AMD 990FX Mobo Round-Up: Asus, ASRock, Gigabyte - HotHardware

AMD 990FX Mobo Round-Up: Asus, ASRock, Gigabyte

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Here we have the ASRock Fatal1ty 990FX Professional. Those familiar with the Fatal1ty brand (and professional gamer of the same name) will know that it adorns products targeted at hardcore gamers. And believe it or not, the ASRock Fatal1ty 990FX Pro actually has a gamer-specific feature of Fatal1ty’s design, unlike some older boards that featured the brand only. In the board’s IO backplane is a “Fatal1ty” USB mouse port set for a 500MHz polling rate, which is the same polling rate Johnathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel likes to use when gaming competitively.

ASRock Falat1ty 990FX Professional
Specifications & Features
CPU - Support for Socket AM3+ processors
- Support for Socket AM3 processors: AMD Phenom II X6 / X4 / X3 / X2 (except 920 / 940) / Athlon II X4 / X3 / X2 / Sempron processors
- Supports 8-Core CPU
- Supports UCC feature (Unlock CPU Core)
- Advanced V12 + 2 Power Phase Design
- Supports CPU up to 140W
- Supports AMD's Cool 'n' Quiet Technology
- FSB 2600 MHz (5.2 GT/s)
- Supports Untied Overclocking Technology
- Supports Hyper-Transport 3.0 (HT 3.0) Technology
Chipset - Northbridge: AMD 990FX
- Southbridge: AMD SB950
Memory - Dual Channel DDR3 memory technology
- 4 x DDR3 DIMM slots
- Supports DDR3 2100(OC)/1866/1600/1333/1066/800 non-ECC, un-buffered memory
- Max. capacity of system memory: 32GB

Audio, Video and Networking
Audio - 7.1 CH HD Audio with Content Protection (Realtek ALC892 Audio Codec)
- Premium Blu-ray audio support
- Supports THX TruStudio
LAN - PCIE x1 Gigabit LAN 10/100/1000 Mb/s
- Broadcom BCM57781
- Supports Wake-On-LAN
- Supports Energy Efficient Ethernet 802.3az
- Supports Dual LAN with Teaming function
- Supports PXE

Expansion / Connectivity
Slots - 3 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots (PCIE2/PCIE4: x16 mode ; PCIE5: x4 mode)
- 2 x PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots
- 2 x PCI slots
- Supports AMD Quad CrossFireX, 3-Way CrossFireX and CrossFireX
- Supports NVIDIA Quad SLI and SLI
SATA3 - 6 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s connectors, support RAID (RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 0+1, JBOD and RAID 5), NCQ, AHCI and "Hot Plug" functions
USB 3.0 - 2 x Rear USB 3.0 ports by Etron EJ168A, support USB 1.0/2.0/3.0 up to 5Gb/s
- 2 x Front USB 3.0 headers (support 4 USB 3.0 ports) by Etron EJ168A, support USB 1.0/2.0/3.0 up to 5Gb/s

Other Features / Miscellaneous
Smart Switch - 1 x Power Switch with LED
- 1 x Reset Switch with LED
- 1 x Clear CMOS Switch with LED
Form Factor - ATX Form Factor: 12.0-in x 9.6-in, 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm
- All Solid Capacitor design (100% Japan-made high-quality Conductive Polymer Capacitors)

The ASRock Fatal1ty 990FX Professional’s specifications reveal a very feature rich motherboard. Like the other boards shown here that exploit all of the features of the 990FX chipset, the ASRock Fatal1ty 990FX Professional does so as well, and compliments the chipset with a four-port Etron USB 3.0 controller that adds front and rear USB ports. The board even includes a slot- or bay-mountable USB 3.0 bracket so users can place the additional ports on the front of rear of their systems. Firewire is available on the board too.

  

  
ASRock Fatal1ty 990FX Professional

Additional features of the ASRock Fatal1ty 990FX Professional include integrated power and reset switches, a POST code error reporter, all Japanese solid capacitors, a Realtek ALC892 7.1CH HD audio Codec, dual gigabit PCIe LAN controllers (with teaming) and a digital 12+2 VRM design. The cooling hardware on the board is also quite good. There is a tall finned heatsink in the VRM, linked to the 990FX and SB950 via a thick heatpipe. The 990FX and SB950 have their own heatsinks as well. Although the setup does a good job of cooling the chips, the high VRM heatsink may get in the way of some oversized aftermarket coolers that overhang the socket area, so keep that in mind if this board tickles your fancy.

