AMD’s 890FX Chipset

The Phenom II X6 will work in all existing Socket-AM2+ and AM3 motherboards that can 1) support the 125W TDP of the processors, and 2) have BIOS support (apparently over 160 boards at launch). Despite this impressive showing of backwards compatibility, we also get a new chipset today for those of you looking to build a new system instead of upgrade.

The 890FX is a mildly updated version of AMD’s 790FX chipset, mostly adding AMD’s SB850 South Bridge with 6Gbps SATA support. The number of PCIe 2.0 lanes and other major features remains unchanged.

  AMD 890FX AMD 890GX AMD 790FX
CPU AMD Socket-AM3 AMD Socket-AM3 AMD Socket-AM3/AM2+
Manufacturing Process 65nm 55nm 65nm
PCI Express 44 PCIe 2.0 lanes 24 PCIe 2.0 lanes 44 PCIe 2.0 lanes
Graphics N/A Radeon HD 4290 (DirectX 10.1) N/A
South Bridge SB850 SB850 SB750
USB 14 USB 2.0 ports 14 USB 2.0 ports 12 USB 2.0 ports
SATA 6 SATA 6Gbps ports 6 SATA 6Gbps ports 6 SATA 3Gbps ports
IOMMU 1.2 N/A N/A
Max TDP 19.6W 25W 19.6W

You get IOMMU support (an advantage over 790FX) and despite the chipset being built on TSMC's 65nm process, it pulls less power than the 890GX as it lacks any integrated graphics.

The Test

To keep the review length manageable we're presenting a subset of our results here. For all benchmark results and even more comparisons be sure to use our performance comparison tool: Bench.

Motherboard: ASUS P7H57DV- EVO (Intel H57)
Intel DP55KG (Intel P55)
Intel DX58SO (Intel X58)
Intel DX48BT2 (Intel X48)
Gigabyte GA-MA790FX-UD5P (AMD 790FX)
MSI 890FXA-GD70 (AMD 890FX)
Chipset Drivers: Intel 9.1.1.1015 (Intel)
AMD Catalyst 8.12
Hard Disk: Intel X25-M SSD (80GB)
Memory: Corsair DDR3-1333 4 x 1GB (7-7-7-20)
Corsair DDR3-1333 2 x 2GB (7-7-7-20)
Video Card: eVGA GeForce GTX 280 (Vista 64)
ATI Radeon HD 5870 (Windows 7)
Video Drivers: ATI Catalyst 9.12 (Windows 7)
NVIDIA ForceWare 180.43 (Vista64)
NVIDIA ForceWare 178.24 (Vista32)
Desktop Resolution: 1920 x 1200
OS: Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit (for SYSMark)
Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit
Windows 7 x64
The Performance Summary SYSMark & Photoshop Performance
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  • Calin - Tuesday, April 27, 2010 - link

    Unfortunately in my experience, antivirus seems hard-drive limited even on Conroe dual core processors. Reply
  • kmmatney - Tuesday, April 27, 2010 - link

    I would agree. Going to an SSD will probably make more difference than adding more cores, when it comes to everyday multitasking. Reply
  • KaarlisK - Tuesday, April 27, 2010 - link

    You're lucky, both MSE and AVG usually hit 100% of one core both for my 1.8 and 2.33 GHz Core 2 Duos. Reply
  • Taft12 - Tuesday, April 27, 2010 - link

    Frankly, the list of apps you provide would run just fine on a single-core CPU. Reply
  • beginner99 - Tuesday, April 27, 2010 - link

    yep, like on my netbook with a z520 atom. AVG + utorrent + FF or chrome no issue (unless of course hd flash movies but that's another story).

    On my desktop (which is also a pretty old and crappy e4300) i also have seti@home. so basically i'm always at 100% cpu but still feel the hdd is limiting.
    Reply
  • Scali - Wednesday, April 28, 2010 - link

    Yes it makes sense... things like browsers, IM, email don't take a lot of CPU. They can easily be juggled by the OS on just a single core (or with hardware, using HT).
    More processes don't necessarily require more cores.
    I mean, I am currently running two instances of Visual Studio, a browser with 10 tabs open, Skype, Spark, Notepad++, Outlook and a few other small things in the tray or background, and my dualcore still is at 1% CPU usage, according to Task Manager, and that 1% CPU is Task Manager itself. So why would I want 4 cores, let alone 6?
    It really doesn't matter.
    Reply
  • eekamouse - Tuesday, April 27, 2010 - link

    I think there is something really good that could be tested here, the performance of these chips running virtual machines especially with hypervisor technology..

    Any possibility of testing these chips running either xen or vmware and seeing how 4 virtual machines react on each and how 6 react ? is the performance stable etc ? The reason I ask this is for the price point if it can run 6 virtual machines all running off of their own core or sharing cores and can maintain a good performance, it would be really worthwhile investing in these for cheap virtualisation servers..
    Reply
  • rickcain2320 - Tuesday, April 27, 2010 - link

    That's all you need to know. Time to ditch my Q6600. Reply
  • fitten - Tuesday, April 27, 2010 - link

    Well... we haven't seen the consumer priced hex-core Intel parts yet... Everybody is comparing this to the high-end Intel parts (i7-980X is a high-end part). I'll wait to see what Intel's response is before removing them from the table. Reply
  • formulav8 - Tuesday, April 27, 2010 - link

    Enjoy! the waiting game... I still doubt Intel would lower prices near AMD's 6 core do to the fact that they will be ruining their much more profitable mainstream parts.

    Jason
    Reply

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