|ASRock AOD790GX/128M AM2+ Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by Bruce Normann - Edited by Olin Coles|
|Wednesday, 11 March 2009|
Page 15 of 16
AMD 790GX Final Thoughts
I've owned several Gigabyte and Asus motherboards recently. Before that, I used to favor Abit. I've always been leery of budget motherboards, as I had my share of heartaches with them in the olden days; hint, the first computer I built was a 80286. Back then, everything that didn't come from Big Blue was a high risk proposition. I feel better now, knowing that there are some mid-tier suppliers that are putting out a quality product. One good thing about our connected world of today; if you do good things, people will find out much quicker than they could 10-20 years ago.
Brand development mirrors personal development in one aspect, it tends to oscillate between two distinct phases: Enrichment and Enlargement. During the enrichment phase, you improve your performance, honing your current skills and learning new techniques that are more effective at solving your existing challenges. You may also make a lateral move and develop brand new skills. During the enlargement phase, you don't just tackle new problems; you add them to your existing stock of problems. Intel has publicly espoused their version of this strategy, naming it their Tick-Tock Model. Most companies have a similar strategy, but no one outside of the marketing department knows about it, at least explicitly.
In Benchmark Reviews' test of the AMD Phenom II 720BE chip, Olin used the ASUS M3A78-T AM2+, with the same AMD 790GX Chipset, and all the CPU-specific tests I ran on the ASRock AOD790GX/128M confirmed those results. The system-level and GPU-bound tests can't be compared directly, because he used the new OCZ Apex SDD and a Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 Toxic Video Card, but there were no wide disparities. The system-level tests were slightly better with the Apex than with the OCZ Core V2 SSD. Most of the tests that purport to measure overall system performance are pretty sensitive to drive performance. That's not a bad thing, it's actually a reflection of reality; replace your 7200 RPM HDD with a 10,000 RPM 2.5" unit or a RAID setup and you can feel the difference. Put a modern SSD in there, or even "last year's" SSD, and you can REALLY feel the difference.
If I had $105 burning a hole in my pocket, would I buy the ASRock AOD790GX/128M? That depends. If I had also just bought a brand new Phenom II and my old motherboard didn't support crossfire, or Advanced Clock Calibration, or eSATA, or RAID 5, or if I needed an IGP, I'd snap it up in a heartbeat. If I could live without those things, and my old motherboard was running fine, I'd probably take advantage of the backward compatibility built into the AMD AM2 platform and just drop the new Phenom II into my old mobo. I don't think the target audience for this product is the person doing an incremental upgrade. For a major system upgrade, it makes perfect sense, for a new system, likewise.
With the new Phenom II chips, you need a more sophisticated approach to overclocking, which is nothing new for AMD. Even with the Black Edition processors and their unlocked CPU clock multipliers, there are potential performance gains to be had by adjusting other clocks in tandem. The ASRock AOD790GX/128M allows this and more. The compatibility with AMDs Advanced Clock Calibration brings additional benefits, both with Phenom and Phenom II CPUs.
Those who enjoy system tweaking will reap the overclocking potential of this motherboard, especially with all the timing options available in the BIOS. This motherboard offers a lot of performance for a little bit of cash. That makes it an attractive option for those who are looking at the AMD platform anew.