Asus Crosshair III Formula vs DFI DK 790FXB M3H5 Face-Off

DFI 790FXB DK

Packaging & Appearance
 
The exterior presentation of the DFI 790FXB DX M3H5 is akin to the new packaging design DFI are using across there range. Gone are the cartoon characters of the old Lanparty series. What we now have is an orb with the main product title surrounded by a smoke effect. This motherboard also features DFI's second incarnation of the popular autoboost system. AM3 and the obligitory AMD and ATI icons round of the front of the box. Flipping the box over to the rear we see DFI have gone to great lengths to show off the main feature set of the 790FXB with detailed photographs and brief descriptions of each.
 
box front box rear
 
By removing the outer sleeve, we are greeted with a plain white box with a silver Lanparty logo emblazoned in the middle. Once inside this box we find a compartmentalised unit separating the accessories from the mainboard. While this is effective in keeping the components separate it is a far cry from the design Asus use. That said, the package arrived in good condition and if it helps keep costs down then it's no bad thing. The accessory list is one which you would expect from a mid range board with UV reactive IDE and 4x SATA cables with optional SATA-Molex power adaptors. A standard, no frills I/O shield, driver/utility disc and a couple of manuals round off the accessories. A Crossfire bridge is also included for those who might have mislaid theirs.
 
box inner accessories
 
Ah, nothing like a blast of nostalgia to get the overclocking juices flowing. Those who remember the nForce 4 days will feel right at home with this colour scheme. UV reactive yellow and orange plastic adorns a black PCB which now appears to be a trademark of DFI. The overall spacing of the board, with all the right things in the right place but I do have concern over the proximity of the ram slots to the CPU socket. This will most certainly prevent oversized ram coolers being used with high end CPU heatsinks. Note the additional PCIe slot of the DFI though which are all 16x and allow dual 16x in Crossfire configuration or 16x/16x/4x in CrossfireX.
 
board front board rear
 
The CPU socket has the standard removable hold down plate (also in UV yellow) but the most interesting thing about the DFI's CPU socket area is the power delivery. The DFI 790FXB DK uses a 4+1 Phase digital PWM design (4 for the Vcore and 1 for the NB voltage). DFI claim that this design uses less power, gives greater stability as well as providing high durability.
 
As with the Asus motherboard and indeed all AM3 motherboards, the DFI 790FXB DK features 2 dual channel DDR3 ram slots (2+2) which allow upto 16GB of ram to be utilised should you feel the need.
 
socket memory sockets
 
As already stated, this mainboard allows both Crossfire and Crossfire X. The two PCIe slots upper most on the board are controlled via the 790FX chipset and run at the full fat 16 lanes each. The bottom slot is controlled by the Southbridge (750) core which when running in CrossfireX configuration will be limited to 4 lanes. Interestingly, DFI recommend connecting up 5v floppy power cables to each slot when running multiple cards. Personally I have never seen any benefit by doing this but DFI claim it adds greater stability, especially when overclocking the GPU's. 6 SATA ports are available on the DFI mainboard which is one more than the ASUS and DFI have also seen fit to include an IDE PATA port for those with ageing legacy devices.
 
An area which deserves special mention is the inclusion of an LED debug device which allows the user to identify problem areas when overclocking or indeed when first installing your hardware. 3 USB headers are on board which are adjacent to the on board power and rest buttons, or EZ-switch as DFI like to call them. The EZ switch is actually a useful design in that pressing both switches together will return the board to a bootable state by resetting the CMOS. However should you need to do a hard rest of the BIOS, DFI have also included a jumper for this.
 
PCIe sata
 
The backplate includes PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports along with coaxial and optical audio outputs, a CMOS clear jumper, 6xUSB 2.0 ports, Marvel Gigabit LAN port and and 7.1 HD audio. I can see the CMOS clear jumper proving a headache for most people who intend to use this board in an enclosure as fiddling with a jumper at the rear of the case is going to be no fun, especially if it needs to be done multiple times!
 
