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This arrangement is fine provided you use a single graphics card but this motherboard supports CrossFireX so there's the potential to to use dual graphics cards. The bad news is that installing a double slot graphics card in the second PCI Express slot blocks three of the five SATA connectors, which is very bad news indeed.
Asus redeemed itself to a small degree by including AMD OverDrive v 2.1.5 on the driver DVD, along with its Asus TurboV and Asus EPU utilities. It amazes us how rarely motherboard manufacturers include OverDrive which is a pain as it can be tricky to find the download link on the horribly confused AMD website, and it's actually a very useful utility.
The biggest change in the land of AMD Phenom is the recent introduction of the 45nm Phenom II which wasn't available when we reviewed the M3A79-T Deluxe so we had to give ourselves a new reference point. Happily we had a MSI DKA790GX Platinum (similar to the DKA790GX, which we've already reviewed) so we at least had one other board to compare to.
The complete test system consisted of a Phenom II X4 940 processor, a Radeon HD 4870 X2 graphics card, an Intel X25-M 80GB SSD (yes, it's horrendously expensive but it's also incredbly fast). We're not suggesting that you will use an SSD in your new PC build but this change will remove any possibility that the hard drive is a bottleneck in performance during testing.
The MSI performed admirably and set a high standard for the Asus which it unfortunately failed to match.
The M4A79 Deluxe draws 20W more than the MSI both at idle and under load and it also failed to overclock as well as the MSI. We're only talking about a slender margin with the Asus hitting 3.5GHz and the MSI running at 3.6GHz but there's also an issue with hard drive performance during overclocked conditions. The MSI maintained its hard drive performance while the Asus lost some ten percent when the CPU was overclocked.
We got part of the way through our test suite with the Asus running at 3.6GHz before it crashed in PCMark Vantage.
We'll get the full story when we can test the M4A79 Deluxe with a Socket AM3 Phenom but as things stand it is hard to see why you would spend an extra £20 on the Asus when the MSI delivers a better deal.
Although the Asus M4A79 Deluxe does a decent job and could prove the perfect upgrade path when AM3 Phenom II CPUs come along, it is currently beaten in every department by conventional alternatives like the MSI DKA790GX.
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