ASUS M4A89TD Pro and ASUS M4A89TD Pro/USB3
M4A89TD Pro and M4A89TD Pro/USB3 mainboards from ASUS are almost the same. They use the same PCB layout and have the same functionality. The only difference is that the USB3 model is equipped with an additional NEC D720200F1 controller to support USB 3.0. We are going to use M4A89TD Pro to discuss their functionality and features.
As opposed to other mainboards in this roundup, ASUS mainboards have only two graphics slots. We don’t think it’s a drawback since most users are going to be perfectly satisfied with that many slots. Besides, ASUS offers the Crosshair IV Formula with four such slots for those who need more. The M4A89TD Pro and M4A89TD Pro/USB3 lack a floppy drive connector, but offer a COM one. Besides six SATA 6 Gbps ports supported by the SB850 South Bridge, there are PATA and eSATA 3 Gbps implemented via JMicron JMB361 chip. The mainboard also has a Realtek RT8111E network controller, an eight-channel Realtek ALC 892 codec, and a VIA VT6315 controller that provides IEEE1394 interface (one port on the back panel and one onboard pin-connector).
We guess we don’t need to describe the BIOS options of ASUS mainboards as we have done that in our earlier reviews. You can check out the basic features in the comparative table below. These ASUS mainboards have all the necessary fine-turning and overclocking options, particularly a very small CPU voltage adjustment increment of only 0.003125 V. ASUS also cares about inexperienced overclockers and provides three different ways to overclock your CPU automatically. First of all, you can select the OC Tuner Utility in the mainboard BIOS and the mainboard will set the most optimal parameters for your configuration by itself. If you are a total newbie in a computer world and are afraid of even entering the BIOS, you can just move the Turbo Key lever on the mainboard to achieve the same effect. And finally, you can enable the automatic overclocking mode in the ASUS TurboV EVO utility.
We were extremely pleased with the outcome: modest overclocking with all the power-saving technologies still working. Curiously enough, we achieved the same CPU frequency with any of these three methods.
Besides these options, ASUS mainboards offer the “D.O.C.P.” (DRAM O.C. Profile) mode in their BIOS. If you select it, the mainboard will adjust the settings to ensure that your system memory is stable at increased frequencies. You can also choose a more aggressive “Extreme Tuning” mode in the ASUS TurboV EVO utility to overclock the CPU a little more. With our CPU, this increased the clock rate from 232 to 245 MHz.
Every mainboard maker offers an exclusive monitoring and overclocking tool and ASUS TurboV EVO utility is quite a good one, with lots of options such as “Turbo Unlocker”. We have noted one downside of AMD Turbo technology in our earlier reviews. To remind you, it increases the CPU’s frequency when some of its cores are idle. For example, when no more than three CPU cores have some work to do, the multiplier of our AMD Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition is increased from x16 to x18 and the CPU voltage is increased to 1.45 V. However, the thing is that our CPU can work at 3.6 GHz frequency without any additional Vcore increase! Thus, AMD Turbo accelerates the computer but also increases its power consumption and temperature. ASUS TurboV EVO utility helps to correct this drawback to some extent. When you enable “Turbo Unlocker” mode, the multiplier is increased both under partial and full CPU load. For example, when no more than three CPU cores were working, the multiplier of our CPU was set at x19. At higher loads, the multiplier was set at x17.
We have described a number of ways that these ASUS mainboards can automatically accelerate your computer without any special knowledge or skills from the user. However, only during manual configuration adjustment you can achieve the best results possible. We had no problems overclocking our test CPU to its maximum on these mainboards.
Of course, the format of a roundup leaves but little space for describing each mainboard, so we can’t examine the M4A89TD Pro and M4A89TD Pro/USB3 in all detail although they do have a lot of small but handy details such as an indication system, one-side memory module locks, wide levers of the graphics slots to easily uninstall graphics cards, etc. It would take a lot of space just to name the numerous technologies and features implemented in them: Express Gate, Core Unlocker, MemOK!, Fan Xpert, Asus EPU, EZ Flash2, CrashFree BIOS 3… Cutting it short, we liked these ASUS mainboards very much. They are not just easy but a pleasure to deal with. Each will make a solid foundation for a modern computer.
The lack of USB 3.0 in the ASUS M4A89TD Pro might be considered a downside since that interface is rapidly becoming popular, but the availability of the USB3 version proves that ASUS just gives you a wider shopping choice. Notwithstanding the small difference in price, some users may prefer the M4A89TD Pro to avoid paying extra for USB 3.0 they are not going to use.