Asrock A790GXH/128M Motherboard Review

Discussion in 'AMD x86 CPUs and chipsets' started by n2p4u, Apr 25, 2009.

  1. n2p4u

    n2p4u Member

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    Asrock A790GXH/128M Motherboard Review

    AMD is currently in the middle of a processor transition from AM2 to AM3 so that their processors can take advantage of many of the recent technological advancements like DDR3. This makes for an interesting period and a great time to upgrade older systems over to the previous AM2 platform with its ultra cheap initial platform cost, and its usage of ultra cheap DDR2 ram. I recently had a chance to upgrade to this thanks to Prime Minister’s RUDD bonus payment and hence I am reviewing my purchase.


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    The Asrock A790GXH/128mb is a motherboard which is based upon the AMD 790GX and the AMD SB750 Chipset. The 790GX includes the World Class HD3300 Integrated Chipset with 128mb DDR3-1066 Integrated sideport memory which allows the HD3300 to use this ram instead of stealing from the user installed memory. This is something that shows it benefits mostly in the low memory systems. The 790GX has support for the SB750 Advanced Clock Calibration Feature which allows Phenom class CPU unlocking and overclocking.

    The features of the A790GXH include
    6 SATA Ports with support for RAID
    1 IDE HDD/CD & 1 Floppy Connector
    128mb DDR3-1066 Sideport Memory
    2 PCI-E 16x Ports (physical) (electrically 16x and 4x)
    1 PCI-E 1x Port & 2 PCI Ports
    4 DDR2-1066 Dual Channel Memory Slots
    • 2 PS2, 1 HDMI, 1 D-sub, 1 DVI, 4 USB, 1 RJ45 gigabit, 1 optical out and 6 HD audio ports.

    The Layout
    The Layout of the A790GXH/128mb is well thought out as it has everything in a good position however there is only two downers, The front panel connectors are placed well down on the bottom corner just under the SATA connectors and as a result the SATA ports interfere with the plugging in of these when in a small case and the floppy disk connector is also at the bottom of the board. Apart from these two minor issues board is great with dual double slot crossfire X configurations only blocking a single PCI Slot.


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    The Bundle
    The price of this motherboard is less then most of the others that are of similar specification, however upon looking at other brands website motherboard contents list, the bundle is similar to other brands.
    2 SATA data cable (1 right angled, 1 straight) + 1 Molex to SATA power cable
    2 Driver CDs (1 Vista, 1 XP) + 1 IDE Cable, 1 floppy IDE Cable, 1 IO Shield

    The Bios
    The Bios of the A790GXH/128mb is fully featured to the extent that it has many settings which can be tweaked from CPU speed to Voltage and Fan Speed Settings.
    Settings
    Frequency: CPU 1MHz, Multiplier, PCI-E 1MHz, HD3300 GPU 500MHz – 1000MHz (1MHz)
    HT Link: 8/16 bit, 200 - 2600MHz (200MHz) SP freq: 200,400, 600,800,1000MHz
    Memory: 200,266,333,400,533*Mhz Frequency (*Phenom Only), All Mem Timings.
    Volts: CPU 0.6–1.6125 (.0125), DRAM 1.80–2.66 (0.08) mGPU 1.10-1.45 (0.05), SP (Low,Norm,High)

    The Test Configuration
    The System used for testing is as below;
    • SuperFlower SF-500T14 500W PSU ($59 @ MSY)*
    • Asrock A790GXH/128mb Motherboard ($143 @ Megaware)
    • Sempron AM2 3200+ Tray ($17 @ Megaware)
    • Corsair TWIN2X4096-6400C5 4GB Dual Channel Kit ($69 @ ITestate)*
    • Seagate 80GB SATA Hard drive ($67 @ Adelong)*
    • Sony NEC Optiarc SATA DVDRW ($28 @ MSY)
    • Gigabyte Neon 8 Blue Heat Sink Fan Cooler ($14 @ ITSKY)
    • = Pre Bought (Not bought for this system)
    And all tests are run on a preconfigured clean install of Windows XP Professional, which has minor nlite strip down to get rid of unneeded items, however the tests are done with most services running. No post install tweaking was done to the system.
    However a Basic System configuration can be purchased for as little as $310
    Case+PSU ($49) + CPU+MB+HSF ($165) +80GB SATA HDD+DVD +1GB RAM ($100)


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    Overclocking:
    For CPU overclocking, we will divide it into 2 sections, Stock Voltage and High Voltage.

    For the Stock Voltage, overclocking was done without raising the voltage and a final HTT result of 290mhz was reached for a core speed of 2609mhz. Reducing the Multiplier and attempting to increase the HTT did not allow further overclocking. From this, the testing therefore will use a HTT of 289MHz for all testing and simplicity since it gives a 2600MHz core speed. Testing was also performed at 1.6Volts however no further increases where achieved.


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    Undervolting
    For Undervolting, we will see how low we can go, voltage-wise, using the stock settings of 9 x 200HTT. The result was achieved at a voltage of 0.9250V, however to ensure that stable operation day to day the undervolting will be taken @ 0.9500V.

