MSI 890GXM-G65 Socket AM3 Motherboard

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Posted by on Wednesday, April 28, 2010 - 8:36pm

msi 890gxm-g65Our newest motherboard in the lab today is packed with everything you'll need to complete an awesome home theater setup. Based on the newest AMD 890GX chipset, this board comes with its integrated HD 4290 GPU that fully supports DirectX 10.1 graphics through its digital video ports and capable of faster storage transfer via its SATA III and USB 3.0 gives up all the latest technology. But coming from MSI we know there is more than what meets the eye.

Introduction to the MSI 890GXM-G65

When you see a mATX motherboard, the first thing to come to mind is home theater PC with pedestrian overclocking. It seems every time a new small form factor motherboard comes to market, we, in the enthusiast market, want to immediately throw it into a small cube case or a horizontal HTPC box and forget about it. Granted a gamer or overclocker isn't even thinking about putting such a board in their rig or on their test bench; but if you pay attention to the recently released mATX and even ITX's, then you'll notice they're becoming a much sought after component. Manufacturers are finally giving us more in a smaller package.

Our newest motherboard in the lab today is packed with everything you'll need to complete an awesome home theater setup. Based on the newest AMD 890GX chipset, this board comes with its integrated HD 4290 GPU that fully supports DirectX 10.1 graphics through its digital video ports and capable of faster storage transfer via its SATA III and USB 3.0 gives up all the latest technology. But coming from MSI we know there is more than what meets the eye.

Yes, we know the Thuban six-core processor is around the corner, but that is not what I was thinking about when I typed the last statement. I was looking more along the lines of overclocking. All you have to do is look at the box the board comes in. It is written as large as all outdoors. Equipped with MSI's OC Genie, MSI is just daring us to takes this new motherboard to its limits. That is just what I plan to do, using a big ass air cooler and some DDR3 1600MHz overclocking memory.

MSI take on the 890GXM-G65

World-leading mainboard and graphics card maker, MSI, launches their brand new 890GXM-G65 mainboard using the AMD 890GX chipset to fulfill the increasing demand for perfect Home Theatre Personal Computers (HTPC). In addition to tailoring the latest AMD Phenom II processors, the 890GXM-G65 provides full support for the DirectX 10.1 and UVD 2.0 multimedia standards to significantly enhance high-definition audio and video effects. Along with a wide variety of output interfaces, exclusive MSI technology, and native SATA 6Gb/s and USB3.0 interfaces, the AMD 890GXM-G65 allows users to build a quality HTPC combining high performance and high stability.


Specifications

Socket AM3
CPU (Max Support) Phenom II
AM3 CPU Ready Y
FSB / Hyper Transport Bus up to 5200MT/s
Chipset AMD® 890GX+SB850
DDR2 Memory N/A
DDR3 Memory DDR3 800/1066/1333/1600*/1800*/2133*(OC)
Memory Channel Dual
DIMM Slots 4
Max Memory (GB) 16
PCI-Ex16 2
PCI-E Gen Gen2 (1x16, 1x8)
PCI-Ex4 N/A
PCI-Ex1 1
PCI 1
IDE 1
SATAIII 5
SATAII N/A
RAID 0/1/5/10
LAN 10/100/1000*1
TPM 1
USB 3.0 ports (Rear) 2
USB 2.0 ports (Rear) 4
Audio ports (Rear) 6+Optical SPDIF
Serial ports (Rear) N/A
Parallel ports (Rear) N/A
1394 ports (Rear) N/A
eSATA 1
VGA 1
DVI 1
HDMI 1
Display Port N/A
DirectX DX10.1
VGA Share Memory (MB) 512
Form Factor M-ATX
DrMOS N/A
APS Y
Sideport Memory Y
SLI N/A
3-way SLI N/A
Hybrid SLI N/A
CrossFire Y
Hybrid CrossFire Y
D-LED2 N/A
Green Power Genie N/A

Chipset Specifications from AMD

Feature

Function

Benefit

Microsoft® DirectX® 10.1

Hardware support for the latest 3D graphics features such as Shader Model 4.1.

Enjoy awesome gaming performance, stunning 3D visual effects, and dynamic interactivity.

