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ASRock Fatal1ty 990FX Professional (AMD 990FX) Motherboard Review

We check out the Fatal1ty branded 990FX Professional board from ASRock and see what kind of performance it's able to offer us.
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Thu, Nov 3 2011 8:00 AM CDT   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 91%Manufacturer: ASRock

Introduction and Package

Introduction

ASRock Fatal1ty 990FX Professional (AMD 990FX) Motherboard Review 02 | TweakTown.com
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As we've said a few times now, we're playing a bit of catch up on 990FX based motherboards as we were holding some back while we waited for Bulldozer. Some boards were waiting for the processor to launch in September before it was delayed again.

We're getting through the boards, though, and the latest one for us to fire up comes from ASRock and follows the Fatal1ty series. The ASRock Fatal1ty 990FX Professional looks the part, but today we'll see how it performs with the new AMD FX-8150 from AMD.

As usual, the first thing we'll do is check out the package to see what's going on. Once we've done that we'll start to move onto the board and see what features we've got on offer. After we've done that, we'll check out the BIOS to see what's going on before we get into the BIOS and have a look at that while also taking the time to overclock our processor.

The FX series processors haven't gotten off to the best start, but the 990FX has proven itsself in the past. Let's see if ASRock are able to continue the trend of good looking 990FX boards and see what kind of performance we can get out of our FX-8150 today.

The Package

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Being part of the "Professional" line within the Fatal1ty series means we're dealing with quite a large box. We can see the front gives us a little bit of information, but opening up we get a whole lot more on the left with a look at the board on the right. Moving to the back of the box, you can see we get a bit more detail on the board and some more specifics.

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Moving inside the package, we've got the normal paperwork and driver CD. Mind you, I forgot to put the driver CD in the photo; it's included, though. We've also got six SATA cables, auxiliary cable, two Molex to SATA connectors, SLI bridge and a rear I/O panel.

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Along with all that we've also got a pair of USB 3.0 ports included in the package which can sit at the front of your case, or with the included backplate can be installed in the rear.

The Motherboard

Looking at the board, we're not seeing anything we haven't really seen before from a Fatal1ty board except for the fact we're dealing with a AM3 socket. The typical black and red color scheme is present and we can see the "Fatal1ty" branding throughout the board.

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ASRock Fatal1ty 990FX Professional (AMD 990FX) Motherboard Review 10 | TweakTown.com

As we move in closer, we get a better look at the board and for some reason ASRock has chosen to include two legacy PCI slots. As we see companies move to only one and some eliminate it completely, for some reason ASRock has still chosen to include two. The placement of them is really bad as well. If you're using a dual slot video card in one of the three PCIe x16 slots, you instantly lose one of your two PCIe 1x slots. I'd rather we lost a legacy PCI than a PCIe 1x.

At some points I feel like we're going a little backwards with some of the Fatal1ty boards. It's nothing major, but the inclusion of the Floppy connector on some and two legacy PCI slots, I don't 100% agree with what's going on. Fortunately we've got three PCIe x16 slots, though, as we mentioned along with those PCIe x1 slots.

ASRock Fatal1ty 990FX Professional (AMD 990FX) Motherboard Review 11 | TweakTown.com

Moving across the bottom of the board, we've got a HD Audio header on the left followed with Firewire, COM1, two USB 2.0, Debug LED reader and our two Fatal1ty branded power buttons.

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Turning the corner, you can see we've got a total of six SATA ports; all are SATA III and all run off the AMD SB950 chip. We've seen some companies throw on a second controller to add a few more SATA ports, but I think six is a pretty good amount, considering they're all SATA III.

The Motherboard Continued

Moving away from the bottom of the board and up to the top, we can see our four DDR3 DIMM slots which support up to 32GB of RAM at 2100MHz DDR via overclocking. Also around here we get a good look at all the Gold caps that are present on the board. We've seen this for a while from ASRock now and the Gold caps look fantastic.

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Also around here we've of course got our typical 24-Pin main ATX power connector present along with a pair of USB 3.0 headers. One can of course be used in conjunction with the included USB 3.0 connector.

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Moving around to the last corner of the board, you can see our 8-Pin ATX power connector located in that typical position and looking around the CPU socket you can see as usual we've got a pretty clean setup. Like most companies these days, ASRock are also using the new fan holders which frees up the sides to help let the air move more.

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Finally, we finish off with the I/O side of things and starting from the left, we've got two PS/2 connectors, clear CMOS button, optical and coaxial ports running off the Realtek ALC892 codec. Moving across again, we've got Gigabit networking via the Broadcom BCM57781 chip, four USB 2.0 ports, our Fatal1ty mouse port, two more USB 2.0 ports, Firewire, eSATA, another gigabit network port off the same Broadcom controller, two USB 3.0 ports running off the Etron EJ168A controller and six auxiliary ports running off the Realtek ALC892 codec again.

BIOS

Getting into the BIOS as I normally do, we get freaked out by the fact that Fatal1ty is staring me down again. I then get disappointed by the fact that unlike the Z68 version of the board, I can't change the background. Honestly, this is a horrible, horrible BIOS image. The black one with just some Fatal1ty branding looks a whole lot better.

