Gigabyte MA790FX-DS5 Review

Admin - 2007-09-19 18:43:29 in Motherboards
Category: Motherboards
Reviewed by: Admin   
Reviewed on: March 16, 2008
Price: $189.99


With any new processor or technology lineup, there is a corresponding change in motherboard technology as well. With the 7 series chipsets from AMD, a whole new bevy of improvements have been implemented. Full support for Phenom processors, 1066 DDR2, and HyperTransport 3.0 are just a few of the improvements. When the 7 series was released, there was a backlash from the community due to the lackluster performance. With a few months under its belt and new BIOS revisions coming regularly, has the 790FX matured enough to be a respectable platform?

Will features such as Ultra Durable 2 construction, native support for 16 gigabytes of 1066 MHz memory system memory, Crossfire support and more make the MA790FX-DS5 a force to be reckoned with, or will it fall to the wayside like the many pretenders? Only time will tell!

Closer Look:

The Gigabyte MA790FX-DS5 comes packaged in a white box with the features listed on the front and back. HT 3.0, CrossfireX, and Gigabyte's Ultra Durable 2, which consists of Lower RDS MOSFETs, ferrite core chokes and solid capacitors.














The sides of the box list the key features of what is inside.



Digging into the inner box, the 790FX board is sealed in an anti static bag between two layers of foam to protect the board during shipping


Closer Look:

Once removed from the confines of the shipping materials, the Gigabyte 790FX-DS-5 can be seen in all its glory. On the back side of the 790FX-DS-5 is the backplate for the CPU socket as well as a heatsink for the northbridge chipset. Additional cooling for the heat generating components is always a welcome sight.




















The back pane of the motherboard has a laundry list of I/O connectors including PS/2, serial port, optical sound, Firewire, USB 2.0, Gigabit LAN, E-SATA and 7.1 channel plus two channels of independent stereo HD Audio.



 The expansions consist of two PCI-E (dual 16x) for Crossfire, and two PCI-E 1x slots. There is a fan connector visible just above the first PCI-E 16x slot as well.



Rounding out the slots are two PCI slots and a 4-pin molex connector to supply additional voltage to the PCI-E graphics slots. Next to the molex connector is another fan connector and to the far left is the internal Firewire header.



The lower right hand of the board is where the front panel connectors reside along with another fan connector. Next to the front panel connectors there is a glimpse of one of the two Gigabyte SATA connectors.


Moving up the side of the board there is an IDE connector (Green) and floppy connector (Black) next to the 24-pin power supply connector. At the top of the board are the 4-pin CPU fan and 8-pin power supply connectors.



But wait, there's more.


The cooling solutions Gigabyte uses on the 790FX-DS5 are copper heatsinks used to cool the AMD SB600 southbridge, 790FX northbridge and the CPU power regulation circuit. Gigabyte uses two terms for the cooling solution, "Silentpipe" and "Crazy Cool."





Closer Look:

Let's take a look at some of the components that control the functionality of the 790FX-DS5. The ITE 8718f controls the temperature monitoring and fan speed controls and monitoring. It includes one floppy drive controller and one keyboard controller. The Texas Instruments TSB43AB23 controls the IEEE 1394a Firewire connectivity.




















The Winbond W83303AG is the main ACPI controller. Several of the items it is responsible for include USB current and memory voltage control, among the many functions of this chip.


The 790FX-DS-5 uses two SATA2 controllers. One is located at the bottom of the 790FX DS-5 while the other is located to the far left of the PCB in front of the top 16x PCI-E slot.



The included accessories with the MA790FX-DS5 are a little on the light side, but consist of four SATA cables (of which two have 90° connectors on one end), a flopply cable, and an IDE cable. Also included are the very detailed manual, quick start guide and the driver/software CD.


Closer Look:


The BIOS is the area where most true enthusiasts will spend their time tweaking the system. AOD and other OS based tweaking tools are mostly useful for playing around and for those who want pretty colors and sliders to play with. The 7 series has been out for a while, and the BIOSes are finally coming into maturity. I had a great time playing in the BIOS and it will only get better.


