Our 790FX Test Board
While we are at it, we decided to give you a better look at the two candidates we were sent. Both boards today are from ASUS, and they're aimed high with top quality and features. The 790FX based board we were sent was an ASUS M3A32-MVP Deluxe motherboard. It's based around the same black PCB that all of the ROG, Deluxe and Premium boards use, and it measures the standard 30x24cms.
The Layout of the board is exceptional; the 24-pin power connector is placed behind the four colour coded DDR2 memory slots. The 4/8 pin EPS power connector gets placed at the top left of the board, just above the heatpipe cooler assembly. The IDE connector and six SATA ports are placed along the right hand edge of the board. The four SATA ports coloured black run off the SB600 Southbridge; the two red ones run off a Marvell PCI Express SATA/PATA controller chip.
ASUS has beefed up the power regulation system on this series of boards; rather than the outdated eight phases, two extra phases have been added to give a total of 10. A large heatpipe assembly cools the Northbridge, Southbridge and the Mosfets in one action. The space around the CPU area is extremely clean which allows you to install large heatsinks.
Moving to the expansion slots, ASUS has setup the board to run CrossfireX if you so desire. There are four PCI Express x16 slots; two are blue and two are black. If you intend to run a single or standard two card Crossfire setup, you place them into one of the two blue slots. These are setup to run x16 speeds. If you want a four card setup, you need to plug two extras into the black slots, this then splits the two blue slots' bandwidth between the two extra slots, so instead of two PCI Express x16 slots, you end up with four PCI Express x8 slots. Lastly on the list are two PCI slots for legacy support.