Three AMD 990FX-Based Motherboards For Enthusiasts

Test Settings And Benchmarks

Test System Configuration
CPUAMD FX-8350 (Vishera): 4.0 GHz, 8 MB Shared L3 Cache, Socket AM3+
CPU CoolerSunbeamtech Core-Contact Freezer w/Zalman ZM-STG1 Paste
RAMG.Skill F3-17600CL9D-8GBXLD (8 GB) at DDR3-1600 C9 Defaults
G.Skill F3-2666C11Q-16GTXD (16 GB) at XMP-2666 C11 Timings
GraphicsAMD Radeon HD 7970 3 GB: 925 MHz GPU, GDDR5-5500
Hard DriveSamsung 470 Series MZ5PA256HMDR, 256 GB SSD
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
PowerSeasonic X760 SS-760KM: ATX12V v2.3, EPS12V, 80 PLUS Gold
Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 8 Professional RTM x64
GraphicsAMD Catalyst 13.1


AMD's overclocking-friendly FX-8350 gets carried over from our recent CrossFire article.

DDR3-1600 CAS 9 is the reference point for benchmarks, but something faster is needed to test DRAM overclocking capability. Unfortunately, none of our current batch of high-speed memory has DDR3-1600 CAS 9 SPD defaults. G.Skill’s DDR3-2666 is substituted for overclocking evaluation.

This is an AMD platform test, and AMD also produces some of today’s top graphics processors. Thus, I upgrade from our standard GeForce GTX 580 to a more modern Radeon HD 7970.

The Arctic Cooling Accelero Xtreme 7970 is carried over from Don Woligroski’s review, because he never got around to reinstalling the original reference cooler. Thanks for the card Don!

3D Gaming Benchmarks
Battlefield 3Campaign Mode, "Going Hunting" 90-Second Fraps
Test Set 1: Medium Quality Defaults (No AA, 4x AF)
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Defaults (4x AA, 16x AF)
F1 2012
Version 1.2, Direct X 11, Built-in Benchmark
Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 8x MSAA
The Elder Scrolls V: SkyrimUpdate 1.5.26, Celedon Aethirborn Level 6, 25 Seconds Fraps
Test Set 1: DX11, High Details No AA, 8x AF, FXAA enabled
Test Set 2: DX11, Ultra Details, 8x AA, 16x AF, FXAA enabled
Far Cry 3V. 1.04, DirectX 11, 50-Second Fraps "Amanaki Outpost"
Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA, Standard ATC., SSAO
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 4x MSAA, Enhanced ATC, HDAO
Adobe Creative Suite
Adobe After Effects CS6Version 11.0.0.378 x64: Create Video which includes 3 Streams, 210 Frames, Render Multiple Frames Simultaneosly
Adobe Photoshop CS6Version 13 x64: Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Adobe Premeire Pro CS6Version 6.0.0.0, 6.61 GB MXF Project to H.264 to H.264 Blu-ray, Output 1920x1080, Maximum Quality
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunesVersion 10.4.1.10 x64: Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 minutes, default AAC format 
LAME MP3Version 3.98.3: Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min, convert WAV to MP3 audio format, Command: -b 160 --nores (160 Kb/s)
HandBrake CLIVersion: 0.98: Video from Canon Eos 7D (1920x1080, 25 FPS) 1 Minutes 22 Seconds
Audio: PCM-S16, 48,000 Hz, Two-Channel, to Video: AVC1 Audio: AAC (High Profile)
TotalCode Studio 2.5Version: 2.5.0.10677: MPEG-2 to H.264, MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG-2), Audio: MPEG-2 (44.1 kHz, Two-Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s), Codec: H.264 Pro, Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS), Profile: H.264 BD HDMV
Productivity
ABBYY FineReaderVersion 10.0.102.95: Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
Adobe Acrobat XVersion 10.0.0.396: Print PDF from 115 Page PowerPoint, 128-bit RC4 Encryption
Autodesk 3ds Max 2012Version 14.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080
BlenderVersion: 2.64a, Cycles Engine, Syntax blender -b thg.blend -f 1, 1920x1080, 8x Anti-Aliasing, Render THG.blend frame 1
Visual Studio 2010Version 10.0, Compile Google Chrome, Scripted
File Compression
WinZipVersion 17.0 Pro: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to ZIP, command line switches "-a -ez -p -r"
WinRARVersion 4.2: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to RAR, command line switches "winrar a -r -m3"
7-ZipVersion 9.28: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5"
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.1.0, Benchmark Only
PCMark 7Version: 1.0.4 x64, System, Productivity, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks
SiSoftware Sandra 2011Version Version 2013.01.19.11, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / Cryptography, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
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    Top Comments
  • boulbox
    Glad to see AMD getting some love.
    29
  • designasaurus
    "if we diminished most of those power differences by not installing Asus' power management software at default settings, the company would have likely matched the performance of Gigabyte and ASRock."


