iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Gigabyte GA-890FXA-UD7 Motherboard

AMD 890FX chipset in tests.

May 17, 2010

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Gigabyte GA-890FXA-UD7 is based on the AMD 890FX chipset (AMD 890FX + SB850). It features 8 internal drive ports, of which six SATA 6Gbps ports are provided by the chipset (RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5, JBOD) and two more SATA 3Gbps ports are based on an auxillary controller (RAID 0, 1, JBOD). There is also a regular IDE channel for two PATA/133 devices. The list of additional controllers includes:

  • Integrated audio based on 8-channel Realtek ALC889 HDA codec supporting Dolby Home Theater, with optical and coaxial S/PDIF outputs on the back panel;
  • Dual Gigabit Ethernet based on Realtek 8111D (PCIe x1);
  • FireWire based on TI TSB43AB23 (PCI), up to three IEEE 1394a ports, one 4-pin and one 6-pin connectors on the back panel;
  • SATA 3Gbps based on GIGABYTE SATA2 (PCIe x1), two SATA devices (RAID 0, 1, JBOD);
  • eSATA/USB combo based on JMicron JMB362 (PCIe x1), two SATA devices (RAID 0, 1, JBOD);
  • USB 3.0 based on NEC D720200F1 (PCIe x1), two USB 3.0 ports on the back panel;
  • System monitoring based on ITE IT8720F, automatic CPU and system fan speed management (manual via Easy Tune), both 3-pin and 4-pin coolers are supported.

We assessed the integrated audio solution in the 16-bit/44kHz mode using RightMark Audio Analyzer 6.2.3 and an ESI Juli@ sound card.

Frequency response (40Hz to 15kHz), dB: +0.04, -0.19 Very good
Noise level, dB(A) -89.8 Good
Dynamic range, dB(A) 89.8 Good
THD, % 0.0074 Very good
THD + noise, dB(A) -78.5 Average
IMD + noise, % 0.011 Very good
Channel crosstalk, dB -88.8 Excellent
IMD at 10 kHz, % 0.011 Very good

Overall grade: Very good.

This is a typical implementation of the codec often found in lots of motherboards. The top-class nature is probably only supported by both kinds of S/PDIF outputs. Most people who use such motherboards use standalone sound cards anyway.



  • CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 810
  • RAM: 2 x 2GB Apacer DDR3-1333 CL9 9-9-9-24-1T for Socket AM3 boards; 2 x 2GB GoodRAM PRO DDR2-1066 CL5 5-5-5-15-2T for Socket AM2+ boards
  • HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 (SATA, 7200rpm)
  • Graphics card: ATI RADEON HD4850, 512 MB GDDR3
  • PSU: AcBel ATX-550CA-AB8FB
  • OS: Windows Vista SP1 64-bit, Catalyst 9.2, latest chipset drivers


  • 7-Zip 4.65 x64
  • WinRAR 3.80
  • XviD 1.2.1
  • x264 r1129 x64
  • FarCry 2 (Ranch Medium)
  • Crysis (DX10, HOCbenchmark, VGA test, built-in demo)
  • Devil May Cry 4 (built-in benchmark)
  • World in Conlict (built-in benchmark)

To assess performance we measure time required to archive a 297MB set of 277 files of various types and convert a 636MB MPEG2 video using XviD and x264. We also measure frames per second in game demos. In FarCry 2 we run tests in 4 modes: low, medium, high and very high quality. The first three modes imply the aforesaid quality level, 1280x720 resolution, DX9 rendering, High Performance. The last mode implies: 1680x1050 resolution, Very High setting for both graphics and system, DX10 rendering. In Crysis we also use 4 modes at 1024x768 and 1280x1024 and run tests at Low and High quality in each mode. In Devil May Cry 4 we run two tests: 1280x720 (High DX9) and 1680x1050 (Super High DX10). In World in Conlict we run test in 4 modes: 1280x720 Low, 1280x720 Medium, 1680x1050 High, 1680x1050 Very High.

It's obvious which modes should be used with integrated graphics and which, with discrete graphics. Note that if a motherboard has no integrated graphics, performance tests are only used to check for serious layout or BIOS flaws and can be reduced to minimum. Vice versa, performance tests are indicative for motherboards with integrated graphics. And if a certain motherboard review lacks certain details, we might add respective test results to make up for it.

To assess capabilities of a motherboard and its BIOS, we overclock test CPUs (which ones depends on board's market segment) to a stable maximum with the help of Zalman CNPS9700 AM2 and Cooler Master Hyper Z600 coolers. At that we use all motherboard features, like CPU core voltage adjustments and, if needed, bus multiplier and clock adjustments (Hyper-Transport, CPU NB, etc.) For RAM we select a clock rate typical for this class of modules by adjusting its multiplier, or clock rate needed to maximize CPU core clock rate. The stability of an overclocked machine is assessed in Windows Vista with the help of AMD OverDrive stability test (all tests are run for 5 minutes). Note that since overclocking potential somewhat varies from one board to another, we are not focused on finding board's exact overclocking potential accurate to 1MHz. We just try to find out if a board hampers in CPU overclocking (due to insufficient voltage stabilizer power, etc.) and see how it performs in atypical modes, including automatic BIOS recovery in cases of overclocking issues (not requiring CMOS reset) and such.

