Sapphire Crossfire X motherboard - Review

Sapphire Crossfire X motherboard - Review

An expensive, but well-designed board with decent overclocking potential

Pros: Well designed; space for large graphics cards

Cons: Only three x16 PCI Express slots; Bios not covered in documentation

Bottomline: Sapphire is back in the game with a well-laid out board that performs well, although it is a little pricey

Price: $275.00

Manufacturer: Sapphire

After a short hiatus, Sapphire is returning to the motherboard market with range of AMD-based modes.

The first one to arrive is the Crossfire X, or the PC-AM2RD790 if you prefer product codes, which is part of its Pure range of boards.

Built around AMD’s AM2+/AM2 socket and its latest 790FX chipset, the board supports all AMD’s socket AM2 processors as well as the latest Phenom range.

Like many motherboards currently available, the AM2RD790 uses heat-pipe technology to keep the chipsets cool – the two that cover the chipsets are tiny in comparison to the huge one keeping the digital power chips and ceramic capacitors cool.

Although we didn’t have problems with the chipsets getting too hot during testing, we have seen reports of some motherboards locking up due to excessive heat – it’s therefore worth making sure your case has plenty of cooling.

On the plus side, all the heat-sinks are fixed to the board with screws so you know they are making good contact with the components underneath.

Although labelled as a Crossfire X, the board has only three x16 PCI Express 2.0 slots instead of the four supported by the Crossfire X reference specs. However, the advantage of this is that there’s space on the board to use full-size, dual-head cards.

The board doesn’t have integrated audio, with Sapphire instead bundling a Berstein eight-channel expansion plate. Based on Azalia’s 24-bit 192KHz HD spec, this plugs into a header on the motherboard via a short ribbon cable.

As far as expansion goes, there are three PCI slots and a single x4 PCI Express slot. Although the paper manual covers the board in some detail, there is no coverage of any Bios options – a surprise since there are a number of overclocking options available.

It might be expensive, but this is a well-designed board from Sapphire.