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AMD 990FX Review: ASUS Sabertooth 990FX vs ECS A990FXM-A

By on July 15, 2011
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Preparing you for the eight-core Bulldozers.

Good: AMD 8-Core CPU support, SLI support, Other minor improvements
Bad: No USB 3.0 native support, Hardly an increment over the 890FX chipset
Price: AED 850
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.

The new AMD 9-series chipsets brings with it the long awaited octa-core CPU support. These new AM3+ motherboards will support any AMD processor all the way till the good old Athlon processors of yore. With the 9-series chipsets, AMD brings support for SATA III (6gbps), PCI 2.0 2×16 lanes or 4×8 lanes, and up to 14 USB 2.0 connections. You will notice that USB 3.0 is sorely missing native support, but then that issue is moot because most motherboard manufacturers will just use a Marvell chip to control that.

Interestingly Nvidia cards can now run in SLI mode, but as I said earlier, the modes available will be 1×16, 2×16:16, 3×16:8:8 and 4×8:8:8:8 lanes in PCIe 2. Of course, the SB950 Southbridge is no slouch, perfectly complimenting the 990FX chipset with most of the I/O operations. It’s interesting to note that in addition for up to 6 SATA III port support, raid modes 0,1,5 and 10 are also supported on the 990FX platform.

Apart from the native support and future-proofing with support for the 32nm Bulldozer based Zambezi 8-core CPUs coming out later this year, there’s not much of an improvement over the 890FX. That means that aside from anything new the motherboard manufacturers choose to add as an extra, the 990FX platform doesn’t bring much new to the table; at least for the existing AMD processors.

For now, let’s take a look at our two contestants for today’s review of the 990FX platform.

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About

From auditing to editing, I now test and analyze the latest gadgets and games instead of the latest financial statements. Both jobs are equally intense and rewarding. When I'm not burning up hardware in the name of science, you'll find me nuking in DOTA 2 or engineering in TF2.

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  • Avro Arrow

    One thing I noticed that you left out is something that might be very interesting to someone with IDE DVD-RW drives.  The ECS A990FXM-A has an IDE header onboard but the ASUS does not.  Don’t you think that might be an important feature for some people who don’t necessarily want to spend another $20 on a new DVD-RW drive?  In my case, I have 2 IDE DVD-RW drives and it would cost $40+tax to replace them.  Quite honestly, that makes the ASUS board $40 more expensive to me.  To those who don’t know, DVD-RW drives are limited primarily by the physical limitations of the disc itself and are relatively slow devices.  Changing from IDE to SATA in this case makes little to no difference at all except that IDE drives leave 2 extra SATA ports empty for things that actually need them like Blu-Ray and hard drives.  For myself and many others, that point alone means that the ECS board is the clear winner because there isn’t a noticeable difference in performance between the two.  Why did you completely overlook this feature?  I can’t believe that someone who is supposed to be a “techie” and writes reviews doesn’t know the potential added value of that IDE header.

  • Avro Arrow

    One thing I noticed that you left out is something that might be very interesting to someone with IDE DVD-RW drives.  The ECS A990FXM-A has an IDE header onboard but the ASUS does not.  Don’t you think that might be an important feature for some people who don’t necessarily want to spend another $20 on a new DVD-RW drive?  In my case, I have 2 IDE DVD-RW drives and it would cost $40+tax to replace them.  Quite honestly, that makes the ASUS board $40 more expensive to me.  To those who don’t know, DVD-RW drives are limited primarily by the physical limitations of the disc itself and are relatively slow devices.  Changing from IDE to SATA in this case makes little to no difference at all except that IDE drives leave 2 extra SATA ports empty for things that actually need them like Blu-Ray and hard drives.  For myself and many others, that point alone means that the ECS board is the clear winner because there isn’t a noticeable difference in performance between the two.  Why did you completely overlook this feature?  I can’t believe that someone who is supposed to be a “techie” and writes reviews doesn’t know the potential added value of that IDE header.

  • lsd-techno

    I’m so happy that my asus no have IDE and LPT connectors on the board…
    I have 6+2 sata3 connectors (it is CROSSHAIR V board almost same with sabertooth)…

    there is plenty of “1 usd converters” sta->ide (if one day i decide to put ide drive into my case)…

    i’m using dvd’s once in a year… i believe almost same as 90% of users…

    I think they just don’t think that somebody may use 2 ide drives in the end of 2011.

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