Although the retail box the 890FXA ships in looks nearly identical to that of the 890GXM, what we find inside differs vastly from the previous product. One of the few complaints we had with the 890GXM was its lack of accessories, and that's certainly not an issue here. Included with the 890FXA are various types of printed documentation, driver/software DVD, USB expansion bracket, Molex to SATA power adapter, four SATA cables, IDE ribbon cable, Crossfire bridge, quick-release header connectors and the I/O trim plate. Each guide features a specific topic, for example there's one fold-out that details the board layout, one for the BIOS setup, one for the MSI Control Center software utility, and so on. Additionally, all of the documentation is available in electronic format on the DVD.
The layout of the board is typical ATX format, with MSI's usual color scheme featuring a black-colored PCB and blue, black and white components. The majority of the connections are thoughtfully placed around the perimeter of the board where cable routing and management will be easiest. This also minimizes areas of contention between various add-on components. The CPU socket backing plate is constructed of metal and features fully-threaded posts for greater aftermarket heatsink compatibility, and MSI's thermal heatpipe array is attached to the board with spring-loaded screws instead of plastic push-pins, yielding a more secure and better performing chipset cooling.
The leading edge of the 890FXA houses the AM3 and DDR3 sockets, ATX power and IDE connectors, SATA and USB ports. The DIMM slots have latches on one side only to prevent interference with a video card in the top-most graphics PCI-e slot. There are a series of bright blue LEDs to indicate not only CPU phase power, but also DDR memory and SouthBridge phase control. These status LEDs can be cycled off when the Green Power state is enabled on the board. A two-digit green LCD display located in a gap between PCI-e slots reports any BIOS POST error codes.
The rear of the 890FXA shows the expansion slots and I/O ports. There are five full-length PCI-e slots that are numbered and the recommended configuration for CrossFireX is to use 1&5 for dual cards in a 2x16 lane split, 1,4&6 for tri 1x16,2x8 setups and 1,3,5&6 in a quad 4x8 scenario. Confused yet? If you take a close look at how the slots are spaced I think it will make sense. There is no additional power connector specifically for CrossFireX support, between the main ATX and 8-pin +12V CPU the slots must be able to draw all the power they require.
Now let's take a closer look at a few of the specific hardware components of the 890FXA-GD70.