The 890GX chipset is certainly a step forward for AMD, bringing new technologies to the masses in an effective and affordable package. The two prime features here are obviously SATA 6.0Gb/s and USB 3.0, preparing consumers for upcoming products that can fully take advantage of the serious speed these being to the table. The Radeon 4290 IGP, on the other hand, doesn’t offer much innovation over its predecessor, instead bringing a boost in clock speed that translates into a very minimal performance increase.
The 890GX chipset isn’t as big a step as many of us would have liked to have seen, but it’s not the 890GX that matters, it’s the SB850. Core unlockers will need to either go with a board with aftermarket core-unlocking or stick to a 785G board if they want to unlock anything, as this was "officially" phased out by AMD. On the same note, the two are so similar that it wouldn’t be worth it to upgrade from 785G to 890GX, and the money could better be spent on something else for your system, an HD5450, perhaps.
In terms of 890GX implementation, while it’s far and away not a board for enthusiasts or overclockers, the A890GXM-A is easily a capable board for those on a budget, or those for whom overclocking is simply not a thing you’d venture into. The layout for the board is well done, with the only glaring flaw being the clips for PCI-E cards. Installing an aftermarket heatsink shouldn’t be a problem, as we’ve said, but again, overclocking it simply won’t happen until some fixes are made.
The A890GXM-A is a good board for those who aren’t looking to push the limits and instead may want an affordable home system family setup or a great HTPC with all the video connection ports available that you can muster. It does support the upcoming 6-core processors, and along with the SATA 3.0 capability, it is mostly future proof, lacking only a USB3.0 controller unfortunately.
If you need a capable all-around motherboard that offers some good features without expecting to push things outside their normal comfort zone, then the ECS A890GXM-A is a good option to consider.
Our thanks go to ECS for providing the A890GXM-A for this review.