GIGABYTE GA-990FXA-UD5 (AMD 990FX) Motherboard Review

AMD boards tend to come in a bit cheaper as it is, but let's check out the GA-990FXA-UD5 which carries a particularly good looking price.
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Sun, Oct 30 2011 11:15 PM CDT   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 91%Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Package

Introduction

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With a new FX-8150 on hand, we're finally able to get back to testing the 990FX boards that have built up over the last few weeks. The first to go back onto the testbed comes from GIGABYTE and sits in as part of the popular UD5 series.

Personally, I don't see enough UD5s. In the looks department it's one of my favorite boards as it follows that black PCB and blue tint throughout the heatsink. Today we fortunately get the chance to look at the UD5 in the form of the GA-990FXA-UD5.

Before we look at the packaging and move closer into the board itself, it's worth mentioning the death of our FX-8150 and what's changing now. It seems that we're not the only one who has killed an FX-8150. The consistent trend is that the issue has been seen only when overclocking. Because we don't want to run the risk of killing a second FX-8150 we'll, be putting our CPU on light duties.

Look at it in the way that you hurt your back and now you're back at work, while you're working, you're not working as hard as you were prior to the incident. We still intend to overclock, but we'll be keeping our voltages even lower than the recommended numbers from AMD. Of course, we'll talk about this more in the overclocking side of things in just a few pages.

For now, the first thing we need to do is look at the package and see what GIGABYTE is offering us. Once we've done that we'll take a closer look at the board itself before we check out the BIOS, cover overclocking and then get into the performance side of things.

The Package

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Checking out the box, we've got that normal UD5 look going on with a smaller box when compared to the bigger UD7. It doesn't flip open like the bigger box, but turning over, we've got a picture of the board along with a large amount of detail covering a lot of the main features that are on offer from the 990FXA-UD5.

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Checking out the package, there's not heaps going on. We've got two pieces of paperwork, driver CD, four SATA cables, a single SLI bridge and 3-Way SLI bridge and our standard rear I/O shield.

The Motherboard

Moving onto the board, we can see that the design is just what you'd expect from the UD5 named motherboard. We've got the black PCB which looks great along with the little highlights of blue throughout the board that as always lets us know it's part of the UD5 family. You can see the black color scheme goes throughout the whole board and it's nice to see there aren't some random colors thrown in for the slots.

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Moving in closer, we've got a legacy PCI slot, single PCIe x1 slot and five PCIe x16 slots. Starting from the left, the PCIe x16 configuration is x16 / x4 / x16 / x4 / x8. The board supports three-card CrossFireX and SLI, so in that configuration the setup would be x16 / x16 / x8. Considering the price point of the board, that's pretty awesome. Along with that you still have the PCIe 1x slot if you have any devices that make use of that connection.

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Moving to the bottom of the board, we've got our front audio header on the left followed by a FireWire header, three USB 2.0 headers, a single USB 3.0 header, TPM and our Front Panel header which is of course color coded. The UD5 doesn't come with a power / reset button like the higher up UD7; for most this won't matter.

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Turning the corner, you can see we've got a total of eight SATA ports here. The six black ones are all SATA III and run off the AMD SB950 South bridge; the two grey ones that sit just to the side are also SATA III, but they run off the Marvell 88SE9172 controller.

The Motherboard Continued

Moving up towards the top of the board, we can see our four DDR3 DIMM slots which support up 32GB of memory at speeds rated to 2000MHz DDR via overclocking. To achieve those kinds of speeds, you'll need to be going down the Bulldozer path.

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Also around here we've got our BIOS battery and next to that, the main 24-Pin ATX power connector. The only other bit that stands out around here is the single fan header next to our main ATX power connector.

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Moving around to the CPU area, we can see our typical 8-Pin CPU power connector tucked away in the corner, while we can see the socket area is pretty clean as usual. The 990FXA-UD5 uses the newer mount which leaves the sides free. Also around here we're able to get a good look at the heatsink setup on offer which is always of great quality.

