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This week's motherboard is the Asus M4A79T Deluxe which differs from the Asus M4A79 Deluxe that we reviewed a couple of weeks ago in one important detail. The Asus M4A79 Deluxe is a Socket AM2+ motherboard that uses the AMD 790FX chipset to support Phenom and Phenom II CPUS and DDR2 memory. Asus told us that the M4A79 Deluxe also supports the new Socket AM3 Phenom II (review from Edward, on its way) which was a claim that we couldn't check at that time.
The problem is that we couldn't understand why anyone would buy a brand new Phenom II X4 810 or X3 720 processor and then choose to ally it with a DDR2 motherboard. It also seemed unlikely that many people would buy a new AM2+ motherboard for their existing CPU on the off-chance that they might buy an AM3 Phenom II in the future. The upshot was that we regarded the M4A79 Deluxe as little more than a refreshed M3A79-T Deluxe that was trading on its support for AM3.
By contrast the M4A79T Deluxe supports new Socket AM3 processors but doesn't have backwards compatibility with AM2+ Athlon X2 and Phenom processors due to its use of DDR3 memory. The four slots can support up to 16GB of DDR3-1,333MHz memory, which is the native speed of the memory controller in the new Phenom II. If you overclock the memory you can run it at a heady 1,600MHz although our testing showed that this doesn't bring much obvious benefit.
The M4A79T Deluxe is identical in layout and appearance to the M4A79 Deluxe apart from the colour of the memory slots which have changed from yellow and black to yellow and orange. If you can tell the difference between the AM2+ and AM3 sockets by eye then you're doing very well indeed. The other difference is the price as the DDR3 M4A79T costs £10 more than the M4A79.
As we mentioned in the M4A79 Deluxe review we like most aspects of the layout of the motherboard. The power connectors are sensibly located, there is a good array of expansion slots and the micro buttons at the foot of the board are the usual quality Asus components. We have some doubts about the placement of the SATA connectors as three of the five would be blocked if you use a pair of double slot graphics cards. Realistically that will not affect many people but it is a concern nonetheless.
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