Gigabyte uses the Award BIOS, along with its patented Dual BIOS for an extra safety measure. I won't go into great detail as most of these are standard fare in the Award BIOS, but I will point out the most useful areas of the MA790FX-DS5 BIOS.



















The MB intelligent Tweaker (M.I.T.) section is where most of the play time will be spent. It offers all the tools to squeeze the most out of your platform.


Th DRAM Config page allows you to set the timings for the memory to the last detail.



Auto Xpress offers additional tweaks for the CPU and memory.



The drivers that come on the CD are all you need to have the system up and running after a fresh install of your favorite OS. The install process has become very streamlined and for most it is a one click affair.





















The included software rounds out a nice package, which includes Norton Internet Security, Kaspersky AV, Easy Tune 5, @BIOS and I-COOL, to mention a few.



Support for Socket AM2+/ AM2 processors:
AMD Phenom™FX processor/ AMD Phenom™ processor/ AMD Athlon™ 64 FX processor/AMD Athlon™ 64 X2 Dual-Core processor/AMD Athlon™ 64 processor/AMD Sempron™ processor

Hyper Transport Bus
5200/2000 MT/s

North Bridge: AMD 790FX  South Bridge: AMD SB600

  1. 4 x 1.8V DDR2 DIMM sockets supporting up to 16 GB of system memory (Note 1)
  2. Dual channel memory architecture
  3. Support for DDR2 1066(Note 2)/800/667 MHz memory modules
  1. Realtek ALC889A codec
  2. High Definition Audio
  3. 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
  4. Support for DTS (dts NEO:PC)
  5. Support for S/PDIF In/Out
  6. Support for CD In
Realtek 8111B chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)
Expansion Slots
  1. 2 x PCI Express x16 slots supporting ATI CrossFireX™ technology (The PCI Express x16 slots conform to PCI Express 2.0 standard.)
  2. 3 x PCI Express x1 slot
  3. 2 x PCI slots
Storage Interface

South Bridge:

  1. 1 x IDE connector supporting ATA-133/100/66/33 and up to 2 IDE devices
  1. 4 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (SATAII0, SATAII1, SATAII2, SATAII3) supporting up to 4 SATA 3Gb/s devices
  2. Support for SATA RAID 0, RAID 1 and RAID 0+1
2 x GIGABYTE SATA2 chip:
  1. 2 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (GSATAII_1, GSATAII_2) supporting up to 2 SATA 3Gb/s devices
  2. 2 x eSATA 3Gb/s ports on the back panel supporting up to 2 SATA 3Gb/s devices
  3. Support for SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, and JBOD
iTE IT8718 chip:
  1. 1 x floppy disk drive connector supporting up to 1 floppy disk drive
IEEE 1394
T.I. TSB43AB23 chip

Up to 3 IEEE 1394a ports (2 on the back panel, 1 via the IEEE 1394a bracket connected to the internal IEEE 1394a headers)


integrated in the South Bridge

  1. Up to 10 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (6 on the back panel, 4 via the USB brackets connected to the internal USB headers)
Internal I/O Connectors
  1. 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
  2. 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
  3. 1 x 4-pin PCIe 12V power connector
  4. 1 x floppy disk drive connector
  5. 1 x IDE connector
  6. 6 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors
  7. 1 x CPU fan header
  8. 2 x system fan headers
  9. 1 x power fan header
  10. 1 x North Bridge fan header
  11. 1 x front panel header
  12. 1 x front panel audio header
  13. 1 x CD In connector
  14. 1 x S/PDIF In header
  15. 1 x S/PDIF Out header
  16. 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
  17. 1 x IEEE 1394a headers
  18. 1 x parallel port header
  19. 1 x power LED header
  20. 1 x chassis intrusion header
Back Panel Connectors
  1. 1 x PS/2 keyboard port
  2. 1 x PS/2 mouse port
  3. 1 x serial port
  4. 1 x coaxial S/PDIF Out connector
  5. 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
  6. 6 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
  7. 2 x IEEE 1394a ports
  8. 1 x RJ-45 port
  9. 2 x eSATA 3Gb/s ports
  10. 6 audio jacks (Line In / Line Out / MIC In/Surround Speaker Out (Rear Speaker Out) / Center / Subwoofer Speaker Out / Side Speaker Out)
H/W Monitoring
System voltage detection

