AMD Socket AM3 Budget Motherboard Shootout

By on July 14, 2010, 5:20 AM
The AMD AM3 platform appears to be the way to go for budget-minded users, and best of all there's a huge range of affordable motherboards to choose from. Because of the way AMD has been forced into playing their cards, it is easy to find and purchase an AM3 motherboard capable of supporting even the latest Phenom II X6 processor for less than $100. Many of these motherboards also boast newly released technologies such as SATA 6Gb/s and USB 3.0, making them even more attractive.

Today we are putting together a few of these affordable AM3 motherboards to see just how much bang for your buck they offer. The contenders include the Asrock 880GMH/USB3 ($85), Gigabyte 870A-UD3 ($95) and MSI 870A-G54 ($90).


Also as part of our evaluation, we will attempt to unlock the Phenom II X2 555 processor ($100) on each board, essentially obtaining the performance of a $160 part without shelling out the extra cash for it.

Read the complete review.




User Comments: 15

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mailpup mailpup said:

I tend to favor Gigabyte boards because of their generous features but that Phenom II X2 555 is a gem of a processor.

BMfan BMfan said:

Running an X2 550 as an X4 B50,great CPU.

I agree with you mailpup i would also go with the gigabyte board if i couldn't get an asus board.

Thanx for the review.

pgcharlie said:

hi, Steven/Julio

you mentioned "Users that bought their mainboards two years ago get the option to upgrade to a much faster processor as a plug-in replacement."

what did u mean by this?..could u pls elaborate on this..

i recently bought a Asrock P7H55 DM pro mobo and i3-540 processor..

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

@pgcharlie - I think you missed the basic point of what was being said...

The Article said:

For some time now, the strength of the AM3 platform has lied on their full compatibility with every new AMD CPU release. Users that bought their mainboards two years ago get the option to upgrade to a much faster processor as a plug-in replacement. In contrast, Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad users must replace a handful of components if they want to go with a Core i5 or Core i7 CPU.

So, those of us who bought AM3 motherboards when they first came out, or anytime in the last few years, have been able to throw much faster newer generation CPUs onto the boards (assuming they could handle the power requirements)... Intel-based motherboard buyers don't get that luxury, with a flurry of CPU socket revisions being poured out over the same time period. Make more sense now?

Staff
Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

Correct, quoting that sentence alone takes my words out of context. Vrmithrax is spot on.

DokkRokken said:

Although insignificant in the scheme of things, and merely a pet peeve on my part, I'm surprised that the AsRock utilizes conventional electrolytic capacitors. I know their 870 'Extreme3' does, but I guess they had to scrimp a bit to accommodate the added cost of the integrated graphics.

Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

As a recent buyer of the Gigabyte 870A-UD3, I have to say I am very pleased .

Guest said:

The trouble is, you are not gtd to unlock the two extra cores, its always a risk. And strangely I have had problems with a Gigabyte MB but found Asrock stable & solid. The range of features on the Gigabyte would sway to that one as well as its form factor.

OAKside24 OAKside24 said:

This excellent article/roundup/shootout/pants helped me finally buy a new motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-870A-UD3 it is! Intelligent, detailed reviews, great pictures. (The mobo arrived, it unlocked one extra core of my Phenom II X2 500 (so far), and is generally f*ing awesome.) Thanks TechSpot.

Guest said:

Awesome review. It helped me finalize my decision on a motherboard. One question though. What RAM was he using? The review references 2x2gb G.Skill DDR3 PC3-12800 (CAS 8-8-8-20).

I cannot find G. Skill with these advertised timings anywhere and it seems that when people by other similar ram for their oc'd boxes (9-9-9-24 or 8-8-8-24) they just cannot get it to work properly with the 8-8-8-20 timings @ 1600. Any info would be appreciated. I cant' wait to build my box!

Guest said:

Sweet! I myself have an ASrock M3A770DE Motherboard with Athlon II X3 435. Yes, it is a performance machine on a budget ($600).

First thing I tried was unlock the fourth core. All I managed to do was make my system unbootable. Thankfully, I just had to reset the CMOS... which is placed right underneath the graphics card slot for your inconvenience. Graphics is a GIgabyte 4850 OC 1GB.

I do like the plethora of overclocking options the Asrock board provides. :D

Staff
Steve Steve said:

Sweet! I myself have an ASrock M3A770DE Motherboard with Athlon II X3 435. Yes, it is a performance machine on a budget ($600).

First thing I tried was unlock the fourth core. All I managed to do was make my system unbootable. Thankfully, I just had to reset the CMOS... which is placed right underneath the graphics card slot for your inconvenience. Graphics is a GIgabyte 4850 OC 1GB.

I do like the plethora of overclocking options the Asrock board provides.

Sorry only the Phenom II processors can unlock cores, not the Athlon II processors.

Guest said:

I think this article is a bit misleading because to a point it's comparing apples and oranges.

Sure, the MSI and Gigabyte boards appear to be much better at almost the same price as the ASRock, but IMO the article does not emphasize something rather crucial for a BUDGET board:

ONLY THE ASROCK HAS AN ONBOARD VIDEO CHIP!

Popping any decent video card into one of the other boards will cost you at least $30.

So, if you already have a PCIEx video card by all means focus on the MSI or Gigabyte board.

But if you don't have a video card handy and are on a tight budget, the ASRock might foot the bill much better, although you'll sacrifice 2x USB 2.0 ports, 1 USB 3.0 port and SATA 6Gb/s for SATA 3Gb/s.

With that said, I think the ASRock 880GMH has the edge in terms of bang for the buck.

Guest said:

Hello,

are Dani and I write from Italy. I appreciated the comparison

you have done. The best test I've ever seen ..

congratulations!

just one question: Why did you use the test in asrock880, not the asrock 870 extreme? I would not be wrong, but are the three main competitors in this category ... It would be nice if you could do an upgrade and repeat the test with this card =)

Thank you and congratulations again =)

Dani

Guest said:

I bought an MSI 870A-G54 in August, 2010 and have no regrets. This, coupled with a 955 BE and 8GB of G.Skill Ripjaws is more computer than I could ever really need for my tasks. No, I am not an overclocker, but I have all the confidence that my system will serve me well for the next few years.

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