USB NB
 
The three main heatsinks on the motherboard which are responsible for keeping temperatures in check are small in comparison to DFI's X58 motherboard and only the NB and PWM cooler are screwed to the motherboard with the SB 750 cooler having a traditional push pin design. I was happy to note that there was no anti tamper glue fixing the nuts to the screws as with the X58 range which made removal of the heatsinks so much easier.
 
southbridge mosfet
 
Should you wish to replace the NB cooler, DFI allow this option with the removable NB heatsink which is a great design and good news for those looking for something a little more extreme than ambient air. Our sample had an ample amount of paste used to transfer heat between the two surfaces but this could be improved by spreading the paste yourself, rather than relying on the 'blob' method DFI seem to have employed.
 
heatsink removed mosfets
 
Both the Northbridge and Southbridge had copious amounts of Arctic Ceramique type paste on the cores, perhaps a little too much but the contact pressure was even enough to squeeze excess paste over the core onto the surrounding area ensuring a good mount was achieved. As always, extreme care should be taken if you decide to replace this paste as remounting the heatsink assembly could easily nibble the cores rendering the motherboard useless.
 
nb core southbridge core
 
Overall, the DFI 790FXB DK M3H5 appears to be a solid motherboard. It has everything you could want from an enthusiasts or gamers point of view with plenty of connectivity for those looking to base a well rounded PC on this mainboard. My only concern was the memory slots and this was certified when I came to set the board up as expected, the ram slots did indeed prevent oversized CPU coolers to be used with memory that employ double height heatsinks. Using the memory in the Orange slots however was not an issue.
 
Let's take a look at the DFI's BIOS...
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Most Recent Comments

26-07-2009, 15:26:07

w3bbo
Have AMD made up any ground on Intel since we last checked them out? Find out as we pitch two AM3 motherboards against each other. You might be surprised!

http://www.overclock3d.net/gfx/artic...132619817l.jpg

Full Review Here

26-07-2009, 16:29:16

Rastalovich
Jeez I'm quite surprized tbh.

Excellent review.

Shame on DFI with some of their onboard choices ALC885 and Marvell ? c'mon - throw in the jumper and I'd expect the mobo to be cheaper.

The ASUS tho, even as the DFI kept up with it (and it can be assumed better with the model up), very very nice figures for the gamer.

Things are looking green whilst blue seems to want to confuse. Weird that cos in other respects AMD would be ... red

26-07-2009, 16:37:36

mayhem
Asus calling that a top of the range bord ...

If i was paying that much id expect 6 sata and water cooling blocks for the chip set and so much more ...

Is it relay worth that much ...

Excellent review.

26-07-2009, 16:39:45

w3bbo
Compared to the cost of i7 motherboards its a freakin bargain!

26-07-2009, 16:41:55

mayhem
yeh i7 is just extortion ...

What happened to our lovely sub 100 boards that used to perform like "some thing off a stick" ..

Now there filled with useless rubbish and fancy packaging that costs more than half the bit's inside the box.

I would like my 100 Sub boards that performed back .... This is a recession were in ...

God if i was a reviewer id be the most hated reviewer out there because im so critical or half the gear they stuff inside these things.

Reviews all say yeah you get 6 sata leads and a LCD and loads of fancy this and that. Me i say remove that and drop the price by 50 / 60 quid and ill be happy.

Half the Gimmicks are just that "Pure Gimmicks" nothing more.

Im trying to avoid this coming out as a rant more trying to point out facts.

Bling is just chav.....

Don't forget im a little old fashioned as well.

26-07-2009, 17:08:18

w3bbo
I totally agree. However I do like a well rounded product. Packaging is a major plus point with me and they score highly if its done right.

Prices have rocketted though I do agree and yeah they could cut out half the crap but when you compare the Asus vs the DFI here, both costing more or less the same the Asus wins hands down for the bling and accessories alone, let alone performance.

