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Asus M5A99FX Pro R2.0

Three AMD 990FX-Based Motherboards For Enthusiasts
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For the performance-value market, Asus continues to stress the importance of longevity and compatibility over oft-unused added ports. Durability is difficult to test within the several days I spend with each motherboard, but compatibility is one reason the firm’s products get picked for so many of my memory reviews.

Priced $45 less than the previously-detailed ASRock product, Asus’ M5A99FX Pro R2.0 is equipped with half as many USB 3.0 ports and only a single added-on SATA 6Gb/s controller. Eight is enough when it comes to the SATA needs of most buyers, and Asus locates one of those ports on the rear panel as eSATA.

That’s not to say that this board isn’t packed with not-so-apparent features. A quick look around its perimeter shows a USB BIOS Flashback button for updating firmware without so much as a CPU installed, a Direct Key button for booting directly into the firmware interface without worrying about hitting the Del key, and a MemOK button that selects a slower DRAM profile to allow booting with poorly-programmed modules.

Asus even adds DTS Connect and UltraPC II. The former combines DTS Neo:PC and DTS Interactive, upmixing stereo sources to as many as eight channels, and then encoding the signal in real-time for output through a digital source. The latter facilitates "virtual surround" through a set of algorithms intended to convey multi-channel audio through a set of stereo speakers or headphones.

Supporting only two front-panel USB 3.0 ports, Asus retains the expected trio of two-port USB 2.0 headers along the board’s bottom edge. A seventh SATA 6Gb/s port is added next to the USB 3.0 header to ease front-panel cable access.

Though it supports up to four single-slot or three dual-slot graphics cards, the M5A99FX Pro R2.0 isn’t designed with three-way SLI in mind. The two blue x16 slots share none of their lanes with the black slots, leaving each of those locked into x4-mode. The blue slots retain their total of 32 pathways, and are spaced perfectly to host two enormous triple-slot cards.

Having the “expected” number of USB 2.0 ports and a front-panel audio header slid around an inch forward from the bottom-rear corner, the M5A99FX Pro R2.0 comes with a single installation caveat: forward-facing SATA headers are occasionally blocked by the lower drive cage of some older ATX cases.

Four SATA cables are enough for most users, though the board does support seven internal drives. The M5A99FX Pro R2.0’s single SLI bridge is adequate as well, since the board technically supports four PCIe x16 graphics cards, but wasn't even properly designed for three-way SLI.

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Top Comments
  • 27 Hide
    boulbox , April 1, 2013 9:23 PM
    Glad to see AMD getting some love.
  • 25 Hide
    designasaurus , April 1, 2013 9:42 PM
    "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.
  • 12 Hide
    Crashman , April 2, 2013 1:13 AM
    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?
Other Comments
  • 27 Hide
    boulbox , April 1, 2013 9:23 PM
    Glad to see AMD getting some love.
  • 25 Hide
    designasaurus , April 1, 2013 9:42 PM
    "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.
  • 9 Hide
    bgunner , April 1, 2013 10:25 PM
    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.
  • 1 Hide
    Crashman , April 1, 2013 10:36 PM
    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.
  • -9 Hide
    bit_user , April 2, 2013 12:08 AM
    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.
  • -5 Hide
    falchard , April 2, 2013 1:05 AM
    Aren't the 990FX chipsets kind old?
  • 6 Hide
    boulbox , April 2, 2013 1:07 AM
    Quote:
    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
  • 12 Hide
    Crashman , April 2, 2013 1:13 AM
    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?
  • 4 Hide
    Onus , April 2, 2013 6:06 AM
    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...
  • 7 Hide
    Onus , April 2, 2013 6:14 AM
    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.
  • -8 Hide
    Novuake , April 2, 2013 6:39 AM
    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.
  • 0 Hide
    Novuake , April 2, 2013 6:43 AM
    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 Hide
    Novuake , April 2, 2013 6:45 AM
    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.
  • 7 Hide
    azraa , April 2, 2013 8:03 AM
    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.
  • 5 Hide
    lilcinw , April 2, 2013 8:16 AM
    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.
  • 2 Hide
    ddpruitt , April 2, 2013 8:55 AM
    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.
  • 1 Hide
    dsolom3 , April 2, 2013 9:03 AM
    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 Hide
    g-unit1111 , April 2, 2013 9:41 AM
    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 Hide
    subcutaneous , April 2, 2013 9:58 AM
    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.
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