Native SATA 6Gbit/s Arrives - AMD 890GX Motherboards Examined



With the imminent launch of six-core processors from both AMD and Intel, the stage is set for enthusiasts to emulate a server in their own homes. AMD is doing the groundwork for these upcoming processors with the AM3 only 890GX chipset, which also brings AMD's chipsets up to date with native SATA 6Gbit/s. It's good news for those who have already switched to solid state drives, which can easily exceed the bandwidth of SATA 3.0Gbps with a RAID configuration. USB 3.0 apparently still doesn't make the list, though with board vendors now adding the feature with NEC's controller, it shouldn't matter to the consumer.

The 890GX chipset and the refreshed Southbridge SB850 is for the most part, a minor update to the existing 790GX and SB750 combination. The integrated graphics core is similar for both and our benchmarks found no difference in performance. The only change is the presence of the newer UVD 2.0 feature. While this would be handy for HTPC enthusiasts, the chipset is let down by the lack of multi-channel LPCM via HDMI. For that, you'll still have to rely on ATI's discrete Radeon HD 5000 series.

The other significant change is the apparent lack of Advanced Clock Calibration on the 890GX. We are not certain if motherboard vendors will allow for core unlocking through the BIOS but it does appear that there's no more official avenue to do so. We'll update you on the state of things as soon as we garner more information on this aspect.

As for the two boards featured in this article, they reflect the mainstream nature of this chipset, with ATX and mATX form factors readily available. Both are modestly equipped while having all the key features that one expects from a modern, mid-range motherboard. Performance-wise, they do not differ by much. The Gigabyte 890GPA-UD3H however stood out for its layout, which is almost perfect. This luxury of space is something that the smaller mATX MSI board does not have and it's evident from the minor issues that we encountered. They should not detract from a very decent board, though we were slightly disappointed by the missing the full fledged OC Genie feature.

For some enthusiasts, the updated AMD 890FX chipset is what they are expecting and hopefully, we too will get a chance to take a look at this chipset soon.


Our Final Ratings
The AMD 890GX chipset.
The Gigabyte 890GPA-UD3H.
The MSI 890GXM-G65.