ASUS M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3 Motherboard Review
Reviewed by: ajmatson
Reviewed on: October 19, 2010
Today I would like to introduce you to the ASUS M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3. Yes, that is a very long name but the board packs a punch equivalent to its mouthful of a model number. The M4A88TD-V EVO combines the 880G Northbridge with the proven SB850 Southbridge for a combination designed to kill. The 880G chipset is designed for mid-range enthusiasts who want performance from their system without having to pay a premium for it. Some of the featuers the 880G chipset offers includes support for the latest AMD Phenom II and Athlon II processors, HyperTransport 3.0, ATI Stream Technology, Windows 7 support and integrated graphics with DirectX 10.1 support.
ASUS has packed in some of their own special features as well into this board such as ASUS's Xtreme Design technology. With one click overclocking and instant-on Hybrid OS, you have the basis for a killer system. These technologies that ASUS has built their boards with make them one of the most stable and well performing boards I have seen and hopefully the M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3 will continue on with that tradition. If I have you wanting to know more, then let's dig in and take a better look at this motherboard.
The ASUS M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3 motherboard comes packaged in the traditionalal green style motif that we have been seeing on other ASUS AMD Xtreme Design boards such as the ASUS M4A89GTD-PRO/USB3. The front of the package displays the Xtreme Design logo which is the heart of newer ASUS motherboards. Xtreme Design stands for the way ASUS designs the board with performance, safety and reliability as their number one priorities. This means better quality components and implementation allowing for longer life and better system performance for the end user. There is also a Hybrid Logo which means the board supports both the integrated graphics and discrete graphics cards with CrossFireX and with the right discrete card, can also support Hybrid CrossFireX with the integrated video for added performance. One other logo of note is that this is one of the few AMD boards that supports 2000MHz memory speeds. On the rear of the box there are highlights of the main features including Core Unlocker, GPU Boost, MemOK and Turbo Key II. There are also the specifications for you to make sure this is the right one for your needs.
When you open the box you are greeted with the accessories included with this ASUS M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3 motherboard. There is a basic supply of accessories including the manual and driver CD, one ASUS Case Badge, the Q-Shield backplate, one IDE cable for up to two devices, two SATA 6.0Gb/s cables and the Q-Connectors for the front panel connections.
Now that everything is out of the box we can get a better look at the board up close.
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.
ASUS makes installing the drivers and utilities a snap with the installer utility. When you pop the CD in, autorun will bring up the installer shown below. There are several tabs to choose from. The first is the Driver tab which will install the drivers and tools for board operation. The second tab is the Utilities tab which is where you install the utilities like PC Probe II, AI Suite and more. The third tab is the Make Disk tab so you can make RAID disks for installation of your OS. To install each set just press the ASUS Install button, select what you want installed and away it goes with little interaction needed.
ASUS AI Suite & ASUS Update:
ASUS AI Suite is your gateway to the other utilities. You can monitor your speed and voltage levels and invoke Turbo V, Fan control and EPU all from the AI Suite. The ASUS Update utility is a tool which allows you to update your BIOS from their servers or from a BIOS you downloaded for the board. No need to enter the BIOS or update from a floppy anymore.
ASUS EPU & ASUS PC Probe II:
ASUS EPU is the software which controls the Energy Processing Unit chip on the board. With this console you can set your system to high performance mode in full speed or you can throttle down the system speeds and voltage to conserve on power usage and heat output. PC Probe II is a deep monitoring utility which shows you the speeds of your hardware, the voltages and also the heat being generated by components.
ASUS Turbo V Evo & Realtek Ethernet Diagnostic Utility:
ASUS TurboV EVO is an OS based overclocking utility. This tool allows you to overclock and make adjustments from within Windows to maximize your overclocks without having to reboot and enter the BIOS with each change. The Realtek Ethernet Diagnostic Utility is also provided to help you isolate and find any issues you are having with your network connection.
ASUS Express Gate:
ASUS Express Gate is a Hybrid OS that allows you to boot and get into an almost instant, ready-to-go environment. You can browse the Internet, chat, make Skype calls and more in quicker time than it takes you to boot into your Windows operating system. You can also automatically copy your internet bookmarks to the Express Gate browser each time you log off your computer with the Express Gate Configuration tool.
Now that we have the hardware and drivers installed, how about we look into the BIOS of the board.
