We've already taken a look at AMD's new, high-end 890FX chipset with the ASRock 890FX Deluxe3, which offered an exclusive four USB 3.0 ports. Let's see what MSI makes of it with its latest and greatest GD70-series gaming-oriented AM3 motherboard, the 890FX-GD70 (not to be confused with MSI's cheaper 790FX-GD70).
So what's special about this GD70? On the hardware side, SATA 6Gb/s is natively supported by AMD's most recent SB850 chipset, two USB 3.0 ports are provided courtesy of the usual NEC controller, and physical power, reset and ClearCMOS buttons are nothing out of the ordinary at the high end. A few less common features are a powered eSATA/USB combi port, a physical overclocking dial and Green Power button, and no fewer than five PCI Express x16 slots. It also sports dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, which are becoming quite rare these days.
We found the previous MSI motherboard we reviewed, the GD65, to be one of the more visually attractive boards around, and we're glad to see the company hasn't broken this design philosophy with the GD70. It still sports the same great combination of black PCB, black and blue slots and silver heatsink cooling, now with added metallic blue highlighting. Only the white SATA 6Gb/s ports spoil the effect a tad – surely they could have been done in black?
MSI's 'flat heatpipe' passive cooling looks very impressive indeed – there's as much metal on this motherboard as on any we've seen, though the 890FX (and the lower end GX, for that matter) do seem to need quite a bit of cooling. MSI does use a selection of "military class components" for endurance and stability, but don't expect ruggedness on a level with the Asus Sabertooth 55i TUF.
While not too bad, the 890FX-GD70's included bundle is somewhat sub-par for a high-end product. Essentially it hasn't changed much since last year's GD65: one CrossFire bridge, two four-pin molex to SATA power adapters, four straight SATA cables and an EIDE cable, with some handy pin header adapters and a two-port USB 2.0 bracket thrown in for good measure. One unfortunate similarity with the ASRock 890FX Deluxe3 is that the data cables do not in any way match the board. These ones are red, which clashes almost as badly as ASRock's orange ones did with that board's largely comparable colouring.