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Old 30-05-2010, 05:16 PM   #1
Booj
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Asus M4A89TD Pro Review

Hi guys

The folks at Asus Australia have been kind enough to send over a sample of one of their latest boards based on the 890FX chipset; the M4A89TD Pro. It is one of four boards from Asus that make up their 890FX lineup, the others being the M4A89TD Pro/USB3 and the two Crosshair ROG variants, the Formula and Extreme.

The M4A89TD Pro is positioned as a cost effective solution whilst not skimping on overclocking features or ability.

See the M4A89TD Pro Homepage for full specifications, downloads and cpu support list.


First some pics:







There are no bells and whistles in the included accessories, but thats not a bad thing. It helps to keep the costs down. Nice to see black cables. My favorite color inside a case.

As someone who has built hundreds of systems, once of the best unrecognized features of Asus boards is the case 'Q Connector'. Making the connections outside the case before placing the module on the mobo is awesome when you build and repair systems for a living.







The board itself. The M4A89TD Pro is a mainstream offering, lacking the bling of the upmarket Crosshair models. The blue on black/brown color scheme looks ok and is certainly not garish. Again this isn't a bad thing. In my opinion bling and looks are a distant runner up to other features including OC performance, stability and reliability.








The PCIE slot area. Both 16x slots are full electrical 16x slots. Although it is difficult to make out here, the clock generator used here is the ICS 9LPRS477CKL.

On the left can be seen the Realtek ALC892 Audio codec and the 8111E Gigabit network controller.





The RAM Slots. Asus recommends using the blue slots for the best overclocking results.

This pic shows some of the nifty features to assist with overclocking and troubleshooting. Of particular interest is the MemOK! switch which is a hardware based solution designed to help solve ram related errors. It cycles through the POST stage adjusting frequency, timings and voltages. I tried it with a stick that wouldn't post and it worked! Nice..

Also featured here is the core unlocker switch, which allows AMD cpus with disabled cores to be reactivated. This is great for owners of 500 and 700 series cpu's based on the harvested Deneb core.

The Turbo Key switch is an automatic overclocking switch which is useful, but most overclockers will eschew it's use in favor of a manual overclock via the BIOS.







The rear panel I/O. Despite the presence of the blue coloured USB connectors, this board does not have support for USB3.0. There is a variation called the M4A89TDPro/USB3 that has the additional NEC controller for USB3.0 functionality. The black button towards the left is a clear CMOS button. The ESATA port is of the powered variety, simplifying connections to external drives.







The SB Area. It would be nice to see the position of the SATA and IDE connectors swapped to allow for better cable management, but the sata connectors are placed well enough not to interfere with a multi gpu setup using dual slot cards.

Notice the numbered USB Ports? 14 USB ports in total are available on this board. Even after you plug in a missile launcher, pencil sharpener or plasma ball there should still be ports left over.



The Socket area has a nice clean layout, but watch the positioning of coolers as the close proximity of the memory slots can interfere with them, particularly if the memory sticks have tall heatsinks.


Test Setup:
Asus M4A89TD Pro BIOS 0702
AMD Phenom II X4 965BE C3
G.Skill Trident 2000mhz C9 2x2gb
ATI Radeon HD 5870
Thermaltake Toughpower 1200w
Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit build 7077 RC

Despite having very little AMD overclocking experience in recent years I found the M4A89TD pro behaved well with no showstopper bugs. There was some variation in HT clock of about 1 to 1.5mhz causing clocks to jump around a bit. Also the LLC needs some fine tuning as there is too much variation between enabled and disabled. I am told upcoming BIOS's address these issues.

First up some air OC.
SuperPi 32m





Wprime 32m





3Dmark 05





3Dmark 06





3Dmark Vantage





Bus speed quick test

This looks very promising for locked multiplier chips. I will revisit this with some cascade testing later on.


Conclusions

I found the M4A89TD Pro to be very stable for air overclocks. With achieved bus speeds of 300mhz and beyond, it's highly unlikely the board will be a limiting factor for anything you care to throw at it on air cooling. Heat will become a limiting factor long before the board runs out of steam.

The PWM stood up well, having no problems holding load.

After I completed my testing there was a new Beta bios released that improves memory and NB overclocking. I will use this bios to try to get closer to the 1000mhz ram barrier with Cascade testing to come.

I highly recommend the board to users looking for a no frills board with solid and reliable overclocking performance and the ability to unlock cores.

Enthusiasts can buy a great bang for buck system with a 6 core cpu and clock it to 4ghz+ at a fraction of the cost of a competing Intel solution.

Pro's:
Price
Solid overclocking capabilities
Core unlocking ability
MemOK! switch
SATA 6 support on all ports

Con's
Minor layout issues
BIOS still needs a little work (newer BIOS is reportedly strong)

Thanks to Matt and Asus Australia for the review sample and to AMD for the CPU. :clap: Uncle Fester too you rock :up:
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Old 30-05-2010, 05:20 PM   #2
Booj
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Did a few cascade benches. It appears nothing short of a full pot of ln2 is required to get the most out of current AMD chips so I cut testing a bit short.

Benched with a Kayl Cascade -110 idle ~ -104 end of 06 cpu test.

Test Setup:
Asus M4A89TD Pro BIOS 0702
AMD Phenom II X4 965BE C3
G.Skill Trident 2000mhz C9 2x2gb BBSE
ATI Radeon HD 5870
Thermaltake Toughpower 1200w
Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit build 7077 RC
Maxbus speed





3Dmark06




SuperPi 32m




I will switch to friendlier benching OS'es when my pot arrives for some ln2 benches

Last edited by Booj; 09-06-2010 at 08:44 PM.
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Old 01-06-2010, 08:20 AM   #3
eva2000
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Awesome stuff mate, we do need more AMD side adventure threads here Love the photos too

Hopefully LN2/Cascade AMD clocks are problem free too
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Old 01-06-2010, 09:34 AM   #4
Booj
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Thanks Eva

It's a lot of fun having a play with AMD. I'm considering picking up a Thuban chip now

My ln2 testing has been delayed as I borrowed a pot from Bob(nz) that he needed back and the Kingpin F1EE I have ordered is delayed as he is at Computex

Cascade testing is underway though
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Old 09-06-2010, 08:45 PM   #5
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Added few cascade benches

Really it's ln2 or bust for these chips though heh
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Old 10-06-2010, 11:39 PM   #6
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nice clocks there but shame only LN2 will push them to where the real fun is.

Of course that's one sample, maybe a few more cpus for gem can get better clocks on water/cascade heh
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Old 11-06-2010, 01:25 AM   #7
Booj
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Yeah hard to say. There's not many cascade results to go on but seems about average for cascade cooling on AMD. This chip has done about 6600mhz on ln2, It seems that they just want it colder and colder hehe

Hopefully i'll get the time to give it a good workout. I'll have a Maximus III Extreme next week it will be hard not to jump over to that
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