|ASRock AOD790GX/128M AM2+ Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by Bruce Normann - Edited by Olin Coles|
|Wednesday, 11 March 2009|
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The external packaging of the ASRock AOD790GX/128M is a quarter-notch below some of the major players in the universe of motherboards. It's not as bright and catchy, or smothered in diagrams and text describing its outstanding features. It's more subtle, and doesn't try to overwhelm you with twenty reasons why it's better than every other motherboard. I actually appreciate the "honesty sells" approach to marketing. All the features and benefits are shown, but the presentation doesn't scream at you, like a nine year old with ALL CAPS on.
Once the retail package is opened, there are the normal, neatly packaged accessories. They are individually packed; four SATA cables, a color coded I/O panel, a MOLEX to SATA Power adapter cable, a DVI to HDMI adapter, IDE and Floppy ribbon cables, two driver CDs and an eight language manual (36 pages in English). Underneath the divider board, the motherboard quietly awaits its mission; confident, but not cocky, capable, but not flashy. It reminds me of the Pontiac with the Corvette engine...ready to run when you drop the hammer, but without any need to brag about it. ASRock is not asking a premium price for the AOD790GX/128M, consistent with the majority of their product line, which relieves them of the need to convince you that the extra money is worth it.
The AOD790GX/128M is based on the very latest chipset from AMD, which nets you an IGP you're never going to use if you're at all interested in gaming. Furthermore, the 790GX Northbridge only accommodates one full 16-lane PCI Express 2.0 graphics port; once you go to CrossFireX it reduces the bandwidth down to 8x for each card. The trouble with worrying about this is that if you're building to a price point, and who isn't these days, you are really much better off with this very capable, yet inexpensive motherboard and an extra 50 to 75 dollars going into the GPU fund.
Long gone are the days of high-end motherboards costing less than $100, but the good news is that we have some excellent mid-range boards in that same price range. As of early March 2009, NewEgg lists the AOD790GX/128M motherboard for $104.99. If the AOD790G/128M isn't available at NewEgg, use our price comparison tool to shop against other merchants. This is a bargain price for a high level of performance, carrying on the ASRock reputation for quality and value.
Flexibility is another strong suit of this motherboard, as I can see using it for a number of applications:
Perhaps the only thing that might hold people back from this motherboard is the lack of DDR3 support. Clearly, DDR3 is the memory architecture of the future, but as the old saying goes, "The future is now!" In Benchmark Reviews' analysis of the ASUS P5Q3 LGA775 Intel P45 ATX Motherboard, we saw a slim lead for DDR3 v. DDR2 in the P45 environment. The AMD platform doesn't really reward higher memory speeds the same way that the Intel platform does. Anything over DDR2 800 only gives you some headroom for raising the reference clock on an AMD motherboard.
So, for a brief moment in history, we have a Perfect Storm here. The economy is at the BOTTOM of the tank, prices are still rising on consumer goods, people still need the essentials (try telling anyone these days that their computer is not an essential part of their life...), and voila, like the mythical Genie, up pop two old favorites: AMD with a brand new set of CPUs that renews their dominance in the value market, and ASRock with the high quality, high performance, inexpensive, system platform they are well known for. In the middle of the raging storm, the AOD790GX/128M motherboard provides a steady platform to build on; offering old and new AMD fans alike the opportunity to create a new PC that is loaded with value instead of dollars.
+ Excellent value for the features and capability
- Hybrid CrossfireX is a paper tiger (Radeon 34xx + Vista??)
Final Score: 8.95 out of 10.
Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award.
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