Specifications: The Northbridge, which is the heart of this motherboard, has a number of new technologies, which on paper looks very likable. The Northbridge is based on 65 micron, which is a definite plus at the moment, where everything must be as small as possible, and be energy efficient. AMD also mentions this on their website. The 790FX chipset has 42 PCI Express lanes, which is twice the amount the last generation had. But all these lanes are justified when we talk about Quad CrossFire. All 4 PCI-E ports will be used and therefore the 32 lanes will be used for graphics cards alone.
Another hyped technology is the PCI-E 2.0, which has caused a bit of confusion among graphics card buyers. These new graphics cards (3870 and 8800GT etc.) is PCI-E 2.0 compatible. The question is "What does it mean to me?", and the question is not much since the technology is backwards compatible with the earlier generation. PCI-E 2.0 is introduced at the same time as Hypertransport 3.0, and then it starts to make sense. PCI-E 2.0 increases the speed over the buss from 500mb/sec to 1 gb/sec, which is a nice double up.
Besides that, the PCI-E 2.0 standard can close lanes or change the speed of individual lanes, which is more energy efficient. Since the graphics card and Southbridge is connected to the Northbridge, and all data must go trough this, the need of Hypertransport 3.0 was required. This has also doubled from 1 gb/sec to 2 gb/sec.
Speed between north and Southbridge is done with only 4 PCI-E lanes, which allows a maximum transfer of 2 gb/sec. This might not sound like much, but all the important primary subsystems uses the Northbridge, and only leaves drives and USB functions at the Southbridge. So the 2 gb/sec should be enough.
Packaging: This gives you the impression of a solid product with lots of features. You only need to take a look at the box's backside and you're sure you've got what you need. The blank finish on the box screams quality which is supported by the weight.
The box is embellished with a picture of the motherboard with the large cobber profiles that definitely impresses.
The cables is packed in nice plastic bags, and a USB bracket has also been bundled, giving you 2 more USB ports at the back of the PC. There's no raid floppy disc, which might cause problems if you're installing Windows XP. Windows Vista can read the drivers from a CD, so that shouldn't be a problem.
An I/O shield is bundled for the case. Remember to sort out the holes before installing it.