MSI 890FXA-GD70 Review
Devil in the details
This is especially true of motherboards. With most of the technologies being fairly interchangeable between boards it is important for those little things to shine through. Whilst a lot of websites laud things that make their lives easier, we have always prided ourselves on treating everything as if we were the target audience. After all, we are. Starting on the bottom left hand corner we find two internal 1394 ports. We don't know many people who own a 1394 compatible device, much less so many that we need two headers. Would much prefer an additional USB one here.
On the bottom right is one of the variants of the MSI overclocking system. We've had the OC Genie button on the P55 which was so brilliant we gave it our innovation award. We've had the dip switches on the G65 which were ok at best. This straddles the middle ground by providing a dial that can be turned up to increase the Bus Speed. It can be disabled in the BIOS but can be handy for eking that last clock out once you've got into the OS. It is disappointing to see the premiere AMD motherboard in the MSI line-up not given the OC Genie functionality we loved in the P55.
Moving on to the cooling, wow. Don't they look fantastic. A gorgeous blue contrasts nicely with the plain aluminium and gives the whole board a look of high quality. The large "DrMOS" heatsink certainly dominates the board. We've seen plenty of variants for heatsinks here from the passive to the active, large to the tiny. This is one of the best we've seen yet as it has huge surface area and yet, as you can see from the second row of photos, retains a nice low profile. I can get a little warm so if you're going for really mental clock speeds and power usage it might be worth making sure your case has good airflow, but under most uses, including our testing today, it dissipated the heat well enough.
8pin CPU power placement is a pet bugbear of mine and seeing the MSI one wedged between the heatsink and the SPDIF connector did give slight concern. However thanks to the low profile of the heatsink it wasn't hideous, but still not the best position around. Why it can't be placed above the CPU socket or similar is beyond us. Ah well.
Below the main PCI Express slot and just to the right of the legacy PCI socket is a debug LED that gives you a clear indication of the boards status. One thing we'd love to see more of is an indication of what these numbers mean. Certainly the manual covers the main ones well enough, but when overclocking we saw an error that isn't in the manual, and in use it varies from about 34 to 38 on the display. If you're going to include (excellent) features such as this twin seven-segment display, please also document it properly.
Finally on the right we have the ubiquitous NEC USB3.0 chip.