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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

ASUS M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3 Conclusion

Although we strive to be as objective as possible, any review will reflect to some extent the perceptions and biases of the reviewer. Also, keep in mind that the computer market is very volatile, and that today's killer super product can easily become yesterday's also-ran as the market competition changes. Don't base a purchase decision solely on this review, but use it as part of your research.

The performance of the ASUS M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3 motherboard was excellent, with its easy access to overclocking, and a willing Northbridge leading the way. The true 8+2 power supply works well here, even if it doesn't have the bragging rights of the 12+2 and 16+2 systems available on Intel-based boards. Once the next generation of SSDs gets designed and built, the SATA 6Gb/s capability will allow even higher performance. The USB 3.0 performance is wonderful, right now, and I'm loving it. The Turbo Unlocker and Core Unlocker make a substantial impact to performance, especially if you have a CPU that cooperates. Even without that lucky chip, Turbo Unlocker can give you an extra boost to any Black Edition CPU clock, exactly when you need it. Memory performance on the AMD side is not as good as the Intel P55 series chipsets and a Core i5 processor, but it's unlikely to hold you back in most applications.

The appearance of this motherboard is very nice, and I especially like the anodizing treatment on the heatsinks. I don't understand why they used the Blue-Grey-White color scheme for this series of motherboards, though. Red anodizing, anybody...? Not only is it hard to tell products from the top two motherboard competitors apart from across the room, you can't tell if they are based on Intel or AMD platforms. The heat sinks for the Northbridge and PWM MOSFETS are works of art, in addition to being functional. It's too bad that they are mostly obscured, by the graphics card in the top PCI Express x16 slot and the CPU cooler. There are a number of status LEDs that provide a light show during system startup, and they are helpful in troubleshooting a balky system that can't get through POST.

ASUS_M4A88TD-V_EVO_USB3_Motherboard_Box_Board_Montage_01.jpg

Construction quality was excellent, especially considering the low cost. It's interesting to note that the assembly and soldering was better than I've seen lately on several video cards. I guess motherboard buyers have a longer history of being ultra picky about manufacturing quality. ASUS knows this and has done what it takes to get the top tier and stay there. My only complaint on the component layout is the vertical SATA and IDE ports; at least they were located where they wouldn't interfere. With one double width video card installed, there is still access to one PCI Express x1 slot (for small cards only) and an x4 slot for full length PCI Express expansion cards.

Functionally, the M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3 has everything a budget enthusiast might want, with one exception. Although the box proudly claims "CrossFireX support", the second PCI Express x16 slot is only capable of supporting an x4 connection, period. Forget about dropping a pair of HD5770 cards in there. I know single graphics cards often offer comparable value, but budget consumers have to ration their spending sometimes, which means buying one video card now and another one, six to nine months down the road. This is a limitation of the 880G Northbridge and a holdover from the 785G which it is derived from; the 890GX is required if you need a pair of x8 interfaces. Everything else is well supported, including SATA 6Gb/s and USB 3.0. The Core Unlocker function is a welcome touch, as is the Turbo Unlocker, which automatically boosts the CPU clock by up to 500MHz, under load. This feature is included in only the very latest CPUs from AMD; now with these ASUS boards, every Black Edition processor can be enhanced this way. One cautionary note: If you plan on running RAID 5 from the on-board controller, better buy one of these boards now, before they get replaced by models sporting an SB810 Southbridge.

The ASUS M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3 sits near the top of the stack when it comes to pricing for 880G/SB850-based motherboards. There are only a few boards with this chipset that are full size ATX models, and future models may well feature the SB810 Southbridge. Compared to the mainstream Intel H55 motherboards, this board is priced slightly lower at $107.99 from NewEgg. While the integrated graphics processor is far below the performance available from discrete graphics, it still beats the Intel IGP products. By integrating SATA 6Gb/s into the motherboard chipset, AMD has created a real challenger to the Intel-based boards, especially at the sharp end of the market.

Pros:goldentachaward.png

+ Six SATA 6Gb/s ports, two USB 3.0 ports
+ 6Gb/s on eSATA port
+ Turbo Unlocker gives dynamic clock boost technology to all AMD BE CPUs
+ Core Unlocker tests your luck on getting extra CPU cores for free
+ Excellent build quality
+ Plenty of PCI slots for older peripherals
+ IGP is perfect for mainstream 2d usage (not CADD)
+ More overclocking features than you will ever use
+ Power supply is very stable and efficient

Cons:

- CrossFireX capability limited by PCI Express x4 connection on 2nd slot
- No real progress in IGP performance
- Blue anodizing does not equal AMD (Red's the same price, you know...)
- DIMM sockets too close to the CPU socket, need low-profile RAM

Ratings:

  • Performance: 9.25
  • Appearance: 8.25
  • Construction: 9.00
  • Functionality: 9.50
  • Value: 9.25

Final Score: 9.05 out of 10.

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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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