Tom's Hardware's 2011 Gift Guide: Part 1, For System Builders

Motherboard: MSI 990FXA-GD80

$194.99
www.msi.com

All you AMD fans wanting to blast through New Year’s with eight cores in your FX-8150/8210 are going to need a suitable platform. Or perhaps you know such a chip is in your future, but you want to get the board now and carry on with your current CPU. Your best way forward is with a flexible product based on the latest AMD chipset (990FX northbridge, SB950 southbridge) with support for socket AM3/AM3+. Several options are available, but few can boast the feature breadth of MSI’s 990FXA-GD80.

Not surprisingly, MSI hits all of the I/O port high notes: 7.1 analog audio, both optical and coax SPDIF, 400 Mb/s FireWire, two USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet, four USB 2.0, and two combo eSATA/USB 2.0 ports. MSI specs the onboard audio at 109 dB SNR. We haven’t put this to the test, but, if accurate, this easily puts the motherboard into discrete audio range. Just to the left of the external CMOS reset button, you’ll also find PS/2 ports for the legacy-obsessed. Four 16x PCIe 2.0 slots are interspersed with two 1x PCIe slots and a single PCI slot. You’ll find more USB and 1394 headers on the board as well as six 6 Gb/s SATA ports. Note that MSI includes the latest UEFI BIOS improvements in order to enable 3 TB and greater hard drives to be bootable under 64-bit operating systems.

There’s a lot of bulky heatsinking madness on this unit—so much that MSI opted two screw the fins to the PCB rather than use the typical plastic connectors. (The LEDs that light up to show how many of the eight total power phases are active is a great touch.) Good thing, too, because if you’ve ever enjoyed the one-touch simplicity (and surprisingly good results) from MSI’s OC Genie button, you know that you’ll often want that extra performance pop, and you’ll also want the extra cooling needed to keep things safe and stable.

Cooling is only part of MSI’s answer to stability needs, though. The company uses what it calls Hi-c CAP, which are solid capacitors that incorporate the very temperature-resistant element tantalum. Also check out the row of ten super ferrite chokes (SFCs) along the CPU socket. These use a permeable ferrite core and, according to MSI, run 35 degrees Celsius cooler than traditional chokes.

The 990FXA-GD80 is compatible with both SLI and CrossFireX, plus it’s certified under THX TruStudio Pro. This is a top quality platform from top to bottom and a stunning way to usher in 2012.

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78 comments
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    Top Comments
  • serhat359
    I feel sorry for those girls that they have to smile for the camera even though they have no idea what they are holding
    36
  • wizloa
    i clicked for the lady
    33
  • HansVonOhain
    Must... focus ... on ... computer parts...
    22
  • Other Comments
  • gerohmygosh
    Where is the girl for the PNY RAM?!?!?!
    0
  • wizloa
    i clicked for the lady
    33
  • phamhlam
    What is your favorite picture?

    Mine was the one with the 4 SSD.
    My floppy disk totally turned to a hard disk drive.

    I can't wait for part 2 already.
    6
  • serhat359
    I feel sorry for those girls that they have to smile for the camera even though they have no idea what they are holding
    36
  • HansVonOhain
    Must... focus ... on ... computer parts...
    22
  • phamhlam
    What is hotter? The computer parts or the girl?
    -6
  • richboyliang
    haha do these girls know what they're doing?
    -7
  • koolkat574
    richboylianghaha do these girls know what they're doing?


    Depends on if you use an aftermarket cooler or the stock one
    -6
  • manu 11
    For one second, my focus was deviated, back to pc!
    -5
  • lunyone
    It looks like the Blonde model was having more fun, or is it just me. If I wasn't married, I'd take either! Forget the PC hardware, there are more important things to look at!!! Lol!
    10
  • bcontoursvt
    All these pages later and I still have no idea what the topic of the story was...
    11
  • LuckyDucky7
    I don't get it.

    Why are some things suggested in this guide mostly the worst value you could get for that sum of cash?

    For starters:

    -MSI 990FX-GD80 wouldn't be my top pick. That would go to a Gigabyte 990FXA-UD(x) board. Why bother getting a board that's more expensive than the best processor for the platform (or one whose lower-end boards don't catch fire).

    -i7-3930K? Ivy's just around the corner and will run on 150 dollar boards that do more than X79 could think of.

    -Silverstone 1000W PSU? Seasonic's already got their X-1050, which has 80+ Platinum certification instead of gold for the same cost.

    Some things I guess I just don't understand, then. You list some parts that have really good value, such as that RAM and Powercolor graphics card along with the 955BE, and then go to the polar opposite. I don't see the reason for that.
    21
  • manu 11
    I can ditch pc hardware if i can get a girl in those photos
    1
  • kustiki321
    I'm sorry, was there supposed to be some sort of gift guide here? I know it's a tech site and I was expecting one but I can't seem to see what they're recommending.
    0
  • mkrijt
    The redhead doesn't seem to have fun....
    17
  • cold fire
    I'm having a hard time deciding whether I'd take all the hardware or all the girls. :$
    -8
  • tzhu07
    Those girls prove why Tom's Hardware will never be at the level of AnandTech...
    -7
  • gazum123
    Anonymous said:
    I'm sorry, was there supposed to be some sort of gift guide here? I know it's a tech site and I was expecting one but I can't seem to see what they're recommending.



    Get a life you freak
    -22
  • Goldengoose
    gazum123Get a life you freak

    Get a sense of humor you rude little man.
    15
  • Anonymous
    and not a single anti-static precaution taken... All those naked components... what a waste
    -4