Battling for the AM3 Crown - AMD 790FX Motherboard Shootout

The ASUS M4A79T Deluxe

Features and Layout - ASUS

To start us off, we have a 790FX motherboard from ASUS, the M4A79T Deluxe, clad in the company's familiar board color scheme. As expected from one of the top motherboard manufacturers around, ASUS hardly gets anything wrong with the layout. The onboard connectors and ports are pushed to the edges of the board to maximize the PCB space.

It's the usual ASUS motherboard color scheme on the M4A79T Deluxe, while the motherboard passive heatsinks appears to be modest in number.

However, there were a few niggling details that were less than ideal, especially coming from ASUS. For one, of the five onboard SATA ports (the remaining SATA was the eSATA at the rear I/O), three are oriented facing upwards. This arrangement means that it is possible that a longer graphics card may interfere with these SATA ports.

ASUS only had the standard 6 SATA (1 of which is eSATA on the ASUS) ports available from the AMD Southbridge 750 chipset. No additional ports were found from third-party controller chips.

Another thing that we noted is the fact that the ASUS M4A79T Deluxe seems to fall slightly short when it comes to sheer quantity of features. It's not that this board missed any of the important ones. After all, there are up to 12 USB 2.0 ports, six SATA/eSATA ports, two FireWire ports, optical and coaxial S/PDIF outputs for its Realtek-based HD audio CODEC and support for 16GB of DDR3 memory in a four DIMM slots configuration. Quad CrossFireX is present, though the proximity of the two slots closest to the board's edge, four dual-slot GPUs would be impossible.

Rather it is the number of SATA ports for instance, or the one less expansion slots available. Or that its two rivals here from Gigabyte and MSI have two Gigabit LAN instead of one. Of course, one could argue that one doesn't have to compete on numbers but on quality. In which case, the ASUS M4A79T Deluxe could well be a lean, optimized board in the eyes of these users.

Variety rather than quantity was the approach here as this motherboard had a bit of everything for its inputs/outputs and it was more than adequate for most users.

In terms of expansion slots, ASUS also had one fewer than the two other boards compared but then it was still capable of quad CrossFireX (in a x8 configuration each for four PCIe 2.0 x16 graphics cards). This means that there is no PCIe x1 slot on this board.

Other typical ASUS features like its Linux based Express Gate operating system, cool and quiet solutions like its Stack Cool 2 and heat-pipe assisted chipset heatsinks and its phased power design are present on this board, so it's not like you'll be missing the ASUS 'experience' here. Of course, unlike the Rampage series, you won't find any of those extreme overclocking features here. Even the Clear CMOS switch was done through the old-fashioned jumper switch and not with a button at the rear I/O panel or an onboard button.

The heatsink design is typical of ASUS and you can expect all-solid capacitors from such a premium brand.

We only found power and reset buttons onboard; the clear CMOS option was surprisingly through the traditional jumper.

Finally, we encountered a slight issue when trying to remove our ZEROtherm CPU heatsink after testing. It seems that for our heatsink, the CPU socket was a tad too close to the chipset heatsink. Together with the elevated passive heatsink on the motherboard, the ZEROtherm CPU heatsink may have limited space to maneuver when uninstalling, which meant that we spent slightly more time on it.

The heatsink here is just a fraction too close to the CPU socket mount. Or rather the combination of its height and the distance meant that we had some trouble uninstalling our ZEROtherm CPU fansink.