Gigabyte GA-890GPA-UD3H 890GX Reviewjlqrb - March 1, 2010
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Gigabyte's first AMD offering based on the latest 890GX chipset is an absolutely phenomenal motherboard. Not only does it come with the latest technologies, such as USB 3.0, SATA 3.0 and the ATI Radeon HD 4290 integrated graphics processor, but it also right out of the box comes with more horsepower than the previous generation of AMD Mainboards and has features that will appeal across a wide spectrum of users. With a higher level of performance, it was repeatedly the top performer during the testing phase of the review, in both games and benchmarks. Along with the top tier performance AMD has integrated on-board graphics with HD 1080P support and CrossFireX, for unsurpassed gaming power that will make the board appeal to gamers, multimedia users, as well as those with more general computing needs. This in itself might not be enough incentive for users of AMD older chipsets to want to instantly run out and grab one off the shelves, but like my favorite infomercials always say, "wait! There’s more". This board also comes with Gigabyte's Ultra Durable 3 design, that uses 2-oz of copper PCB, a Ultra Durable heatpipe to cool the chipset and MOSFETs, dual BIOS, all solid Japanese capacitors and a 4+1 Phase Unit. All of these features have really help Gigabyte stand out as one of the top motherboard manufactures and when the GA-890GPA-UD3H motherboard was the first out of many to overclock my AMD 955BE to 3.9GHz, I was more than sold on the design! I have been using this AMD processor since last fall and from that time until now, there has not been a motherboard that would run it stable at anything over 3.8GHz. So, even though it is only 100MHz over other boards, it to me was a big accomplishment because there not been another board out of all the ones I have used to achieve it.
With the praise out of the way let’s talk about the new hardware that comes with the Gigabyte GA-890GPA-UD3H motherboard. Of course the biggest difference is the 890GX/SB850 chipset combination, which will allow AMD to integrate new technologies on their boards. The first and most exciting of these advancements is support for AMD's upcoming six core processors. With the use of additional cores these CPU's will have performance gains over AMD's current line-up and when they do finally hit the market you will definately want hardware that supports them. The next new addition is support for SATA 3.0 which has speeds up to 6Gb/s making it twice as fast current generation SATA 2.0. The Gigabyte 890GX motherboard includes six of these connectors, that all come with support for RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5, 10, and JBOD modes. On top of the six SATA 3.0 ports, Gigabyte has also included two addition SATA 2.0 connectors that will work perfectly for additional HDD's or DVD drives. The 890GX chipset also comes with an integrated NEC chip adding support for USB 3.0, which is rated to be ten times faster then current generation USB ports. Unfortunately, I did not have any USB 3.0 or SATA 3.0 devices to test during this review, but even without being able to run these test myself there have been many articles stating their performance gains of these technologies. At some point these should become the standard in the same way that USB 2.0 and SATA 2.0 phased out the versions before them.
Another improvement over the older boards is the HD 4290 integrated graphics processor, which is faster than the HD 4200 found on the 785GM chipset. This new IGP comes clocked at 700MHz, has an on-board 128MB DDR3 memory side-port, 40 unified shaders and support for DX 10.1. These are strong specifications for an integrated chip and even though you won't be able to play graphically intensive games, it will be able handle more mainstream games such as The Sims 3 with ease. When it comes to most IGP's though, gaming is not normally the main use, as they tend to be more for watching HD content or general computing. For those who like to watch HD content and use their computers as a home theater there is a lot to like from the HD 4920. It allows for hardware up-scaling of DVD video to HD quality, has an HDMI 1.3 port and ATI Avivo™ HD Technology with full 1080p HD playback. All of these will make for a great HTPC.
Regardless how well designed a product is there are always a few issues to go along with it. The first of these issues was that, even with the large heatsink the 890GX NorthBridge would still get rather hot. This was not a surprise though, and is due to the integrated HD 4290 graphics processor, but the close proximity to the CPU it has the ability to raise the temperatures there as well. The other issue was that the included rear I/O shield did not line up properly with the HDMI port on the rear panel and I was not able install the motherboard with the shield in place. Also, like the 790GX motherboards, the 890GX can not run CrossFireX at full x16 speeds and when both cards are installed it will be at x8/x8 bandwidth. Even with these issues, the Gigabyte GA-890GPA-UD3H is an extremely versatile motherboard that offers better performance, support for current technologies, and overclocks much higher than older AMD chipsets. This board comes highly recommended!
- 890GX/SB750 chipset
- Ultra Durable 3 design
- High overclocking potential
- Six core processor support
- SATA 3.0
- USB 3.0
- Eight SATA ports
- NorthBridge can get hot
- I/O shield didn't line up with rear ports
- CrossFireX runs at x8/x8