    Graphics Optimisation
    To determine what setting the HD3300 Graphics subsystem should run in, tests where run with UMA set to 512mb and turned off in 3dmark 01 and 06 and the results compared.
    OFF: 5881, 701 ON 512mb: 9131, 1276
    The results are in favour of using UMA as well as the side port, however the amount of benefit depends on how much texture detail there needs to be.

    Graphics Overclocking:
    We increased the speed of the GPU from 700mhz to 1000mhz and ran 3dmark 06 and 01 and as a result we saw improvement very minor improvement in speed however, I believe with higher bios settings for the gpu core speed it will be able to clock much higher.

    TESTING RESULTS
    (PLEASE NOTE: A SINGLE CORE PROCESSOR IS BEING USED FOR TESTING, THIS SHOULD BE IN ONES MIND WHEN LOOKING AT THE RESULTS OF THIS REVIEW)

    • Storage Subsystems:
    Storage is an important part of a system and testing it will ensure that it works properly by comparing to it in another system. The Storage subsystem I tested was that of the SATA2 and the USB ports and compared them to an Intel ICH7 storage system on a laptop.
    USB: The results of the test on the board showed an average transfer rate of 26.8MB/sec, where as the same drive on the Intel ICH7 was 29.0MB/s
    SATA: The SB750 SATA controller on the board displays regular performance using both drives showing very similar performance to an ICH10 Controller.

    • Integrated Graphics:
    The AMD 790GX Chipset includes the HD3300 integrated graphics processor with an onboard DDR3 memory chip, which ensures the graphics processor doesn’t steal memory from the main computer memory as well being faster to use. The HD3300 processor is not aimed at hard core gamers but the occasional budget gamer who plays older games that they purchase when the price gets cut and as a result it is not sufficient to run any of the recent releases that have came out.

    First test that was performed was the HD Video Test using a WMV HD 1080p video “The Discoverers”, during playback at no time did the CPU reach above 65% as well as it being very smooth. No sound jittering also occurred.

    Game testing was a different story, however as there was no easily accessible bench testing real games at my reach and limited funds, no real game time demo/play test was attempted however a set of 3dmark, Pcmark as well as Aquamark was run to give an indication of performance. These results are summarised in the graphics below which compares STOCK performance to the Overclocked Performance of the CPU and Graphics card combined. The CPU was set to run at 2600MHz and the GPU to 1000MHz and the table below also shows the percentage performance difference.


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    From the above we see the average performance increase was a significant 34.55%

    • Overall Performance
    The overall performance of the system was tested with PCMark, as well as cpu bench, wprime and SuperPiMod and the results and differences in performance was tabulated.


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    From the above we see the average performance increase was a significant 36.48%

    Conclusion:
    A great board with huge potential for overclocking and tweaking as well as being able to unlock AM3 CPU (asrock officially has stated its motherboard can unlock cpus). It retails from $143 (megaware) and well as a platform offers great IGP performance for a media centre pc.


    Pros: Chipsets being SB750 and 790GX
    Great overall layout
    Overclockabilitiy
    Budget Price
    Ability to take all CPU from Sempron to AM3 Quads

    Cons: More SATA ports would be nice
    Weird GPU artifacting occurs if not set correctly
    SCORE: 85 / 100​
     
  2. mAJORD

    mAJORD Member

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    great review naphs. Seems like a great entry to DDR3

    Would be great to see the HTT limitation with Phenom II CPU's.. if you get hold of one at some stage pls update :cool: :thumbup:
     
  3. OP
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    n2p4u

    n2p4u Member

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    Its DDR2 and well im waiting for price to come down, there was an amd price cut over the weekend we have to wait and see if they cut prices here!!

    and if anyone can let me borrow their PII720 for some unlocking oclocking action please feel free to contact me... location ;-) sydney
     
  4. Mau1wurf1977

    Mau1wurf1977 (Banned or Deleted)

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    Awesome to see an Asrock review!

    I love asrock boards, have had so many over the years.


    Current one is a basic uATX board with 780G chipset.
     
  5. Polski Radon

    Polski Radon Member

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    I've got the A790GMH and am also satisfied with it, but to add to your list I think that the Northbridge heatsink gets too hot to touch and needs active cooling.

    The biggest positive? Easily unlocks 4'th core with an x3 720 CPU. :)
     
  6. loophole

    loophole Member

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    That was a good review. Thanks naphez!

    One thing I haven't been able to find out but have been curious about is how fast the 128MB of sideport memory runs on this board. I recall the AOD790GX used 128MB of Elixir DDR2-800 that could be overclocked to 1066. Does the A790GXH also use DDR2 800 (I assume so because the manual says the possible options for "SidePort Clock Speed" top out at 1066)?
     
  7. OP
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    n2p4u

    n2p4u Member

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    top out at 1066mhz, not sure about original... most likely DDR2
     
  8. loophole

    loophole Member

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    Okay, so it's probably the same DDR2 800 (not that it looks like it makes much of a difference from the benchmarks - more just a curiosity thing :) ) .

    Thanks naphez!
     
  9. o0pz

    o0pz Member

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    Been looking at this board since it was recommended in another thread. Was tossing up between this and a few others, but think you've got my sold.

    Cheers dude for the review.
     

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