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Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD7

Five $160 To $240 990FX-Based Socket AM3+ Motherboards
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Gigabyte targets the gaming community by offering the only true four-way SLI-compatible slot configuration in today’s round-up. Getting back to the AMD theme, that could also make the 990FX-UD7 ideal for four-way CrossFireX.

Anyone who would rather have a ton of monitors attached to their PC will note that the 990FXA-UD7 supports up to six single-slot PCIe graphics cards, though lane limitations force the second and fourth x16 slots down to four-lane transfers. The first and third graphics slots switch from x16/x0 to x8/x8 when a card is installed into the third slot, as do the fifth and seventh slots.

This would be almost perfect had Gigabyte put a forward-facing USB 3.0 header where its “ATX4P” connector resides. Instead, the USB 3.0 header is found along the bottom edge, faces outward, and cannot be utilized when a graphics card is installed in the bottom slot. Gigabyte tells us that this was necessary to accommodate the motherboard's layout, and mentioned making a more conscious effort to relocate that header in the future.

Unlike Asus' and ASRock's models, the 990FXA-UD7 is the only board with a graphics slot located so close to its memory slots that users might actually want single-sided DIMM latches. Also unlike Asus and ASRock, Gigabyte doesn’t have them. Fortunately, we were able to install and remove memory with a card in the top slot, but we're also craftier than many system builders.

Bench testers will love that the 990FXA-UD7 includes a lighted CLR_CMOS button right next to its power and reset buttons, but they’ll probably have more love for the fact that it employs a clear snap-on cover to prevent accidental invocation.

Filling the 990FXA-UD7 with graphics cards would prevent builders from adding any add-in storage controllers. So, Gigabyte integrates a couple of them on the board itself. A pair of Marvell 9172 SATA 6Gb/s controllers add two eSATA and two SATA ports to the six enabled by AMD’s SB950 southbridge.

The 990FXA-UD7 includes two-way, three-way, and four-way SLI bridges. Gigabyte even throws in a pair of CrossFire bridges, in spite of the fact that most AMD cards include them. Four SATA cables, on the other hand, appear merely adequate for a board that has eight ports, even after we consider that we’d probably use the third-party-controlled ports for front-panel eSATA.

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