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Finishing up with the I/O side of things, we've got from the left, a PS/2 combo port and two USB ports. Optical out, two more USB 2.0 ports, FireWire off the VIA VT6308 and eSATA off the Marvell 88SE9172 chip.

We've got two more USB 2.0 ports and another eSATA port followed by two USB 3.0 ports running off the Etron EJ168 controller. We've got a further two USB 2.0 ports and Gigabit networking off the Realtek RTL8111E chip.

Finally, we finish off with our six auxiliary ports which in conjunction with the optical port, run off the Realtek ALC889 Codec.

BIOS

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Looking through the BIOS of the GA-990FXA-UD5, you're not going to see anything you haven't really seen from a GIGABYTE board before. We've got that older Award BIOS going on and the overall layout is no different to past ones really, with anything overclocking related ultimately done in the M.I.T. area.

Test System Setup

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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, ASUS, MSI, Western Digital and Corsair.

The line-up of boards includes the MSI 990FXA-GD80 we looked at recently with the AMD FX-8150. Alongside that, we've got an A75 based ASRock board using our A8-3850 along with a H67 based ASUS board using our 2600k.

As for the rest of the system, there are no changes, so let's just get into the overclocking side of things. While AMD say we can go as high as 1.515v on the CPU core, we didn't want to go near that at the moment. Instead we wanted to sit around the 1.45v mark.

Surprisingly enough, our overclock was really strong coming in at 4.73GHz. This is only 30MHz lower than what we saw on our first FX-8150 sample which was running at 1.512v.

You can see below that this was done via the help of our multiplier which was pushed to 23.5x. Combined with the 201 BCLK, we come in at 4.73GHz.

GIGABYTE GA-990FXA-UD5 (AMD 990FX) Motherboard Review 01 | TweakTown.com

I would've loved to push the voltage up to around the 1.5v area like we did with our original FX-8150 to see if we could get higher, but after having ours die and hearing about others dieing, we're a little skeptical at the moment.

Let's get started!

CPU Benchmarks

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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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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We can see some strong performance from HyperPi out the gate and a nice boost in performance in all our tests when we look at the overclocked results. It doesn't matter what board we use, though, that L2 / L3 cache speed issue is present on the FX-8150; no doubt something that is holding them back.

System Benchmarks

PCMark 7

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.04

Developer Homepage: http://www.pcmark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.pcmark.com

Buy It Here

PCMark 7 includes a range of tests that give different views of your system's performance. In the Advanced Edition you can choose which tests to run. The common use and hardware component tests are unavailable in the Basic Edition.

Overall system performance is measured by the PCMark test. This is the only test that returns an official PCMark score. The Lightweight test measures the system capabilities of entry-level systems and mobility platforms unable to run the PCMark test, but it does not generate a PCMark score. Common use performance is measured by the scenario tests - Entertainment, Creativity and Production - each of which results in a scenario score. Hardware component performance is measured by the hardware tests - Computation and Storage - each of which results in a hardware score.

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MediaEspresso

Version and / or Patch Used: 6.5

Developer Homepage: http://www.cyberlink.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.cyberlink.com/products/mediaespresso/overview_en_AU.html?fileName=overview&r=1

Buy It Here

MediaEspresso is a blazingly fast media universal converter that can transcode your videos, photos and music files and out put them to a huge range of portable devices including mobile phones, portable media players and even game consoles. With technologies like Smart Detect, Direct Sync and CyberLink's TrueTheater video enhancements, you can not only forget about complicated format, resolution and output settings, but your converted file will come out the other side looking better than when it went in!

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Checking out PCMark 7 and MediaEspresso, we again see some strong performance from the board that sits in line with our other 990FX board for the most part. We can again see when overclocked, though, we get a nice little boost in performance with the encode time drop being something that would be appreciated.

