Asus M4A89GTD PRO/USB3 Review
So What's Changed?
Integrated Direct X 10.1 Graphics
Fundamentally there aren’t huge advances in the architecture of the 890GX Northbridge, however there are minor changes that make all the difference. At the heart of the 890GX Northbridge is the new Radeon HD 4290 integrated GPU. While the recent AMD 785G chipset release offers many of the features of this particular GPU, the supposedly “higher end” 790GX chipset was left in the dark with it’s ageing HD 3300 unit. The new GPU brings forward many of the 785G's updated features such as Direct X 10.1, UVD 2.0 and 7.1 channel sound over HDMI. By retaining the updated 40 Stream Processor unit with a Core Clock of 700MHz and 128mb of 1333MHz GDDR3, we expect the Radeon HD 4290 to perform competitively against Intel’s Clarkdale unit.
Much like the outgoing 790GX Northbridge, there are 24 PCI-Express lanes, which will usually consist of two PCI-Express 16x (8x when both are in use) followed by a small selection of PCI-Express 4x/2x/1x slots.
Integrated SATA 6.0Gbps, no USB3.0 and some Axed Features…
By comparison, some of the most significant changes in AMD’s new core logic manifests in the SB850 Southbridge. As some of you might be aware, motherboard manufacturers have been eager to bundle SATA 6.0Gb/s ports as part of their new motherboards, by implementing third party controllers from manufacturers such as Marvell and JMicron. However, SB850 stands as the first southbridge to natively support the new interface by offering as many as 6 on your motherboard. These are of course backwards compatible with SATA and SATA II Hard Disk Drives.
Despite this, AMD didn’t see the need to incorporate USB3.0 to the new southbridge, so Motherboards such as these are bundled with a third party controller.
Interestingly, with the introduction of some new features, AMD have silently removed a feature too…and it’s a big one. Advanced Clock Calibration – The Core Unlocker.
RIP Advanced Clock Calibration
Advanced Clock Calibration was initially launched on the SB710/SB750 for the initial 65nm AMD Phenom Processors. By utilising a previously unused 6 pin link between the Southbridge and Processor Socket, it became possible for certain overrides to occur that often lead to more substantial overclocks. Theoretically speaking, this feature should have become completely redundant with the release of the Phenom II processor as Advanced Clock Calibration had become embedded to the CPU itself. Well, not quite...
Nobody expected Advanced Clock Calibration to have an effect on the AMD Phenom II until end users tried to use the parameter in BIOS with their Dual and Tri Core Processors. AMD appears to have grudgingly let this slide for well over a year now and Motherboard Manufacturers have also had a field day cashing in on the ACC glitch, so in some ways it comes to no surprise that the feature has been “removed” with the new SB850 southbridge. Without native support, the onus now remains with the intelligent motherboard designers and engineers to develop a comparable solution. To this date, the only SB850 based motherboard to include a core unlock feature is the Asus M4A89GTD PRO.
Let's take a look at the product sample.