Product: AMD 790GX Chipset
Company: AMD
Authour: Alex 'AlexV' Voicu
Editor: Charles 'Lupine' Oliver
Date: November 13th, 2008

A question that may arise after seeing the prowess of the 790GX+SB750 combo is this: has the Spider platform been completed? And a good question it would be. This particular Spider had a very difficult birth, with the Phenom being late and underachieving, the RV670 being good but not great and the SB600 Southbridge causing its own share of mischief on the motherboard front. Many deemed it a failure ... yet AMD kept chipping at it. And then the RV770 came: a truly and undoubtedly great GPU. 1 out of 3 for the Spider.

With 790GX, and, perhaps equally importantly, SB750, the count can increase to 2 out of 3, because the aforementioned tag-team is a certainly compelling option for a certain segment of the market. It's a good option for people looking to build a HTPC, or for people looking at building a low-cost solution that can also game when not doing proper work. With SB750's portability, by pairing it with the 790FX AMD could also target superior market segments.... which brings us to the Phenom.

Ironically enough, considering AMD is, after  all, indissolubly tied to CPUs, the Phenom, their crown jewel, is currently the limiting factor. The motherboard angle is covered, ATI's GPUs are excellent...but the Phenom is stuck in a bog. It competes only up to the Q6600 level-as we've seen in this article as well - and that's it, beyond that there are no alternatives from AMD, whereas Intel has numerous CPUs ready to service the needs of more...”enthusiastic” users. From the Q6600 downwards, AMD competes just fine-this is also outlined by their pricing structure, the 9950's price clearly showing who's neck it's going after.

Does that mean that the K10 is a horrid CPU? Hardly, it represented solid growth over the K8, and it is a good CPU in its own right ... the trouble is that it isn't good enough, in its current incarnation, to match Intel's excellent Core 2 architecture. AMD needs something on the CPU front, and injection to its line-up, something that spices things up a tad and increases their competitiveness. We're cautiously optimistic about Deneb, in this regard, since we've heard a number of interesting things about it...but we'll have to wait a slight bit more before seeing how the new 45nm guy performs.

Out of the two boards we played with, we'll have to admit that we ended up liking the Biostar somewhat more. Our opinion of the Gigabyte was somewhat soured by the cold-boot issues, and the fact that it was constantly outperformed by its cheaper sibling didn't help. After 1-2 extra BIOS releases it's likely that it'll grow into a very neat board, but for the moment it's not a compelling option (at least for us).

Should you go out and grab one of these boards/ a 790GX board? It depends, really...the author of this article wanted to build a HTPC, so he got one and he's extremely satisfied with it. Others we know of wanted to build a cheap work-PC that allowed them to also take a break and relax by playing a game (not Solitaire or Minesweeper, mind you), and they found the 790GX a good fit for their needs. In the end, it's up to you to determine how adequate a product is for your needs.

Rage3D would like to thank AMD's Damon Muzny and Ivica Stankovic, as well as Bogdan Rogojina, for their support, This review would not have been possible without them!

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