ASRock A780GXE vs AOD790GX - Phenom Battle - Closer Look at the Boards A780GXE and AOD790GX

Article Index
ASRock A780GXE vs AOD790GX - Phenom Battle
Closer Look at the Boards A780GXE and AOD790GX
AMD 780 Chipset and A780GXE/128M Features
AMD 790 Chipset and AOD790GX/128M Features
BIOS, Energy Saving and Overclocking
Test Setup, HDD and Systems Testing
Let the Benchmarking Begin - Synthetic
Real-World Gaming and Applications Benchmarked

Closer Look:

The rear IO on this board is pretty straightforward and not as interesting as the WiFi series of boards from ASRock.  This board comes equipped with PS/2 keyboard and mouse connections.  There is no coaxial or optical digital audio output on these boards.  Instead, it's taken care of in the cluster of audio connectors.  There is an eSATA port on the back as well as six USB2.0 ports, 8 channel audio and a GB Ethernet jack. Unfortunately there is no Firewire present on the rear I/O or on the board at all for that matter.  Firewire is typically used for external hard drive connections and as eSATA has gained popularity, IEEE 1394 appears to be taking a back seat on some motherboards.  The truth is, I prefer Firewire over USB2.0 for data connections, but due to the popularity of USB2.0, I don't use Firewire that much at all anymore. The only thing I still use it for regularly is for downloading data from my digital video camera.

A780GXE - Rear I/O
A780GXE - Rear I/O
 AOD790GX - Rear I/O
AOD790GX - Rear I/O

 

The CPU socket is clear of obstructions on both of these boards but there are still a couple of issues with the power layout in my opinion.  The is a 4-pin/8-pin power connector located close to the CPU socket as well as a standard Molex connector that is used to provide additional power to high-end cards - especially if you're running in Crossfire.  These cables have to run across the CPU and make cable management a little difficult.  CPU power regulation looks very solid however, and this is a bonus.  Even on the A780GXE/128M board that uses both solid and electrolytic capacitors, ASRock has chosen to use solid-state capacitors on the CPU power regulation circuit.

 A780GXE - CPU and Power
A780GXE - CPU and Power
AOD790GX - CPU and Power
AOD790GX - CPU and Power

 

ASRock is considered a "budget" board maker, but they typically use high-quality components.  One area where they save some money is in the SLI/Crossfire department.  Instead of using more expensive integrated, BIOS-controlled switches, they still use the Crossfire Switching card in order to change the PCIe lane configuration from 16x/4x to 8x/8x when it CrossfireX mode.  As you can see below, there are enough PCI and PCIe slots to keep most people happy.  There is a single PCIe 1x slot, two 16x (16x/4x or 8x/8x) slots, and three PCI slots.  If your graphics cards have single slot coolers - you'll be able to populate all of these slots for maximum connectivity.  As you can see, the only difference between the two boards from this angle is the capacitors.

 A780GXE - PCIe Slots
A780GXE - PCIe Slots
 AOD790GX - PCIe Slots
AOD790GX - PCIe Slots

 

Although the boards use different chipsets, both use the same cooling solution - a large passive cooler on the Northbridge and a smaller passive cooler on the Southbridge.  Even though I was concerned about passive cooling on such a powerful chipset, the coolers seemed to hold up, but if you're into high-end overclocking, you may want to swap these up for some active cooling.

 A780GXE - Chipset Cooling
A780GXE - Chipset Cooling
AOD790GX - Chipset Cooling
AOD790GX - Chipset Cooling

 

The SATA and USB2.0 connections are all located in the bottom right of the board and should be pretty self-explanatory.  The orange SATA port is designated for eSATA usage - although it will work for regular SATA drives as well.

 A780GXE - SATA and More
A780GXE - SATA and More
AOD790GX - SATA and More
AOD790GX - SATA and More

 

Before we carry on any father, we'll take a look at the chipset and motherboard features and specifications on the next page.