790GX Showdown: Gigabyte vs. MSI

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790GX Showdown: Gigabyte vs. MSI

March 5, 2009 by Lawrence Lee

Product GA-MA790GP-DS4H
AMD AM2+ Motherboard
DKA790GX Platinum
AMD AM2+ Motherboard
Manufacturer Gigabyte MSI
Street Price US$140-$150 US$160-$170

With the release of the Phenom II processors, the demand for motherboards powered by the 790GX chipset has never been greater. Besides the ability to use the latest and greatest AMD CPUs, they are feature-rich, support CrossFire and Hybrid CrossFire and offer a capable IGP with digital outputs — all this at prices that won't break the bank.

In this review, we examine the Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4H and MSI DKA790GX Platinum motherboards — their strengths, weaknesses, and most importantly how they compare to one another. The two boards are based around the same 790GX and SB750 chipsets and sport similar features, so it will interesting to see which board distinguishes itself, and whether it will do so in a positive manner. It is likely we will find only minor differences, but either way, it will give us insight about what approaches the two manufacturers take in design and implementation, and how this affects the overall user experience.

Specifications Comparison
Feature Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4H MSI DKA790GX Platinum
Maximum CPU Support
Phenom II X4
Phenom II X4
Hyper Transport
Up to 5200MT/s for AM2+
2000/1600MT/s for AM2
Up to 5200MT/s for AM2+
2000/1600MT/s for AM2
Memory Support Up to 16GB DDR2
DDR2 667/800/1066
Up to 8GB
DDR2 667/800/1066
Sideport Memory
128MB DDR3 (1333MHz)
128MB DDR3 (1333MHz)
LAN
1 Gigabit
1 Gigabit
PCI Express Slots 1 PCI-E x16, running at x16
1 PCI-E x16, running at x8
3 PCI-E x1
1 PCI-E x16, running at x16
1 PCI-E x16, running at x8
2 PCI-E x1
PCI Slots
2 PCI
2 PCI
IDE Connectors
1
1
SATA Connectors
6
5
SATA RAID Support
0, 1, 5, 10, JBOD
0, 1, 5, 10, JBOD
IEEE 1394 Ports
1 rear + 2 optional
1 rear + 2 optional
USB Ports 4 rear + 8 optional 6 rear + 4 optional
Back Panel 1 PS/2 keyboard
1 PS/2 mouse
1 D-Sub
1 DVI-D
1 HDMI
1 optical S/PDIF
1 IEEE 1394a
4 USB 2.0/1.1
1 RJ-45
6 audio
1 PS/2 keyboard
1 D-Sub
1 DVI-D
1 HDMI
1 optical S/PDIF
1 eSATA
1 IEEE 1394a
6 USB 2.0/1.1
1 RJ-45
6 audio
Fan Headers 4 3
Differences in bold.

The Gigabyte board claims to support more memory, has an extra PCI-E 1x slot, a PS/2 mouse port, and an additional fan header. The MSI board has more available USB ports on the back panel and traded in the 6th SATA connector for an eSATA port. Both boards have 128MB of integrated 1333MHz DDR3 Sideport memory.



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