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Asus has dropped a bit of a clanger with the model code for the M4A78T-E. The name suggests a fourth generation Socket AM3 AMD Phenom II motherboard with an AMD 780 chipset. In fact the chipset is an AMD 790GX so we would expect this model to be called the M4A79G-E or something. It would be rude to call this model code an error but it is certainly confusing and it means that the M4A78T-E is very similar to the Asus M4A79T Deluxe that we have previously reviewed.
The big difference is that one model uses the 790GX chipset while the other has the 790FX. That may not sound like a huge change but it affects almost every aspect of both motherboards. The dominant feature of the Asus M4A79T Deluxe must surely be the quad PCI Express graphics slots (2x16, 1x16 and 2x8 or 4x8) which allow you to combine your Socket AM3 Phenom II with as many as four ATi Radeon graphics cards.
This is ideal for a couple of niche applications such as PCs with four feeble graphics cards that support a video wall of eight TFTS or desktop super computers that offload a chunk of the workload from the CPU to the GPU but in the main we're talking about games.
The idea of plugging three or four Radeon HD 4850s into a gaming PC seems like a questionable move as the CrossFireX drivers are bound to cause you problems in certain games. The real killer, however, is the CPU.
If you're going the whole hog and want to fill your PC with £500 of HD 4850s or £700 of HD 4870s are you really going to base your gaming PC on Phenom II or might you sidle off down the Core i7 route?
Phenom II is a vast improvement over Phenom and Athlon 64 but it struggles against Core 2 and it's left in the dust by Core i7. If you should happen to want to combine a Phenom II with loads of PCI Express the Asus M4A79T Deluxe is a good place to start but frankly we think it's the right answer to the wrong question.
The M4A78T-E is a different proposition as it has dual PCI Express graphics slots (one x16 or dual x8) and it includes Radeon HD 3300 integrated graphics. We're familiar with this graphics core and have seen it in a number of motherboards such as the MSI DKA790GX but this is the first time we have seen HD 3300 graphics combined with Phenom II and DDR3 memory.
We used a Phenom II X4 810 in our testing and found that we could overclock from the stock speed of 2.6GHz to 3.38GHz, by raising the base clock from 200MHz to 260MHz, when we used integrated graphics and a slightly lower speed of 3.31GHz with a Radeon HD 4870 X2 graphics card installed. That's in line with our findings with the Asus M4A79T Deluxe and a touch slower than our current overclocking favourite, the Gigabyte GA-MA790FXT-UD5P.