· CPU/System temperature detection

· CPU/System/Power fan speed detection

· CPU overheating warning

· CPU/System/Power fan fail warning

· CPUfan speed control

  1. 2 x 4 Mbit flash
  2. Use of licensed AWARD BIOS
  3. Support for Dual BIOS™
  4. PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.4, ACPI 1.0b
Unique Feature
  1. Support for @BIOS
  2. Support for Download Center
  3. Support for Q-Flash
  4. Support for EasyTune (Note 3)
  5. Support for Xpress Install
  6. Support for Xpress Recovery2
  7. Support for Virtual Dual BIOS
Bundle Software
Norton Internet Security (OEM version)

Voltage adjustments in BIOS Setup (CPU/DDR2/Chipset/PCIE/FSB/HTT/HTR) allow you to:

  1. Increase CPU voltage (Note 4)
  2. Increase DDR2 voltage by 0.05V to 0.50V with 0.05V increment
  3. Increase Chipset voltage by 0.05V to 0.40V with 0.05V increment
  4. Increase PCI Express voltage by 0.05V to 0.45V with 0.05V increment
  5. Increase FSB voltage by 0.05V to 0.35V with 0.05V increment
  6. Increase HTT voltage by 0.05V to 0.40V with 0.05V increment
  7. Increase HTR voltage by 0.05V to 0.45V with 0.05V increment

Frequency adjustments in BIOS Setup (CPU/HT Link/PCIE/DDR2) allow you to:

  1. Adjust CPU host frequency from 200 MHz to 500 MHz with 1 MHz increment
  2. Adjust HT Link frequency
  3. Adjust PCI Express frequency from 100 MHz to 200 MHz with 1 MHz increment
  4. Adjust DDR2 frequency
Operating System
Support for Microsoft Windows Vista/XP/2000
Form Factor
ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 24.4cm

(Note 1) Due to Windows XP 32-bit operating system limitation, when more than 4 GB of physical memory is installed, the actual memory size displayed will be less than 4 GB.
(Note 2) Whether 1066 MHz memory speed is supported depends on the CPU being used.
(Note 3) Available functions in Easytune may differ by motherboard model.
(Note 4) The adjustable CPU voltage range depends on the CPU being used

  1. Due to different Linux support condition provided by chipset vendors, please download Linux driver from chipset vendors' website or 3rd party website.
  2. Due to most hardware/software vendors no longer offer support for Win9X/ME. If some vendors still has Win9X/ME drivers available, we will publish on website.




Specifications and features pulled from Gigabytes specifications page


I will be running the GA-MA790FX-DS5 Premium through our benchmarking suite to see what kind of performance the motherboard delivers. The OverclockersClub series of benchmarks include both system tests and gaming benchmarks to verify the performance of this product. During our stock speed benchmarking, all clock speeds and memory timings will be the same on each of the boards to eliminate any variables. All motherboard and video card settings were left at setup defaults, again to eliminate any variables.


Testing Setup:

Comparison System:



The first thing most of us in the enthusiast community want to know is how well does it perform. I will show you up front and personal. The best results on the AMD 6000+ processor was 350HT with clock speeds of 3150MHz on a 9x multiplier. Memory speed was topped out at 350MHz.




I was able to get a suicide shot with the HT at 400, but subsequent reboots would drop the CPU multiplier down to 5 and drop the voltage to 1.1V as well.





  1. Apophysis
  2. WinRAR
  3. SpecviewPerf 10
  4. PCMark Vantage Professional
  5. Sandra XII
  6. ScienceMark 2.02 Final
  7. Cinebench 10
  8. HD Tune 2.54
  1. Crysis
  2. Knights of the Sea
  3. Bioshock
  4. Call of Duty 4
  5. World in Conflict
  6. Call of Jaurez
  7. 3DMark 06 Professional



The system tests we will be using are listed below:

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:

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 10MB, 100MB and 500MB files and test the time needed to compress these files. Time will be measured in seconds.





