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8/10

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Gigabyte GA-MA790FXT-UD5P

The Gigabyte GA-MA790FXT-UD5P is the second AM3 motherboard we have seen following on from the Asus M4A79T Deluxe. We were deeply impressed by the way that the Asus overclocked the new Socket AM3 Phenom but as we concluded in the review;
"This is the first AM3 motherboard we have seen in action so we cannot be sure how much of the credit lies with AMD and how much should go to Asus. For the time being it is safest to say that AM3 puts AMD back in the game and Asus has done a fine job." Hopefully the Gigabyte MA790FXT-UD5P will help us to answer that very question.
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The appearance of the MA790FXT-UD5P is immediately familiar as it looks like a number of Ultra Durable 3 models that we have seen in recent times. For instance the EX58-UD4P Core i7 motherboard uses heatsinks on the chipset with a similar grey and blue colour scheme while the SATA and PCI Express slots and connectors are coloured blue and white. It's not a complete surprise that the MA790FXT-UD5P and EX58-UD4P look similar as both CPUs contain the memory controller so the relationship between the processor socket, the Northbridge and the memory slots is essentially the same.

The horrendous mouthful of a model code indicates that the chipset on the MA790FXT-UD5P is an AMD 790FX which is allied to an SB750 Southbridge. Gigabyte clearly feels that the SB750 support for six SATA II connectors is inadequate and has added a further four SATA II connectors on a Gigabyte controller which appears to be the usual rebadged JMicron chip. That's a total of ten SATA connectors which could result in a terrible muddle however all ten are laid down at the edge of the board and are easily accessible even if you have two large graphics cards installed. You can use the supplied bracket to convert two of these internal SATA connectors to eSATA and should have no problem finding a home for the bracket above, between, or below your graphics cards.

The I/O panel has eight USB ports in four widely spaced pairs along with a mini Firewire port, a regular six-pin Firewire, dual Gigabit LAN, a pair of PS/2 ports and a full complement of audio connectors. Full marks there Gigabyte as we cannot find anything to moan about.
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The illuminated power and reset micro buttons have been carefully located next to the main power connector but then we hit a silly problem. The illuminated Clear CMOS button sits just above the SATA connectors and has a clear cover to avoid you accidently pressing the button in error. It's a fine idea however a long graphics card such as a GeForce GTX 280 or Radeon HD 4870 will overlap the cover and prevent you from operating the button. D'Oh!

Apart from that small problem the layout is exemplary although it may possibly be improved if one of the three PCI Express x1 slots was x4 to increase the options for expansion cards.

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