The BIOS is the most important part of the motherboard in my opinion. If you are a true computer enthusiast, getting your system setup the way you want is where you will spend a lot of your time and the BIOS is where you do this. ASUS has done a good job making navigating their BIOS easy by grouping the sections together based on their functions. To get a better look at the BIOS on the ASUS M4A89GTD Pro/USB3 motherboard, I will break it down by section and tell you a little bit about what is found in each one so you can see what is available in terms of changes, options and information.
The main section is the first part of the BIOS that you come to when you start it up. In this section, you can control the date and time for the system, the drives and storage configurations for ACHI or RAID and you can view system information such as the BIOS version, processor model and speed and the memory size.
The Advanced section has a lot going on that you can change. This is where you can adjust CPU configurations such as enabling Cool 'n' Quiet, C1E support, Virtual Machine support and the ASUS Core Unlocker selection, which allows you to select which cores to run based on the processor. There are also more DRAM configurations such as support settings for ECC memory and Ganging mode. In the Advanced section are also the video controls such as selecting the primary video device whether it be the onboard video or a discrete card. Other onboard devices you have control over are the serial devices, onboard LAN, onboard FireWire, S/PDIF and USB controllers including the USB 2.0 and 3.0 controllers. You can also enable legacy support for these devices.
In the Power section, the user can adjust the Suspend mode from S1 to S3 or set it to auto and have the system control it. You can also control the ACPI and APM (Advanced Power Management) for features such as power on or WO (Wake on) certain devices. Here you can also monitor your CPU and motherboard temperatures, fan speeds and the system rail voltages.
The Boot section is where you select the boot priority and boot configuration such as Quick Boot, Logo selection, error messages and also assign or remove the BIOS and system passwords to protect your system.
The tools section is where you can control additional features of the board such as flashing the BIOS using the ASUS EZ Flash 2 utility, enabling the Express Gate feature and resetting the data to defaults if needed. You can load or save overclocking profiles using the ASUS O.C. Profile section and you can test the LAN connection using the AI Net 2 utility. You can also turn off the POST State LEDs if necessary so that they do not interfere with your case lighting.
The Ai Tweaker section is where all the overclocking magic happens. ASUS has made this section very easy and user friendly. In this section, you can adjust the CPU speeds, system multipliers, memory dividers and more. You can control the voltages for everything from the CPU to the chipset and memory. All of the values are just keyed in for what you want so you do not have to go through a long list of values. For instance, for the memory, if you want 1.65V, you just enter that amount into the field and that is it. At the bottom of the section, you can also choose how the integrated video is set up such as memory assigned and the speed at which you want the Sideport chip to run.
Now that we have the BIOS configured, we can move on to the testing.
AMD Socket AM3 ;Phenom™II /Athlon™II /Sempron™ 100 Series Processors
AMD 140W CPU Support
AMD Cool 'n' Quiet™ Technology
Supports 45nm CPU
Up to 5200 MT/s ; HyperTransport™ 3.0
4 x DIMM, Max. 16 GB, DDR3 2000(O.C.)/1333/1066 ECC,Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel memory architecture
*AMD AM3 100 and 200 series CPU support up to DDR3 1066MHz.
*Due to OS limitation, when installing total memory of 4GB capacity or more, Windows® 32-bit operation system may only recognize less than 3GB. Install a 64-bit WindowsWindows® OS when you want to install 4GB or more memory on the motherboard.
