A Closer Look
Overall, the AOD790GX looks like a typical ASRock motherboard, with a blue PCB, copper NB and SB coolers, and color coding on most of the connectors.
Around the CPU area, we find a number of ferrite chokes, large capacitors, and a large number of MOSFETS, all trying to catch a little cooling from the CPU cooler's exhaust. ASRock now uses all Japanese-manufactured solid capacitors, considered the best by experts in the electronics industry.
There is a 4-pin Molex connector behind the CPU, for use in CrossFire setups. Not very conducive for cable management, but ASRock has thoughtfully located the 24-pin connector on the edge of the board where it belongs.
The AOD790GX/128M supports PCI Express 2.0. The primary PCI-E slot is x16, and running CrossFire is 2 x 8x, which is the configuration supported by the 790GX chipset. We see ASRock's SLI/XFire Switch card, containing the circuitry for switching between use of one or two video cards. The card is in a slot similar to laptop memory, turn it around to swap between single or dual video card mode.
The board sports a single PCI-E x1 slot, and three PCI slots. Nestled between two of the PCI slots is a connector for WiFi. The AOD790GX/128M is the first ASRock board I've owned that doesn't come with a WiFi module. I really like ASRock's WiFi, and am a little disappointed that it doesn't come with WiFi, but not a biggie, ASRock WiFi modules are available from NewEgg and are very inexpensive, so the lack of WiFi shouldn't be a deal-breaker.
There are six SATAII connectors, and the board supports the full range of RAID. The orange connector is intended for use with the eSATA slot if desired, though it can be used for any other SATA needs.
The CCMOS jumper is one of the most accessible I've seen, though it is seldom if ever needed, ASRock's B.F.G., a crash-free BIOS utility, works very well, you only occasionally have to CCMOS when you get the memory timings too tight.
A big feature of the AMD 790GX chipset is the video memory that connects to the NB via a sideport. The NB supports both DDR2 and DDR3 memory. ASRock used 128MB of Elixir memory. The code on the chip was a little confusing, but it appears that it is DDR3-1600.
The memory slots are typical AMD styled, with same-channel slots next to each other. This could be a problem when using memory with large cooling solutions, such as the OCZ ReaperX. The board supports up to 16GB of DDR2-1066 memory.
As I mentioned earlier, the 24-pin connector is exactly where it should be.
The I/O panel looks pretty strange, it has been a long time since I touched anything with integrated graphics, I'm definitely not accustomed to seeing video outputs in this area. The I/O panel connectors include: PS/2 mouse and keyboard, DVI and Sub-15 video connectors, six USB ports, IEEE 1394, eSATA, one LAN port, and HD Audio.
Bundled with the AOD790GX/128M are four of ASRock's nice locking SATA cables, an SATA power adapter, a DVI/HDMI adapter, ribbon IDE and floppy cables, and driver disks for Vista and XP.
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