Gigabyte MA790FXT-UD5P Motherboard Reviewajmatson - June 18, 2009
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At first glance, the Gigabyte MA790FXT-UD5P has a very pleasing appearance. Gigabyte chose to use a blue-ish colored PC board, with a white and blue color scheme for the slots and brackets. This gives the board a nice look when you're inside your case, especially if you have a side window on it. One feature that you cannot see on the nicely colored PC board is the two ounces of copper that Gigabyte incorporates into the design to aid in cooling the components more quickly. This also improves durability and efficiency of the motherboard, allowing for better overclocking. In addition to the copper, the Ultra Durable 3 design also uses solid Japanese manufactured capacitors, lower RDS(ON) MOSFETs, and Ferrite core chokes. All of these features are designed to help you get the most out of your system, with better stability and cooling.
Moving to the back panel, again Gigabyte gives you all that you need. Starting from the top, there are the two legacy PS/2 ports for your keyboards and mice, an optical S/PDIF connector, a coaxial S/PDIF connector, 4-pin and 8-pin FireWire ports, eight USB 2.0 ports, two LAN ports, and the audio ports - which are driven by the Realtek ALC889A codec. The LAN ports are the Realtek 8111C/DL chips, for speeds up to 1Gb/s, and also support teaming, which allow both to operate as a single connection providing increased bandwidth and fault tolerance.
Below the back panel connections are the expansion slots. There are more than enough slots for any use, from newer current PCI-Express cards to the legacy PCI interfaced cards that you still might have lying around your house. Included on the MA790FXT-UD5P are three PCI-Express x1 slots, two PCI-Express x16 slots, and two legacy PCI slots. The PCI-Express x16 slots support ATI CrossFireX for multi-GPU systems and run at x16 speeds each, whether using one card or two in CrossFireX mode.
The CPU area looks crowded; however, there is plenty of room to work around it and I had no issues installing aftermarket CPU coolers, such as the Thermaltake ISGC-300 and ISGC-400 coolers, as well as the stock AMD cooler. The only complaint I have is that it is hard to plug and unplug the 8-pin CPU power lead with big fingers like I have, and I actually nicked my finger on the heatsink near it. The socket supports only AM3 processors up to 140 watts, so your DDR2 CPUs will not work here. There are four DIMM slots which support up to 16GB of DDR3 memory up to 1666MHz overclocked.
On the bottom are the headers which allow you to expand your system as needed. Starting from the left, there is a COM port header, a parallel port header, a FireWire header, two USB 2.0 headers, front panel headers, and two fan headers. Flipping up to the right side of the board, you will notice there are 10 SATA ports, four of them being white. The six blue SATA ports are controlled via the SB750 Southbridge, and support SATA 3.0Gb/s speeds with RAID 0, 1, 5, 10, and JBOD. The two white ports are also SATA 3.0Gb/s, however these are controlled via the Gigabyte SATA II chipset, which includes the JMicron JM322 chips. The JM322 chips provide smart backup capabilities, as well as hardware based RAID 0, 1, and JBOD. Past the SATA ports, there is a Clear CMOS button with a protective cover. I recommend removing this cover because a long card, such as a GTX260, will block it partially - not allowing you to remove the card to press the button if needed. Above the Clear CMOS button are the floppy and IDE ports, as well as the Power and Reset buttons.
To keep the cool design of the board and add to the Ultra Durable 3 design, Gigabyte has used a heatsink and heatpipe combination designed to lower the temperatures for the critical parts of the board. There is a large heatsink that covers the voltage area of the board by the CPU, and it connects down to the heatsink over the Northbridge and Southbridge chips. The design uses aluminum for efficient cooling. You might have also noticed the fourth heatsink on the board below the Southbridge. This is for the SATA II chip which keeps it cool also during operation.
Now that we have had a good look at this baby, let's plug her in and start the computer up.