Unified Video Decoder (UVD) 2

Dedicated hardware that decodes and plays back Blu-ray and other HD content with support for MPEG2, VC-1, and H.264 formats. 1,2

Supports latest HD features, helps improves image quality and frees up your CPU for other tasks for a seamless and visually stunning HD experience. 1,2

Hardware Picture-in-Picture

Support for dual-stream PiP (Picture in Picture), supported on Blu-ray™ 1.1 playback. 1,2

Enjoy the latest Blu-ray™ 1.1 titles with support for special “Bonus” features like Director’s commentary presented in PiP format. 1,2

High Quality Video Scaling

Uses post processing algorithms to enhance standard and low resolution videos and movies on your HD display. 1

Watch standard DVD movies in near high-definition quality. 1

Dynamic Contrast

Automatically adjusts the contrast and brightness during video scenes.

Delivers a consistently crisp and vibrant picture

ATI Stream Technology

A set of advanced hardware and software technologies that enable AMD graphics processors (GPU), working in concert with the system’s central processor (CPU), to accelerate many applications beyond just graphics. 3, 4

Enables better balanced platforms capable of running demanding computing tasks faster than ever. 3, 4

Accelerated Transcoding

Accelerates the conversion of standard and HD video into multiple formats for use on differing consumer electronics devices.

Offers incredible transcoding speed superior to the CPU alone.

ATI PowerPlay™

AMD graphics power management technology enables the graphics processor to respond to demand and power down when not needed. 4

Reduces system power draw, enabling a more energy efficient PC. 4

HDMI 1.3

A combined audio/video interface, HDMI 1.3 enables improvements in both audio and video capability. 3, 4

Connect to your HDTV and watch TV, Blu-ray and other HD video, with surround sound

DisplayPort

A digital display interface that supports the latest graphics and LCD technologies. 1, 4

Connect to ultra-high resolution monitors or full 1080p HDTV to enjoy premium video content. 1, 4

HyperTransport™ 3.0 Technology

HyperTransport™ 3.0 technology spec supports transfer rates of up to 20.6GB/s for high-performance I/O bandwidth.

Huge bandwidth can translate into fewer bottlenecks and higher performance

PCI Express® Generation 2.0

Double the bandwidth over earlier PCI Express for improved performance.

Massive I/O bandwidth for fast graphics performance

GPU-Plex Technology

Scalable twin-engine technology, all on a single chip, enables flexible configurations for multiple graphics cards on a single x16 link.

Designed to make ATI CrossFireX™ technology run smooth for an amazing graphics experience

ATI CrossFireX™ Technology

The ultimate in scalable graphics performance with a widely certified infrastructure and dedicated memories with improved memory performance.

Ultimate multi-GPU performance for game-dominating power

SATA 6Gbps

Support for next generation Hard Drives and SSDs supporting new SATA 6Gbps technologies

Fast file transfer and application performance

Gigabit Ethernet

High-speed network performance

Download and connect fast

AMD RAIDXpert

RAID setup utility useable from remote locations

Customize for extra performance or enhanced reliability.


Closer look

This currently the first motherboard in the AMD Radeon 890GX family from MSI. Like other chipsets we expect to see other models within the line with more or less features. The MSI 890GXM-G65 is one nice looking motherboard. On the surface, we have a dark gun metal color. This is a nice change from the typical black, which is fast becoming a fixture in the motherboard community. Considering this is a micro ATX motherboard, everything is well-placed on it.

Crossfire support is a seriously nice feature for a mATX board. To this end, the board features dual blue 16x slots. When used together, these will divide the lanes in half, giving you 8x/8x. This is a limitation placed on the chipset and not implemented by MSI. Between the two slots are a single 1x PCIe slot, which may not be usable when Crossfire is in place. Below the three newer generation slots is a lone PCI slot.

Just below the slots is something that is new to us here at Pro-Clockers as this is the first MSI board we have ever reviewed. There is a OCSwitch1 switch will allow automatic overclocking of the CPU. The preset levels are 10%, 15% and 20%. Some may question this method of overclocking, but it is perfect for the novice overclocker.

There are a total of five SATA ports on the board. Rejoice, because this board has SATA 3. One of these ports is set in the traditional fashion, perpendicular to the surface of the board, while the others run parallel, facing to the back of your rig.

