Asus M4A79XTD EVO Motherboard Page: 1
Introduction
 
We at Overclock3D have long since established that AMD’s Socket AM3 is a very capable platform for the budget orientated performance enthusiasts. Having progressively tested Athlon II X2, X4 and Phenom II X4 processors from across the board and have generally found ourselves very impressed with their abilities in their respective price brackets and most importantly, the motherboards are affordable too. However, aside the recent releases of new “C3 revision” processors, things have dropped a tad quiet. It is our understanding that there will not be any significant AMD releases until the middle of next year, which sees the appearance of new 8xx series chipsets and AMD Phenom II X6 processors so our task until then, let’s take a look at one of today’s offerings. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Asus M4A79XTD EVO Motherboard.
 
Asus currently offer a wide range of Intel and AMD based motherboards from the cheap and cheerful entry level segment all the way to their arsenal of “Republic of Gamers” ultra high end. The Asus M4A79XTD EVO is a somewhat middle of the road offering with it’s retail price of £80 however it’s feature set is likely to cater both mid-range and high end needs.
 
CPU AMD Socket AM3 ;Phenom™II /Athlon™II /Sempron™ 100 Series Processors
AMD Cool 'n' Quiet™ Technology
Supports 45nm CPU
Chipset AMD 790X/SB750

System Bus Up to 5200 MT/s ; HyperTransport™ 3.0
Memory 4 x DIMM, Max. 16 GB, DDR3 1800(O.C.)/1600/1333/1066 ECC,Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel memory architecture

Expansion Slots
2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 , support ATI CrossFireX™ technology (at one x16 or dual x8 link)
2 x PCIe x1
2 x PCI 2.2

Storage SB750 Chipset
1 xUltraDMA 133/100/66 for up to 2 PATA devices
6 xSATA 3 Gb/s ports Support RAID 0,1,5,10,JBOD
Marvell 88SE6121 SATA controller
1 xInternal SATA 3Gb/s port(black)
1 xExternal SATA 3Gb/s port (SATA on-the-go)

LAN Realtek® 8112L Gigabit LAN controllers
Audio VIA® VT1708S 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
DTS Surround Sensation UltraPC
Supports Jack-Detection, Multi-Streaming, and Front Panel Jack-Retasking
Optical S/PDIF Out ports at back I/O
ASUS Noise Filtering
IEEE 1394 VIA® VT6315N controller supports 2 x 1394a ports (1 at mid-board; 1 at back panel)
USB 12 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (4 ports at mid-board, 8 ports at back panel)
 
On paper, this particular motherboard appears to be a “like for like” AMD alternative to the Intel P55 chipset. Let’s see how it fares in practice...


Asus M4A79XTD EVO Motherboard Page: 2
Packaging & Initial Impressions
 
 Unsurprisingly, the M4A79XTD EVO arrived in a conventional green box. Asus generally tend to write the key features of the motherboard on the front with large bold font and the full specification on the rear.
 
 
 
 
 
 
There isn’t a lot of inner packaging but a secondary cardboard ceiling helps hold the motherboard in place as well as its accessories. Speaking of accessories, this board includes a manual, driver CD, I/O back-plate and two Serial ATA connectors.
 
 
 
 
This particular board doesn’t use anything in the way of large heatpipe cooling solutions however the 790X Northbridge is not known to be a warm runner. Asus have covered much of the mosfet region with a passive heatsink as well. Towards the rear is its I/O cluster featuring 8 x USB, PS/2, e-SATA and Firewire. The layout is quite conventional.
 
From initial boot to final operating system installation, the Asus M4A79XTD EVO was a pleasure to use. The motherboard booted first time with performance memory and was stable straight from the box.
 


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Testbed
 
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition
Asus M4A79XTD EVO Motherboard
4GB Corsair XMS3 PC3-12800C9 Memory
nVidia GeForce 8800GT 512mb GDDR3
Samsung Spinpoint F1 320GB 7200RPM SATA II
LG 22x DVD+/-RW
Arctic Freezer 64 Pro Heatpipe Cooler
OCZ stealthXstream 500W ATX2.0 PSU
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1
 
BIOS
 
Moving on to the most important part of the review, we find ourselves in the motherboard’s BIOS. For those that have previously used Asus motherboards, this one will not seem unfamiliar as the names of variables used are common and the menu structure is very much like the rest of their range.
 
 
The system frequency and voltage parameters as above are more than adequate for those that intend on overclocking their AMD Athlon II/Phenom II processors on air and liquid cooling solutions with CPU, Memory and Northbridge Voltages available up to 1.7500V, 2.500V and 1.5500V. The Hypertransport Link multiplier was unlocked upwards and downwards with our Black Edition processor however it seemed apparent that there was no CPU Northbridge Multiplier available.
 
 
This page is an important one for those who plan on buying a motherboard such as this to unlock hidden Cores and Cache. In order to successfully unlock a processor, you must have a motherboard featuring the SB710 or SB750 Southbridge. The motherboard must also have the Advanced Clock Calibration option available along with an EC Firmware or similar parameter. On compatible Asus motherboards, this is labeled as “Unleashing Mode”. Asus’ adaptation of the tweak also allows the user to choose which cores they wish to unlock. As we only had a Quad Core available, we were unable to test this feature.
 
