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Asus M4A79T Deluxe

Roundup: Four 790FX Socket AM3 Motherboards
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Features and Layout

Four PCIe 2.0 slots and an eSATA port make the M4A79T Deluxe an enthusiast part, but the single Gigabit Ethernet port separates it from other high-end boards.

We’re not going to second-guess Asus’ design decisions, but the reason AMD originally pushed four-slot 790FX motherboard designs was for four-way CrossFireX support. The configuration is possible on the M4A79T Deluxe, but only with single-slot cards such as the Radeon HD 4850 with reference-design cooling.

Electronic switches allow the M4A79T Deluxe to automatically configure its x16-length slots as dual x16, quad x8, or single x16 and dual x8 pathways. A fifth switch for each secondary slot allows it to use alternative pathways when an x1 card is installed.

An internal feature “missing” from the M4A79T Deluxe is any third-party hard drive controller. Asus instead directs one of the chipset’s SATA 3.0 Gb/s ports to I/O-panel eSATA, resulting in five internal ports. Two of the ports face forward, which could be problematic for some older case designs that have a hard drive cage blocking access.

Three of the remaining ports that face outward from the surface are ideally placed for nearly any mid-tower case, but some full-towers will require extra-long SATA cables to reach the upper bays. Any dual-GPU card could cover up these ports in the center black slot, but the blue slots are the proper places for a pair of Radeon HD 4870 X2s. Single-GPU cards typically used in three- and four-card configurations are short enough to prevent conflicts.

Power, fan, Ultra ATA, and USB port interfaces are all in acceptable locations, but a quick look at the bottom rear corner provides reason for a few complaints. Front-panel audio (off-white) and FireWire (red) connectors are far too difficult to reach with cables coming from upper-bay front-panel ports, while the floppy header—usually required only for adding AHCI or RAID drivers during Windows XP installation—is too far away from a standard case’s external 3.5” bay.

BIOS

A list of voltage and frequency ranges can be found in the overclocking comparison of this review.

The Asus Ai Tweaker menu contains many basic and a few advanced-clock and voltage controls.

DRAM timings are found within an Ai Tweaker sub-menu.

EZ Flash 2 allows updating BIOS from non-bootable media, while Asus OC Profile stores custom BIOS settings for future use.

Accessories

Two CrossFire bridges and a short SATA cable add value to a traditional accessory kit. However, the outdated floppy cable is gone. Good riddance, we say.

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  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 22 April 2009 19:52
    It would be interesting to see how much AM3 processors improve over AM2+ especially come the next gen of graphics cards. Is the jump to AM3 boards worth the extra upgrade from AM2+? Im currently using a X2 6000+ but im doubtful that jumping to AM3 processors is worth it atm especially for gaming. My next upgrade will probally be the processor to prevent bottlenecking since my 4870 manages 22" easily but Id preferably like to get a mobo with 2X 16XPCIe lanes.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 22 April 2009 19:52
    It would be interesting to see how much AM3 processors improve over AM2+ especially come the next gen of graphics cards. Is the jump to AM3 boards worth the extra upgrade from AM2+? Im currently using a X2 6000+ but im doubtful that jumping to AM3 processors is worth it atm especially for gaming. My next upgrade will probally be the processor to prevent bottlenecking since my 4870 manages 22" easily but Id preferably like to get a mobo with 2X 16XPCIe lanes.
  • 2 Hide
    Merlanni , 23 April 2009 03:08
    I am going to switch back to AMD even if they perform less than intel. Why? I am not going to buy a motherboard for every processor. Who knows how many pins the next processor of Intel has. Upgrading is a major reason to choose a platform. Besides I do not need the power of i7 to game on a 20"
  • 0 Hide
    aevm , 23 April 2009 04:20
    LOL, I doubt even Intel knows. It used to be 1160, but then they removed 4 pins in October and now they're talking about LGA1156. Anyway, point taken, the i5 CPUs won't work in either LGA775 or LGA1366 boards.
  • 0 Hide
    aevm , 23 April 2009 04:36
    That Gigabyte board sounds perfect for somebody who might want 9 hard drives and a burner, because it has 10 SATA ports. I was looking for such a thing. This paragraph:

    Quote:

    We have no layout complaints, but builders should be aware that all four of the MA790FX-UD5P's add-in SATA ports (white) share a single PCIe pathway through the JMicron JMB363 controller, for a maximum combined throughput of 250 MB/s. That’s far short of the 1,200 MB/s combined bandwidth that four 3.0 Gb/s ports are theoretically capable of supporting.


    is a bit scary, but in fact it's not a problem IMO. Even if you happen to copy a huge file from HDD 7 to HDD 8 (both on the JMicron controller), you still get over 100 MB/s bandwidth for each, and that's pretty much the average read/write rate of the WD Caviar Black 1TB. That is, there's no bottleneck after all.