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Where are all the AMD AM3 motherboard reviews?

Posted on 7th Apr 2009 at 10:22 by Richard Swinburne with 17 comments

Richard Swinburne
We know a lot of our readers want to see AM3 motherboard reviews and we have been trying to accommodate this request since February - honest! Fanboys have been crying bias and that couldn't be any farther from the truth - here's why.

We have been working on no less than three 'new' AMD motherboards since we completed our Socket AM3 processor review at the start of February, but the problems have been continual, and no manufacturer has been left unmarked by the spattering of not quite there yet.

Normally we'd just go ahead with a review since the products are all ready on sale, but with each one we want to get to the bottom of their wierdness before we post a review. Also, we'd usually keep the inevitable debugging process sort of thing between ourselves and the parties involved but as it stands we don't know when we'll be able to get you a full review so we thought at least we'd keep you updated on our already delayed progress.

First up: Gigabyte. The MA790FXT-UD5P to be exact. We have been through at least three BIOS revisions trying to get to the bottom of an SB750 ACHI issue with SATA DVD drives that stop Windows Vista x64 installation every time it hits "Completing Installation...". At first we found it limited to triple core CPUs (the 720 Black Edition in our case), but just the other day we also found it locked with an 810 quad-core as well. Gigabyte, as usual, has been very supportive throughout and doesn't seem to be able to reproduce the issue with the current F4 BIOS and since the board we have is "an early sample" (their words) then we're being shipped a retail version to see if it's just the occasional pre-production woes.

Next: MSI. The 790FX-G70 has no ACHI issues - it runs Vista fine and zipped through all our tests just great - that is, until we tested the SATA performance on both the SB750 southbridge and JMicron chipset. It's Ab-so-lutely-crippled.

An X25-M normally hits over 200MB/sec in native SATA performance and a PCI-Express x1 chipset like JMicron will hit ~160MB/sec on a good day, however we're now consistently seeing nice flat lines at 120MB/sec and 100MB/sec in HD Tach. We did have an ACHI issue on the JMicron chipset, but that was resolved quickly by MSI in Taiwan and kudos goes to Miss LL in Taipei for keeping us updated every-single-day as an email comes back from literally 25 Cc'd MSI engineers who are trying to replicate our issues and find the clearly evident bottleneck.

MSI suspects again it's an early sample issue - we have had the board since mid-late Feb from release and it's a V1, but we think there's a BIOS switch missed by MSI because the performance is too consistent and the board is very stable. If anyone else has this board and a drive that can saturate the SATA bus, please try it for yourself.

Finally Asus: The M4A79-T has been the best of the bunch so far - it flew through testing, it seems lightening fast and it easily overclocked our 720 BE to 3.8GHz after just 30 minutes of playing without even developing a sweat. We did have an issue with a few Radeon HD 4800 series cards but that's been resolved just this morning (thank you Tim): and was found to be software related rather than the motherboard. So far the M4A79-T is following in the stead of the M3A79-T we loved so much and continually recommend for a companion to AM2+ CPU (until we killed it just before reviewing it - oops).

There we are for now, but to appease the AMD fanboys among you we are plodding on with a Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition overclocking guide on a range of these popular boards to show BIOS settings, typical overclocks and limitations - we've hit 3.8GHz already on one CPU and AMD is sending us a couple more straight from the States to expand our testing with too. It won't be before Easter, but once it's ready and we have the full picture you'll all be the first to know.

17 Comments

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Ending Credits 7th April 2009, 11:26 Quote
I had a feeling this was happening, it's SB750 all over again.

AMD needs to really get its partners to get some good boards out otherwise AM3 will be as big a flop as the origional Phenom.
Kúsař 7th April 2009, 13:44 Quote
I've got slightly different problem. I have mobo and I'm waiting for CPU. Could you please misdirect one of those 720BE to me?...I'd be grateful :D

Anyway, it's good to know you don't turn bad results into fantastic news. Good job! :)
Elton 7th April 2009, 22:22 Quote
Much respect, you are that dedicated to completely solving the problems before making a conclusion, props.

