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Written by Bruce Normann - Edited by Olin Coles   
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
Table of Contents: Page Index
ASRock AOD790GX/128M AM2+ Motherboard
ASRock AMD 790 Features
AOD790GX/128M Specifications
Closer Look: AOD790GX/128M
AMD 790GX Detailed Features
AOD790GX/128M Component Layout
AOD790GX/128M BIOS
Motherboard Testing Methodology
3DMark06 Benchmarks
PCMark05 Benchmarks
CINEBENCH Release 10 Tests
Crysis Benchmark Results
EVEREST Benchmark Results
AOD790GX/128M Power Consumption
ASRock Final Thoughts
ASRock AOD790GX/128M Conclusion

AOD790GX Component Layout

The first thing I look for on any new MB is the spacing between the CPU socket and the memory slots. I'm strictly an air-cooled guy (yeah, Porsche 911 FTW...!!), so I want to make sure the CPU cooler doesn't interfere with the DIMM sockets. For this build, since I knew I wanted to explore the overclocking boundaries of the new Phenom II CPU, I chose a fairly heavy duty CPU cooler, the Cooler Master Hyper Z600. It's actually marketed as a passive cooler, but it has fan mounting points and we've had good results with it on the Core 2 Duo CPU family here at Benchmark Reviews. But.... did I mention that it's HUGE?

AOD790GXFRHSF.jpg

In this image you can see that it hangs over the first two DIMM sockets, and even though the fins have been cut away in this area, it still a struggle to fit a Corsair DHX-style memory module in there. The OCZ Reapers don't fit in the first two slots at all. For the duration of the testing, I used 2 DIMMs in slots 3 & 4, which is the location recommended in the manual, if only using two slots. There was no way the fan would fit on this side of the Z600; one down, three to go.

AOD790GXMemCLR.jpg

If using a more traditional CPU cooler, you will likely have more flexibility in fan placement. The Hyper Z600 is 127mm x 127mm x 160mm tall. The Cooler Master Hyper 212 CPU cooler I've used in the past is fairly wide, at 73mm; and the Xigmatek HDT-S1283 is only 50mm wide; a MUCH smaller footprint. These products, and many other detailed in the Best CPU Cooler Performance articles here on Benchmark Reviews, will give excellent performance. So don't worry that you have to give up good cooling just for the sake of compatibility. Just because I built it with a monster-sized CPU cooler doesn't mean you have to.

The second thing I look for is the cooling solution for the Northbridge. Most overclocking involves increasing the FSB clock, and upping the voltage in some cases. You want to make sure the NB stays cool, but again, you have to watch out for interference with the CPU cooler. On the AOD790GX/128M, there was plenty clearance between the NB and the CPU heatsinks; good enough that I was able to mount the 120mm fan on this side of the Hyper Z600. With two adjacent sides of the Hyper Z600 unavailable for fan mounting, due to clearance issues, a push-pull fan setup was not in the cards. Fortunately, it wasn't needed, as we'll see later in the results section.

AOD790GXNBHSF.jpg

The location of the two full length 8X/16X PCI-E slots is straightforward; they're right next to one another, just below the Northbridge. The green colored 16X slot is closest to the NB and the 8X slot is two doors down. They are double-spaced, so no trouble fitting the majority of cards in there. The space between has an unusual looking connector and card located there, looking like a mutant SO-DIMM memory slot. This is actually a switch connection, used to configure the PCI-E data lanes as either 1 - 16X or 2 - 8X. I'm sure there are easier ways of making this configuration change, but this might be the simplest, cheapest and more robust solution. I left it in the default setting, 1 - 16X connection, since I was only using a single video card.

AOD790GX16XSwitch.jpg

There is only one dedicated PCI-E 1X slot, and it's in line with the NB. If the blue slot is not set up as 8X, it does alternate duty as another 1X slot. The Southbridge heatsink is a very low profile unit that is unlikely to interfere with anything. It seems adequate for the task, as it never got past warm during the tests. One aspect of component layout that seems to trip some manufacturers up is the placement of the SATA connectors. I'm happy to say that the AOD790GX/128M avoids this trouble by locating them at the bottom edge of the board. The only thing that could possibly interfere with them is a monster, full length PCI card in the last PCI slot. This is an unlikely situation, given that there are three PCI slots to choose from and the top two are not obstructed by anything else on the MB.

AOD790GXSATA01.jpg

In the next section, Benchmark Reviews takes a look at the BIOS included with the ASRock AOD790GX/128M, and we see how overclocking friendly it is.



 

Comments 

 
# 790 GX chipset MBpawan 2010-08-08 10:09
790 GX chipset with ATI radeon HD 3300 IGP is even today a very good.
Unlike the reports in this review, this mobo can handle most of the current games at decent playable frame rates with great ease. Any one has clarifications can approach me to clear his/her doubts.
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# Wrong.Olin Coles 2010-08-08 13:46
You are absolutely wrong, pawan. The ATI Radeon HD 3300 IGP will not play "most" current games "at decent playable frame rates with great ease". This mobile graphics chip is not capable of any DirectX-11 games, which is what qualifies as current these days, and it struggles with DX10 extensions. Even on the games it will play, you must turn the settings all the way down and play at reduced resolutions.

The ATI radeon HD 3300 IGP is not intended for modern 3D games, and it's best used for low-impact 3D applications.
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# Examples, PleaseBruceBruce 2010-08-08 10:34
Can you provide some benchmarks with the HD 3300 IGP and the current games you mention?
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