    Don't speculate! Do the tests and add it to the article so we can see what the software packages are actually accomplishing! That's why I read your site, yeah? For hard info that I can't get myself.
    25
  • Crashman
    falchardAren't the 990FX chipsets kind old?
    990FX is AMD's current "high-end" chipset for enthusiast-level desktops. AMD occasionally releases new chips (look last fall) and motherboard companies keep updating their selection of products.

    Old chipset, recent boards, any questions?
    14
  • Other Comments
  • boulbox
    Glad to see AMD getting some love.
    29
  • designasaurus
    "if we diminished most of those power differences by not installing Asus' power management software at default settings, the company would have likely matched the performance of Gigabyte and ASRock."


    Don't speculate! Do the tests and add it to the article so we can see what the software packages are actually accomplishing! That's why I read your site, yeah? For hard info that I can't get myself.
    25
  • bgunner
    designasaurus"if we diminished most of those power differences by not installing Asus' power management software at default settings, the company would have likely matched the performance of Gigabyte and ASRock."Don't speculate! Do the tests and add it to the article so we can see what the software packages are actually accomplishing! That's why I read your site, yeah? For hard info that I can't get myself.

    I totally agree with this statement. The test should have been done and added into the article because this would of been a good representative of the value of the software. I would like to know for a fact if the software was a hindrance to the electrical efficiency of the Asus and Gigabye boards.
    9
  • Crashman
    bgunnerI totally agree with this statement. The test should have been done and added into the article because this would of been a good representative of the value of the software. I would like to know for a fact if the software was a hindrance to the electrical efficiency of the Asus and Gigabye boards.
    At least the power was measured and mentioned, even if it didn't get into the chart.
    2
  • bit_user
    AMD's 890FX was an excellent low-cost server platform, in its day. Great I/O, tons of PCIe lanes, 6-channel SATA3, and ECC support. All with boards and CPUs in the desktop price range that were close to being performance competitive with Intel (when they were introduced, at least).

    Now, AMD is just slipping too far behind. Not just on the CPU front, but like how about some PCIe 3?

    I'm waiting for 64-bit ARMs to hit the desktop. That's probably the next truly interesting thing on the horizon.
    -9
  • falchard
    Aren't the 990FX chipsets kind old?
    -5
  • boulbox
    Anonymous said:
    Aren't the 990FX chipsets kind old?


    Yes, but not a lot of new things need to be offered anyways. PCIe 3.0 is just a gimmick and doesn't really give much more performance over PCIe2
    6
  • Crashman
    falchardAren't the 990FX chipsets kind old?
    990FX is AMD's current "high-end" chipset for enthusiast-level desktops. AMD occasionally releases new chips (look last fall) and motherboard companies keep updating their selection of products.