It actually bugged me so much that I messaged ASRock about it and they said that the latest version of the BIOS will carry the "UEFI Setup Style" just like the Z68 offering. If you're going to be in the BIOS a bit, you're going to appreciate the option to change.

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As for the actual BIOS layout, though, there's nothing we haven't seen from ASRock before and if you're going to want to do any overclocking you'll be spending most of your time in the "OC Tweaker" section which offers the typical manual overclocking options along with some auto speed bumps.

Test System Setup

ASRock Fatal1ty 990FX Professional (AMD 990FX) Motherboard Review 99 | TweakTown.com

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.

As for the testbed line-up today, there's nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to the items we're using, so we'll just get into the overclocking side of things. Like we've mentioned before, since our FX-8150 had initially an untimely death, we've just put the overclocking duties on the light side. We're only bumping voltages slightly and while we know it will hinder our maximum OC a little, it's better than running the risk of killing our chip.

So moving to 1.45v on our core, you can see below we managed to get a nice little overclock on our FX-8150 here today.

ASRock Fatal1ty 990FX Professional (AMD 990FX) Motherboard Review 01 | TweakTown.com

Using a 23x Multiplier, we got up and running with no dramas at 4.6GHz even. This is a pretty nice little overclock considering the voltages aren't bumped as high as when we first looked at the FX-8150 and hopefully should yield some nice performance gains.

There's not really much more that needs to be said, so let's just get into the benchmarking side of things to see the kind of performance our ASRock 990FX Fatal1ty Professional can offer us.

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.

ASRock Fatal1ty 990FX Professional (AMD 990FX) Motherboard Review 30 | TweakTown.com

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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Performance under Hyper PI and AIDA64 lines up perfectly with our MSI offering and you can see thanks to the overclock a nice little boost in overall performance in both tests.

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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Looking at performance under MediaEspresso and PCMark 7, we can see it lines up just as we'd expect against our other 990FX offerings. Again, we can see a nice little bump in speed when overclocked with the most appreciated benefit being in encode timings.

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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In typical ASRock fashion, USB 2.0 performance is strong thanks to the XFast technology it has. USB 3.0 performance on the other hand doesn't benefit from it in the same way. Fortunately, we still see very strong performance out of USB 3.0 devices with it lining up with 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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Checking out SSD performance, we can see it lines up just as we'd hope against our other 990FX boards. There's nothing really separating them and that's always a good thing.

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.

ASRock Fatal1ty 990FX Professional (AMD 990FX) Motherboard Review 39 | TweakTown.com

Memory performance across the board is pretty strong and we can see overclocking gives us a slight bump, but nothing too major. At stock, though, performance does line up with the MSI board which comes in a little faster than our GIGABYTE offering.

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 some tests that make use of the video card, we can see across the board there's nothing out of the ordinary with all our setups performing quite close to each other. The only time we see a bit of movement that stands out is in 3DMark 11 and the Performance Preset which sees strong performance on the 2600k and gets a nice bump from the overclock on our 990FX board here.

Temperature and Power

Power Draw Tests

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Power draw on our ASRock board sits a little higher than some of our other setups under load, but you can see the idle numbers all fall in line with each other. The only time we see the idle change is when we overclock our CPU and then we see quite a spike in it.

Core Temperature

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I'm still a bit reluctant to put any real weight on the numbers we get out of an AMD based system when looking at temperatures. They just seem to move around a bit too much and offer us crazy low numbers. You can see the numbers we got above, though.

Final Thoughts

First off, there were two things that bugged be about the Fatal1ty 990FX Professional board. The first was the UEFI background. The amount of times I've had people tell me that they just can't handle it, I couldn't tell you. It's obvious that ASRock have probably had similar feedback since they gave the option to change the UEFI Setup Style in the last Fatal1ty Z68 board we looked at.

I was so glad to hear that the latest BIOS gave us the option to again change it, though, and that's enough for the BIOS background to not be an issue for me. The only other thing, while not a problem, but something that still bugged me was the inclusion of two legacy PCI slots, but more so the placement. I would've liked to have one PCI slot paired against the first PCIe x16, instead of having a PCIe x1 in that spot which becomes unusable when a dual slot VGA card is installed.

In the end, though, the use of the PCI or PCIe x1 slot are probably minimal, so for the most part it's not going to affect people. It's just a little bit of a weird design decision I think, though, as the PCIe x1 slot would have more real world use these days instead of the older legacy PCI slot.

Outside of that, we've got a really nice board on our hand. The color scheme as usual looks good and the black / red setup is always a popular one. Feature wise the board is strong and the bundle looks great.

Priced at $189.99 US, it sits around the same point as other 990FX boards we've looked at and it performs similar to them, making it a good choice. What will probably stand out the most for the board, though, is that color scheme. People really like the black / red setup inside a black case and the Crosshair V Formula from ASUS which follows a similar color setup carries a $229.99 US price tag, pushing it well above that $200 price point.

If you're thinking that it's time to go down the AMD FX path, be it with something like a FX-6100 instead of the more expensive FX-8150, the ASRock Fatal1ty 990FX Professional is a really nice option that should tick all the right boxes for most people.

Coming in under $200 US means that it can be paired with a couple of really nice higher end parts like a HD 6900 series video card and you're not going to break the bank.

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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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