MSI DKA790GX review
Next to stylish boards such as the Asus M3A32-MVP, the DKA790GX looks rather drab. But don’t judge it by its looks: mounted on that brownish PCB you’ll find a sparkling set of features.
You want connectivity? This board delivers it in spades, with six rear-facing USB ports and headers for a further six, two of which you can hook up straight away with the bracket provided. Its six SATA ports support five different RAID modes, and eSATA lets you get the best performance from an external drive.
Thanks to the onboard graphics, you can also hook up a monitor via VGA, DVI or HDMI. The Radeon HD 3300 isn’t the world’s fastest GPU, but it will give you a very smooth desktop performance in Vista, and it can decode and enhance HD content, keeping CPU demands low.
It even supports DirectX 10-run 3D games, although it will struggle with anything recent. And, as always, running without a discrete graphics card also keeps power consumption low: on integrated graphics our test system idled at just 74W.
Those who demand more 3D performance can always partner a discrete card with the onboard GPU using the ATI Hybrid CrossFireX system. And serious gamers can get real CrossFireX performance with cards in both PCI Express x16 ports, although the two slots only share 16 lanes.
A particular strength of the DKA790GX is the way it makes tinkering accessible. The BIOS has plenty of advanced overclocking options, and novices can boost the base clock by up to 20% simply by setting an onboard switch. Other buttons make it easy to cycle power, reset the system and clear the CMOS without messing around with headers or jumpers.
At £85, the DKA790GX isn’t exactly cheap, especially by the standards of the value-conscious AMD market. And while its AM3 support promises a certain degree of future-proofing, its 8GB RAM limit could feel cramped within a few years. But if you’re building a desktop computer for today, it’s a great choice – particularly if you like to hand-tune your hardware, or fancy giving it a try.
|Motherboard form factor||ATX|
|Motherboard integrated graphics||yes|
|Processor/platform brand (manufacturer)||AMD|
|Motherboard form factor||ATX|
|Motherboard chipset||AMD 790GX|
|South bridge||AMD SB750|
|Number of Ethernet adapters||1|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|Graphics chipset||ATi Radeon HD 3300|
|Audio chipset||Realtek ALC888|
|CPU power connector type||4-pin|
|Main power connector||ATX 24-pin|
|Memory sockets total||4|
|Internal SATA connectors||6|
|Internal PATA connectors||1|
|Internal floppy connectors||1|
|Conventional PCI slots total||2|
|PCI-E x16 slots total||2|
|PCI-E x8 slots total||0|
|PCI-E x4 slots total||0|
|PCI-E x1 slots total||2|
|USB ports (downstream)||6|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||1|
|Electrical S/PDIF audio ports||0|
|3.5mm audio jacks||6|
|9-pin serial ports||0|
|Extra port backplane bracket ports||0|
Diagnostics and tweaking
|Motherboard onboard power switch?||yes|
|Motherboard onboard reset switch?||yes|
|SATA cables supplied||1|
|Molex to SATA adaters supplied||1|
|IDE cables supplied||1|
|Floppy cables supplied||1|