2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 , support ATI® CrossFireX™ Technology (blue @ x16 mode,gray @ x4 mode)
1 x PCIe 2.0 x1
3 x PCI
Integrated ATI Radeon™ HD 4250 GPU
- Supports HDMI™ Technology with max. resolution up to 1920 x 1200 (1080P)
- Supports Dual-link DVI with max. resolution up to 2560x1600 @60Hz
- Supports D-Sub with max. resolution up to 2048x1536 @85Hz
- Dual independent displays support with HDMI / DVI and D-Sub
- Supports DirectX 10.1, OpenGL 2.0, Shader Model 4.1, Universal Video Decoder (UVD) 2.0
- Hardware Decode Acceleration for H.264,VC-1, and MPEG-2
- Maximum shared memory of 1GB
- Hybrid CrossFireX™ Support
- SidePort Memory - onboard 128MB DDR3 1333 memory
5 xSATA 6.0 Gb/s ports with RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 and JBOD
1 x eSATA port (6Gb/s ready)
- 1 x Ultra DMA 133/100/66 for up to 2 PATA devices
Realtek® 8111E Gigabit LAN controller featuring AI NET2
ALC892 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
VIA® VT6330 controller supports 2 x 1394a port(s) (1 at mid-board; 1 at back panel)
12 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (8 ports at mid-board, 4 ports at back panel)
2 x USB 3.0 ports (blue, at back panel)
ASUS Unique Features:
ASUS Xtreme Design
ASUS Hybrid Processor – TurboV EVO
- Turbo Unlocker, TurboV, Auto Tuning, CPU Level UP and GPU Boost
ASUS Hybrid OS – Express Gate
ASUS Hybrid Switches
- Turbo Key II
- Core Unlocker
ASUS Exclusive Features
- Anti-Surge protection
ASUS Power Solutions:
- 8+2 Phase Power Design
ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution:
- ASUS Fanless Design: Stylish heat sink solution
- ASUS Fan Xpert
ASUS EZ DIY:
- ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
- ASUS O.C. Profile
- ASUS MyLogo 2
- ASUS EZ Flash 2
Intelligent overclocking tools
- TurboV EVO
- GPU BOOST
- Turbo Key II
Precision Tweaker 2
- vCore: Adjustable CPU voltage at 0.003125V increment
- vChipset (N.B.): Adjustable chipeset voltage at 0.003125V increment
- vDIMM: Adjustable DRAM voltage at 0.015V increment
SFS (Stepless Frequency Selection)
- PCI Express frequency tuning from 100MHz up to 150MHz at 1MHz increment
- HT frequency tuning from 100MHz up to 550MHz at 1MHz increment
- ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
Back Panel I/O Ports:
1 x PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse Combo port
1 x DVI
1 x D-Sub
1 x HDMI
1 x S/PDIF Out (optical)
1 x IEEE 1394a
1 x LAN(RJ45) port
4 x USB 2.0/1.1
8 -Channel Audio I/O
2 x USB 3.0 ports (blue)
1 x eSATA port
Internal I/O Connectors:
4 x USB connectors (8 ports)
1 x IDE connector
1 x IEEE 1394a connector
1 x CPU Fan connector
1 x Chassis Fan connector
1 x Power Fan connector
1 x Core Unlocker switch
1 x Turbo Key II switch
1 x MemOK! Button
1 x COM connector
5 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
1 x Front panel audio connector
1 x S/PDIF Out Header
24-pin ATX Power connector
8-pin ATX 12V Power connector
16 Mb Flash ROM , AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.5, ACPI 2.0a, ASUS EZ Flash 2, ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
WOL by PME,WOR by PME,WOR by Ring,PXE
1 x UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable
4 x Serial ATA cables (2@6Gb/s, 2 @ 3Gb/s)
1 x Q-Connector (retail version only)
1 x Q-shield
ASUS PC Probe II
Anti-virus software (OEM version)
AMD OverDrive Utility (AOD)
ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm )
- AMD® AM3 Phenom™II /Athlon™II /Sempron™ 100 Series Processors
This motherboard supports AMD® AM3 multi-core processors with unique L3 cache and delivers better overclocking capabilities with less power consumption. It features dual-channel DDR3 memory support and accelerates data transfer rate up to 5200MT/s via HyperTransport™ 3.0 based system bus. This motherboard also supports AMD® CPUs in the new 45nm manufacturing process.
- CrossFireX Support
Flexible Multi-GPU solutions, Your Weapon of Choice!
M4A88TD-V EVO Series brings you the multi-GPU choice of CrossFireX™. Expect a brand-new gaming style you’ve never experienced before!
- AMD® 880G
AMD® 880G Chipset is designed to support up to 5200MT/s HyperTransport™ 3.0 (HT 3.0) interface speed and PCI Express™ 2.0 x16 graphics. It is optimized with AMD®’s latest AM3 and multi-core CPUs to provide excellent system performance and overclocking capabilities.
- PCIe 2.0 support
Double Speed; Double Bandwidth
This motherboard supports the latest PCIe 2.0 devices for double speed and bandwidth which enhances system performance.
- HDMI Support
Enjoy Full HD 1080p Multimedia Home-Theater Entertainment
High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) is a set of digital video standards that delivers multi-channel audio and uncompressed digital video for full HD 1080p visuals through through a single cable. Supporting HDCP copy protection such as HD DVD and Blu-ray Discs, HDMI provides you with the highest-quality home theater experience.
