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Gigabyte 890FXA-UD7 AM3 Motherboard Review

Author: Patrick "MAC" MacMillan
Date: October 12, 2010
Product Name: Gigabyte 890FXA-UD7
Part Number: GA-890FXA-UD7
Warranty: 3 yr.
Purchase at NCIX: | | UK
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Specifications




The 890FX/SB850 chipset combo featured on the GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD7 is AMD's most advanced and most expensive northbridge/southbridge pair. It is part of the newly introduced "Leo" platform, and it natively supports CrossFireX technology through its 38 PCI-E 2.0 lanes. AMD has given sole discretion to motherboard manufacturers to choose how to distribute the lanes. Theoretically, the 890FX can support up to four 8x PCI-E 2.0 slots for quad-CrossfireX technology. However, fitting four dual-slot video cards onto the motherboard essentially requires space for eight PCI slots, resulting in a very long motherboard outside of ATX size specifications. The GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD7 is a prime example of such a motherboard. For users who are satisfied with running only two video cards, the PCI-E slots will automatically switch to a 16x/16x format, ensuring that the PCI-E lane is not the bottleneck in data transfer between the video card and the 890FX.


In terms of connectivity, the new SB850 southbridge provides the 890FXA-UD7 with SATA 6.0Gbps support. While the SB850 does not support the new USB3.0 specification, all manufacturers have implemented this new technology by utilizing a third party USB3.0 controller connected to the 890FX through a PCI-E 1x lane. The PCI-E 1x lane has a theoretical bandwidth of 500MB/s, which is more than enough to support this new technology.


890FX Northbridge on the left, SB850 Southbridge on the right - Click on image to enlarge

To be honest, the differences between AMD’s previous flagship chipset, the 790FX, and the 890FX are not great. Both are manufactured under the 65nm process, and the main noticeable difference between the two platforms is the lack of support for DDR2. In other words, you won’t be able to find an 890FX/SB850 motherboard supporting DDR2 on the market. Furthermore, the TDP of the 890FX was raised to 19.6W versus 10W for the 790FX. This is due the implementation of IOMMU into the 890FX which benefits virtualization. As a result, for users who never use virtualization, the TDP between the chipsets remains relatively the same.

For a more in-depth look at the 890FX/SB850 chipset combo, venture over to "AMD’s 890FX Chipset: An Evolution for the AM3 Platform" where we discuss the finer details of the combo and its capabilities.

Now that we have examined some of this new chipset's specifications, let's see what kind of motherboard Gigabyte have built around the 890FX/SB850 combo, starting with the specifications:


Next up we shall take a look at this motherboard's packaging and accessories bundle.
 
 
 

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