Page 1:990FX: AMD Leads The Chipset Game
Page 2:ASRock Fatal1ty 990FX Professional
Page 3:Fatal1ty 990FX Professional Firmware
Page 4:Asus Sabertooth 990FX
Page 5:Sabertooth 990FX Firmware
Page 6:ECS A990FXM-A
Page 7:A990FXM-A Firmware
Page 8:Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD7
Page 9:990FXA-UD7 Firmware
Page 10:MSI 990FXA-GD80
Page 11:990FXA-GD80 Firmware
Page 12:Test Settings And Benchmarks
Page 13:Benchmark Results: 3D Games
Page 14:Benchmark Results: Audio And Video Encoding
Page 15:Benchmark Results: Productivity
Page 16:Power, Heat, And Efficiency
Page 18:Which 990FX Board Should You Buy?
Which 990FX Board Should You Buy?
If value were simply a comparison of performance per dollar, MSI would walk away a clear winner by providing the cheapest board in this round-up.* This is a story about enthusiast-class motherboards, though, and for a fraction more, an enthusiast can get a motherboard with fully-functional overclocking controls today. We realize that further development could put MSI on top in the near future, but the 990FXA-GD80 has yet to prove itself in this regard. The board could be a top value to anyone who doesn’t overclock, but the enhanced capabilities of its competitors are worth far more than the price difference to us.
ASRock arguably provides the most features for the money, yet one of the features missing is three-way SLI capability. Past experience also dissuades us from using its x4 slot to enable three-way CrossFireX. Added Ethernet and USB 3.0 ports surely make the Fatal1ty 990FX Professional a top pick for anyone who desires neither overclocking nor three-way graphics configurations, but a true enthusiast product should really offer both.
Furthering the cause for added features, ECS’ A990FXM-A includes both three-way SLI and dual gigabit Ethernet controllers. ECS even adds a Bluetooth transceiver, all for a petty $50 over competing models from Asus and ASRock [Editor's Note: UK pricing for the ECS board was not readily available at time of localisation]. While its biggest problem is an underdeveloped firmware that doesn’t properly support overclocking AMD’s new FX processors, the most nagging layout issue is its inability to accommodate many graphics card models once front-panel USB 3.0 is connected. The A990FXM-A is attractive, yet troublesome in so many ways that we’re left perplexed, and that’s not a feeling we’d want to pay that much for.
With six graphics card slots, eight internal SATA 6Gb/s ports and eSATA 6Gb/s, Gigabyte’s 990FXA-UD7 is almost in a league of its own. It even costs a little less than the otherwise-featured ECS competitor, while offering four-way SLI. We believe four-way SLI is a killer feature, though not many builders use it.
The problem is that using four-way SLI in the 990FXA-UD7 prevents the use of its USB 3.0 front-panel header. We can’t even add a third-party USB 3.0 controller card to gain another header in this configuration, since all the slots are full. And we are beginning to think that front-panel USB 3.0 is yet another killer feature.
In the end it’s the top overclockers that get our attention. A low price and great firmware put Asus Sabertooth 990FX side-by-side with Gigabyte’s quad-SLI 990FXA-UD7. Our inability to overlook Gigabyte’s poor USB 3.0 front panel header placement makes it far easier for us to choose the cheaper Asus model for our own systems.
Editor's Note: Though the cheapest model in this round-up for the U.S. market is from MSI, we in the UK are actually lucky in that the cheapest model as far as UK prices are concerned is the Asus Sabertooth 990FX, which costs just £130 from Dabs. The MSI board costs considerably more at £150. As far as the others are concerned, we were unable to find a UK price for the ECS board, while the ASRock Fatal1ty 990FX Professional costs £152 and the Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD7 rings in at £196.
- 990FX: AMD Leads The Chipset Game
- ASRock Fatal1ty 990FX Professional
- Fatal1ty 990FX Professional Firmware
- Asus Sabertooth 990FX
- Sabertooth 990FX Firmware
- ECS A990FXM-A
- A990FXM-A Firmware
- Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD7
- 990FXA-UD7 Firmware
- MSI 990FXA-GD80
- 990FXA-GD80 Firmware
- Test Settings And Benchmarks
- Benchmark Results: 3D Games
- Benchmark Results: Audio And Video Encoding
- Benchmark Results: Productivity
- Power, Heat, And Efficiency
- Which 990FX Board Should You Buy?