The Gigabyte board performs better in all categories against the ECS comparison board.



Specview 10 is a benchmark designed to test OpenGL performance. The tests used for comparison are listed below. The default tests were chosen to be able to compare across platforms. In these tests, higher scores equate to better performance.

















Higher is Better


Higher is Better


PcMark Vantage is used to measure complete system performance. We will be running a series of tests to gauge performance of each individual board to see which board, if any, rises above the others.

Higher is Better

So far the Gigabyte 790FX board has fallen behind in only one benchmark.



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 areas of the motherboards.






Processor Arithmetic













Multi-Core Efficiency


Memory Bandwidth


Memory Latency


Cache and Memory


File System


Physical Disks


Power Management Efficiency


The MA790FX-DS5 came out on top in only five of the tests in Sandra XII.


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 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. Cinebench 10 has recently been added to our benchmark suite.


Higher is Better


HD Tune measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers.


Higher is Better



Lower is Better


In 17 out of 29 tests run, the MA79FX-DS-5 performed better than the competition.




Crysis is a new addition to the gaming benchmark suite used at This game is one of the most anticipated and system intensive games to be released to the market right now. The Crysis single player demo includes a GPU benchmark to test the performance of the video card installed in the system.
























The Crysis benchmark puts the screws to the 2600 Pro.


PT Boats: Knights of the Sea is a new DX10 title that features it's own proprietary graphics engine currently in development. The game is a combination of real time strategy and simulation. You have the ability to control the entire crew, or just a single member. Play as the German, Russian or Allied navies, and prove your mettle on the open seas.


The settings we will use are below:
















The performance of the Gigabyte board is better than the ECS.



Benchmark: BioShock

BioShock is one of the newest games on the market. It is a demanding game that will make your hardware scream for mercy. This first-person shooter allows for an infinite number of weapons and modifications to them, to provide a unique experience each time it is played.






















Again, it is all Gigabyte in this benchmark!



Call of Duty 4 : Modern Warfare is the successor to the Call of Duty crown. This iteration of the game is fought in many of the world's hot spots with modern armaments and firepower. You can play as either a US Marine or British SAS trooper. SInce this game does not feature an in-game test, I will run through a section of the game and measure average FPS using Fraps 2.9.3.


The settings used are listed below:

















World In Conflict is a newly released DX10, real-time strategy game that simulated the all out war that the world hopes never comes. The difference in this RTS game is that it is not the typical generate wealth and build type of game. You advance by conquering your foe.


The settings we will use are listed below:



















This game is very CPU intensive and system tweaks and video card improvements show little if no increase in FPS.


Call of Juarez is a DirectX10 First Person Shooter set in the Wild West of the late 1800s. The game is inspired, in part, by the movies of the Wild West genre of the seventies and eighties. The game can be played as both single player and multiplayer. The game focuses on realistic graphics and gameplay designed to take advantage of the latest video cards on the market.


The settings we will use are listed below.


















3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest is begun. 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.



















In the video gaming section of this review, the Gigabyte has performed as well as or better than the competition in all of the games and resolutions. Coupled with winning 60 percent of the system tests, the Gigabyte MA790FX-DS-5 has been shown to be a strong performer.



After playing with the MA790FX-DS5 for a while, I was thoroughly impressed with the stability and the ease of overclocking the board has to offer. The high quality components and the layout of the board are second to none. The 790FX chipset is coming into maturity and will only get better with time. AMD users will have an excellent upgrade path if they choose to ride out the current storm with the X2 and Phenom CPUs currently lagging behind Intel's offerings. With the pricing for AMD/ATi components currently very attractive and affordable, the choice is simple to continue the AMD path if you are willing to sacrifice a little speed to enjoy some more green in your wallet, and still stay competitive and utilize today's technology.

Unfortuneatly, we did not get a chance to test out the CrossFire capabilites or Phemon performance of the board today, but look to see an update to Gigabyte's offering in the future.