Introduction and Specifications

The versatile 790GX chipset is being featured in countless AM2+ and AM3 motherboards. Our friends at ASUS have developed a mid-range AM2+ motherboard called the M3A78-T that should give gamers, HTPC users, and intermediate enthusiasts something to smile about. Check out our detailed review of this flexibile chipset as well as our intriguing gaming benchmarks results that might make consumers think twice about needing another GPU for basic gaming.

ASUS uses AMD 790GX chipset to keep AM2+ platform in the game

Last September, PC Perspective’s own Josh Walrath wrote a comprehensive article on AMD’s 790GX chipset and outlined numerous feature available with this chipset that will benefit the gamer and enthusiast communities. While the 790GX is still primarily based on the 780G and SB700, the chipset does offer Advanced Clock Calibration, which is an overclocking tool that increases the upper overclocking spectrum of current Phenom II processors.


ASUS M3A78-T 790GX AM2+ Motherboard Review - Motherboards 87
(Courtesy of AMD)


AMD 790FX and AMD 790GX motherboards are the heart and soul of the “Dragon” platform.  This platform is based on its performance, visual experience, and energy efficiency, according to AMD. AMD claims combining the 790GX chipset with an AMD Phenom II processor and ATI Radeon HD 4870 graphics card will “deliver screaming computing power for gaming with an efficient design and an unbeatable HD experience for the money.”


ASUS M3A78-T 790GX AM2+ Motherboard Review - Motherboards 88
(Courtesy of ASUS)


This chipset has really been a great find for consumers looking to build a mid-range gaming or home theater PC. One vendor who has recognized this chipset’s potential is ASUS, which developed the M3A78-T AM2+ motherboard to accommodate this target audience who’s looking for a motherboard that fits in the $100 to $130 price range. This board features some unique things like onboard SidePort memory that’s 128MB of DDR3 1333 goodness. SidePort memory is what ATI calls the dedicated frame buffer memory for the integrated graphics chip. This memory runs much faster than system memory, therefore providing noticeable increases in performance over standard IGPs which constantly accesses system memory.


ASUS M3A78-T Specifications (from ASUS website)





AMD Socket AM2+ / AM2 Processors
AMD Phenom™ FX / Phenom / Athlon™ / Sempron™
AMD Cool’n’Quiet™ Technology
Support CPU up to 140W








AMD 790GX/SB750




System Bus




Up to 5200 MT/s HyperTransport™ 3.0 interface for AM2+ CPU
2000 / 1600 MT/s for AM2 CPU








4 x DIMM, Max. 16 GB, DDR2 1066/800/667 ECC,Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel memory architecture
*Due to AMD CPU limitation, DDR2 1066 is supported by AM2+ CPU for one DIMM per channel only.
**Please refer to or user manual for Memory QVL(Quality Vender List).
***When installing total memory of 4GB capacity or more, Windows® 32-bit operation system may only recognize less than 3GB. Hence, a total installed memory of less than 3GB is recommended.




Expansion Slots




3 x PCIe x16 (Support PCIe 2.0 / 1.0 Architecture ) (Dual x8 or Dual x16/x4; Triple x8/x4/x8)
1 x PCIe x1
2 x PCI 2.2








Integrated ATI Radeon™ HD 3300 GPU
SidePort Memory – onboard 128MB DDR3 1333 memory
Supports HDMI™ Technology with max. resolution up to 1920 x 1200 (1080P)
Supports Dual-link DVI with max. resolution up to 2560×1600 @60Hz
Supports D-Sub with max. resolution up to 2560×1440 @ 75Hz
Hybrid CrossFireX™ Support (For Windows Vista only)
Supports Microsoft® DirectX 10, OpenGL 2.0, Pixel Shader 4.0
Maximum shared memory of 512MB








1 xUltraDMA 133/100
5 xSATA 3 Gb/s ports
1 x eSATA 3Gb/s ports with RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10 support








Gigabit LAN








Realtek® ALC1200 8 -Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
-Coaxial S/PDIF out port at back I/O








12 USB 2.0 ports




ASUS Unique Features




ASUS Express Gate
ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution:
– ASUS AI Gear 2
– ASUS Q-Fan2
– 4+1 Phases ASUS Power Design
ASUS Crystal Sound
– ASUS Noise Filter
– ASUS Q-Shield
– ASUS Q-Connector
– ASUS O.C. Profile
– ASUS EZ Flash 2




Overclocking Features




Intelligent overclocking tools:
– AI Overclocking (Intelligent CPU Frequency Tuner)
– ASUS AI Booster Utility
Precision Tweaker 2
– vCore: Adjustable CPU voltage at 0.125V increment
– vChipset (N.B.): 25-step voltage control
– vDIMM: 35-step DRAM voltage control
SFS (Stepless Frequency Selection)
– FSB tuning from 200MHz up to 600MHz at 1MHz increment
– Memory tuning from 533MHz up to 1066MHz
– PCIe frequency tuning from 100MHz up to 200MHz at 1MHz increment
Overclocking Protection:
– ASUS C.P.R. (CPU Parameter Recall)




Special Features




Uses 100% All High-quality Conductive Polymer Capacitors!
ASUS MyLogo 2
AMD OverDrive Support*
* Advanced cooling system is required when advanced overclock functions of AMD OverDrive are enabled.




Back Panel I/O Ports




1 x PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse
1 x S/PDIF Out (Optical)
1 x HDMI
1 x DVI
1 x D-Sub
1 x External SATA
1 x IEEE 1394a
1 x RJ45 port
6 x USB 2.0/1.1
8-Channel Audio I/O




Internal I/O Connectors




3 x USB connector (6 ports)
1 x Floppy disk drive connector
1 x IDE connector
5 x SATA connectors
1 x CPU Fan connector
2 x Chassis Fan connectors
1 x Power Fan connector
Front panel audio connector
1 x IEEE 1394a connector
1 x S/PDIF Out Header
Chassis Intrusion connector
CD audio in
24-pin ATX Power connector
4-pin ATX 12V Power connector
System Panel








8 Mb Flash ROM
DMI 2.0
WfM 2.0
ACPI 2.0a
ASUS EZ Flash 2








UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable
FDD cable
SATA cables
SATA power cables
User’s manual
3 in 1 Q-connector




Support Disc




Express Gate
ASUS Update
Anti-virus software (OEM version)




Form Factor




ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.5 cm )





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