MSI 790FX-GD70 with latest AM3 structure marks a new beginning
Everyone's deepest impression of AMD came about three or four years ago with the hot release of the K8 chipset,
which was the first desktop board to support dual-core processors.
This architecture raised the bar on performance and low-temperature processing, and was very popular in the market for quite some time.
Intel, at that time, was fighting back with its P4 architecture,
but though it updated to the LGA 755 P4, its performance didn't show a significant improvement.
This continued until about two years ago when Intel released its Core 2 Duo processor
and began a whole new dominance in the market - one that it still maintains.
Although AMD later released its AM2 Phenom with much anticipation,
aside from its performance at comparable frequencies lagging behind Intel,
its built-in L3 Cache and 65nm structure made it impossible to decrease its running temperature and energy use.
It was also hard to bring the frequencies to a 3.2~3.6 GHz level.
As such, the Phenom series had a hard time attracting customers concerned with performance and/or temperature.
This all changed in January of 2009, when AM2 Phenom released a new 45nm chip, the Phenom II.
This new CPU has already received a lot of attention from online and traditional media,
and tests are showing that its temperature has come down a lot, whiles the frequencies can reach 4GHz using only air-type cooling systems.
AMD's time in the back is finally over with the release of this new, strong chip.
In February of this year, news about the AM3 has begun to be leaked.
The AM3 is the first platform to support DDR3 memory, and,
if history is any indication of the future, this will quickly become standard for AMD.
This takes me back to the new AM3 motherboard: MSI 790FX-GD70.
This board is able to support AMD Phenom II triple- and quad-core processors, and below is of course the DDR3 version box.
MSI 790FX-GD70 board itself
The MB's lower-left side
4 X PCI-E X16, supporting ATI CrossFireX
1 X PCI-E X1
2 X PCI
sound chip is Realtek ALC889,which supports HD Audio 7.1 channels
MB's lower-right side
6 X SATAII(SB750),supporting Raid 0, 1, 5, 0+1
2 X SATAII(JMB322)
1 X IDE
Indicator lights: POWER/RESET/clr CMOS/Green Power/OC Dial and function buttons
MB's upper-right side
4 X DIMM DDR3, with two power supply connections
Supports 800/1066/1333/1600/1800/2133 MHz with a 16GB maximum memory.
The 1600/1800/2133 frequencies require overclocking to be obtained.
The power supply connectors are 24 PIN.
MB's upper-left corner
CPU connection is a Socket941 supporting the latest AMD AM3 45nm PhenomII CPUs.
The board comes with a 5 phase power supply supporting MSI's unique DrMOS technology.
7 X USB 2.0
1 X IEEE 1394a
2 X RJ45
1 X eSATA
On this board, aside from the usual power, reset, and clear CMOS buttons, MSI include three buttons to ease the overclocking process.
The left-most, after changing the clock speeds, helps the user figure out the CPU's overclocking limits.
MSI's recent cooling system is the Flat Fins Copper-Pipe.
Its appearance has a lot of class, and truly gives off an air of being a high-level product.
The pipes' flow can bring the temperature down below 52 degrees C, which is in part due to the benefits of the AMD(ATI) chipset's low temperature, and low energy use.
Here is the screen after powering on the machine
BIOS main screen
You can tweak the voltage quite a bit
DRAM settings page; opening the selection menu lets you see several more performance settings.
M-Flash, you can directly update the BIOS
CPU: AMD AM3 45nm 2.8G
MB: MSI 790FX-GD70
DRAM: CORSAIR Dominator 1GBX2 DDR3 2133C9D
VGA: MSI N9600GT Diamond
HD: SAMSUNG 250GB
POWER: Corsair HX1000W Modular Power Supply
Cooler: Thermaltake V1 AX/JETART Nano Diamond
45nm, triple-core, without L3 version (the tested CPU has specs which won't be produced anymore).
The graphics card used is MSI N9600GT Diamond
Its components are outstanding, Hi-c CAP,DrMOS
and its specs use the special 9600GT.
IO ports have DVI, HDMI, D-SUB via a DVI-D-Sub adapter, S/PDIF-in and an overclocking button.
The DDR3 used the high-end, CORSAIR Dominator 1GBX2 DDR3 2133C9D
CPU 200X14=>2800Mhz 1.300V
DRAM DDR3 1333 CL6 6-6-18 1T
Hyper PI 3X32M & CPUMARK
DDR3 1333 CL6 6-6-18 1T
Sandra Memory Bandwidth-12269MB/s
EVEREST Memory Read-93533MB/s
Overclocked test (without limits)
CPU 240X15=>3600Mhz 1.337V
DRAM DDR3 1600 CL8 8-8-24 1T
Hyper PI 3X32M & CPUMARK
DDR3 1600 CL8 8-8-24 1T
Sandra Memory Bandwidth-14476MB/s
EVEREST Memory Read-10544MB/s
The tested AM3 chipset is the 790FX northbridge with the SB750 southbridge, which is currently AMD's pinnacle product.
Price-wise, because it has come out after AM2+ has been on the market for a while, it isn't too much of a jump from previous boards.
MSI put a lot of thought and attention to detail into its AM3 platform 790FX-GD70.
Aside from adding new functions and design, the cooling system is a thing of beauty and adds to the overall sense of quality in this board.
This was my first time using the 45nm AM3 platform, and I can already see a big drop in temperature and energy-use.
The frequency peaks have also been raised quite a bit from the 65nm chips - online results
I have seen indicate the AM2+ PhenomII can be overclocked to 4GHz or higher.
Regarding the performance, although they results weren't the surprise I had imagined,
the 45nm design showed a not too small improvement in lowering the temperature and conserving energy.
Add to that AMD's CPUs lower price-range, then I can see this platform attracting a lot of customer attention
if the 45nm triple-core or other PhenomII CPUs can maintain a price similar to the current 65nm versions.
Personally, given the high price-performance ratio, I feel that this AMD platform has a lot of potential in the mid-/low-price segments of 2009.
This review marks a new beginning for AMD,
and it is my hope that even better AM3 overclocking performance or special functions will appear in the many reports to follow :).
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