- DVI Support
DVI (Digital Visual Interface) provides high visual quality of digital display devices such as LCD monitor. The interface of this motherboard supports dual VGA output both DVI-D/HDMI and RGB.
- True USB 3.0 Support
Realize the True Future!! - TRUE USB 3.0 Support!
Experience ultra-fast data transfers at 4.8 Gb/s with USB 3.0–the latest connectivity standard. Built to connect easily with next-generation components and peripherals, USB 3.0 transfers data 10X faster and is also backward compatible with USB 2.0 components.
- True SATA 6Gb/s Support
The AMD® SB850 Southbridge natively supports next-generation Serial ATA (SATA) storage interface, this motherboard delivers up to 6.0 Gb/s data transfer rates. Additionally, get enhanced scalability, faster data retrieval, double the bandwidth of current bus systems.
- Dual-Channel DDR3 2000(O.C.)/1333/ 1066 support
The motherboard supports DDR3 memory that features data transfer rates of 2000(O.C.)/1333/1066 MHz to meet the higher bandwidth requirements of the latest 3D graphics, multimedia, and Internet applications. The dual-channel DDR3 architecture enlarges the bandwidth of your system memory to boost system performance.
- Core Unlocker
Intelligently Unlocks True Core Performance
ASUS Core Unlocker simplifies the activation of a latent AMD® CPU—with just a simply switch. Enjoy an instant performance boost by simply unlocking the extra cores, without performing complicated BIOS changes.
- Turbo Key II
Switch on the Potential, Turn up the Performance!
Enjoy superb performance by auto-tuning your processor to an extreme yet stable state. Simply activate a dedicated switch on the motherboard to unleash extra processing capabilities.
- TurboV EVO
The Ultimate O.C. Processor
The ultimate O.C. processor satisfies every level of overclockers—from die-hard enthusiasts to beginners. Auto tuning intelligently pushes the system to the fastest clock speeds while maintaining stability. Turbo Key boosts performance with just one touch; while TurboV offers more options to advanced overclockers to achieve world O.C. record. Moreover, upgrade your CPU at no additional cost with CPU Level UP!!
- Auto Tuning
Auto System Level Up
to Tuning is an intelligent tool that automates overclocking to achieve a total system level up. This tool also provides stability testing. Even O.C. beginners can achieve extreme yet stable overclocking results with Auto Tuning!
- Turbo Key
ASUS Turbo Key allows you to turn the PC power button into a physical overclocking button. After the easy setup, Turbo Key can boost performances without interrupting ongoing work or games, simply through pressing the button.
- Turbo Unlocker
Turbo Unlocker is the next evolution of an exclusive ASUS performance boost feature. All it takes is one click in the TurboV EVO interface and Turbo Unlocker automatically and dynamically adjusts each core frequency to speed up performance based on actual system load. Turbo Unlocker gets you in touch with more performance exactly when you need it.
- GPU Boost
Instant iGPU Level Up!
GPU Boost overclocks the integrated GPU in real time for the best graphics performance. User-friendly UI facilitates flexible frequency and voltage adjustments. Its ability to deliver multiple overclocking profiles also provides rapid and stable system-level upgrades.
- Express Gate
0 to Internet in Seconds!
Express Gate™ is an ASUS exclusive OS that provides you with quick access to the Internet and key applications before entering Windows®.
- ASUS 8+2 Phase Power Design
Longer Life & Higher Efficiency!
Unleashes ultimate memory performances with independent power to core components, while providing fast transient response and stability for the CPU under heavy loading or overclocking modes
Any Memory is A-OK!
MemOK! quickly ensures memory boot compatibility. This remarkable memory rescue tool requires a mere push of a button to patch memory issues. MemOK! determines failsafe settings and dramatically improves your system boot success. Get your system up and running in no time!
- Anti-Surge Protection
This special design prevents expensive devices and the motherboard from damage caused by power surges from switching power supply(PSU). EPU System Level Energy Saving The ASUS EPU (Energy Processing Unit) provides total system power management by detecting current PC loadings and intelligently moderating power usage for critical PC components in real-time–helping save power and money!.
