MSI 890GXM-G65 review

20 Aug 2010

A broad range of features on a compact microATX board – but you’ll pay for it

MSI 890GXM-G65
Price when reviewed: 
103(£104 inc VAT)
5

MicroATX motherboards can often cram much of what you need into a tiny package, and the best have real versatility. The Socket AM3-based MSI 890GXM-G65 is one of those, coming with integrated ATI’s most powerful Radeon HD 4290 graphics to make it suitable for a wide range of intended uses.

Elsewhere, four DIMM sockets can handle up to 16GB of 2,133MHz DDR3 RAM, and two PCI Express x16 sockets – with one running at full speed, and a second at x8 – sit alongside single PCI Express x1 and PCI slots. Five SATA/600 ports are included, with one perpendicular to the board, with older SATA/300 sockets no totally absent.

The selection of on-board connectors is wider than we’re used to seeing, even on many ATX boards. It has four USB 2 headers, an IDE slot, a connector for a parallel port bracket, an onboard overclocking switch and even a jumper for a TPM module. The only disappointment is the measly pair of fan jumpers, one of which is bound to be occupied by a CPU cooler.

MSI 890GXM-G65

The backplate is similarly well stocked. Display output is handled by HDMI, DVI-D and D-SUB, there’s a pair of USB 3 ports to go with the four USB 2 ports. You also get an eSATA socket, Gigabit Ethernet and single PS/2 and S/PDIF ports, beside six audio jacks.

The form factor does prove restrictive in parts, though. The chipset cooler is closer to the AM3 socket than we’d like and, similarly, the DIMM slots aren’t far away from the processor. Combine this with the notoriously fiddly installation procedures required by most third-party CPU coolers, and the MSI could be a tricky board to install in some cramped enclosures.

Also, cram such a large roster of features onto a smaller PCB and, inevitably, the price rises: this £88 exc VAT board costs as much as our A-Listed ATX board, so you’re paying a premium for the miniaturisation. Still, the MSI is among the most versatile microATX boards we’ve yet seen and, if you want to save space without compromising on features, it goes some way to justifying that outlay.

Details

Price ex VAT £88
Price inc VAT £103
Overall rating 5
Performance 5
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 4
Motherboard form factor micro ATX
Motherboard integrated graphics yes

Compatability

Processor/platform brand (manufacturer) AMD
Processor socket AM3
Motherboard form factor micro ATX
Memory type DDR3
Multi-GPU support yes

Controllers

Motherboard chipset AMD 890GX
South bridge AMD SB850
Number of Ethernet adapters 1
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
Graphics chipset ATI Radeon HD 4290

Onboard Connectors

CPU power connector type 4-pin
Main power connector ATX 24-pin
Memory sockets total 4
Internal SATA connectors 0
Internal PATA connectors 1
Internal floppy connectors 1
Conventional PCI slots total 1
PCI-E x16 slots total 2
PCI-E x8 slots total 0
PCI-E x4 slots total 0
PCI-E x1 slots total 1

Rear ports

PS/2 connectors 1
USB ports (downstream) 4
FireWire ports 0
eSATA ports 1
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 1
3.5mm audio jacks 6
Parallel ports 0
9-pin serial ports 0
Extra port backplane bracket ports 0

Diagnostics and tweaking

Motherboard onboard power switch? no
Motherboard onboard reset switch? no
Software overclocking? yes

Accessories

SATA cables supplied 2
Molex to SATA adaters supplied 0
IDE cables supplied 0
Floppy cables supplied 0