The array of ports on the I/O panel is generous without being ridiculous. Plug in the supplied bracket and you have a total of eight USB ports and two Firewire ports along with one eSATA, Gigabit LAN and audio with both coaxial and optical digital connections.
Diving into the BIOS was a familiar experience as it appeared to be identical to the DDR2 M4A79, though of course this isn’t the case. Nevertheless, the BIOS on the M4A79T is as solid and stable as we could wish and we had no trouble overclocking our Phenom II X4 810 from 2.6GHz to 3.38GHz. The process was very simple and involved modest changes to the voltage settings along with a hike in the base clock speed from 200MHz to 260MHz. It was a similar story with the Phenom II X3 720 which started at 2.8GHz and shot up to 3.5GHz. The X3 720 is a Black Edition processor so we left the base clock at 200MHz and raised the multiplier from 14x to 17.5x to achieve the maximum speed with the minimum of effort.
The three coolers on the chipset and power regulation hardware are linked with heatpipes and do a fine job of keeping the system cool at stock speeds, just as we would expect. The eye opening thing is that the latest version of Phenom II has a relatively low power draw when it is overclocked and we were able to keep the fan speed of our Zalman CNPS9500 CPU cooler to a minimum. This meant that airflow across the M4A79T Deluxe was almost non-existent but despite that the coolers were barely warm to the touch.
The two Phenom II models X4 810 and X3 720 that we used in testing both have a TDP of 95W which is less than the 125W of the AM2+ Phenom II X4 940 but that is only part of the story. AMD rates the TDP of its CPUs on a worst case scenario so the TDP isn’t much better than a guide to the thermals of the processor. Phenom was dreadfully hot and the Phenom II 940 was merely good but the combination of AM3 Phenom II with DDR3 memory and the Asus M4A79T Deluxe is very encouraging.
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.
The Asus M4A79T Deluxe is the first Socket AM3 motherboard we have seen and it is a very good partner to the latest version of Phenom II.