Processor: AMD Phenom II X4 955 (C2 Stepping)
Mainboard ASUS M4A89GTD Pro/USB3 (Supplied by ASUS)
Memory: 4GB Kingston KHX12800D3T1K3/6GX (Supplied by Kingston)
Hard Disk: Kingston SSD Now M (Intel X25-M 80GB SSD) (Supplied by Kingston)
Graphics Card: AMD Radeon HD 5870 1GB (Supplied by AMD)
Cooling: Cooler Master Hyper 212 (with an extra fan) (Supplied by Cooler Master)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
Drivers: AMD Catalyst 10.3
As we mentioned earlier, ASUS has used a new connector for the 8-pin aux power. When I first saw it I thought it would be unstable and wobbly, but in use it seemed very solid and easy to use. The reversed RAM slots also seemed to be a bad idea at first, but once again, in practice they may work out better. In some cases it is hard to reach the upper portions of the board, making it a little awkward to uninstall RAM. But with the way the slots and the first PCIe slot are arranged on the M4A90GTD Pro/USB3 you have plenty of room to get your fingers in there.
The SATA ports were another interesting departure that also works out quite well. After all, there are an increasing number of cases that have the HDDs in cages that are 90-drgrees from the motherboard backplane. These new ports will be easier to use with that type of case in mind.
The included SATA 3.0 cables were sort of funny. Although they are very clearly higher quality cables, they offered no noticeable performance gain over the standard ones when connected to a SATA 3.0 HDD.
Last up in our comments is that card we told you about in our Packaging and Contents section. It was an interesting item to see and reminded me of the old SLI bridges that needed to be used. However, we did find that you can run the M4A89GTD Pro/USB3 without it. True, you do drop down to x8 on the PCIe slot, but the performance hit was so small as to be unnoticeable with the HD5870 we used for testing. Still, if you throw a HD5970 on to this board we are sure you would want to have it safely plugged in. Just put it in the top "grey" slot and ignore what it says on the card.