BIOS, Overclocking and Results Analysis
The BIOS was solid, even in light of the tiny PCI-E issue outlined above. The only other area of complaint was the eSATA performance
, with poor write speeds of just 88.2MB/sec. The internal ports were fine, if not lightning quick, with write speeds of 208MB/sec. Aside from the above, everything worked without a hitch, even our extensive overclocking session.
At stock speeds, the Asus performed very much on a par with 790FX boards, scoring roughly the same in the multi-tasking and Gimp tests
. The one area we found lacking was H.264 video encoding, where the Asus trailed behind the excellent MSI 790FX-GD70
by 76 points. Gaming performance
was fine though: in Crysis
at 1,680 x 1,050 with 2x AA, the Asus managed a minimum of 21ps while in STALKER: Call of Pripyat
, we saw quick minimum of 32fps.
The BIOS has all of its overclocking parameters located under the A.I. Tweaker menu. One noteworthy BIOS option that can be found under the ‘Advanced’ tab is the Core Unlocking feature, which can unlock the fourth core on X3 CPUs.
Asus has kept the ability to unlock disabled CPU cores, despite AMD removing it from the chipset. Click to enlarge
Asus claims that AMD has taken this out of the new chipset, compared with its predecessor, so it’s sold as a unique feature of Asus 890GX boards. We tried the Core Unlocker on our X3 720 Black Edition and it activated the disabled fourth core after restarting. It isn’t guaranteed that the fourth core of an X3 CPU is unlockable, nor is the stability of your PC with the fourth core unlocked, however – it was deactivated for a reason, after all.
We know that the fourth core of our 720 BE is a little weak for overclocking, so we deactivated it again before cranking up the voltages and HTT, reaching an incredible maximum HTT of 342MHz. This required 1.475V for the CPU and 1.3V for the HT Link – the 8+2-phase CPU power circuitry and new chipset clearly combined well for heavy overclocking potential. If manual overclocking isn’t for you, there’s Asus’ usual range of automatic overclocking options, such as Auto-Tuning, GPU Boost and CPU Level Up.
Click to enlarge
With an 11x multiplier and an HTT of 335MHz, we boosted the CPU frequency from 2.8GHz to 3.69GHz. At this speed, the Asus was roughly as fast as the MSI GD70 overclocked to 3.74GHz – it was 69 points faster in the multi-tasking test and 73 points faster in the Handbrake test, but eight points slower in the Gimp test. Internal SATA performance was boosted from 208MB/sec to just shy of 216MB/sec and Crysis
ran 5-9fps faster.
ConclusionThe new 890GX chipset and SB850 Southbridge
bring native SATA 6Gbps support, a better GPU for media playback and apparently massive overclockability. Stock performance from the Asus M4A89GTD Pro/USB3 was on par with what we expected, and its overclocking performance was solid. Even the niggles with the PCI-E bandwidth didn’t prevent the board from being reasonably fast in games.With USB 3 also integrated on the board, and the neat layout (even though tall DIMMs and large CPU coolers may clash), this is a great board for getting the most out of your Phenom II or Athlon II CPU.
Asus M4A89GTD Pro/USB