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.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • timbo1130
    How is this relevant to enthusiast? Bulldozer is out classed by Sandy Bridge I don't care if there are a few less sata ports. If you need to upgrade your better off going with Sandy bridge and z68 or p67 or wait for SB-E and X79.
  • julianbautista87
    thanks for this article. I was waiting for it since some guy said that the 8150 was performing badly because of the mainboard used, but now I see that that was not correct.
  • mayankleoboy1
    nice thorough review.
    but great chipsets cant offset poor CPU's.
  • ellmondo
    let the amd bashing begin...
  • _Pez_
    Yeah If were to buy this boards would be with a Phenom real 6 core CPU 1100T :D that is the smartest choice. I think.
  • theuniquegamer
    What about asus 990fx crosshair v formula motherboard?
  • frostweaver
    I would wait till next year to decide. I still feel that windows 7 aint optimized for BD.
  • Tijok
    First off, thanks for the great article, good to see Tom's is keeping up the top notch quality!

    Secondly, I would really like to see a piece on extreme CFX/SLI configurations on rigs like this. It seems an article with reliable information on this would be beneficial to gaming enthusiasts, IT professionals, and HPC builders alike!

    Hope to see an article along these lines soon!
  • palladin9479
    I bought the Sabertooth during the summer and I can attest to how amazing that board is. It's really nice, lots of features and high quality. I'm running a Phenom II X4 970BE @ 4.3Ghz on water right now. Absolutely wonderful system.
  • ta152h
    What a bunch of pretzel logic we have in this article.
    Of course, a fan of Intel's work could argue against the need for 42 lanes of second-gen PCIe when the 36 native to X58 Express support multi-card graphics configurations just as capably. But such a comparison really isn't necessary. After all, we've known for almost a year that Intel’s lower-cost Sandy Bridge-based part outperform the pricey six-core Gulftown-based processors in many desktop benchmarks, including pretty much every gaming scenario we throw at the two platforms.

    So, x58 is irrelevant, because SB beats it. Except AMD's offering is somehow relevant even though both x58 and SB beat it. What?????

    If you ignore x58 because SB offers better performance, you ignore anything AMD has because a SB setup offers better performance. If you want 36 or less lanes, x58 still offers better processors than you can hope to get from AMD. Bizarre logic.

    Not that AMD is irrelevant, just the logic is badly flawed.