- ASUS Stylish heatsink
The brand new 2 colors features 0-dB thermal solution that offers users a noiseless PC environment. The Paten Pending 2-colors design within the beautifully curved fins upgrade the visual enjoyment for the motherboard users, it also effectively cools down hot airflows generated by the north bridge chipset. Combined with usability and aesthetics, the ASUS Patent 2-color Wing heat-sink will give users an extremely silent and cooling experience with the elegant appearance!
- Fan Xpert
Active Quiet & Cool
ASUS Fan Xpert intelligently allows users to adjust both the CPU and chassis fan speed according to different ambient temperature , which is caused by different climate conditions in different geographic regions and system loading.Built-in variety of useful profiles offer flexible controls of fan speed to achieve a quiet and cool environment.
- EZ Flash2
Simply update BIOS from a USB flash disk before entering the OS
EZ Flash is a user-friendly BIOS update utility. Simply press the pre-defined hotkey to launch this tool and update BIOS from a floppy disk before entering the OS.
- O.C. Profile
Conveniently store or load multiple BIOS settings
Freely share and distribute favorite overclocking settings The motherboard features the ASUS O.C. Profile that allows users to conveniently store or load multiple BIOS settings. The BIOS settings can be stored in the CMOS or a separate file, giving users freedom to share and distribute their favorite overclocking settings.
- ASUS Q-Shield
The specially designed ASUS Q-Shield does without the usual “fingers”—making it convenient and easy to install. With better electric conductivity, it ideally protects your motherboard against static electricity and shields it against Electronic Magnetic Interference (EMI).
- CrashFree BIOS 3
Simply restore corrupted BIOS data from USB flash disk
The ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3 allows users to restore corrupted BIOS data from a USB flash disk containing the BIOS file. This utility saves users the cost and hassle of buying a replacement BIOS chip.
- ASUS Q-Connector
ASUS Q-Connector allows you to easily connect or disconnect the chassis front panel cables to the motherboard. This unique module eliminates the trouble of connecting the system panel cables one at a time and avoiding wrong cable connections
- 8 Channel Audio Codec
Enjoy high-end sound system on your PC!
The onboard 8-channel HD audio (High Definition Audio, previously codenamed Azalia) CODEC enables high-quality 192KHz/24-bit audio output, jack-sensing feature, retasking functions and multi-streaming technology.
- Noise Filter
Eliminate background noise while recording
This feature detects repetitive and stationary noises like computer fans, air conditioners, and other background noises then eliminates it in the incoming audio stream while recording.
- S/PDIF-out on Back I/O Port
This motherboard provides convenient connectivity to external home theater audio systems via optical S/PDIF-out (SONY-PHILIPS Digital Interface) jacks. It allows to transfer digital audio without converting to analog format and keeps the best signal quality.
The motherboard and its packaging comply with the European Union´s Restriction on the use of Hazardous Substances (RoHS). This is in line with the ASUS vision of creating environment-friendly and recyclable products and packaging to safeguard consumers´ health while minimizing the impact on the environment.
All information courtsey of ASUS @ http://usa.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=umllTHNRm4IGqnbL
Now we get to the part of the review we have all been waiting for! I am going to be running a series of scientific and video based benchmarks on the M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3 to see how well it performs under pressure. I will then overclock the board and run the same tests. This will give an idea on how it will perform for you in real life if you purchase one. I will then pit it against two other boards, one from the 890GX chipset which is currently a great mainstream board and one from the 790FX chipset which was the prior king of boards in the Dragon Platform so we can see how the newer 880G chipset compares. To keep all of the scores as accurate as possible, all hardware will be run at the same speeds, timings, latencies and voltages unless noted such as when overclocked. This will also keep any variables from throwing off the comparison.
- Processor(s): AMD Phenom II X4 965
- Motherboard: ASUS M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3
- Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P SE
- Memory: Mushkin 996744 DDR3 1600MHz 8-8-8-24
- Video Card : XFX Radeon HD 5870
- Power Supply: Mushkin 800w Modular Power Supply
- Hard Drive: 1 x Seagate 1TB SATA
- Optical Drive: LG Supermulti DVD-R/W
- OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
- Processor: AMD Phenom II X4 965 @ 3.917GHz (200 x 19.5) 1.45v
Overclocking this board was easy do to with the unlocked multiplier for the CPU but when I tried with just the reference clock, anything over 216MHz gave me stability problems. If I dropped the multiplier on the CPU real low. I could go a bit further maxing out about 250MHz but that was with the CPU multiplier set at 13x which was lower than the stock speed of the Phenom II X4 965. So I played with the multiplier alone and was able to push the CPU to 3.9GHz stable.
