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ASUS M5A99X EVO (AMD 990X) Motherboard Review

As great as the Crosshair V Formula is, if you want to get in on the 990 action for a little less, the M5A99X EVO from ASUS could be the board for you.
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Tue, Jun 21 2011 8:18 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:30 PM CDT
Rating: 91%Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Package

Introduction

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VIEW GALLERY - 38 IMAGES


At the end of last month during Computex we saw the AMD 990FX chipset launch which brought with it some strong features. One of the more appealing ones was that it supports the new Bulldozer CPUs that are due out later this year. Because AMD aren't changing the socket, though, for the first generation of Bulldozer we can have boards now that support it while also supporting the current crop of CPUs from AMD.

At launch we looked at the Crosshair V Formula from ASUS. It's a great board, but at $239.99 US it might be a bit more money than you want to spend. In steps the M5A99X EVO from ASUS; priced at $164.99 US it might be a more attractive option for you and your bank account.

At $75 US less, is the M5A99X EVO an option that people really want to look at, though? What does $75 US less get you? We'll find that out and more today as we dive into the M5A99X EVO. Outside of being part of the ROG series, the board we're looking at also carries the 990X chipset instead of the 990FX chipset we saw on the C4F.

Before we get into the performance side of things, though, let's start by looking at the package. Once that's done we'll check out the board itself before we look at the BIOS. Once we've done that, we'll look at our testbed before getting into the overclocking side of things and then the performance of the board itself.


The Package

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The front and back of the box gives us a bit of a run down on what we're dealing with. The back shows us a picture of the board and goes on to cover some of the main ASUS only features that are present on the board like UEFI BIOS and Auto Tuning to name just a couple.

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Inside we haven't got a huge package going on, but everything we need to get up and running. We've got a manual, driver CD, I/O back plate, four SATA cables and a SLI bridge. Along with these, we've also got our little quick headers that make plugging in your system panel a little easier.

The Motherboard

The Motherboard

Looking at the board, it of course doesn't carry that sexy red and black setup that we saw on our ROG Crosshair V Formula board. It's still a pretty good looking board, though, thanks to that dark PCB, nice blues and a pretty meaty looking heatsink setup.

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Moving away from the whole board and getting in closer, we can start to look at our expansion slots. We've got a single legacy PCI slot, two 1x PCI-E slots and three x16 PCI-E slots. While the 990FX chipset carries with it support for dual x16 when two video cards are used, the 990X supports only dual x8 when two cards are used. As for the third slot (black), that only supports x4 speed.

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Moving to the bottom of the board, you can see all our headers here. From the left we've got S/PDIF and 1394 FireWire. Next to that we've got two switches that enable TPU and EPU; two ASUS features. Moving along again, we've got three USB headers, a COM header, fan header and our front panel system header.

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Turning the corner, we've got a total of eight SATA ports. The six white ones are SATA III and controlled via the AMD SB950 chip; the other two are SATA II and controlled via the JMicron JMB362 controller.

The Motherboard Continued

The Motherboard Continued

With the bottom half of the board looked at we can start to head north. In the top corner you can see our four DDR3 DIMM slots which support up to 32GB of memory at speeds starting from 1066MHz DDR and moving all the way up to 2133MHz DDR via overclocking.

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Below our memory slots we've got our main 24-Pin ATX power connector, next to that a little three pin header and just above that sitting near the lowest DIMM slot you can see we've got a USB 3.0 header.

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The CPU socket is pretty clean and to the right you can see our 8-Pin CPU power connector. The heatsink setup looks pretty good and you can see like most motherboards these days the area around the CPU socket is pretty bare.

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Moving away from the PCB and into the I/O side of things, you can see we've got all our connectors here starting with a combo PS/2 port on the left. We've also got eight USB 2.0 ports controlled natively by the SB950 along with two USB 3.0 ports that are blue and are controlled via the ASMedia chip.