Power consumption is assessed in the light mode (with text editor running) and in the heavy mode (FarCry 2, high quality, 1280x720). At that we enable processor's standard power-saving features. Also, if a board has proprietary power-saving features, we examine their efficiency separately.

BIOS overclocking settings Availability Notes
Memory timings +  
Memory frequency + DDR3-800 ~ DDR3-1600
HT bus frequency (multiplier) +  
CPU reference frequency + 200MHz ~ 500MHz
CPU multiplier + Cores and CPU NB
CPU core voltage + -0.600V ~ +0.600 V (CPU, CPU NB), 2.220V ~ 3.100V (CPU PLL)
Memory voltage + 1.210V ~ 2.410V
Chipset voltage + 0.90V ~ 1.40V (Northbridge), 1.05V ~ 1.47V (HT bus), 1.45V ~ 2.10V (PCIe/PLL)

The BIOS adjustment ranges of the CPU voltage, as well as some other parameters, depend on the given processor. We publish the results of our AMD Phenom II X4 810. We used BIOS D6 (GA-890FXA-UD7 rev. 1.0).

Traditionally for Gigabyte, the complete list of options can be opened by pressing Ctrl+F1 in the BIOS main menu. However, overclocking options, voltages included, are not hidden by default. Hidden are parameters you would use rarely.

The set of options is complete, CPU overclocking is convenient. The indication of current frequencies and voltages is really handy, especially when overclocking by means of reference frequency. The impossbility to save custom user profiles is surprising for a top-class motherboard like Gigabyte GA-890FXA-UD7. Perhaps it'll be added in future BIOS versions.

The emergency loading of default parameters works smoothly. You are taken to a BIOS menu where most settings you've set are saved.

CPU Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition 2.8 GHz Phenom II X4 810 2.6 GHz
CPU frequency, MHz 4100 3835
CPU reference frequency (multiplier), MHz 200 (x20.5) 295 (x13)
Core/CPU NB voltage (according to BIOS), V 1.50/1.30 1.49/1.35
CPU NB frequency (multiplier), MHz 2600 (x13) 2360 (x8)
HT bus frequency (multiplier), MHz 2000 (x10) 2065 (x7)
Memory frequency, MHz DDR3-1333 DDR3-1180
Notes Increase core and CPU NB multipliers Increase reference frequency, reduce CPU NB and HT bus multipliers

The results are worthy of a top-class motherboard. GA-890FXA-UD7 almost fully uncovered the potential of both CPUs. (As for hexacore CPUs, we are still accumulating statistical data.) Certain BIOS debugging may still be in order, but GA-890FXA-UD7 will certainly appeal to overclocking enthusiasts.

Performance and efficiency

We compared Gigabyte GA-890FXA-UD7 with Gigabyte 890GPA-UD3H.

ATI Radeon HD 4850 Gigabyte GA-890GPA-UD3H Gigabyte GA-890FXA-UD7
Archiving with 7-Zip, min:sec 2:17 2:25
Archiving with WinRAR, min:sec 1:15 1:15
HDPlay (DXVA Off/On), CPU load 26%/3% 26%/3%
Far Cry 2 (Very High @ 1680x1050), fps 62 62
World in Conflict (Very High @ 1680x1050), fps 29 29

Lagging behind in 7-Zip is most likely the effect of older BIOS. As for games, as we have expected, a single graphics card doesn't make any difference. We shall test this motherboard with a couple of ATI Radeon HD 5870 cards and see if two full-speed slots have any effect on performance.

Enclosure power consumption

We measured power consumption with the wattmeter built into the PSU.

AMD Phenom II X4 810 + ATI Radeon HD 4850 Gigabyte GA-890GPA-UD3H Gigabyte GA-890FXA-UD7
Text editing, Cool'n'Quiet On, W 84 65
Text editing, Cool'n'Quiet Off, W 101 94
Far Cry 2, W 170-206 174-195

All energy saving features work correctly. As a result, the top-class GA-890FXA-UD7 won over the mid-end counterpart. We used to see higher-end chipsets consume more energy.


The rollout of the 890FX chipset completes AMD's gaming platform of 2010. As stated above, the new chipset is quite solid and worthy of enthusiasts' attention. Speaking of Gigabyte GA-890FXA-UD7, it has expectedly rich functionality. One distinctive feature is the original chipset cooling solution. While a bit excessive in terms of cooling, it's actually useful, especially if you need a reserve of stability for your overclocked PC.

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