Then there's the size of the M4A785TD-V EVO. No doubt Asus will come up with endless variants of 785G motherboard in the future but for the time being it's a big board that won't be much use for most media centre PCs where you want a Micro-ATX motherboard instead.
Asus has chosen to use an AM3 processor socket along with DDR3 memory slots which reduces your options when you're choosing a CPU. Make no mistake about it, we like the combination of AM3 and DDR3 but this choice means that the M4A785TD-V EVO is aimed at the new build/extensive upgrade market where you are buying a package that consists of a motherboard, CPU and memory. On the bright side AMD kit is so cheap that you can source the necessary hardware for £200.
The layout of the Asus is generally neat and tidy but we would expect nothing less as the designers have got plenty of space to work with and relatively few components to accommodate. The 8+2 power hardware runs down one side of the CPU socket and the four DDR3 slots down the other. For some reason the CPU fan header is located outboard of the memory slots which might make it something of a stretch. There are two more headers on the board for a chassis fan and the power supply fan.
The passive coolers on the power regulation hardware, Northbridge and Southbridge look superb. They are swoopy blue aluminium items that look the part and, more importantly, they do a good job. The blue colour scheme extends to the three PCI slots and the ATA133 connector and we note with interest that there is no floppy connector. Asus has found the space for three PCI slots as well as COM1 and LPT headers but you don't get a floppy. This strikes us as another curious decision; we don't mind legacy free motherboards that ditch all the antique hardware to tidy up the layout and the BIOS but honestly, is there anyone out there who wants an LPT1 connector but does not want a floppy drive?
We tested the M4A785TD-V EVO with our usual Phenom II X4 810 and 2GB of fast Kingston DDR3 and found the performance was directly comparable to the 790GX motherboards we have seen in recent times. We overclocked the integrated HD 4200 graphics core to 700MHz without any trouble which reinforces our belief that AMD 795GX will arrive sooner rather than later.
We couldn't do a back-to-back comparison with 780G as the boards for which we have test results all support Socket AM2+ and we don't currently have one hanging around our test bench.
The bigger question is how 785G compares to 790GX and the answer is that the two are very similar indeed. After one thousand words of confusion the clouds have lifted and we see that this AM3 motherboard offers all the benefits of 790GX at a bargain price.
Fair play to Asus as that's superb news for the customer but we still have no idea what AMD is playing at as it appears to be cannibalising the 790GX market with the updated 785G.
Provided you don't want CrossFireX you'll find that the M4A785TD-V EVO does a very good job at a low price but the sooner Asus comes out with a Micro-ATX version the better.