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Written by Bruce Normann   
Thursday, 15 July 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
ASUS M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3 Motherboard
AMD 880G Chipset Overview
ASUS AMD-880G Series Features
ASUS M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3 Specifications
Closer Look: M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3
ASUS M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3 Details
ASUS BIOS and Overclocking
Motherboard Testing Methodology
EVEREST Benchmark Results
PCMark Vantage Test Results
CINEBENCH 11.5 Benchmark
Passmark Performance Test Benchmark
Crysis Test Results
Aliens vs. Predator Test Results
Motherboard Final Thoughts
ASUS M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3 Conclusion

AMD 880G Chipset Overview

The ASUS M4A88TD series of motherboards are designed with the AMD 880G Northbridge and the AMD SB850 Southbridge. Of the two, the Southbridge is the newer chip, so let's start with that first. Foremost among the features contained in the humblest member of the chipset, is native support for six SATA 6Gb/s ports. No extra controller chips required, no need to split of PCI Express lanes to a bridge chip - just SATA 6, plain and simple. In order to handle the increased data rates, the data link to the Northbridge has been doubled up; by upgrading the four PCI Express 1.0 lanes to the latest 2.0 specification; it's good for 2GB/s now. Fourteen USB 2.0 connections are now available, up from 12 with the SB750. New, are also two PCI Express 2.0 connections, available for interfacing with additional support chips or just feeding PCI Express 2.0 x1 expansion slots; this board has one x1 slot. Beyond that, the full range of Southbridge functions are provided: PATA, Gigabit Ethernet, PCI, and HD Audio.

There is another member of the 800-series chipset that is not yet released, and that is the SB810 Southbridge. Honestly, the SB810 is going to be the most popular choice for pairing with the 880G Northbridge, but it isn't released yet; all the new boards are getting designed and built with the SB850. It's pretty certain that the SB810 will drop RAID 5 operation, but the other limitations are not public knowledge yet.

890GX_Diagram

AMD 880G Northbridge Features

The AMD 880G Northbridge looks a lot like the 890GX, which was released a month earlier. I don't have an architecture diagram for the 880G, but the one above, for the 890GX is pretty close, and I'll discuss the differences throughout the article. The main difference is in the PCI Express 2.0 interface, intended for use with graphics cards. The capabilities and relative positioning of the various models hasn't really changed from the market model for the 700 series chipset. The 880G is essentially limited to supporting a single video card, just like the 785G Northbridge that it replaces. This is not necessarily a bad thing, because many people eschew CrossFireX and/or SLI due to the complexity, stability, compatibility, and performance issues that can surface with multi-GPU setups. Things are MUCH better today, but problems do crop up occasionally, and honestly, only a small percentage of users go down the CrossFireX path.

Let's look at a comparison of the four Northbridge chips that make up AMD's 800 series:

Feature

870

880G

890GX

890FX

PCI Express 2.0

1x16

1x16

and 1x4

1x16

or 2x8

2x16

or 4x8

ATI CrossFireX Technology

Yes

Yes

Microsoft DirectX 10.1

Yes

Yes

Unified Video Decoder 2

Yes

Yes

ATI Stream

Yes

Yes

ATI Powerplay

Yes

Yes

Gigabit Ethernet

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Here's a brief explanation of the features mentioned in the comparison above:

Feature

Function

Benefit

Microsoft DirectX 10.1

Hardware support for the latest 3D graphics features such as Shader Model 4.1.

Enjoy awesome gaming performance, stunning 3D visual effects, and dynamic interactivity.

Unified Video Decoder (UVD) 2

Dedicated hardware that decodes and plays back Blu-ray and other HD content with support for MPEG2, VC-1, and H.264 formats. 1,2

Supports latest HD features, helps improves image quality and frees up your CPU for other tasks for a seamless and visually stunning HD experience. 1,2

Hardware Picture-in-Picture

Support for dual-stream PiP (Picture in Picture), supported on Blu-rayTM 1.1 playback. 1,2

Enjoy the latest Blu-ray 1.1 titles with support for special "Bonus" features like Director's commentary presented in PiP format. 1,2

High Quality Video Scaling

Uses post processing algorithms to enhance standard and low resolution videos and movies on your HD display. 1

Watch standard DVD movies in near high-definition quality. 1

Dynamic Contrast

Automatically adjusts the contrast and brightness during video scenes.

Delivers a consistently crisp and vibrant picture

ATI Stream Technology

A set of advanced hardware and software technologies that enable AMD graphics processors (GPU), working in concert with the system's central processor (CPU), to accelerate many applications beyond just graphics. 3, 4

Enables better balanced platforms capable of running demanding computing tasks faster than ever. 3, 4

Accelerated Transcoding

Accelerates the conversion of standard and HD video into multiple formats for use on differing consumer electronics devices.

Offers incredible transcoding speed superior to the CPU alone.

ATI PowerPlay

AMD graphics power management technology enables the graphics processor to respond to demand and power down when not needed. 4

Reduces system power draw, enabling a more energy efficient PC. 4

HDMI 1.3

A combined audio/video interface, HDMI 1.3 enables improvements in both audio and video capability. 3, 4

Connect to your HDTV and watch TV, Blu-ray and other HD video, with surround sound

DisplayPort

A digital display interface that supports the latest graphics and LCD technologies. 1, 4

Connect to ultra-high resolution monitors or full 1080p HDTV to enjoy premium video content. 1, 4

HyperTransport 3.0 Technology

HyperTransport 3.0 technology spec supports transfer rates of up to 20.6GB/s for high-performance I/O bandwidth.

Huge bandwidth can translate into fewer bottlenecks and higher performance

PCI Express Generation 2.0

Double the bandwidth over earlier PCI Express for improved performance.

