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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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