We've got a single 1394 Firewire port controlled via the VIA 6308P chip, eSATA from the JMicron JMB362 chip, Gigabit LAN via Realtek 8111E and 6 audio jacks along with an Optical out that is ran via the Realtek ALC 892 HD Codec.

BIOS

BIOS

Like all ASUS boards we've looked at recently, the M5A99X EVO carries with it the UEFI BIOS. Unlike the ROG boards from ASUS, when you go into the BIOS here you're greeted with EZ Mode instead of advanced mode. From here you can do a few things, but nothing too major. The fun really begins when you get out of EZ Mode and get into Advanced Mode.

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In advanced mode you won't find anything too out of the ordinary. The overall BIOS looks pretty similar too other UEFI BIOSs we've seen from ASUS. The main section you'll probably find yourself in is the AI Tweaker section which lets you do everything related to overclocking. Apart from that, most of the other areas are of course fairly self-explanatory as you can clearly see what's on display.

Test System Setup and Overclocking

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASRock, Kingston, Mittoni, Noctua and Corsair.

Today we'll be comparing the ASUS M5A99X EVO against a number of other AMD boards we've looked at recently. Something worth remembering, though, is that the M5A99X EVO carries the 990X chipset instead of the 990FX chipset. For the most part this doesn't mean a whole lot for people who are using only one video card.

With that out of the way, let's have a look at how we went with overclocking. Using our Phenom II X6 1100T, we ended up pushing our FSB to 240MHz. As you can see below, this brings our final clock speed in just below 4GHz, coming in at 3.97GHz.

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This overclock is a little weaker than what we've achieved with the other 990 boards we've looked at. Compared to the Crosshair V Formula, it's around 70MHz less, so not a huge amount. Considering the cooling isn't as hard core as the Crosshair board and overclocking options aren't as high, it's not a surprise that the maximum overclock we achieved is a little lower. It's not much at all, though, and of course we'll be comparing our overclock results to our stock ones today.

Let's get started!

CPU Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA
Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com
Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com
Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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At stock the performance is strong and lines up with the other 990 based boards we've looked at. Overclocked you can see we get a nice boost in CPU performance and it really helps separate the results a bit.

CPU Benchmarks Continued

HyperPi 0.99

Version and / or Patch Used: 0.99
Developer Homepage: www.virgilioborges.com.br
Product Homepage: www.virgilioborges.com.br
Download It Here

HyperPi is a front end for SuperPi that allows for multiple concurrent instances of SuperPi to be run on each core recognized by the system. It is very dependent on CPU to memory to HDD speed. The faster these components, the faster it is able to figure out the number Pi to the selected length.

For our testing we use the 32M run. This means that each of the four physical and four logical cores for the i7 and the four physical cores of the i5 is trying to calculate the number Pi out to 32 million decimal places. Each "run" is a comparative to ensure accuracy and any stability or performance issues in the loop mentioned above will cause errors in calculation.

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Looking at HyperPi performance, you can see the M5A99X EVO lines up with our other boards. It actually comes in a little faster, but we wouldn't put those 13 seconds down to much more than fluctuation. You can see when we overclock, though, we manage to shave a nice chunk of time that equates to an improvement of around 15%.


AutoGK

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.55
Developer Homepage: http://www.autogk.me.uk/
Product Homepage: http://www.autogk.me.uk/
Download It Here

AutoGK stands for Auto Gordian Knot; it is a suite of transcoding tools that are compiled into an easy to install and use utility. It allows you to transcode non-protected DVDs and other media to Xvid or Divx format. For our testing purposes we use a non-DRM restricted movie that is roughly 2 hours in length. This is transcoded to a single Xvid AVI at 100% quality.

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Getting into AutoGK, we can see that again the M5A99X EVO lines up with our other boards, but is again just that little bit faster with it being over a minute better at some points. You can again see, though, when we overclock we help bring that encode time to under an hour.