The overall layout and color scheme of the ASRock Fatal1ty 990FX Professional is very good. The black, red and white expansion slots and headers are all clearly labeled and the positioning of all of the components is good. There was one oddity with the DIMM retention brackets, however. Like Asus board, only one side of the DIMM slots has a moving retention clip—the other side is a simple, locking notch. But the side without the clip is facing the top of the board. This is usually done the other way around so the movable clips don’t interfere with the back-side of a graphics or other expansion card when open. Luckily there is enough room between the DIMM slots and first PEG slot that this isn’t a cause for concern, but it did catch our eye.

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This is cool. Bulldozer is ~really~ gonna pop soon.

I like that the performance of the ASRock board stayed so close to the ASUS. The fact that it has more features for less money has me sold. I may just buy one of them soon, and keep it on the shelf for when Bulldozer is here.

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I wish AMD all the best hopefully they bounce back this round.

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"Nice round-up Marco. But I cant agree with the conclusion, I feel that the Asrock board should have been the editors choice. First of of all, it has more features as you mentioned, like Firewire, dual-Gigabit LAN, and a front-mountable USB 3.0 panel. Second , it cost less. Third, it came out on top, in four of the test. The only thing I dont like is John's face in the bios."

"A request that I have for a future special report or article,that either you or Joel can hopefully take on is, Dual Gigabit lan. what are the advantages of this and how does it perform versus a standard gigabit lan , especially in gaming and in a workstation environment."

"One thing I noted, when Bulldozer arrives, the RAM specifications will change to native 1866 instead of 1800(OC)"

-Optimus

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@Optimus - I hear your points, but the more refined UEFI utility, Intel LAN controller, overall layout and configuration of the Asus board, plus the easy to use OC tools give the the edge for me. I put less stock in Firewire (I never use it) and dual gigabit LAN.

As for the perf of dual gigabit LAN, I'm sure we can work up some benchmarks that show a bandwidth advantage, but for gaming and real-world perf. it's not going to be noticable. It won't have an impact on pings in-game, etc.

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Marco C:
@Optimus - I hear your points, but the more refined UEFI utility, Intel LAN controller, overall layout and configuration of the Asus board, plus the easy to use OC tools give the the edge for me. I put less stock in Firewire (I never use it) and dual gigabit LAN.

"OK, The Intel Lan is better quality, Firewire I will never use, Dual Lan, maybe. The OC tools wasn't mentioned or expanded in the "Bios Comparo and Overclocking" but Asrock has a neat Auto OC feature that people love. Also, the Asrock board supports 4 Way Sli and 4 Way Crossfire, the Asus only supports 3 Way of both. Which brings me to this Question : Even though the GTX 590 and AMD 6990 are dual GPUs in one and are internally SLI'ed and Crossfired, is the Asus Crosshair V limited to only handle one 590 or one 6990?'

-Optimus

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Not at all. 3-way vs. 4-way means it can physically fit 3 or 4 cards.

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Marco C:

Not at all. 3-way vs. 4-way means it can physically fit 3 or 4 cards.

"Thanks for clearing that up for me"

Marco C:
As for the perf of dual gigabit LAN, I'm sure we can work up some benchmarks that show a bandwidth advantage, but for gaming and real-world perf. it's not going to be noticable. It won't have an impact on pings in-game, etc

"That would be great, I have always been curious about Dual Lan"

 

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OptimusPrimeTime:
Firewire I will never use,

One thing that Firewire does that I really like is that you can Daisy-Chain several drives together with only one initial connection to your PC and they'll be seen, and work. A guy that I knew in California produced films for owners of racehorses, about their horses. (something to do with attracting investors) He had a Mac Pro with 6 external Firewire 800 drives all plugged into one another and only one connection to the PC. All of them worked and all ran at full speed. He could use any combination of them at the same time and had no problems with losing data.

So I ended up buying three of them and using them on my IBM clone. (EDIT: After adding a Firewire adapter card to my system) Same result, all of them worked without a hitch. Firewire's speeds have been eclipsed by USB 3.0 and E-SATA since then, but at the time, it was the fastest game in town.

Firewire works, and I'm surprised that it never saw any better adaptation by consumers than it did. I still have one of those (now old) drives and it still works.

 

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USB 2.o :(

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gigabyte and msi should really exit the 19th century. UEFI should be standard by now. who the hell wants to use a non-intuitive old school tandy 1000 type interface anymore? I miss ABIT and all the others that shut down. They would always push for new tech to be standard.

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