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Three AMD 990FX-Based Motherboards For Enthusiasts

Performance Beats Features?

Day in and day out, you and I get hammered with a constant stream of press releases, record-setting attempts, and flowery marketing intended to get us thinking that one company's product is better than another's thanks to a truckload of features. Then we get asked, "How much more would you pay for that?"

Really, though, how many of us can afford a trio of top gaming cards? Who among us wants to configure eight 3 TB disks in RAID 10, and add an SSD boot drive for good measure? How many of us really need all of those features, and how many of us can use all of that performance we find so news-worthy?

AMD’s FX family sits at the opposite end of the price/performance scale from Intel’s Sandy Bridge-E-based Core i7s, yet it still offers the flexibility of 44 PCIe 2.0 lanes. That kind of room to upgrade lends itself to all kinds of low-cost future add-ons that you'll more easily be able to afford, since it didn't cost you an arm and a leg to buy the platform. The extra pathways even let you carry into your new system some of the stuff that made previous-gen builds so enjoyable and versatile, such as TV tuners, wireless networking, and high-end audio cards.

Some folks lament the fact that AMD isn't competing in the high-end space right now. We look at the company's combination of affordable CPUs and connectivity-rich chipsets as ideal for mid-budget builds, though. Marketing folks don't think that sort of talk is very sexy though, so we weren't entirely surprised that only three motherboard vendors expressed interest in sending us 990FX-based products to compare for a 2013 Socket AM3+ update.

990FX Enthusiast Motherboard Features
ASRock 990FX Extreme9Asus M5A99FX Pro R2.0Gigabyte 990FXA-UD3
PCB Revision1.041.013.0
ChipsetAMD 990FX / SB950AMD 990FX / SB950AMD 990FX / SB950
Voltage RegulatorFourteen PhasesEight PhasesTen Phases
BIOSP1.10 (01/24/2013)1503 (01/11/2013)FC (02/05/2013)
200.0 MHz RCLK200.83 MHz (+0.42%)200.66 MHz (+0.33%)200.92 MHz (+0.46%)
I/O Panel Connectors
P/S 2221
USB 3.0422
USB 2.0488
Network111
eSATA212
CLR_CMOS ButtonYesNoNo
Digital Audio OutOptical + CoaxialOpticalOptical
Digital Audio InNoneNoneNone
Analog Audio666
VideoNoneNoneNone
Other DevicesIEEE 1394 x1NoneIEEE 1394 x1
Internal Interfaces
PCIe 2.0 x164 (x16/x4/x16/x0 or x16/x4/x8/x8)4 (x16/x4/x16/x4)4 (x16/x4/x16/x4)
PCIe 2.0 x1112
USB 3.02 (4-ports)1 (2-ports)1 (2-ports)
USB 2.02 (4-ports)3 (6-ports)3 (6-ports)
SATA 6Gb/s876
SATA 3Gb/sNoneNoneNone
4-Pin Fan252
3-Pin Fan4None2
FP-Audio111
S/PDIF I/ONoneOutput OnlyOutput Only
Internal ButtonsPower, ResetDirectKey, MemOK, BIOS FlashbackNone
Diagnostics PanelNumericNoneNone
LegacyCIR, IEEE-1394, SerialSerialIEEE-1394, Serial
Mass Storage Controllers
Chipset SATA6 x SATA 6Gb/s5 x SATA 6Gb/s 1 x eSATA 6Gb/s6 x SATA 6Gb/s
Chipset RAID Modes0, 1, 5, 100, 1, 5, 100, 1, 5, 10
Add-In SATA2 x ASM1061 PCIe 2 x eSATA 6Gb/s 2 x SATA 6Gb/sASM1061 PCIe 2 x SATA 6Gb/s88SE9172 PCIe 2 x eSATA 6Gb/s
USB 3.02 x EJ188H PCIe (8-ports)2 x ASM1042 PCIe (4-ports)2 x EJ168A PCIe (4-ports)
Networking
Primary LANWG82583V PCIeRTL8111E PCIeRTL8111F PCIe
Secondary LANNoneNoneNone
BluetoothNoneNoneNone
Audio
HD Audio CodecALC898ALC892ALC889
DDL/DTS ConnectNot SpecifiedDTS ConnectDDL
WarrantyThree YearsThree YearsThree Years
  • boulbox
    Glad to see AMD getting some love.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • bgunner
    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.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    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.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    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.
    Reply
  • falchard
    Aren't the 990FX chipsets kind old?
    Reply
  • boulbox
    10596062 said:
    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
    Reply
  • Crashman
    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?
    Reply
  • darkchazz
    "Three AMD 990FX-Based Motherboards For Enthusiasts"
    I don't think enthusiasts would want to buy a slow CPU from AMD.
    Reply
  • Onus
    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...
    Reply