There is a total of four DIMM slots on the board two colored black and two blue. The colors are a guide for setting up dual channel memory. One matched pair goes in one black and another can go in blue.  As far as the integrated memory controller on the CPU, support for DDR3 1333 is obvious. The board supports up to 16GB 2133MHz ram, overclocked. If you insist on using a legacy HDD or optical drive, there is one IDE connector just to the right of the DIMM slots.

In order to keep heat under control, MSI used a set of passive heat sinks to cool down the board. It begins north of the board near the CPU socket and travels through heat pipes to the 890GX North Bridge. A single heat sink covers the SB850 South Bridge. The heat sinks are low profile pretty much leaving the area around the CPU socket pretty clear for the installation of larger coolers.

The rear I/O panel is jam packed with connections. It begins with the legacy PS/2 plugs for a old timey keyboards or mice. Next in line, we have the video connections: VGA, DVI and HDMI. Just like the newer AMD video cards, the HDMI will pass through 7.1 sound for nice audio playback. Following that is six USB ports, two of which are USB 3.0. These are curtesy of a NEC controller. A single eSATA, gigabit LAN and audio ports complete the layout.

Backing the video plugs is the Radeon HD 4290 chipset. Being one of the fastest integrated chipsets on the market, high definition playback is no problem, even at 1080P. A lot of this is due to the 128MB of DDR3 1333 SidePort memory. This lightens the load put on the system memory, allowing resources for other tasks.


BIOS

A very complete MSI BIOS.

Memory specifications.

CPU specifications.

Hardware monitor.

Save up to six overclocking profiles.

M-Flash allows you to flash the BIOS via a USB drive.


Testing Begins

Testing Hardware:

Motherboard:MSI 890GXM-G65 Processor: AMD Phenom II X2 550 Black/Phenom II X4 965 Black
Ram: OCZ DDR3 PC12800 4GB Dual-Channel
Video Card: Sapphire HD 5750
HDD: Seagate 7200.11
Power: Thermaltake Tough Power XT 1000 (Donated by Thermaltake for our test bench)
Case: Open Air
Cooling: Thermaltake Silent 1156
OS: Windows 7 RC


Futuremark PCMark Vantage
3DMark Vantage is a PC benchmark suite designed to test the DirectX10 performance of your graphics card. We’ve been making 3DMark for over 10 years, with each new edition using the latest 3D technology to determine real-world performance.

Futuremark 3DVantage
3DMark Vantage is a PC benchmark suite designed to test the DirectX10 performance of your graphics card. We’ve been making 3DMark for over 10 years, with each new edition using the latest 3D technology to determine real-world performance.

A 3DMark score is an overall measure of your system’s 3D gaming capabilities, based on comprehensive real-time 3D graphics and processor tests. By comparing your score with those submitted by millions of other gamers you can see how your gaming rig performs, making it easier to choose the most effective upgrades or finding other ways to optimize your system.

3DMark is widely used by the PC industry, press and media as well as individual users and gamers, for comparing performance levels between whole systems or even specific components


SiSoftware Sandra Lite 2007 SP1
SiSoftware has announced the availability of Service Release 2 (SR2) for SiSoftware Sandra 2005, the latest version of its award-winning utility. The focus of this service release has been improved support, compatibility and reliability rather than new features. We have been working closely with more hardware vendors than before to be able to bring greater direct support of an increased market share of commodity and server technologies.

Lavalys Everest
Lavalys EVEREST Home Edition is freeware system information, system diagnostics and benchmarking solution for home PC users, based on the award-winning EVEREST Technology. It offers the world's most accurate system information and diagnostics capabilities, including online features, memory benchmarks, hardware monitoring, and low-level hardware information. EVEREST Home Edition is uniquely available for home users without any charges, based on the freeware license.


Maxon Cinebench
CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer's performance capabilities. MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.

Super PI Modded 1.5
In August 1995, the calculation of pi up to 4,294,960,000 decimal digits was succeeded by using a supercomputer at the University of Tokyo. The program was written by D.Takahashi in collaboration with Dr. Y.Kanada at the computer center. This record should be the current world record. (Details are shown in the windows help.) This record-breaking program was ported to personal computer environment such as Windows NT and Windows 95. In order to calculate 33.55 million digits, it takes within 3 days with a Pentium 90 MHz, 40 MB main memory and 340 MB available storage.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat
The events of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat unfold shortly after the end of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl. Having discovered about the open path to the Zone center, the government decides to hold a large-scale military "Fairway" operation aimed to take the CNPP under control.

