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AMD 870 Motherboard Roundup

Six models for around $100.

May 3, 2011



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Most AMD processors belong to the mid-end segment these days. And when a user buys an affordable processor, he chooses a similar motherboard as well. All the more so that some boards based on mid-end chipsets offer a lot of features to satisfy even a demanding user.

In this roundup we shall review six motherboards based on the AMD 870 chipset. They seem a natural choice when you are sure that integrated graphics is not enough and believe that the back panel should feature more peripheral ports instead of video outputs.

Compared motherboards:

And their specifications:


Motherboard ASRock 870 Extreme3 ASUS M4A87TD EVO ASUS M4A87TD/ USB3 Biostar TA870+ Gigabyte 870A-UD3 MSI 870A-G54
Memory 4 x DDR3,
up to 16GB
4 x DDR3,
up to 16GB
4 x DDR3,
up to 16GB
4 x DDR3,
up to 16GB
4 x DDR3,
up to 16GB
4 x DDR3,
up to 16GB
PCIe x16 slots x16+x0/x8+x8 x16+x4 x16+x4 x16+x4 x16+x4 x16+x4
PCIe xl slots 2 1 1 2 2 1
PCI slots 2 3 3 2 3 3
SATA 3.0 5 6 6 5 6 6
SATA 2.0 - - - - 2 -
PATA - + + - + +
USB 3.0 2 2 2 - 2 2
USB 2.0 6 6 6 6 8 6
eSATA (version) 1 (3.0) 1 (2.0) - 1 (3.0) 2 (2.0) -
FireWire + + - + + -
Audio codec ALC892 VT1818 VT1818 ALC892 ALC892 ALC892
S/PDIF Out (optical) + + + + + +
S/PDIF Out (coaxial) + - - + + -

Although the AMD 870 chipset doesn't officially support CrossFire, all today's motherboards except ASUS M4A87TD/USB3 have two full-size graphics slots so that CrossFire can be enabled in the drivers. ASRock 870 Extreme3 even supports the x8+x8 mode, while other corresponding motherboards only allow the second slot to work as PCIe x4.



Gigabyte 870A-UD3

Peripheral interfaces are similar across motherboards. All except Biostar TA870+ have NEC USB 3.0 controllers. All except ASUS M4A87TD/USB3 and MSI 870A-G54 offer eSATA ports as well. At that, ASRock 870 Extreme3 and Biostar TA870+ use chipset's ports for this purpose, offering eSATA 3.0.

If you have FireWire devices, you should also be pleased, because as many as four motherboards offer such connectivity.

As you can see above, Gigabyte 870A-UD3 — perhaps the most feature-rich among all we have today — even has some free space left on the back panel — for another LAN port, for example. But after that it wouldn't be a mainstream motherboard already.



ASUS M4A87TD EVO

Gigabyte 870A-UD3 and ASUS M4A87TD EVO have the best CPU VRM among all compared — 8+1 and 8+2 phases, respectively. And they feature Low RDS(on) MOSFETs, too. Other motherboards have simpler circuitry, but all have solid capacitors. MSI 870A-G54 even has tantalum Hi- capacitors previously used only in the most expensive overclocker boards.

All tested motherboards support AMD Socket AM3 processors with the TDP of up to 140W.



ASRock 870 Extreme3

No motherboard in this roundup features any heatpipes, but a power-efficient chipset without integrated graphics do not need those anyway. On the other hand, only ASRock 870 Extreme3 has a heatsink on CPU VRM MOSFETs. It will come in handy, given that the CPU VRM doesn't have too many phases and processor is going to be overclocked.



ASUS M4A87TD EVO

Core unlocking has long been done in BIOS, but ASUS boards still have onboard switches, too.



MSI 870A-G54

It was more surprising to find optional controls on MSI 870A-G54, the simplest of all boards compared. The button above enables an independent reference clock rate control knob which only overclocking enthusiasts will appreciate. Most users would prefer an extra peripheral port there, no doubt.


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