Massive I/O bandwidth for fast graphics performance

GPU-Plex Technology

Scalable twin-engine technology, all on a single chip, enables flexible configurations for multiple graphics cards on a single x16 link.

Designed to make ATI CrossFireX technology run smooth for an amazing graphics experience

ATI CrossFireX Technology

The ultimate in scalable graphics performance with a widely certified infrastructure and dedicated memories with improved memory performance.

Ultimate multi-GPU performance for game-dominating power

SATA 6Gb/s

Support for next generation Hard Drives and SSDs supporting new SATA 6Gb/s technologies

Fast file transfer and application performance

Gigabit Ethernet

High-speed network performance

Download and connect fast

AMD RAIDXpert

RAID setup utility usable from remote locations

Customize for extra performance or enhanced reliability.

The published benefits of the 880G are long on praise the for the HD4250 IGP, and also takes some of the credit for the capabilities in the SB850 Southbridge:

  • Versatility
    • Redefine the Way You Play
      Enjoy awesome gaming performance for the mainstream PC with stunning visual effects and dynamic interactivity with Microsoft DirectX 10.1 and support for high-end discrete ATI Radeon HD graphics
    • Accelerate Your Digital Life
      ATI Stream technology enables AMD graphics processors, working in concert with AMD Processors, to accelerate many applications beyond just graphics. This enables superior balanced platforms capable of running demanding computing tasks fast.
    • Designed for Microsoft Windows 7
      Get a smooth and amazingly visual PC experience for Microsoft Windows 7, with support for features such as "Aero Shake", "Aero Glass", "Transparent Windows" and more!5
  • Visual Experience
    • Get the Ultimate HD Experience1
      Let your desktop PC be the center of your entertainment lifestyle with full 1080p HD playback. Get dual-stream PiP (Picture in Picture) on Blu-ray 1.1 playback with multi-monitor capability and support for DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort outputs.1, 2, 3, 4
    • Enhanced DVD Upscaling
      Watch standard DVD movies in near high-definition quality with DVD upscaling. The GPU uses post processing algorithms to enhance standard and low resolution videos and movies on your HD display.1
    • HDMI
      Enjoy the latest audio technologies using HDMI v1.3 which includes xvYCC support to enable a wider range of color when connected to a capable HDTV.4
  • Connectivity
    • Connect and Transfer
      Take advantage of advanced technology to accelerate your connectivity with SATA 6Gb/s, Gigabit Ethernet, HyperTransport 3.0 technology, and PCI Express Generation 2.0.

1. HD capable monitor required.
2. Blu-rayTMdrive required for Blu-ray playback.
3. Additional hardware or software may be required.
4. Not all features will be supported on all machines. Check with your PC manufacturer for specific model capabilities and supported technologies.
5. Windows 7-capable system required.

Finally, let's take a close look at the Integrated Graphics Processor in last year's 785G, its replacement the 880G, and the next step up the current chipset foodchain, the 890GX.

NB

785G

880G

890GX

Transistor Count

~205million

~205million

~205million

GPU

Radeon HD 4200

Radeon HD 4250

Radeon HD 4290

Process

55nm

55nm

55nm

Shaders

40

40

40

DirectX

DirectX 10.1

DirectX 10.1

DirectX 10.1

Shader

SM 4.1

SM 4.1

SM 4.1

Core

500MHz

560MHz

700MHz

Memory

UMA/UMA+SidePort

UMA/UMA+SidePort

UMA/UMA+SidePort

Sideport Memory

GDDR2/GDDR3

GDDR2/GDDR3

GDDR3

Memory Bus

16bit

16bit

16bit

You can see why there's not a whole lot of excitement being generated over the Radeon HD 4250 IGP. It's essentially the same as the HD 4200 from last year. Well, enough about the specifics of the chipset. Let's see what ASUS has made out of it, and take a closer look at the M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3 motherboard itself.



 

Comments 

 
# Good review, dubious comparisonsBernardP 2010-07-21 07:22
A well-written, detailed review, with good explanations of the features of this particular motherboard. However, knowing that the i5-750 eats Phenoms quad-cores for breakfast, showing comparative benchmarks of the i5-750 with X2 and X3 Phenoms is not representative.

I would have liked to see comparative benchmarks involving a Phenom II X4 945, which has the same 95W TDP as the 15-750.

Also, there are no comments about the Core Unlocking and Turbo Core performance.
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# AgreedBruce Normann 2010-07-21 08:18
I would have prefered to compare apples-to-apples on the CPU, but I used what I had available. For this board, I actually would have liked to compare one of the new Clarksdale CPUs from Intel either the Pentium G6950 Clarkdale 2.8GHz or the Core i3-530 Clarkdale 2.93GHz. They're on either side of the price for the X2 555BE I tested with. I had a Core2Duo Wolfdale in house, but that's not really comparable.

My X2 chip wouldn't unlock unfortunately, so I can't offer performance comparisons for the Core Unlocker. The Turbo Unlocker is tough to measure accurately, as it is dynamic and doesn't always respond the same way every time. I will try and do some more testing and will update the review if I can get reliable results.

Thanks for the feedback.
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# RE: AgreedBernardP 2010-07-21 10:30
Thanks for you reply and explanations. Interesting to know your Phenom X2 sample wouldn't unlock. Many people seem to think that X2 and X3 processors *have* to unlock and feel cheated when they don't.
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# AMD GamerPhil Holmes 2011-04-07 18:24
##facebook.com/DJ.Decibels.4DFx#!/photo.php?fbid=10150548993280384&set=a.10150548993275384.648430.543020383&theater

Benchmark ASUS M4A88TD-V EVO with 4GB DDR3 1333MHz / AMD PhenomII x4 965 Black Edition 124w
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