- Scientific & Data:
- Office 2007 Excel Number Crunch
- POV Ray 3.7
- Bibble 5
- Sandra XII
- ScienceMark 2.02
- Cinebench 10 & 11.5
- HD Tune 3.50
- Far Cry 2
- Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2
- Batman Arkham Asylum
- 3DMark Vantage
The first part of our testing will be the system specific benchmarks.
Let's get started with Apophysis. This program is used primarily to render and generate fractal flame images. We will run this benchmark with the following settings:
- Resolution: 2750 x 2048
- Quality: 500
- Limit Memory use: 512MB
The measurement used is time to render, in minutes, to complete.
Lower is Better
WinRAR is a tool to archive and compress large files to a manageable size. We will use 100MB and 500MB files to test the time needed to compress these files. Time will be measured in seconds. Additionally, I will use the built-in benchmark as a comparison.
Lower is Better
Lower is Better
With the exception of Apophysis, the 880G chipset was better than the 890GX and ran head-to-head with the 790FX.
Office 2007 Excel Big Number Crunch: This test takes a 6.2MB Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and performs about 28,000 sets of calculations that represent many of the most commonly used calculations in Excel. The measure of this test is how long it takes to refresh the sheet.
Lower Is Better
POV Ray 3.7: This program features a built in benchmark that renders an image using Ray Tracing. The latest versions offer support for SMP (Symmetric MultiProcessing) enabling the workload to be spread across the cores for quicker completion.
Higher Is Better
PCMark Vantage x64 is used to measure complete system performance. We will be running a series of tests to gauge performance of each motherboard to see if one stands out due to feature set or overclocking ability.
Again the 880G chipset was a tad bit faster than the 890GX and close to the 790FX.
SiSoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful. For this benchmark, I will be running a broad spectrum of tests to gauge the performance of key functions of the CPUs.
Cache and Memory
Power Management Efficiency
Throughout the Sandra tests, all chipsets seemed to be on par with one another.
ScienceMark tests real world performance instead of using synthetic benchmarks. For this test, we ran the benchmark suite and will use the overall score for comparison.
Higher is Better!
Cinebench 11.5 is useful for testing your system, CPU and OpenGL capabilities using the software program CINEMA 4D. We will be using the default tests for this benchmark.
Higher is Better
HD Tune measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers.
Higher is Better
Lower is Better
Again the chipsets appear to be neck and neck in these benchmarks.
Far Cry 2:
Featuring a new game engine named Dunia, this game looks to be another one to stress your video card. Built especially for Far Cry 2, this engine allows for real time effects and damage. This next generation First Person Shooter comes to us from Ubisoft surprisingly - not from Crytek. The game is set in a war-torn region of Africa where there is a non-existent central government and the chaos that surrounds this type of social environment. If you have seen the movie Blood Diamond, you know the setting. Ubisoft puts the main storyline of the game into focus with these statements: "Caught between two rival factions in war-torn Africa, you are sent to take out 'The Jackal', a mysterious character who has rekindled the conflict between the warlords, jeopardizing thousands of lives. In order to fulfill your mission you will have to play factions against each other, identify and exploit their weaknesses and neutralize their superior numbers and firepower with surprise, subversion, cunning and of course, brute force".
In this version of the game, you don't have all the beautiful water but instead, the beauty and harshness of the African continent. Most games give you a set area that can be played through, while Ubisoft has given the gamer the equivalent of 50 square kilometers of vast African continent to explore while in pursuit of your goals. The settings used are just a few steps below the maximum in-game settings and offer a good blend of performance versus visual quality.
- DirectX 10
- Game settings to High
- Vsync Off
In Far Cry 2, the 880G was a tad bit slower overall.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is the latest iteration of the venerable first-person shooter series, Call of Duty. Despite its long, successful pedigree, the game is not without substantial criticism and controversy especially, on the PC. Aside from the extremely short campaign and lack of innovation, the PC version's reception was also marred by its lack of support for user-run dedicated servers, which means no user-created maps, no mods, and no customized game modes. You're also limited to 18-player matches instead of the 64-player matches that were possible in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Despite all this, the game has been well received and the in-house IW 4.0 engine renders the maps in gorgeous detail, making it a perfect candidate for OCC benchmarking.