    Old chipset, recent boards, any questions?
    14
  • darkchazz
    "Three AMD 990FX-Based Motherboards For Enthusiasts"
    I don't think enthusiasts would want to buy a slow CPU from AMD.
    -18
  • Onus
    What did I miss? The ASRock has better features, including 3-way SLI, more USB3.0, an abundance of accessories, uses less power (the only positive efficiency), has higher performance, lower VRM temps; but BOTH of the other two got awards? I noted the comment about fluctuating prices, but on features alone ASRock looks like the winner. Surely it wasn't the slightly lower OC...
    4
  • Onus
    darkchazz"Three AMD 990FX-Based Motherboards For Enthusiasts"I don't think enthusiasts would want to buy a slow CPU from AMD.

    I think of enthusiasts as people interested in getting the maximum performance from their hardware; regardless of its base level, getting the most out of it. Boards like these which can be tweaked every which way are precisely the kinds of products enthusiasts enjoy.
    7
  • Novuake
    Saddest part about the platform is that it feels old and out of date. So little integration... This design is now years old and its their top of the lane. I see nothing new since 890.
    -8
  • Novuake
    darkchazz"Three AMD 990FX-Based Motherboards For Enthusiasts"I don't think enthusiasts would want to buy a slow CPU from AMD.


    Really? Wow...
    0
  • Novuake
    boulboxYes, but not a lot of new things need to be offered anyways. PCIe 3.0 is just a gimmick and doesn't really give much more performance over PCIe2


    I disagree, the whole platform smells of too much power consumption. AMD needs to INNOVATE, not just add more features and drive up power.
    0
  • azraa
    NovuakeI disagree, the whole platform smells of too much power consumption. AMD needs to INNOVATE, not just add more features and drive up power.


    I disagree again. Sure the HT is old, but except for a few details, this boards, being updated regularly with their firmwares or even the pcb revisions, are quite good. The power modulation works fine for this quite cheap boards, I mean, check out those overclocks, and they are very conservative. The amount of sata3 ports is excellent, PCI lanes are ok just what you need nothing more nothing less. RAM management seems a bit old, you are correct, but only professionals get value of it, professionals that should be buying extreme Intel setups. For the average Joe editing and rendering, their memory solution is just 1 minute slower, who cares.

    I think AMD doesn't need to innovate, which is quite a prostituted word. They need to improve their technologies further, as they've been doing for the last years, just at a faster pace, without falling into self indulgence, in that i agree with you.
    7
  • lilcinw
    It is nice to see my GA-990FXA-UD3 win a Tom's award (even if it is an older rev).

    My only complaint about the board is that the NB or SB, I don't exactly remember which, would cause a thermal shutdown while running Folding@Home 24/7 last summer. It didn't help that a GTX 560 Ti at 100% load was dumping waste heat right on top of it.

    Re-configuring the cooling in my cheap case and down-clocking the GPU got me back up and running.
    5
  • ddpruitt
    Quote:
    folks who put in the effort to configure Asus' power management software to their perfect preferences


    I love Asus's power management options, power savings or performance when needed. Although I wish the balanced setting didn't cause problems with OCing and would pile on the juice when needed.
    2
  • dsolom3
    lilcinw, my friend had a similar problem. 2 ways to solve it:

    1. move the GPU down to the second slot, which should drop NB temps by about 5-7 degrees C.

    2. Replace the northbridge cooling solution with an active fan (10-15 degree drop). VRMs also get super-hot, 75C is not uncommon under load. Quite frankly, the NB/VRM colling solution on this board is terrible, and I cannot fathom how it got a recommendation at all given these grievances.
    1
  • g-unit1111
    I have that same Gigabyte board but an older version of it without the UEFI - it still holds up very well even after a CPU upgrade.
    1
  • subcutaneous
    OnusWhat did I miss? The ASRock has better features, including 3-way SLI, more USB3.0, an abundance of accessories, uses less power (the only positive efficiency), has higher performance, lower VRM temps; but BOTH of the other two got awards? I noted the comment about fluctuating prices, but on features alone ASRock looks like the winner. Surely it wasn't the slightly lower OC...


    I was left wondering the same thing.
    1