26-07-2009, 17:08:29

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='mayhem'

Reviews all say yeah you get 6 sata leads and a LCD and loads of fancy this and that. Me i say remove that and drop the price by 50 / 60 quid and ill be happy.
The way I see it is that manufacturers tend to use these "Extras" as more of a way to justify the price to the public rather than to artificially inflate it (to extent).

SATA cables, LCD screens, fancy boxes are all bought in bulk...MASSIVE bulk from China or other cheap labour countries. At most every accessory in those boxes adds 5 to the price imo.

Take for example the Striker II...That was probably the most expensive lga775 board ever. But what most people didnt get was that the chipset alone cost ASUS 100 a piece, then ASUS had all of their board building costs on top of that, BIOS coding etc and at the end of the day when they totalled it up + adding profit, they realised oh sh*t..better make this at least appear to be "fully loaded" by jamming the box full of cheap extra's.

26-07-2009, 17:32:48

mayhem
Didnt know that jim but still who is artificially inflating these prices ... Intel and AMD (chip sets). They need to get there act together.

There trying to increase there profits the wrong way. Cheaper in build = Higher more sales figures. Expensive = less sales , less profit more annoyed customers.

We have to remember as over clocker's, modders , water cooler ect ect were the minority and all ways will be. But why should we pay a premium price just to be in the minority.

If manufactures such as Asus ect turned around and refused to pay there prices AMD and Intel would have no choice but to drop there prices and this in turn forcing the price down.

There is a big difference between common sense and greed....

As for packaging . i worked in a ice cream factory once. the ice cream cost 2p to make the box was 12p (btw that was real ice cream the cheaper stuff was 0.05p yet packaging was same price). Packing cost more than ppl know.

26-07-2009, 17:45:50

w3bbo
You have to remember that the high end chipsets we use will not be seen in the mainstream for some time. I had to lol the other day when PC world were advertising the next generation in computing - pentium IV. Buying premium products such as we do will always attract premium prices. Why else would AMD and Intel still cater for the enthusiast?

26-07-2009, 17:49:08

mayhem
so in other words we pay a premium to be a monky .....

As we test them to destruction and we have to pay over the odds for it.

26-07-2009, 17:50:34

w3bbo
You could buy a Dell for 200 but that wouldn't be nearly as much fun!

26-07-2009, 17:52:12

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='mayhem'
Didnt know that jim but still who is artificialy inflating these prices ... Intel and AMD (chip sets). They need to get there act together.

There trying to increase there profits the wrong way. Cheaper in build = Higher more sales figures. Expensive = less sales , less profit my annoyed customers.

We have to remember as over clocker's, modders , water cooler ect ect were the minority and all ways will be. But why should we pay a premium price just to be in the minority.
Yeah agreed, but I do wonder sometimes if we (enthusiasts) are the problem. There are cheap motherboards out there, cheap CPU's too. You can buy some stupidly overclockable products (E7200 + ASRock) for next to nothing and almost double your speed with a bit of overclocking. But we dont. The roots we came from don't exist any more.

Its a bit like asking a Porsche owner why he didn't go and buy a Nova + a few grand of engine mods.

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='mayhem'

If manufactures such as Asus ect turned around and refused to pay there prices AMD and Intel would have no choice but to drop there prices and this in turn forcing the price down.
In this respect I think that motherboard manufacturers are in the same position as consumers. Until every motherboard manufacturer turns around to AMD/Intel/Nvidia and says "no, bugger off", nothing will happen.

Additionally if just ASUS was to say no, Gigabyte/DFI...etc would just use it as a chance to 'get in there first' with a new motherboard release.

Its a tough one to find a solution for and I'm certainly by no means sticking up for anyone. It's just things in the industry aren't as clear as they always seem. The people 'stiffing' us are often being 'stiffed' themselves on a much bigger scale.

26-07-2009, 18:13:45

mayhem
toatly agree here with what your saying.

Me i still love my route. take a E5200 and blow a q9* to peace's.... No world record braker but a 45 CPU blowing a 150 CPU is what over clocking is about.

yes i have 3 x q6600 but they were bought at 99 each (which at the time was a real bargain) yet i wont move to i7 or i5 for that matter because its pointless and the speed is no good because no software really needs it.

