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Five $160 To $240 990FX-Based Socket AM3+ Motherboards

Opposite Asus, ECS packs its A990FXM-A with a full set of third-party controllers for dual gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth, and 6 Gb/s eSATA, leaving out any additional internal SATA ports. Opposite ASRock, its three PCIe x16 slots support either x16-x0-x16 or x16-x8-x8 transfer modes, depending on whether or not a card is installed in the middle.

Though at first this appears to be the best combination of Asus' and ASRock's features, ECS doesn’t fall in the middle on price. In fact, the A990FXM-A costs around 25% more than its rivals (even if neither of them come with Bluetooth connectivity).

Of the A990FXM-A’s two third-party SATA 6 Gb/s controllers, one serves eSATA needs and the other is reserved exclusively for enabling Ultra ATA 133. Questions of marketability aside, we’re certain that dual SATA ports would have taken up less space on the motherboard’s front edge and may have even allowed a forward-facing USB 3.0 internal interface to be placed next to those alternative ports.

The A990FXM-A’s internal USB 3.0 header is instead found along its bottom edge, where it creates cable clearance problems for most dual-slot blower-style GPU coolers. If you aren't concerned about breaking the header, you can try forcing a card into place, but we’d suggest using the USB 3.0 header only in conjunction with carefully selected card configurations instead.

The A990FXM-A installation kit includes six internal SATA cables, three SLI bridges, a 3.5” bay adapter for USB 3.0, a slot bracket for repositioning the ports of its bay adapter, and several USB port dust covers.

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