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.

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.

To prevent bottlenecks, we tested the performance of this motherboard using the following components - AMD Phenom II X4 965 Processor (3.4GHz), AMD Radeon 4870 graphics card, 4GB of Kingston 2000MHz DDR3 RAM, Intel X25-M 80GB SSD, Asus Blu-Ray drive, Tagan BZ-1300W PSU and Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit edition.

The first half of the tests consisted of real-world and subjective performance. As expected, the OS worked smoothly with everyday productivity applications and Internet browsing barely stressing any component. High-Definition and high-bitrate 1080p movie rips played just fine with no jerks or screen artefacts, which can be attributed to the raw speed of the Processor used. Blu-Ray discs played without a hitch, whether while using the processor alone, or while using the IGP acceleration to take load away from the processor.

Hard-disk speed was on par with the best motherboards we have tested (for example, 249 MB/s random read speed on the Intel SSD). So we infer that the storage controller on the chipset is good. Memory performance remained consistent in benchmarks that stress memory, while using discrete graphics as well as while using the IGP. We could overclock the processor from its default 3415 MHz to 3825 MHz (15x255) despite limitations of the HT bus, CPU cooler used and voltage of the RAM modules used. All of these are good signs.

The second half consisted of synthetic benchmarks. These are objective and give firm numbers that can be reproduced on demand and be used to compare performance. We take into account diverse tests, ranging from the simple (Windows Experience Index), to the standard system tests (World Bench 6, PC Mark) which carry out many tests including video encoding. Seeing as this motherboard includes an IGP, we included gaming as well (Crysis, Far Cry 2, Unreal Tournament 3).

For a longer list of benchmark results, see our "Performance" tab. For those eager to see the numbers rightaway, below are a few performance results, with two numbers for each benchmark. The first number was obtained using a Radeon 4870 discrete graphics card to test the motherboard, and the second number was obtained using the Radeon 4290 (onboard integrated graphics) to test the IGP. Except where noted, all the below tests were run at default settings.

  • Windows 7 Experience Index rating (graphics component alone, on a scale of 1 to 7.9): 6.9 , 4.3
  • Crysis (1024x768 0xAA Ultra High) frames/second: 47.58 , 4.18
  • CineBench R10 OpenGL: 7244 , 3598
  • PC Mark 05: 15032 , 10732
  • PC Mark Vantage: 9954 , 9388
  • 3D Mark 06: 18992 , 2125
  • 3D Mark Vantage: P14584 , P407

Testing carried out in the PCWorld.in labs.

Suffice to say that the performance seen with this IGP was better than any other IGP out there. The graphics integrated onto the Intel Core i5-661 did do slightly better in a few tests, but the 890GX still beats it on the whole. A plus point in the favour of AMD is that the platform (Motherboard + Processor) can be purchased at a lower price than a similar combination from the Intel camp.

The only note of disappointment was that we wished that the 890GX would bring an integrated DirectX 11 IGP. Oh well, even with DX11 the performance would not have been enough to play the latest games with eye-candy turned on anyway. In terms of the broad outlines and performance, we did not see huge changes between the preceding 790GX generation of motherboards, and the current 890GX board. Perhaps the other upcoming 800-series chipsets might differ - 890FX at the high-end may offer more goodies and 880G for budget consumers might sell at a lower price, but we do not know details of those just yet.

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

Gigabyte GA-890GPA-UD3H: Specs

  • CPU: AMD Phenom II/Athlon II/Sempron 100 Series Processors (Socket AM3)
  • Chipset: AMD 890GX/SB850
  • System Bus: Up to 5200 MT/s HyperTransport 3.0
  • Memory: 4x DDR3 DIMM 1866(OC)/1333/1066 MHz (Max. 16GB)/Dual Channel
  • Integrated ATI Radeon HD 4290 GPU
  • Expasion slots: 2x PCIe 2.0 x16 Slots, 3x PCIe x1 Slot & 2x PCI Slots (Supports ATI CrossFireX Technology)
  • Storage: 1x Floppy, 1x Ultra DMA 133/100/66, 6x SATA 6Gb/s (RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10) & 2x SATA 3Gb/s (RAID 0 and 1)
  • LAN: RTL8111D Gigabit LAN
  • Audio: ALC892 8-channel High Definition Audio CODEC
  • 14x USB 2.0
  • 2x USB 3.0/2.0
  • 3x IEEE 1394a
  • 1x PS/2 COMBO (Keyboard & Mouse)
  • 1x S/PDIF Out (Optical)
  • 1x HDMI
  • 1x DVI
  • 1x D-SUB
  • CPU: AMD Phenom II/Athlon II/Sempron 100 Series Processors (Socket AM3)
  • Chipset: AMD 890GX/SB850
  • System Bus: Up to 5200 MT/s HyperTransport 3.0
  • Memory: 4x DDR3 DIMM 1866(OC)/1333/1066 MHz (Max. 16GB)/Dual Channel
  • Integrated ATI Radeon HD 4290 GPU
  • Expasion slots: 2x PCIe 2.0 x16 Slots, 3x PCIe x1 Slot & 2x PCI Slots (Supports ATI CrossFireX Technology)
  • Storage: 1x Floppy, 1x Ultra DMA 133/100/66, 6x SATA 6Gb/s (RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10) & 2x SATA 3Gb/s (RAID 0 and 1)
  • LAN: RTL8111D Gigabit LAN
  • Audio: ALC892 8-channel High Definition Audio CODEC
  • 14x USB 2.0
  • 2x USB 3.0/2.0
  • 3x IEEE 1394a
  • 1x PS/2 COMBO (Keyboard & Mouse)
  • 1x S/PDIF Out (Optical)
  • 1x HDMI
  • 1x DVI
  • 1x D-SUB

OUR VERDICT

The crown for best integrated graphics processor (IGP) goes back to AMD with the 890GX chipset and its Radeon 4290 onboard. Never mind that SATA 3.0 and USB 3.0 hardware have barely started making an appearance in the market. This particular model from Gigabyte manages to cram all the features that you might want your motherboard to have, taking a mid-term view of 2 years down the road. The Gigabyte GA-890GPA-UD3H is a very good choice if you are going to purchase a desktop PC based on an AMD processor.

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