- In Game settings to High
- Fraps measured Gameplay
In Modern Warfare 2 all three of the boards were head-to-head all the way through.
Batman: Arkham Asylum is a new game that brings together two bitter foes, the Joker and Batman. The Joker has taken over Arkham Asylum, Gotham's home for the criminally insane. Your task is to rein in the Joker and restore order. This game makes use of PhysX technology to create a rich environment for you to ply your trade.
- 4xAA in CP
- 16xAF in CP
- Global settings = High
- Ambient Occlusion = Off
It was back and forth for the 800 series boards with the 790FX trailing.
3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest is started. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how this setup fares. The settings we will use are listed below.
- SM2.0 Graphics Tests: GT1- Return to Proxycon, GT2- Firefly Forest
- CPU Tests: CPU1- Red Valley, CPU2- Red Valley
- HDR/SM3.0 Graphics Tests: HDR1- Canyon Flight, HDR2- Deep Freeze
In stock form, the 880G was slow at first but when overclocked, it took the lead.
Featuring all-new game tests, this benchmark is for use with Vista based systems. "There are two all-new CPU tests that have been designed around a new 'Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computation', CPU test two offers support for physics related hardware". There are four preset levels that correspond to specific resolutions. 'Entry' is 1024 x 768 progressing to 'Extreme' at 1920 x 1200. Of course, each preset can be modified to arrange any number of user designed testing. For our testing, I will use the four presets at all the default settings.
- All default settings in each preset level
- Entry 1024 x 768
- Performance 1280 x 1024
- High 1680 x 1050
- Xtreme 1920 x 1200
In 3DMark Vantage, the 880G chipset trailed a bit behind the other two boards.
The ASUS M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3 is a formidable board. It is well thought out and the engineering design and chipset takes it even further. Throughout the review, I really enjoyed working with this motherboard. It has all of the features you will need including USB 3.0 support, SATA 6.0Gb/s for next generation high speed drives and SSDs and enough multimedia connections to make a DJ proud. The board was stable throughout all of the testing, not just the overclocking portion. During the testing, the board proved itself time and time again - remaining on par and even surpassing the 890GX based board a few times. This is also one of the few boards that currently supports AMD six core processors and 2000MHz memory speeds. ASUS added even more with one click overclocking and automatic core unlocking for some of AMD's dual core chips that are really quad cores with half of the cores disabled. No more tinkering to free them up - let the motherboard do it for you!
When overclocking, the M4A88TD-V EVO did not like it when I raised the reference clock very much. When I did, I had to substantially drop the CPU multiplier to compensate, which defeated the purpose. Since I had a Black Edition processor, I used that to my advantage and was finally able to pull out an overclock speed of 3.9GHz. There are a couple of things I think could be improved on the motherboard to make it even better. First is the placement of the IDE port. When using a flat ribbon IDE cable all of the twisting and turning to keep it flat and routed behind the motherboard tray is a pain. Sure, not many people use IDE, but for optical drives, it is more common than not and this really hinders cable management and air flow from the front of the case. Lastly, the CrossFireX modes on the two PCI Express x16 slots are not geared towards high end cards. In my experience, x4 speeds will severely hinder the performance of a high-end card such as an ATI HD 5870. It would have been better to run the slots at X8/X8 when used in a dual discrete card configuration instead of x16/x4 which defeats the purpose of the second card.
Other than these small quirks, this motherboard is definitely a winner. With the price and the amount of performance you receive from it, higher end boards better be scared. This motherboard packs a lot of features for little cost. If you are looking for a stable, feature rich platform for your upgrade or next build, I would look into the 880G chipset and more importantly, the ASUS M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3.
- Supports Phenom II X6 processors
- Supports DDR3 memory up to 2000MHz
- CrossFireX support for Multi-GPU setups
- Integrated HD 4250 graphics with dedicated Sideport memory
- USB 3.0 Support
- SATA 6.0Gb/s support
- One click overclocking switch
- Core unlocking via hardware switch
- MemOK for failsafe memory settings
- Instant-on Hybrid OS with Express Gate
- ASUS Xtreme Design technology
- Poorly placed IDE port
- Second x16 slot limited to x4 speeds