3 is very clean and open. This will make installing large heatsinks and water blocks a cinch. This board supports AM3 processors including Athlon II, Phenom II, and the latest Phenom II Six Cores. Voltage is supplied using ASUS's Xtreme Phase 8+2 design which offers longer life and higher efficiency, especially when overclocking. There are a total of four memory slots which support up to 16GB of DDR3 memory up to 2000MHz overclocked in dual channel configuration. You also have the ability to run either ECC or non-ECC memory here depending on your needs. The channels are separated by color with the blue DIMM slots being one channel and the black slots the second channel. This spacing allows the user to utilize a set of memory with large heatsinks such as the Mushkin Ridgeback with no issues which, is a problem on some AMD boards since the channels are usually placed next to each other.
At the back panel you have a wealth of connection options. This board supports a variety of video, sound, and data connections, so you will never be left in the dust without a connection for your favorite devices. Starting from the top there is a lone PS/2 port, the first two USB 2.0 ports, a S/PDIF Optical Out port, one HDMI connection, one VGA port, one DVI port, two more USB 2.0 ports, a Firewire 1394a port, one eSATA port, one Gigabit LAN port, two USB 3.0 ports colored blue and the analog audio ports. The USB 3.0 ports are powered by a NEC chip since the chipset does not yet support it natively.
Below the back panel lie the expansion slots for the board. Just as with the other connections, the expansion slots offer just about anything you may need. There is one PCI Express x1 slot, three legacy PCI slots and two PCI Express x16 slots for your graphics cards. The two x16 slots support CrossFireX. When using one card it is to be placed in the blue slot which runs at full x16 mode. The second card is placed in the grey slot which runs only at x4 mode.
The bottom of the board is where the headers are. Starting from the bottom left there is an S/PDIF header, a COM port header, four USB 2.0 headers, a Firewire header and the front panel headers. Flipping around to the right spine there is one IDE port which supports up to two devices and five SATA ports which support drives up to 6.0Gb/s. The SATA ports also support RAID 0,1,5,10 and JBOD. Further up the right side of the board there are a few switches and a button. These are features designed to give you the most out of your board. The button is the MemOK button which when pushed analyzes the memory and sets fail safe settings ensuring an error free boot. This is great for those stubborn sets that won’t boot for anything. Just press it and let the magic run. The first switch above the MemOK button is the Core Unlocker switch. This switch when activated will attempt to unlock the cores of some latent AMD processors without having to mess with the complicated BIOS settings manually. The last switch is the Turbo Key II selector. This switch when activated will overclock your processor to a higher but stable speed for easy, no fuss extra performance.
To keep the critical chips cool on the board, ASUS uses a set of elegantly designed heatsinks. These not only look good but their designs allow for maximum heat transfer to the airflow in the case. There is one heatsink on the voltage regulators, one on the 880G Northbridge and a smaller one on the SB850 Southbridge.
With everything unpacked and looked at we can install the board and the drivers.