By the Way, are there any good sub-$99(USD) motherboards for the 7750BE+ that isn't MicroATX.

Yes yes. I know I could always get the P31 Gigabyte Motherboard along with an E5200, but right now I'm trying for an AMD build as I will replace my HD4850 with a GTX 275(if they ever make more) and give the 4850 to my brother.
Turbotab 8th April 2009, 12:14 Quote
I have one request for the upcoming X3 720 overclocking guide, please could you throw an overclocked Q6600 / Q6700 into the mix. I think that all of us, would love to see whether the X3's generally higher OC, can overcome the old timers extra core and possibly greater clock for clock efficiency.

GA-EP45-UD3R + Q6600/Q6700 VS AMD 720 X3 BE + ?, which will take the cheesecake?
Bindibadgi 8th April 2009, 12:19 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elton
Much respect, you are that dedicated to completely solving the problems before making a conclusion, props.

By the Way, are there any good sub-$99(USD) motherboards for the 7750BE+ that isn't MicroATX.

Yes yes. I know I could always get the P31 Gigabyte Motherboard along with an E5200, but right now I'm trying for an AMD build as I will replace my HD4850 with a GTX 275(if they ever make more) and give the 4850 to my brother.

I honestly dont know. AM2+?

Asus M3A78-T?

TT: I'll have to find a retail G0 Q66 now, but yea, might be an idea. I might throw in an E7400 too - dual, triple, quad. £99 to £140
Turbotab 8th April 2009, 13:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bindibadgi
I honestly dont know. AM2+?

Asus M3A78-T?

TT: I'll have to find a retail G0 Q66 now, but yea, might be an idea. I might throw in an E7400 too - dual, triple, quad. £99 to £140

Cool, the Q6700 is also available for some great prices at the moment.
badgerz 9th April 2009, 14:37 Quote
From the various overclocking forums the GA-MA790X-UDP4 for < £100 was being touted as the bang-for-buck OC board that the NorthBridge didn't burn your skin off with. Would be interested if that was benchmarked against.
knuck 9th April 2009, 18:09 Quote
how did your 720BE die ? What did you throw at it ? Or at what did you throw it ? :D

I wouldn't want to push mine too far and kill it, i'd be pissed. I noticed yesterday that in games, I needed to jump the vcore to 1.40 in order for the pc to be stable. Otherwise it would crash after a while. However it was only the game that crashed and the pc didn't reboot. It might be something else though.. I really need to format now that I got a new videocard
Bindibadgi 9th April 2009, 18:43 Quote
You can vCore the 45nm Phenoms to 1.55V and they'll still work because its SOI not High-k MG. We didnt kill one yet.
knuck 9th April 2009, 19:33 Quote
good to know, thanks :)
Panos 19th April 2009, 01:08 Quote
Got an ASROCK M3A790GXH 128M 790GX for my 720BE.
It unlocked the 4th core, and OC at 3.8 without sweat.
knuck 19th April 2009, 04:26 Quote
wow impressive
Ending Credits 19th April 2009, 14:50 Quote
Quote:
You can vCore the 45nm Phenoms to 1.55V and they'll still work because its SOI not High-k MG. We didnt kill one yet.
Quote:

:p
Bindibadgi 19th April 2009, 15:40 Quote
Crap cooler :P Im hitting 50 tops now.
Ending Credits 19th April 2009, 18:58 Quote
46 with stock cooler ATM @2.5Ghz. (Stock 9850BE)

Once I get a new cooler I'm going for the 3.2Ghz
Bindibadgi 19th April 2009, 19:23 Quote
just finishing the m4a79-t

got new cpus for next week, msi and gigabyte am3s after that..

hope you like AMD reviews :P
Ending Credits 19th April 2009, 19:26 Quote
Like them? I've been waiting my entire Bit-tech career for them. :D
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