This may be our last review of Socket AM2+ motherboards, i.e. ones supporting DDR2 memory. Unless there is an original or exclusive model in which DDR2 support is justified. Today, the demand for such motherboards is mostly kept up thanks to owners of high-quality overclocker or high-capacity DDR2 modules, or due to some specific market situations when DDR2 is cheaper than DDR3.
We have recently reviewed the inexpensive MSI 770-C35. That motherboard has simple design and interfaces, however, it does support DDR3 memory. The today's solution is just the opposite: it supports DDR2, but it has two graphics card slots for CrossFire configurations (x8+x8). Graphics cards with large coolers will fit, too. Installing them won't prevent you from connecting hard drives, etc., because SATA and PATA ports are horizontal.
On the downside, the motherboard only has three fan connectors. Moreover, system fans cannot be controlled from BIOS, though even lower-end MSI motherboards usually allow choosing fixed speeds.
The rear panel is very similar to that of MSI 770-C35. This isn't much of an advantage. Users who choose CrossFire-enabled chipsets usually require richer features. Even if they tried to make the motherboard cheaper, they could at least add eSATA and optical S/PDIF Out by means of the chipset. Even inexpensive products offer features like that these days.
The classic cooling system does it job fine. Besides, the CPU power circuitry should not require additional cooling, being liberal enough.
The CPU VRM has 5 lanes, 3 FETs per each, 10 x 820µF and 4 x 270µF capacitors, all solid. The motherboard supports CPUs with up to 125W TDP and features Active Phase Switching that dynamically disables unused lanes. This feature can be switched on and off in BIOS.
The bundle includes a SATA cable with metallic latches, a PATA cable, and a power adapter. The software CD contains an utility that automatically updates drivers and firmware, as well as Norton Internet Security.
The motherboard is based on the AMD 790X chipset (AMD 790X + SB710). It features 6 SATA 2.0 ports (RAID 0, 1, 0+1), as well as a dual-channel PATA/133 port. The additional controllers include:
- Integrated audio based on the 8-channel Realtek ALC889 HDA codec. Unfortunately, we couldn't conduct our usual tests in RMAA, because the motherboard didn't recognize our ESI Juli@ sound card. Ironically, it only worked with integrated audio disabled;
- Gigabit LAN based on Realtek 8111D (PCIe x1);
- System monitoring based on Fintek F71889F, supports automatic CPU fan control (4-pin fans only) -- either keeps the desired temperature (40°C to 60°C) or maintains the desired speed.
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