The layout and design of this board centres around the graphics support that is offered by the 790FX chipset but the problem is that Gigabyte has handled the layout poorly. Perhaps that’s not entirely fair as you can be sure that there will be at least one and maybe two PCI slots free for anyone who fancies a proper sound card. But there can surely be no earthly reason for the SATA cables to collide with the graphics cards.
At the top of the board there’s another odd design choice as the four memory slots are very close to the processor socket. If you use the standard AMD Phenom heatsink fan unit then you’ll have no problem and the same is true if you have a compact watercooling block. The problem comes when you install a moderately beefy air cooler, in our case an Asus cooler with a 90mm fan. This cooler has seen service on any number of AMD motherboards without any problems but on this Gigabyte it blocked the first memory slot.
The I/O panel is packed with a large collection of ports and connectors with two PS/2 ports for those of us who enjoy a traditional mouse and keyboard, six USB 2.0 ports, one Firewire port, six analogue audio mini jacks plus coaxial and optical outputs, two eSATA ports and dual Gigabit LAN. There’s no harm in a second LAN port, although it’s hard to see who needs this feature, but why on earth has Gigabyte included a Serial port above the digital audio connections? No doubt there are people out there who find a use for Serial or Parallel ports but surely these are sorts of connectors that could be located on a bracket as an optional extra. This would leave more space on the I/O panel that could be used, for instance, to space out or add more USB ports.
You’ll note that so far we haven’t turned the GA-MA790FX-DQ6 on and we’re failing to be impressed which is rarely a good start to proceedings so let’s add some electricity and see what happens. With a Phenom 9500 installed alongside 2GB of Corsair PC-9136 DDR2 memory and an Asus 8800 GT graphics card we were ready to install Windows Vista Ultimate Edition. In an ideal world we’d have plugged in a pair of HD 3850 or 3870 cards however your reviewer currently has an embarrassment of wealth in the Nvidia department and is rather poor when it comes to AMD hardware.
The first step was to perform a BIOS update as the Gigabyte was supplied with version F1 and it was the work of a moment to plop the new version F3 on a floppy and to update within the BIOS using the Q-Flash function.