With shiny new Intel motherboards being announced left and right, and even Asus designating an Intel board as its “flagship” model, some may get the impression that the development of AMD boards is lagging behind. In some ways this is true, but before you jump all over the manufacturers' case you have to consider this: Core i7 launched months ago, and, being the newest and shiniest toy on the block made it kind of a big deal. AMD, though, is just now pushing out its first AM3 models - the latest high performers from the smaller of the processer giants. Additionally, an AMD motherboard and CPU solution will cost you a fraction of that of the latest Intel. This particular board is $199 USD - half that of the ASUS Intel Rampage II Extreme.
Asus is at the top of its game, being one of the few motherboard manufacturers producing AM3 boards, which also support the new DDR3 technology. Let’s take a look at some of the great features this board includes.
AM3 is the newest socket to be introduced my AMD, but they have yet to put out a really killer CPU to fill the space. There are hints of more Phenom II x4’s down the line for the AM3 socket, including one with a 6mb L2 cache to be released shortly. As it stands, only AM3 boards support the newer DDR3 standard, so if you’re looking for the building block for a forwards-compatible PC that’s going to stay “current” for many years to come, this board is definitely your best bet.
PCI-Express x16 2.0 X 4
No, they didn’t come up with an X4 designation for PCIe x16 2.0 - This board has four slots. It supports dual video cards in double x16 mode, triple in x16 x8 x8, and quadrupal in x8 x8 x8 x8. Looking at the board, we see that fitting the fourth card on there would be problematic, even with a low-profile cooler. Regardless, the sheer upwards-mobility of this board stands out. For an AMD-devout gamer, there is no better board, especially with the future in mind. As more and more games start to support quad-core CPU utilization, and DDR3 gradually works its way into place as the gold standard, this board will still be with you, even if those things happen a couple of years down the line.
This board comes standard with 5 SATA3 ports and onboard raid 0/1/5/10/JBOD support. It also includes onboard 8-channel HD Audio, and supports up to 16GB of RAM. Passive cooling is used for the chipset, as is pretty much par for the course for ASUS boards. As of yet there hasn’t been much in the way of heat complaints, so its pretty safe to say ASUS has mastered the art of passive cooling. For safety’s sake, you might want to make sure your case setup has decent airflow around the northbridge, in particular.
Other fun Features
The M4A79T comes with a few of ASUS’s signature utilities, like the new Express Gate: a ROM-based operating system, of sorts, that supports basic networking. Its advertised usages include Skype and an assortment of online mini games. It also comes with the Precision Tweaker 2 tool, and an extensive BIOS overclocking configuration options. This is a favored board among AMD fans with Black Edition CPUs, just because the combination makes for smooth and powerful overclocking.
Indeed, with the newest AM3 support, DDR3 support, four PCIe x16 2.0 slots, and the time tested reliability of ASUS products, you really can’t go wrong.