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A990FXM-A Firmware

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

Our A990FXM-A sample arrived with a pre-Bulldozer firmware that required the installation of a pre-Bulldozer CPU to update. That could be a problem for anyone who doesn't already have a Socket AM3 CPU sitting around. However, later samples of this board should ship with the newer firmware factory-installed.

ECS spreads the fewest overclocking options across as many menus as it could, with the primary M.I.B. menu offering only reference clock settings and a few voltage options. We were a little disappointed in the menu’s lack of a fixed voltage option, which forced us to hunt for our 1.40 V target using offsets. Also, the integrated northbridge's voltage cannot be controlled independently.

CPU multiplier control turns out to be an inexact science as well, since it controls neither the minimum nor maximum ratio, but instead the target base ratio for AMD Turbo Core. CPU VID control appears to require an alphanumeric input that we didn’t have a chart for, and none of this menu’s options are even described in the manual.

Memory ratios are fully adjustable, while timings are limited to primary and a few secondary settings.

The external HyperTransport frequency ratio is adjustable, but the CPU’s internal HT interface is not. This dramatically limits how far we can push the CPU’s reference clock.

Because of missing overclock settings and the inability to control Turbo Core through firmware, we were forced to use AMD Overdrive for most of the A990FXM-A’s O/C testing.

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