Well, we have reached this final chapter of our roundup in a pretty disappointed mood, although we started this article with a triumphant intention. This summer we tested mainboards on AMD 890FX chipset that cost around $200 or even more than that. All mainboards were generally very good, but investing in them is only justified if you intend to have several graphics cards. If you only wanted to use one graphics accelerator, then it would make much more sense to go for an AMD 870 based mainboard that costs half as much and offers almost the same functionality. This was what we thought at the time. It is true, these two chipsets differ only by the number of available PCI Express lines and your ability to group them as necessary. Their South Bridges are the same and offer identical functionality. However, to our regret, the actual mainboards based on these two chipsets turned out dramatically different.
As you understand, we were mostly upset about Asus M4A87TD EVO mainboard. Of course, we have no problem replacing the power supply in or testbed, but I have to say that it was used to successfully overclock a plenty of different processors on dozens of different mainboards, but not on Asus M4A87TD EVO, for some reason. Honestly, even after replacing the PSU we still couldn’t achieve acceptable overclocking results, even though we checked out three different samples of the same mainboard model. Probably, our failed overclocking attempts could be attributed to the fact that this mainboard doesn’t do well with six-core CPUs overclocking, or maybe there is another reason that we doo not know of. Anyway, in our specific situation all overclocking attempts failed. However, Asus M4A89TD Pro/USB3 mainboard on AMD 890FX chipset did absolutely perfectly in the same testing conditions and even with the same old PSU that we have been using all along. However, this mainboard was only a guest in our today’s roundup and it has already received its credit for excellent results in the previous article. As for Asus M4A87TD EVO, we can’t tell for sure if you are going to experience any issues during overclocking or not, but it performs perfectly fine in nominal mode, just like any other good mainboard.
I personally like Biostar mainboards: high functionality at a low price is exactly what anyone would love to see in their computer system. However, Biostar TA870+ also disappointed us this time. It doesn’t suffer from any serious issues, but does low price justify a bunch of small annoying drawbacks? The BIOS is very difficult to work with, because important options are scattered all over different sections and even processor core voltage adjustment needs to be done using two different settings. It is great to have the options for setting up and calibrating the processor cooling fan, but the rotation speed of all other fans cannot be changed. The fact that G.P.U. technology suddenly started working during overclocking is certainly great, but it used to turn off and now its sudden activation may threaten stability in some cases. There are Power On and Reset buttons onboard, but they are so alike that you can easily mistake one for another. Biostar’s “Rapid Debug” system that should help locate the problem on startup is very difficult to work with, because you need to consult the manual or the sticker on the mainboard PCB to translate the meaning of the displayed code. And why did they set HyperTransport frequency higher right from the start? And why haven’t we been able to reach the desired CPU frequency during overclocking? However, it is important to remember that we tested mainboard revision 5.0, and since then Biostar released revision 5.1 and even 5.2. Namely, the latter mainboard revision now has an additional heatsink on the processor voltage regulator circuitry components, which all of the today’s tested boards lack. Hopefully, Biostar engineers corrected the issues we pointed out today in their new mainboard revisions and didn’t add any new issues instead.
Unlike MSI 890FXA-GD70 – a luxurious mainboard that made a great impression in our last roundup, MSI 870A-G54 didn’t make such a remarkable entrance. We have already seen the regulator that allows changing the base clock frequency on the fly, we already know about the option to create a flash drive access key for the system as well as about not the most convenient way of adjusting the memory timings in the mainboard BIOS. So, it turns out that this MSI board differs from the competitors not only by the absence of IEEE1394 (FireWire) port on the back panel, but also by the absence of eSATA ports. At the same time, even Biostar that is trying to make their products more affordable supports these interfaces. As for overclocking, MSI didn’t’ let us hit the desired number. But despite all these drawbacks, it is a decent board, with slightly limited functionality, though.
Both revisions of Gigabyte GA-870A-UD3 are the only winners in our today’s competition. Only Gigabyte mainboards are hardly different from their elder sisters based on AMD 890FX in technical specifications. Moreover, their features are superior to those of all other testing participants on AMD 870 chipset discussed today. Gigabyte mainboards have more additional onboard controllers, they can accommodate more drives, more fans, they have more IEEE1394 connectors, make the best use of the back panel space and offer the entire set of legacy interfaces, such as COM, LPT and FDD. The boards are universal, but of course, not absolutely ideal. Namely, they have too big of an increment for the processor Vcore – 0.025 V, which is incomparable with the increment Asus boards offer for the same parameter - 0.003125 V. Only the BIOS of Gigabyte mainboards have no options for automatic processor or memory overclocking, which may upset those who are new to the entire overclocking experience. However, only these two mainboards managed to overclock our test processor best of all and without any problems or difficulties. So, with certain effort, even an inexperienced overclocker may succeed with a Gigabyte mainboard, especially since the results of manual overclocking are always much more optimal than those obtained in automatic mode. As a result, only Gigabyte GA-870A-UD3 rev. 2.0 and 2.1 can be considered an adequate alternative to products based on a more expensive AMD 890FX chipset, if you are not going to use several graphics cards in your system. You can certainly go with any other of the tested mainboards, but in this case you should keep in mind everything we have pointed out about them, to make sure that you don’t end up disappointed with their performance.
In conclusion we would like to award Gigabyte GA-870A-UD3 rev.2.0 and 2.1 mainboards with our Editor’s Choice title as the best solutions on AMD 870 chipset: