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MSI KA790GX review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £64
inc VAT

A high-performance motherboard at a low price, and a great buy.


AM2+, ATX, AMD 790GX chipset, supports: Sempron, Athlon 64, Athlon 64 X2, Athlon 64 FX, Phenom, Phenom II, Athlon II

The AM2+ KA790GX is a cut-down version of the DKA790GX Platinum, which won a Best Buy award in our last components group test (Shopper 254).

The KA790GX has only one PCI-E x16 slot and lacks its big brother’s heavy-duty passive cooling pipes, FireWire port and SidePort memory for the integrated ATI Radeon HD 3300 graphics processor. However, it’s also much cheaper. The motherboard has the same AMD 790 Northbridge chipset and, despite being one of the cheapest AMD motherboards here, performed brilliantly in our tests, with an overall score of 103.

Besides the PCI-E x16 slot for a graphics card, the KA790GX has three PCI slots, but only one PCI-E x1 slot. This could be limiting, as more and more expansion cards are available only in PCI-E versions, although there are still plenty available at the moment. If you don’t fit a graphics card, you can use the PCI-E x16 slot for standard expansion cards.

The four memory slots can handle a maximum 8GB of RAM. There are five SATA ports and the usual IDE and floppy connectors. At the back, you’ll find six USB ports and one eSATA, along with a single PS/2 connector, and six analogue audio ports that can be configured to act either as inputs or outputs.

The KA790GX performed well, particularly considering its low price. It’s a great choice if you want performance on a budget. Our only reservation is that its single PCI-E slot could limit its future upgrade potential. Paired with a Phenom II processor, though, it’s a great foundation for a low-cost performance PC.

Basic Specifications

Rating ****
Processor socket AM2+
Form factor ATX
Size 305x230mm
Processor support Sempron, Athlon 64, Athlon 64 X2, Athlon 64 FX, Phenom, Phenom II, Athlon II
Processor external bus 200MHz (2GHz HyperTransport)
Chipset north bridge AMD 790GX
Chipset south bridge AMD SB750
Passively-cooled north bridge yes
Integrated graphics Yes
Supported memory type DDR2 533/667/800/1066
Maximum memory speed PC2-8500
Memory slots 4
Maximum memory 8GB
Dual-channel support yes

Buying Information

Price £64

Internal Ports

Power connectors 1x 24-pin ATX, 1x 4-pin ATX
PCI-E x16 slots 1
Dual graphics architecture None
PCI-E x4 slots 0
PCI-E x1 slots 1
PCI slots 3
Fan headers 3
Floppy ports 1
IDE ports 1
Serial ATA ports 5
RAID chipset (max disks) AMD SB750 (5x SATA II, RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5, 10)


Wired network ports 1x 10/100/1000
Sound (ports) Realtek ALC888 (6x analogue out, HDMI)
USB2 ports / headers 6/3
Firewire ports / headers 0/0
Legacy ports 1x PS/2
Other ports eSATA
Cables included 1x SATA, 1x IDE, 1x Molex to SATA power
Brackets included none
Software included none

Setup and Overclocking

Voltage adjustment CPU/RAM/Chipset
CPU clock max adjustment 600MHz

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