Were quickly running into the ground now as im still running a 8800 GT and that still plays games fine. maybe not at the best looking it can be but then again why pay more for only a small increase.

I feel as though if i buy new hardware im just joining the sheep. (personal feeling). As there is not 1 thing out there yet that will increase my system 25 to 50% more and make a Big difference or impact to make me go "I really need that" ...

I think thats why i like modding because the end result is some one turns around afterwards and goes "I really need that" or "I really what that" for the right reasons.

p.s have you worked on dells lately its all fun trying to install xp on them. it will take you a good few hours of hunting around on the net finding out why it BSODS while installing ... been there last week.

and last but not least . just to upset quite a lot of ppl. there is "NO" skill in over clocking any more. .... with the right pre bought tools any one can do it. If you gave me enough money or free stuff i dare say i can beat any world record. (would love to be proved wrong)...

27-07-2009, 03:01:36

denis6902
thats an ace thread, im following it up!

i feel like a stupid man sometimes cause i have an ace set of gear and i have no idea how to overclock :facepalm: Not to say i have a high end wc set and still i dunno how, besides when i try to my stupid striker II doesnt let me! i hate this dam mobo so fussy!

btw oc is not that esay may, cause none of the asus oc tools has ever worked for me.

great review webbo!

btw, when is asus changing their colour scheme, white and blue sucks hard, i thinnk its time for some black n red on connections or all red or all black

27-07-2009, 03:23:09

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='mayhem'

and last but not least . just to upset quite a lot of ppl. there is "NO" skill in over clocking any more. .... with the right pre bought tools any one can do it. If you gave me enough money or free stuff i dare say i can beat any world record. (would love to be proved wrong)...
I wouldnt say "NO" skill, more like "Much Less" skill. There was a time where you had to play around with jumpers, dip switches and wiremods to achieve any kind of OC on your CPU. However, the process of overclocking has been simplified for quite some time now thanks to ABIT iirc for making the first motherboard with FSB options in the BIOS.

But there is some skill left in achieving the 'highest overclock'. FSB/Multi/Volts will only get you so far. Its the little tweaks, cooling mods, beta BIOS' etc that can make the difference between 4GHz and 4.4GHz. 'Knowing' your hardware does still play a part in the overclocking process, just not as much as it once did.

27-07-2009, 03:53:57

mayhem
I dunno it seems most of the work is taken out of it. As in guess work.

I cannot remember the last time i volt modded properly or pencil tricked a Chip to gain more ratio's or even wire wrapping the pins for different ratio's.

I still remember pushing the amiga's to get more speed and the TI99 and modding the hell out of it to gain speed and do things that no one on earth intended for it. These are the route's i have come from hence why i say there is no skill in over clocking any more.

I still remember buying my first voodoo 1 and blowing it up in less than 24 hrs due to over clocking and not fully understanding how it worked. After a quick exchange with the place i bought it (naughty of me) i was back up and running doing it all again. I still remember the rage 3d add on cards and things like that and the early matrox's.

The little tweak with modern day systems are mainly us humans playing and learning as we go along. A new MB comes out were pushed to see what each setting does does how it reacts to pushing it that little further. I still say over clocking now a days is not difficult provided you have the money or resources.

It all so help having or knowing which chips are from a so called good batch.

Maybe im old fashioned and i prefer the "Old " methods of over clocking were jumper's and a calculator's was needed and we sat there for hours working out how to chuck in a few extra cap's and resistors to get a better over clock and having to grab your Soyo MB and volt mod the hell out of it just for a 10% to 20% increase in speed.

I still remember the days sitting in the bedroom making a VIC 20 be as fast as a commodore 64 with the disbelief of my mate. and actually having to build my own Sinclair and having to use a milk bottle off the door step to cool it down long enough for it to work (extreme cooling then).