According to the operation's plan, the first military group is to conduct an air scouting of the territory to map out the detailed layouts of anomalous fields location. Thereafter, making use of the maps, the main military forces are to be dispatched.

Despite thorough preparations, the operation fails. Most of the avant-garde helicopters crash. In order to collect information on reasons behind the operation failure, Ukraine's Security Service send their agent into the Zone center.
From now on everything depends on the player.


Tech ARP x264 HD 3.15
Simply put, it is a reproducible measure of fast your machine can encode a short HD-quality video clip into a high quality x264 video file. It's nice because everyone running it will use the same video clip and software. The video encoder (x264.exe) reports a fairly accurate internal benchmark (in frames per second) for each pass of the video encode and it also uses multi-core processors very efficiently. All these factors make this an ideal benchmark to compare different processors and systems to each other.

HD Tune
HD Tune is a hard disk utility with many functions. It can be used to measure the drive's performance, scan for errors, check the health status (S.M.A.R.T.), securely erase all data and much more.


Overclocking the MSI 890GXM G65 and the AMD Phenom II 965 Black

The MSI 890GXM was a very interesting motherboard to overclock, because there are several ways to do it. For most, the easiest way would be to use either the OC Genie Auto OC, Easy OC switch, AMD's AOD or through the BIOS. Each of which are user friendly.

The first option is OC Genie Auto OC which is a MSI exclusive BIOS option. This is a very simple procedure to execute. Select the option in the BIOS and reboot. Done. With this enabled, we netted 4080MHz from the stock speed of 3.4GHz of the Phenom II 965.

The AMD AOD or Over Drive gives much more control over all the settings you would naturally find in the BIOS without entering the BIOS. We played around with AOD for awhile getting 4GHz was fairly easy.

Last, we resorted to the good old BIOS overclocking which is a little bit more challenging and time consuming, but to me, more fun. Dialing the CPU voltage in at a save 1.5v using a Thermolab Baram CPU cooler, we were able to get 4180GHz. This is was without doing much more to the BIOS than playing with the voltage of the CPU and increasing the clock and multiplier of the CPU. And because we were using a Black Edition processor we were giving the CPU multiplier options of 4 up to 32.5. We only need 20 to get our max overclock.


Conclusion

The MSI 890GXM-G65 was one of the first motherboard to market using the 890GX chipset. And a lot of times when a motherboard is first to be released to market, it is usually not the best and often have to go through a lot of trials. This is not the case with the 890GXM ,as it is one of the best microATX motherboards we have ever tested.

The MSI 890GXM-G65 is based on the newest AMD North/South bridges which are 890GX and 850 respectfully. There are a few advantages these bridges have over their older brethren, 790/750. One would be the upgrade of IGP performance. The newer chipset is slightly faster and compliant to HDMI 1.3 video and audio. But the biggest advantage is the introduction of PCIe 2.0, USB 3.0 and SATA 600.

It is easy to overclock first of all. During the weeks we had the motherboard after all initial testing we ran the motherboard and the AMD Phenom II 965 at nearly 4.2GHz, 4180GHz to be exact. This was done using the minimal of BIOS changes and only one voltage change and that was to the CPU. We got our overclock using the BIOS but MSI makes it even more simple by implementing the OC Genie Auto Overclocking BIOS option. Honestly, it can't get any easier as all you have to do is select the option in the BIOS and reboot. Instant performance. We were greeted by a 4080MHz CPU.

We have found it hard to figure out what category to put this motherboard in: HTPC or enthusiast. Added it to a HTPC setup you will have one of the best mATX motherboard on the planet as it gives you all the bells and whistles that the 890GX chipset has to offer especially with the advancement in audio and video over the HDMI port. There is also small number of reasons to consider it an enthusiast motherboard because it is easily overclockable to levels. Throwing it on a bench with water or more extreme cooling solutions can net some really impressive clocks.

For those that have a Phenom X2 550 or 555 that is unlockable, you will be happy to know that BIOS versions 1.2 and higher when unlock those cores. We sample we received was a first version BIOS and did not offer the feature. And thanks to the M-Flash option in the BIOS upgrading the BIOS is simple and painless and done via a USB flash drive.

The MSI 890GXM-G65 will set up back about $130 which is not bad for a full featured motherboard like this one.

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