GIGABYTE GA-890FXA-UD7 (Rev 2.0) AM3 Motherboard Review

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Power Consumption

Using its integrated graphics, the 890GX platform was clearly a winner in power consumption in the 890GX article. Even amongst 890GX boards, there is variance in the power consumption. So what happens when you add in an HD 5570 GPU and shut off the internal graphics on an 890GX? Let’s find out!

While the 890GX platform is the power consumption superstar without discrete graphics attached to it, power consumption spikes when asked to support an external graphics solution. I found this very strange, but maybe it’s a remnant from the integrated graphics solution onboard (despite being disabled in the BIOS). We didn’t notice any advantage with the Easy Energy Saver software installed in either scenario, but to its credit, the software does work on a long term cumulative basis.

Between the two boards, the 890GX based GA-890GPA-UD3H used an additional 19 Watts when under load over the 890FX based GA-890FXA-UD7. Idle numbers were more in favour of the 890GX, sucking in 7 watts less than the 890FX. I thought this was really odd so maybe there is some room to optimize disabling the integrated graphics fully.

USB On/Off Charge

To be honest, I never actually thought I’d find this feature useful. I have chargers for all my gadgets so having this extra charging…thingy…didn’t really appeal to me until I started using it.

The feature is enabled by installing GIGABYTE’s own proprietary USB driver. Once that’s done, you can have your gadgets plugged into the many USB ports available and charge away. Often I’m in front of my computer, and when my phone runs low on juice, I want to plug it in right then and there for a quick charge, and the On/Off Charge feature provides this perfectly. Leaving it plugged in after syncing is also an option and GIGABYTE claims a 40% faster charge with their technology over a standard USB port.

The best part is that it isn’t limited to the iPhone as Blackberry and other smartphone users also benefit from this technology. And of course, the demanding power requirements of Apple’s magical iPad are also addressed with the power boost provided by GIGABYTE’s technology. It really works and I did notice my phone charging up faster than it normally does.

Overall, this is a useful feature that sets GIGABYTE’s solutions apart from others out on the market.

Auto Unlock

Unlike GIGABYTE’s current 890GX board, the GA-890FXA-UD7 supports a micro processor controlled unlock function that increases your chance of success in unlocking disabled cores on some AMD CPUs. All you need to do is turn it on in the BIOS and the feature will immediately unlock any available cores on your AMD CPU. This mainly works with AMD’s triple and dual core Phenom IIs, but should work on future Phenom II X6s (posing as Phenom II X4s) as soon as Thuban core based chips start hitting the market with two of the six cores disabled.

Keep in mind that these cores are disabled for a reason and your success is not guaranteed. In fact, like our Phenom II X2 550 Black Edition, it used to unlock properly, but no longer does, possibly degrading to the point where it can no longer operate with all four cores active. While GIGABYTE’s Auto Unlocok did recognize the dormant cores on our X2 550, it would not allow the system to boot into Windows 7, crashing immediately upon entering the desktop. Extra voltage didn’t work and lowering the clock speed didn’t work either. This was the same experience we had with the similar micro processor controlled ASUS’ unlocking function on their M4A89GTD PRO/USB3 and the software based unlock of the MSI 890GXM-G65.

Keep in mind that when you enable this feature, you will disable CPU temp monitoring. If you’re not unlocking anything, you should switch it off so you can continue to monitor CPU temperature through AMD Overdrive or your favourite CPU monitoring program of choice.

Now that we’ve taken a look at all the other things, let’s see if GIGABYTE’s flagship AMD 890FX solution has a greater overclocking groove than its 890GX little brother.

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About

Stephen is Futurelooks' Editor-In-Chief and front man. He also held the Tiger Direct Charity PC Race record for 2 years between 2011 and 2012. Stephen's interests include all things techie, but in particular, computer hardware. When he's not geeking out, he's a family man with daughter Lexi and another one on the way.

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