 
Asus have also implemented an OC Profile function, where BIOS configurations can be saved for later use.
 
Overclocking
 
So without further a do, I wish to discuss how well this motherboard will overclock one’s processor. I had already mentioned that the motherboard appears to lack a CPU Northbridge Multiplier even with the use of a Black Edition processor resulting in a fixed multiplication factor of 10x (a default NB speed of 2000MHz). As our AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition had an optimal Northbridge Frequency of around 2400MHz, it came to very little surprise that the M4A79XTD EVO was out of steam at just 245MHz Base HTT. However, with the use of the upwards unlocked CPU Multiplier, we hit our processor’s final overclock at 3.870GHz. Not a poor show at all.
 
 
 
 
It should also be mentioned that the motherboard held the processor’s voltage very well. While software readings should be taken with a pinch of salt, it appeared as though Vdroop from Idle to Load was near enough minimal.
 


Asus M4A79XTD EVO Motherboard Page: 4
Synthetic Benchmarks
 
CinebenchR10
 
CinebenchR10 analyses the speed at which a processor renders a high resolution image and outputs a score accordingly. The test was carried out in singlethreaded and multithreaded mode.
 
 
 
SiSoft Sandra
 
SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility capable of benchmarking the performance of individual components inside a PC.
 
CPU Arithmetic
 
 
 
CPU Multimedia
 
 
Memory Performance
 
 
Hard Disk Drive Performance
 
 
 
So far, the results show that the Asus M4A79XTD EVO is a worth base for the range topping AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition. The SB750 southbridge also did our Samsung Spinpoint 320GB Hard Disk Drive justice with average read speeds of just under 90MB/sec. Let's continue


Asus M4A79XTD EVO Motherboard Page: 5
Everest Ultimate Edition
 
CPU Queen
 
CPU Queen is based on branch prediction and the misprediction penalties that are involved.
 
 
CPU Photoworxx
 
PhotoWorxx as the name may suggest tests processors by means of invoking functions that are common to Photo Manipulation including Fill, Flip, Crop, Rotate, Difference and Colour to B&W conversion.
 
 
CPU ZLib
 
This is an integer based benchmark that will test the CPU and Memory by means of the CPU ZLib compression library.
 
 
WinRAR
 
WinRAR's embedded Benchmark focuses on the processor's File Compression capability.
 
 
 
All good so far. Also note the respectable performance increases as a result of the overclock


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 PCMark Vantage
 
PCMark Vantage is currently Futuremark's flagship "overall" system wide testing benchmark.
 
 
Considerable performance gains were found from our 470MHz overclock. Scores at and over 6000 are exactly what we were expecting.
 
3DMark06
 
Futuremark's 3DMark06 is a means of testing a system's capability as a gaming machine.
 
 
Microsoft Flight Simulator X
 
Microsoft Flight Simulator X is part of a handful of games that are heavily CPU reliant, even at resolutions such as 1920x1200. With this in mind, it goes without saying that our Phenom II X4 965BE overclock resulted in considerable framerate increases.
 
 
Call of Duty 4
 
 
Crysis Warhead
 
Crysis is the most GPU intensive game from our suite. To reduce the extent of the bottleneck caused by the GeForce 8800GT, the resolution was reduced to 1280x1024 and the testing mode set to Performance rather than Enthusiast.
 
 
 
Sadly for the rest of our games, the CPU Overclock had a minimal effect. The scores however were exactly as expected for a test system of this calibre. Let's move on to the conclusion.
 


Asus M4A79XTD EVO Motherboard Page: 7
 
Conclusion
 
All in all Asus has pulled out yet another high quality piece of kit. A good motherboard must pair well with a wide variety of hardware configurations, sport a margin for future upgradeability and offer long term stability. From what our testing and understanding of the Asus M4A79XTD EVO indicates, we affirm that it does exactly that. This motherboard is suitable for a number of configurations from a “bang per buck” AMD Phenom II X2 550BE (or Athlon II X4 620) and Radeon HD 5770 combination and if that’s not enough, even a high end AMD Phenom II X4 965BE and HD 5970 pairing is a valid (albeit slightly unbalanced) option. ATi CrossfireX may also be a potential consideration however it’s open to dispute as to how much the M4A79XTD’s bandwith restricted PCI-Express 2.0 8x/8x configuration would starve today’s latest and greatest.
 
Annoyingly, as we haven’t a lot to moan about this particular motherboard, we aren’t left with a lot to write about. The M4A79XTD EVO sits amongst its major branded competition with very similar specifications and for most of the part, the product that you choose will come down to personal preference or whichever is cheapest. From our perspective, we have no trouble recommending this particular board based on it’s performance throughout our testing process as well as small added features such as the “Asus Express Gate” Operating System, which might be of interest. Excellent work Asus.
 
The Good
 
-Board Layout
-Performance
-Noise
-8+2 Phase (Consequent lack of Vdroop)
-Price
 
The Mediocre
 
-Lack of CPU Northbridge Multiplier
 
The Bad
 
-None
 
 
 
 
We would like to thank Asus for sending us this for review. You can discuss this futher in our forums.