ASRock A780GXE vs AOD790GX - Phenom Battle
A while ago ASRock sent us a press release that contained a couple of new motherboards that look somewhat similar at the release. They do however use different Northbridge and Southbridge chipsets, different integrated GPU solutions as well as a few other differences. At first glance though the ASRock A780GXE/128M and the AOD790GX/128 look almost identical. We'll put them head-to-head and see how they compare - both physically and in terms of performance.
Right from the start the similarities of the package is very similar. There are only a couple of different decals on the box of the AOD790GX. When opening the box, you can see a few differences though. The AOD790GX ships with a few more cables and a DVI-HDMI video connector. Other than that, both boards include driver CDs, manuals, SATA cables, IDE/Floppy cables and the usual rear I/O shield.
First Look at the Boards:
When I first looked at the A780GXE/128MB and the AOD790GX/128 I thought they looked virtually identical, but after a few seconds you can see a few major differences between the motherboards. Although both have a very similar layout, the A780GXE/128M board has a mixed array of capacitors - both electrolytic and solid-state capacitors. ASRock claims that all of their capacitors are Japanese, but solid-state capacitors are known to have a longer life-span.
Although the second board is pictured from a different angle, you can still see the similarities as well as the differences.
As we take a look at the board above, there are a few things worth mentioning. The main 24-pin power connector is located conveniently at the top right of the motherboard. This helps for cable management - especially on cases with bottom-mounted PSUs. You'll also notice that both ASRock boards use a Crossfire/SLI switch card to change from the 16x/8x PCIe configuration to the Crossfire configuration. The last thing that bothers me with these boards is the relatively small passive cooling solution and the lack of fan headers. There are only two fan headers on these boards and one of them is required for the CPU. That only leaves one for a case fan or aftermarket chipset fan. The passive solution may be great if the integrated GPU is kept clocked down, and the chipset isn't overclocked very high, but heat could be a big issue here.
The SATA connectors are all located at the bottom corner of the board and remain out of the way for long graphics cards. Five are dedicated to standard SATA and the orange port is designated for eSATA. There is also another eSATA port located near the rear I/O of the board. Although there is a Firewire header on the board, there is no Firewire bracket included with either of these boards so if you want to take advantage of this you'll need to purchase a PCI slot bracket or have a case with this feature built in. Also there are USB headers on board for four more USB ports - again no USB brackets are included. However many cases have the option for at least two USB headers and this may not be a big deal if you've got one of these cases.