With overclocking our results were mostly positive, with a few minor let-downs. With our Phenom X4 810, for example, we couldn’t get the HTT clock up as far as on the Asus M4A75TD-M EVO without adjusting other parameters like voltage. The one-touch overclocking Turbo Key II did an okay job, as with the flick of a switch it brought the 2,600MHz CPU up to 2,830MHz; not impressive but not bad.
On the other hand, the BIOS’ CPU Level option, which automatically overclocks your CPU and adjusts all other settings (including voltages), was far more impressive. Our first test with it resulted in an unstable overclock, but the second time around it produced a stable 3.2GHz on a 250 HTT clock (from its default 200). CPU Level wasn’t quite as impressive with our 3.4GHz Phenom II X4 965, and here we managed a higher overclock manually: 3.9GHz with a 229 HTT clock, leaving all other settings to their defaults. Turbo Key II, by comparison, managed 3.7GHz.
One major oversight is that Asus’ various automatic overclocking systems are unaware of each other, so if, for example, you first use the BIOS’ CPU Level tool and then the Turbo Key II or software OC tool, your PC is almost guaranteed to crash – hardly ideal for the relative newcomers these systems are primarily aimed at.
While on the topic of processors, it’s worth noting that this board can provide up to 140W to the CPU, so it fully supports AMD’s upcoming hexacore Phenom II X6s.
Overclocking on the integrated ATI Radeon HD4290 graphics chip is fairly pointless as even the most cash-strapped gamer should be able to afford a £40 graphics card which will give better performance. As is, it’ll just about do for very undemanding games (a score of 16fps in TrackMania Nations Forever on Medium Detail and 1,920 x 1,080 is poor by any measure), but it does a great job on HD video processing, which is after all its primary target.
When it comes to value, the M4A89GTD Pro/USB3 is not in an easy position. You can find it online for around £115, which is around twice the price of many other AMD-based boards using previous-generation chipsets. Consequently, if you can live without USB 3.0 (or SATA 6Gb/s, though this is a far less significant technology at the moment), it’s easy to recommend something like the £70 M4A75TD-M EVO.
However, for the enthusiast, building a new PC without catering for USB 3.0 seems silly, and the M4A89GTD Pro/USB3’s price is in line with other new 890GX IGP-based boards. You’re getting the latest AMD chipset, some of the best integrated graphics available (though these would probably be more attractive in a Micro ATX board) and CrossFire capabilities, all in a board that doesn’t skimp too much on features or looks, with Core Unlocking being a major – if risky – draw.
A versatile and decent – if slightly quirky – board, if you’re going the AMD route and want a future-proof option, the Asus M4A89GTD Pro/USB3 is definitely worth keeping in mind.