Gigabyte's GA-MA790FXT-UD5P motherboard is based on the
AMD 790FX and SB750 chipsets and offers up much in the way of dual videocard
gaming and generally fast socket
AM3 AMD processor
support. At its heart is AMDs 790FX chipset
which supports HyperTransport 3.0 at 5200 MT/S. The Gigabyte GA-MA790FXT-UD5P
supports DDR3 memory at speeds of up to 1066/1333MHz, and 1666 MHz when
Discrete videocards are handled by a pair
of PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots, and since the AMD 790FX forms the basis
of the 'Dragon Platform' you can bet AMD Crossfire X is supported. Additional expansion is taken care of by three PCI Express x1 slots and two PCI
slots. Unlike the AMD 790GX, the 790FX does not include the
Radeon HD 3300 integrated graphics. For those who are building high-end
Phenom II systems, this likely won't be a large loss since discrete graphics will
always outperform IGPs.
It's at the southbridge where things start getting a
little more interesting on the Gigabyte GA-MA790FXT-UD5P motherboard.
AMD's SB750 chip powers six SATA II connectors that can work in RAID 0/1/5/10
and JBOD mode, while there are another four SATA II connectors powered by a pair
of JMicron controllers. These SATA ports can be configured in RAID 0/1 and JBOD
Connectivity comes in the form of eight USB ports on the rear panel, with
another four available through the use of a motherboard header. There are also
two firewire jacks, a pair of gigabit LAN and eSATA II ports via bracket.
Altogether that adds up to a lot of value for a fairly
competitive price, $235 CDN ($190 USD, £130 GBP), particularly as Gigabyte's
GA-MA790FXT-UD5P motherboard is firmly in the performance AMD segment. Of course, the paper specs are
only half the story, and the real question that's on everyone's mind is how the
new Phenom II processors will overclock on this motherboard. For the answer to
that, just read on - PCSTATS is ready to dig deep and dish the dirt on the
Gigabyte GA-MA790FXT-UD5P motherboard.
The layout of the Gigabyte GA-MA790FXT-UD5P motherboard
is well-thought out, with plenty of space for system builders to work with. The
dual PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots are widely spaced so that even the largest of ATI
can be seated in them in Crossfire X mode. Even with dual slot
videocards installed, there will still be room to use the three PCI Express x1
slots and a legacy PCI slot.
The remaining front
panel headers are grouped together on the
bottom edge of the motherboard, with two USB headers and
an additional firewire port. Gigabyte labels these headers,which reduces confusion and potential short-circuiting. There's also
a S/PDIF output, and an AAFP header for 7.1CH High Definition audio that supports Dolby
A heat pipe connects the AMD 790FX northbridge the SB750 southbridge, and
doubles as a cooling array for the MOSFETs that surround the socket AM3
AMD processor. This system relies on an active air cooler, so those
who use liquid cooling or a passive CPU cooler will need a system fan to keep
overall case temperatures down. The GA-MA790FXT-UD5P has a pair of system fan headers for
All of Gigabyte's
received the Ultra Durable treatment. The Gigabyte GA-MA790FXT-UD5P uses a thicker
copper trace layer which helps dissipate heat from board mounted components. Gigabyte has also moved to all
solid-state capacitors, and uses ferrite core MOSFETs, which should extend the GA-MA790FXT-UD5P's electrical stability
Gigabyte includes a number of blue LED illuminated system control
buttons on the motherboard to make it easy to troubleshoot and
set up the system when it's not attached to a proper chassis. There's also
a clear CMOS button that can be used a last resort for when overclocking goes horribly wrong.
The coolest thing about it is that it's specially protected by a clear
security cap, so you can lift it
off and pretend you're nuking the eastern sea board
instead of nuking overly ambitious system settings.
AMD 790FX Chipset - Leaner, Meaner,
AMD's 790FX chipset has been around for a while now,
first debuting in late 2007 but continuing to be used because of its power
efficiency and versatility. The 790GX is built on a 65nm process node,
which means that its overall TDP is quite low (~10W, as rated by AMD), which
also makes it easy to cool passively and cuts down on its overall power draw.
Since AMD long ago moved
the memory controller from the motherboard's northbridge and onto its processors,
the 790FX chipset that was used with DDR2 motherboards is also used in DDR3 motherboards, with
a minimum amount of fuss.
790FX chipset supports all AMD 32-bit/64-bit Socket AM2 CPUs, Socket AM2+ Phenom/Athlon and Phenom II Socket
AM3 processors. Depending on what the motherboard manufacturer builds, naturally. With a
socket AM3 or AM2+ processor installed, the CPU communicates with the AMD 790FX
chipset over a HyperTransport 3 (HT3) connection. For legacy socket AM2
processors, a HyperTransport 2 (HT2) connection is used.
The 938-pin AM3 socket. Socket AM3 processors are
backwards compatible with AM2+ sockets, but socket AM2+ processors are not
forwards compatible with socket AM3 because those processors do not have a
DDR3 memory controller.
AMD's 790FX chipset has 42 lanes
of PCI Express available, with 32 of those lanes being dedicated to the graphics
cards, and can potentially power as many as four AMD Radeon videocards in
Crossfire X mode, although in the case of the Gigabyte GA-MA790FXT-UD5P motherboard there are
only two PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots.
AMD SB750 Southbridge
SB750 southbridge has changed quite
a bit from it predecessor the AMD SB700 which was paired with the AMD
780G chipset. This new southbridge now supports RAID 5, in addition to the RAID
0, 1 and 10 functionality. AMD's SB750 southbridge also makes use Advanced Clock Calibration
(ACC); this is an interconnect that runs directly from the
southbridge and into the CPU socket and can be used to independently adjust
individual CPU cores.
Gigabyte has added on another four SATA II ports through
add-in controllers that are manufactured by JMicron. These controllers can be
used in RAID 0, 1 and JBOD modes. It's time to do some overclocking with this
new AMD motherboard. Before PCSTATS dives into that, let's take a closer look at the
Gigabyte GA-MA790FXT-UD5P motherboard first.