As with every other ASUS motherboard, the M4A89GTD Pro/USB3 uses a AMI based BIOS. Of course, ASUS has altered it to allow for what they feel is the best performance and the most flexibility for user configuration.
For most people the AI Tweaker menu is the place to be. Here you can adjust settings that will give you the most out of your AMD CPU. You can also make adjustments to the HD 4290 IGP. These include adjusting the GPU speed and the amount of memory used in addition to the Sideport memory. You can also use the ASUS Level Up API and Overclock Tuner straight from inside the BIOS, which is handy if you are not using a Windows based OS with your board.
Under the CPU menu on the Advanced page you can see the information about your CPU. We used a revision C2 Phenom II x4 955. This would become a problem for us later when we pushed the board. You also have options for enabling or disabling Cool' n' Quiet, Core Unlocker, C1E support and a few other CPU features.
Moving on to the memory configuration page (still on the Advanced menu), you have settings that allow you to control bank interleaving, memory remapping; pretty much the advanced items that most people are better off not messing with.
The same thing can be said for the Integrated Graphics page. Many of these settings can give you minor boosts in performance and stability, but if you tinker in the wrong direction you could end up with issues. One of the few items that is nice to see is the ability to turn off the audio out to HDMI from the BIOS. The rest of the BIOS has some additional handy features, like Express Gate settings and for the most part is very easy to navigate.
In the past our experience with ASUS and overclocking has been a good one. That is not to say it has always given us the best overclock or the best performance when overclocked, but we have been able to get some very decent numbers from their stuff.
With the M4A89GTD Pro/USB3 we had a few issues. At first we thought there was an issue with the way the board was handling memory, but in the end we found out that it was all due to our choice of CPU. The AMD Phenom II X4 955 is a good CPU, but it did not like to be pushed too hard.
As we mentioned above in our BIOS section, we have a C2 revision of this CPU. When we spoke with ASUS about the problems we were having we were told that a C3 revision would yield better results. Unfortunately we were not able to get one before this article needed to be published. However, we will be returning to this board to see what we can get with the newer C3 stepping CPUs as well as doing some IGP overclocking.
With our C2 Phenom II X4 955 we were able to hit a stable high of 3.642MHz (227x16). We could not get anything higher even when playing with the multipliers or the HTT.
You can see the validation for our overclocking here.
Something interesting to note; in the CPU-Z shot above it shows the HD 4290 as DX11. We contacted AMD about this as we were told that the 4290 was DX10.1 only; they let us know that this is an error on the part of CPU-Z and not accurate. We expect this discrepancy to be fixed with the next release of CPU-Z.
Of course, we would be remiss if we did not touch on the TurboV application that ASUS has included. But again, as our CPU was a bottle neck we will go into more detail about this later. For now we will show you the outcome of our fast auto tune and the core ratio settings page, both of which are unique to the AMD based 890GX boar from ASUS.
As all overclocking results are dependent on the hardware you use, your results may vary. Results of our overclocking tests are included in the performance section with the stock scores.
Important Editor Note: Our maximum overclocking result is the best result we managed in our limited time of testing the motherboard. Due to time constraints we weren't able to tweak the motherboard to the absolute maximum and find the highest possible FSB, as this could take days to find properly. We do however spend at least a few hours overclocking every motherboard to try and find the highest possible overclock in that time frame. You may or may not be able to overclock higher if you spend more time tweaking or as new BIOS updates are released. "Burn-in" time might also come into play if you believe in that.