USB 2.0 and 3.0 Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.70.1400

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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While USB 3.0 performance lines up just as we'd expect, we can see that USB 2.0 performance on the GIGABYTE offering lines up just as we'd hope. For some reason our MSI USB 2.0 performance sat a little bit back against our other boards.

SSD Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.70.1400

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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HD Tune Pro

Version and / or Patch Used: 4.61

Developer Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com

Product Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com

Buy It Here

HD Tune Pro gives us accurate read, write and access time results and for the last couple of years has been gaining popularity amongst reviewers. It is now considered a must have application for storage device testing.

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Looking at SATA III performance, we can see that it lines up with our MSI 990FX offering with it just being a little faster in some areas. For the most part, though, we can see that performance on our SSD is pretty similar on both boards.

Memory 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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Memory performance is something AMD has really improved and we see some good performance again here with it being similar to that of our MSI offering. Overclocked, we don't see too much change in copy performance, but we do see a nice little bump in both read and write performance.

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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Metro 2033

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.4a-games.com//

Product Homepage: http://www.thqnordic.com/

Metro 2033 is an action-oriented video game with a combination of survival horror and first-person shooter elements. The game is based on the novel Metro 2033 by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was developed by 4A Games in Ukraine and released in March 2010 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360.[3] In March 2006, 4A Games announced a partnership with Glukhovsky to collaborate on the game.[4] The game was announced at the 2009 Games Convention in Leipzig;[5] a first trailer came along with the announcement.[6] A sequel was announced, currently titled Metro: Last Light.

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Getting into the gaming side of things, we don't have any surprises. Across the board we can see that performance between our 2600k and FX-8150 is similar with the only difference really being seen in the Performance Preset under 3DMark 11. We can see that gap shrinks when we overclock our FX-8150, though, on the GIGABYTE 990FXA-UD5.

Temperature and Power

Power Draw Tests

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Power draw at load on the GIGABYTE offering sits a bit higher than our other boards here. Idle is pretty similar, though. Overclocked we can see a big bump in power draw which comes as no surprise.

Core Temperature

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We can see the core temp sits a bit higher on our GIGABYTE boards than the ASUS one, but we said when we reviewed the MSI board that we're not too confident in the numbers coming out. The GIGABYTE numbers line up as we'd expect and you can see at stock the numbers look pretty good. While overclocked we do see a bump in heat, it's not as significant as we see our 2600k get to when we overclock that. Quite often that will see temps of the high 60s or 70s.

Final Thoughts

The 990FXA-UD5 from GIGABYTE is a good all round board for a number of reasons. Firstly, we've got the looks; the black PCB on GIGABYTE is probably one of my favorites since it's of a more matte finish and the typical UD5 color scheme just looks great against the board.

Second, coming in at $179.99 after a mail in rebate means the price is really strong. The equivalent Z68 version of the board comes in at $249.99 after rebate and even then if you go for a two card setup, you won't get x16 / x16 like you will from the 990FX based board here we've got today.

Thirdly, the overclocking on the board was great; we figured that since we wanted to be really cautious with the overclocking voltages, we'd really be held back. Considering we hit around 4.76GHz at 1.515v, I figured that we'd probably be looking at around the 4.5GHz mark here. Instead we ended up at 4.73GHz which helps yield a nice performance boost and continues to run pretty cool.

The bundle is probably a little bit on the light side of things, but it's probably one of the only things we can pick up. Considering the price point again, though, we're not complaining as we do have everything we need to get up and running.

Combined with a $189.99 FX-6100 and $239.99 HD 6950, you've got a couple of really good looking pieces for just over $600. Not only do you have some good performance, you've also got a setup that's going to look really nice as well thanks to the color scheme on the board.

If you're interested in jumping on the new FX series CPU bandwagon or simply feel a little underwhelmed with what they offered and think you might just grab an older 1100T instead, the 990FXA-UD5 from GIGABYTE is a really nice pick up that is just an all round good board.

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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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