I was hoping for more from AMD when it came to this new generation of chipsets.  Eventually AMD will incorporate a full DX11 supporting graphics core with their Fusion CPU, but we will likely not see another integrated desktop or notebook chipset design until Fusion hits the scene.  DX10.1 is nothing to sneeze at, but it certainly would have been nice for AMD at this juncture to have that DX11 checkmark.  Still, the graphics portion of the chipset is more than adequate to play the majority of games on at low settings.   The compatibility of this part is also excellent, which is another big plus.

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Note the baby blue USB 3.0 ports on both boards in this shot.  AMD is trying to push USB 3.0 functionality on all of their upcoming 800 series of chipsets and boards, but we can expect it to be removed on budget parts.

    The addition of native SATA 6G support should have been a giant addition to the chipset.  Unfortunately, my testing has shown initial issues with this implementation.  AMD has been kicked around for a long time for their southbridge I/O performance in USB and SATA, and the SB850 continues that not-so-proud tradition.  I do not know if this is simply a BIOS issue, or new drivers need to be sent along, but when even SATA 1 and 2 performance are down in the dumps compared to the previous generation, a lot of questions should be asked of AMD.

    Pushing USB 3.0 is a good thing, and the NEC controller so far looks to be solid.  While unable to test USB 3.0 performance, its USB 2.0 performance is class leading.  This was one of the real bright spots of this particular release.  AMD is really pushing its partners to include this functionality in as many motherboards as possible featuring the 800 series of chipsets.

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Upcoming browsing enhancements already are supported by the Catalyst 10.3 driver.

    In the end it is good to see AMD continue to work on their chipset products, but the seeming performance issues that have plagued AMD southbridges continues with the new SB850.  We will delve further into SATA 6G performance, but so far we have been unimpressed by how it performs with older products.

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