AM3 motherboard shootout: DFI DK 790FXB-M3H5 vs MSI 790FX-GD70

Motherboards/AMD AM3 by massman @ 2009-04-26

Today, we have a look at two AMD AM3 motherboards, the first AMD DDR3 platform available for desktop users. Both DFI and MSI were kind enough to send us a sample of their most high-end product series, which will be tested both on performance and overclockability. We threw in a DDR2-based motherboard to find out whether or not the new memory support gives a true advantage.

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Madshrimps (c)

Finally! We had to wait for it quite some time, but since a few weeks, AMD has a working platform that support DDR3 memory, the successor of DDR2 with as biggest advantage the possibility of higher clock frequencies, which lead to higher bandwidth. Unlike most of the previous AMD hardware, the AM3 processors and motherboards are not completely backwards compatible: if you want to use the newer DDR3 memory, you will have to buy an AM3 processor and AM3 motherboard, since an AM2+ processors does not have the instructions to run DDR3. The opposite does work, though: AM3 processors have no problems running on AM2+ motherboards with DDR2 memory.

The biggest question is of course whether or not the extra bandwidth will make your system run any faster. Without even doing the tests to find out, we can be pretty sure it won't. Why?

"The effect of an increase memory frequency is only noticeable in memory intensive benchmarks, or better put: memory benchmarks. In real-life applications or benchmarks for non-memory hardware you will see no significant increase in performance."
(~ AMD Phenom II In-Depth Performance Scaling Analysis

In our performance scaling article, launched 2009-03-16, we found out that increasing the memory frequency has quite a big influence on memory intensive benchmarks such as Lavalys Everest, but have little to no impact on the more daily usage programs. To be precise, increasing the frequency from 200MHz to 533MHz (166,5% increase), the SuperPi performance increased a mere 5% and the 3D performance even less!

However, at Madshrimps, we always check and double-check our thoughts, so instead of just trying out the two AM3 motherboards supplied by Dfi and MSI, we threw in our old and trusty Dfi AM2+ motherboard as well. The 790FX-GD70 and Lanparty DK 790FXB-M3H5 will not only battle against each other, they will have to take on an, in theory, smaller brother as well. This article will guide you through the complete package and bios, we will have a look at the performance of both boards, stock and overclocked, and, since there's quite a bit to tell you, we'll be spending more than a few words on the overclockability of both boards.

But before we throw you the numbers, let's have a look at the two products.

Madshrimps (c)

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Comment from Massman @ 2009/05/13
For reference only: bios supports CPU multiplier upto 32,5x whereas AMD only supports upto 31,5x