Storage Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA
Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com
Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com
Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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Looking at our USB 2.0 performance, you can see again the board is strong and performs in line with the more expensive Crosshair V Formula. Looking at the performance of our SSD, it's a little lower than the Crosshair V Formula, but ahead of the M5A89TD Pro and the GIGABYTE 990FXA-UD7 which uses IDE mode by default instead of AHCI.

Memory Benchmarks

Sisoft Sandra

Version and / or Patch Used: 2011
Developer Homepage: http://www.sisoftware.net
Product Homepage: http://www.sisoftware.net
Buy It Here

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At stock memory performance lines up with our other motherboards as you'd expect. Overclocked, we see the performance actually drop back a little, though.


AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA
Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com
Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com
Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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AIDA64 shows similar happening to what we saw in Sandra. At stock it lines up fairly close with our other boards, while overclocked shows little difference and write performance actually drops down just a little bit.

Gaming Benchmarks

3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.3dmark.com/3dmark11/
Buy It Here




3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

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Aliens vs. Predator

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.rebellion.co.uk/
Product Homepage: http://www.sega.com/games/aliens-vs-predator/




Aliens vs. Predator is a science fiction first-person shooter video game, developed by Rebellion Developments, the team behind the 1999 original PC game, and published by Sega for Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. The game is based on the Alien vs. Predator franchise, a combination of the characters and creatures of the Alien franchise and the Predator franchise. There are three campaigns in the game, one for each race/faction (the Predators, the Aliens and the Colonial Marines), that, while separate in terms of individual plot and gameplay, form one overarching storyline.

Following the storyline of the campaign modes comes the multiplayer aspect of the game. In this Multiplayer section of the game, players face off in various different gametypes in various different ways.

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Gaming performance between all the boards is fairly similar, but you can see that the Crosshair V Formula does manage to come out ahead a little in our benchmarks when compared to some of these other boards.

Temperature and Power

Core Temperature

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Looking at core temp, there's no real surprise. At stock idle was nice and low and load lined up with our other boards for the most part. Overclocked we see idle jump a bit and load take a slightly larger jump as more volts run through the CPU and motherboard.


Power Draw Tests

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Like our temperature test, power draw also doesn't hold any surprises. We can see at stock it lines up with the other boards fairly similarly. If anything, it's a little lower. Overclocked, though, we see a bit of a jump in idle and load which like above comes as no surprise since we're throwing extra voltage through the CPU and motherboard.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

At $164.99 US the ASUS M5A99X EVO is an attractive option for someone that's looking at getting a board using the latest AMD chipset that will offer support for Bulldozer when it's released. Because it also carries the SB950 SouthBridge, the only real main performance feature it's missing over the 990FX based boards is support for x16 / x16. Of course, dual card setups are still supported, but they will run at x8 / x8; a little like the P67 / Z68 chipset.

It's not a bad thing and it's a good way to save some money, especially in the instance you're not looking at going down the path of multiple VGA cards. Of course, compared to something like the Crosshair V Formula, the board misses some of that ROG goodness, but performance at stock is just as strong as more expensive options and while overclocking wasn't as high, it's still very good.

Sure, compared to the Crosshair V Formula the board lacks some of the flair that we love, but carrying still that dark colored PCB and a very neutral color setup for the rest of the board, the more budget orientated EVO doesn't look like a budget board.

Combined with an X6 1100T, the M5A99X EVO comes in at under $400 US. Wanting to save even more money, you could go with this board and something like an X4 965 Black Edition which would come in at around the $300 US mark.

That would be a really nice combination that would keep you tied over till Bulldozer comes out and like we've said in the past, because Bulldozer won't require a new motherboard, you can just pop out your CPU and throw in your new one without a need to format.

All in all, if you're looking at getting in on Bulldozer, would like to start making the transition now with a current Phenom II processor or maybe your existing processor, the M5A99X EVO from ASUS is a great starting point with its strong price tag. The good news is, if you're happy to spend more, the Crosshair V Formula we looked at is also a fantastic option.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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