Think ill stand buy what i said ... Over clocking has lost its roots and again Over clocking isn't as skill full as people would like you to think. Ill agree though getting them very few extra Hrtz is now the challenge.

27-07-2009, 04:11:36

w3bbo
Overclocking is easier, no doubts about it. However it is only easier because you no longer need to mod boards and CPU's, most boards have all the options you will need. However, there is still a fair amount of skill involved as a stable overclock is what most folk want these days and to get the max out of a CPU AND make it stable takes patience and a fair amount of knowledge. No longer is it a case of ramping up the vCore and FSB - Knowing your GTL ref voltages from your drive strengths etc helps.

It is easier in the fact we now have the 'tools' to overclock but harder in the fact there are just so many 'tools' to choose from. I will however agree that overclocking has lost alot of it's roots as it used to be about getting a cheap chip andrunning it faster than the range toppers. Now it seems he who has the most dosh will get the fastest setup.

We are however going quite a long way of topic guys. This is a review thread.

27-07-2009, 04:21:48

mayhem
hehe . well in sorts its a discussion about over clocking and that's what these boards are but yeh off topic a little .

Still nice review any way lol ...

27-07-2009, 04:35:26

PopcornMachine
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Jim'
Yeah agreed, but I do wonder sometimes if we (enthusiasts) are the problem. There are cheap motherboards out there, cheap CPU's too. You can buy some stupidly overclockable products (E7200 + ASRock) for next to nothing and almost double your speed with a bit of overclocking. But we dont. The roots we came from don't exist any more.
Interesting conversation. I kind of see what you're saying ... overclocking isn't as challenging as it used to be ... so not as much motivation for some of you.

But in a larger picture, I think people are getting ripped off because they don't know what overclocking will buy them and how easy it is to get a lot more for your money. I've built a few systems over the years, but never overclocked much becuase, to be honest, it kind of scared me. And I didn't realize that it is the way to get most out of your money.

So I started overclocking about a year ago. My current system is a Q6600 and found that it went to 3.0GHz without any voltage increase. After that it became a little harder, but now have it stable at 3.4GHz. It's in a Gigabyte P45-UD3P (not too expensive) and has two HD 4830s. They are set to the max allowable overclock and run in crossfire when playing games.

All in all, a not very expensive yet good gaming system. And folds nice too with the cards and a Linux VM. The important thing is I picked these parts with overclocking in mind because of the research I had done. Instead of buying the real expensive CPU and motherboard, which I probably would have done in the past.

30-07-2009, 04:08:06

Bungral
I have to disagree with some of what you've been saying Mayhem. Just because people don't have to hardmod their boards anymore, which wasn't necessarily an overclocking skill but more of an understanding of electronics skill, it doesn't mean there is no skill involved.

By saying there is absolutely no skill involved implies that someone who has never done it before could just walk up to a PC and overclock it. I know for a fact that isn't the case as I've just asked a couple of colleagues if they know what it is and how they would even attempt to go about it and they haven't a clue.

Also the comment above kind of confirms the point. I expect he's read up on how to overclock and has done an admirible just going to 3.4GHz on his Q6600. Point is that getting that stable at 4GHz can require quite an indepth knowledge of the motherboard and overclocking in general which I would call a skill.

Even then you can still mod boards if you want to / it's required. I was using a simple pencil mod on one of my boards up until recently to counter massive vdroop. Nothing major but still modding the board.

Saying there is no skill what so ever is a bit of an insult to anyone who has taken the time to bother reading up on it and make the effort.

On the subject of the review though... Nice one as ever Rich. Always look forward to the mobo reviews and at least it's not just another review of an X58 pumping out exactly the same results as all other X58's

30-07-2009, 05:18:03

BustaH
Amd platforms are really begining to come to the fore, its really good to see, still a way to go but its looking good. some real nice boards coming up at nice prices.

30-07-2009, 05:28:41

Rastalovich
Big thing would be to get SATA3 & USB3.0 on AMD mobos b4 Intel get a foot in.
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