The 890GX follows the same lines as every other ATX board out these days. However, unlike the P55 and H5x boards the AMD 890GX still has both the Northbridge and Southbridge (as does the X58 boards). This means that ASUS has had to wisely configure the layout for the best balance of cooling and performance.
Starting from our usual place, we see a couple of departures from (and additions to) the AMD layout. The first one that leaps out at you is the RAM slots which look reversed from what we have gotten used to. On most of the ASUS boards we have worked with the lever is at the top and the open end at the bottom. On the M4A89GTD Pro/USB3 this is swapped.
In noticing that brings us to a couple of new items on the M4A89GTD. These are the Core Unlocker switch and the Turbo Key II switch. The turning on the core unlocker switch allows you to automatically unlock your tri-core or dual core CPU without needing to make adjustments in the BIOS.
The area around the CPU is a tad cluttered, but nothing that cannot be overcome. One thing that I like (although it looks awkward) is the new extended 8-pin Aux power connector. As you have heard in multiple reviews, we have criticized most manufacturers about their placement of this connector, but have noted that it is there due to restrictions of the ATX layout and design.
Well, ASUS has decided to do something about it anyway. They extended the connector to a height above the surrounding heatsinks. This should make it a little easier to connect once it is in a case. However, even with this new height, you may still have trouble if you use an oversized cooler for the CPU.
As we mentioned before, AMD still uses two chips for the motherboard designs. This is not a hindrance to performance, but it can be to motherboard real-estate. As you see in the image below, the Northbridge is very close to the top PCIe x16 slot. Thankfully it is far enough away that you do not have to worry about contact, but you still need to be concerned with heat.
Moving to the bottom of the board, we again see the typical layout and nothing much that is overly new. You get tons of USB headers, IEEE 1394 and the ever popular front panel audio header along with a nice assortment of PCIe and PCI slots.
However, when we move to the SATA ports we see another departure from ASUS' normal layout. Instead of six ports at a 90-degree angle, we find only two in this configuration. The remaining four are spaced out and extend perpendicular to the board.
The ports available on the back are again fairly typical now, with the exception of the USB 3.0 ports (and those are becoming common).
Overall, the ASUS M4AGTD Pro/USB3 is laid out fairly well. There are some interesting changes and departures from the normal layout, but that is not to be unexpected as ASUS (and others) try to overcome the limitations of the ATX layout and the ever increasing need for additional power to the motherboard and CPU.
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