The 890GX chipset has arrived as the base for the next round of motherboards for AMD processors, and managed to do a darned good job while we put it through its paces. The Gigabyte GA-890GPA-UD3H natively supports SATA 6Gbps (SATA 3.0) and six-core AMD processors.

Yet the Gigabyte GA-890GPA-UD3H is not priced badly, and chances are that it will get more affordable in a couple of months to become a great choice for those looking to build an affordable desktop PC based on an AMD processor.

Since the Gigabyte GA-890GPA-UD3H motherboard is based on the AMD 890GX chipset, the onboard integrated graphics processor (or IGP) is the best seen on desktops so far. The IGP is a Radeon 4290, with 128MB of "SidePort" memory to call its own.

Video output options include VGA, DVI and HDMI. The board offers an AM3 socket and four dual-channel DDR3 RAM slots. The Gigabyte GA-890GPA-UD3H uses a northbridge and southbridge combo of 890GX and SB850 respectively. Testing carried out in the PCWorld.in labs.

It is the SB850 that offers six SATA ports for disk storage, all supporting SATA 6Gbps and RAID 0/1/5/10/JBOD modes. There are two PCI-Express slots for graphics, which support either one card in x16 mode, or two in CrossFireX mode at x8 each, and also support Hybrid CrossFire for using the onboard IGP in conjunction with discrete graphics cards. Support for superfast USB 3.0 devices is provided using an NEC controller, Gigabit Ethernet using a Realtek controller, and 7.1 HD-Audio using a Realtek ALC892 codec. For a full list of the specs, see the "Specifications" tab of this review, read on for design and performance details.

Gigabyte has given the "Ultra Durable 3" tag which tells you that it offers dual-BIOS, uses high-quality Japanese capacitors and that the motherboard's PCB is designed with two pounds worth of copper layers - the intended result is to make the product more reliable and prevent various issues that can affect any motherboard. Some more goodies thrown in by Gigabyte are the so-called Easy Energy Saver, EasyTune 6 tweaking utility, and "3x USB PowerBoost" to provide more power to USB devices that need it.

This full-ATX motherboard is colored blue with dashes of white for sockets and slots. For those with transparent cabinets to show-off internal components, we'd say it looks stylish yet sober. The heat-sink banks concentrated around the processor did not inhibit usage of an after-market CPU cooler with a slightly larger-than-usual footprint.

The right balance seems to have been struck between positioning of the two PCI-E slots for discrete graphics cards, and that of the SATA ports. You can install two high-end graphics cards that are long and dual-slot, yet not block access to SATA ports. Note that this design works well only with full-tower ATX cabinets, which is what you might be using already if you are a desktop PC enthusiast.

Those with mid-tower or smaller cabinets might not find the positioning of the SATA ports to be very accessible. Similarly, the two graphics card slots have enough space separating them, but if you use more than two PCI or PCE-E x1 expansion cards (for example, a TV tuner or sound card) you should avoid installing a second graphics card. There is no external SATA (e-SATA) support through ports at the back-panel or motherboard headers, but there are plenty of USB ports.

The IGP on AMD's 890GX (Radeon HD 4290) differs from that of the older 785G (Radeon HD 4200) in terms of clock-speed, but still supports only DirectX 10.1. As is to be expected, the motherboard box has logos that claim slightly inflated performance numbers. The contents of the Gigabyte 890GPA-UD3H box package were fairly standard - manual, driver CD, back-panel for the rear I/O ports, one PATA and two SATA cables. The BIOS offered all the features one would expect, including over-clocking. Gigabyte offers a three-year warranty on this motherboard.

NEXT: performance testing >>

Testing carried out in the PCWorld.in labs.


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