Final ThoughtsLooking at the chipset alone, the new AMD 890GX appears to be a small upgrade from the 790GX, offering a slightly faster GPU along with full support for upcoming 6Gb/s SATA products. The Radeon HD 4290 is now the fastest integrated graphics solution, though given the state of IGPs this is hardly worth getting excited about.
The purpose of the 890GX is to remove all doubt that AMD can keep offering the best integrated platform. The Intel GMA HD closed the gap on the 785G and 790GX chipsets, so AMD needed something that was hands down better and they have delivered in part with the 890GX.
Looking at the value proposition of the different platforms, as we mentioned earlier you can pick up AMD’s previous flagship IGP chipset on a well equipped motherboard for less than $90. At the same price, Intel H55 based motherboards do not provide the same level of features.
Then mid-range 890GX motherboards are said to be introduced at around $110 with their competition coming from the more expensive Intel H57 motherboards. AMD has pointed out that you can purchase an Athlon II X4 635 ($120) quad-core processor, AMD 890GX ($110) motherboard and a Radeon HD 5450 ($50) graphics card for around $280. An Intel Core i3 530 processor and Intel H57 motherboard combo would cost around $320. Because of the price premium of H57 motherboards, this means that for more money you get considerably less graphics performance.
If AMD's reference price for 890GX motherboards holds true, the platform will make a lot of sense from a value perspective, providing all the latest and greatest features at an affordable price. The 890GX chipset is even a viable option for power users as a supporting motherboard can be coupled with the Phenom II X4 965 processor and the Radeon HD 5750 graphics card for around $420. A similar Core i5 750/P55 system with the cheaper and slower Radeon HD 5570 would cost slightly more.
Perhaps the weakness of the AMD platform is the processor you can go with. The Phenom II X4 965 and Athlon II X4 635 CPUs can perform quite well, but their power consumption figures are somewhat troubling. The Phenom II X4 965 consumed considerably more power than the Core i5 750 at idle and load, which is a concern for HTPC users. Still those planning on using an AMD platform for their next HTPC can avoid this problem to a certain degree by going with a cheaper dual-core processor.
Finally, while we focused a lot on chipset features and performance, the Asus M4A89GTD Pro/USB3 proved to be an excellent board and is likely the best AM3 product we have had the pleasure of working with. From the board design to the features that are supported, we have been left with a pleasant impression. Should the price come closer to the $140 they are currently asking for the M4A78T-E, the more we feel the M4A89GTD Pro/USB3 could be the real deal on a feature vs. cost basis.