- Brand: Gigabyte
- Model: GA-990FXA-UD5 (Rev 3.0)
- RRP: ~ £145 (At time of review)
Gigabyte, one of the first names that would come to mind when looking for a high end motherboard for either the AMD or the Intel platform, were founded in 1986 and have since developed a reputation for producing some of the best motherboard and graphics cards that money can buy. Not only are they well renowned for creating a high quality product, but they’re also well known for innovation and have brought to market the world’s first motherboard dedicated to overclockers, the first ATX motherboard with mSATA slot for SSDs on their Intel range of motherboards whilst also creating and developing the Ultra-Durable standard for their motherboards which offer better power efficiency and durability on their motherboards.
Today I will be taking a look at one of their top of the range motherboards for the AMD FX platform, the GA-990FXA-UD5. The motherboard comes equipped with a range of features which is sure to please everyone from gamers to overclockers alike. The board has an 8+2 power phase delivery for the CPU, support for 3way crossfire and SLI and has more USB ports than you can shake a stick at. With the price of AMDs CPUs being so low in recent years, it can be hard to justify purchasing a motherboard that costs more than the CPU itself so manufactures have to come up with something special to attract the AMD crowd. Will this board be just what the board they’re looking for, only time will tell so on with the review.
(Please refer “CPU Support List” for more information.)
|Hyper Transport Bus||
(Please refer “Memory Support List” for more information.)
(All PCI Express slots conform to the PCI Express 2.0 standard.)
|Storage Interface||South Bridge:
2 x Marvell 88SE9172 chips:
2 x Etron EJ168 chips:
|IEEE 1394||VIA VT6308 chip:
|Internal I/O Connectors||
|Back Panel Connectors||
|Note||(Note 1) Due to a Windows 32-bit operating system limitation, when more than 4 GB of physical memory is installed, the actual memory size displayed will be less than the size of the physical memory installed.(Note 2) To support a DDR3 1866 MHz (and above) memory, you must install an AM3+ CPU first.(Note 3) For optimum performance, if only one PCI Express graphics card is to be installed, be sure to install it in the PCIEX16_1 slot; if you are installing two PCI Express graphics cards, it is recommended that you install them in the PCIEX16_1 and PCIEX16_2 slots.(Note 4) The PCIEX8 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIEX16_2 slot. When PCIEX8 is populated with a PCI Express expansion card, the PCIEX16_2 slot will operate at up to x8 mode.(Note 5) Be sure to connect your USB device(s) to the USB 2.0/1.1 ports before the USB 3.0 driver is installed.(Note 6) Whether the CPU/system fan speed control function is supported will depend on the CPU/system cooler you install.(Note 7) Available functions in EasyTune may differ by motherboard model.|
The front of the box doesn’t give much away about the board’s layout or looks and instead concentrates on the Gigabyte technology used on the motherboard. The most notable of these is the use of Ultra Durable 4 technology which shows the motherboard is made with only the highest quality components and is an all solid capacitor design, something which has become and industry standard today.
The rear does show a small picture of the motherboard itself but again Gigabyte chose to concentrate on the technology used on the board. The vast abundance of features that are shown would definitely entice many prospective buyers who are looking to get as much out of their motherboard as is possible with their budget.
Inside the box we get our usual Manual booklet, installation guide, warranty information booklet, software and driver CD, rear IO panel, 2 x SATA cables along with a Crossfire cable and 3 way SLI connector.
A closer look on the motherboard shows the black and blue theme that Gigabyte chose to go with for this motherboard. The black PCB is a nice touch to the black theme throughout which would make this motherboard ideal for those who are after a motherboard with a clear colour scheme.
The CPU draws it’s power from an 8+2 power phase which should allow for a smooth delivery of power to the CPU, allowing for better overclocking potential.
The board also has 4 DDR3 Dual Channel ram slots with support for ram speeds up to 2000MHz (O.C) with a capacity limit of 32GB which is about average for an AM3+ motherboard.
Here we see the boards PCI-E expansion slots. The board may have 5 physical PCI-E x16 slots but only 2 are wired for x16, 1 for x8 and the final two are wired for x4 speeds. This is where the board gains it’s triple Crossfire and SLI support which would be plenty enough graphics card expandability for any gamer.
On the rear IO we are greeted with a whole host of connections consisting of 8 x USB 2.0 ports, 2 x USB 3.0 ports, 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port, 1 x optical S/PDIF out connector, 1 x IEEE 1394a port and the 7.1 surround sound audio jacks.
Finally, we have 8 SATA 6Gbps ports on the 990FXA-UD5, 6 of them connected the motherboards SB950 south bridge chip and the other two power by the Marvell 88SE9172 chip. Plenty enough for any regular users storage needs.
Here is a brief overview of the BIOS with screenshots from various menus including the overclocking options available in the BIOS.
CPU – AMD FX-8350
Motherboard – Gigabyte 990FXA-UD5
Memory – 8GB Mushkin Blackline 2133MHz
Graphics – HIS Radeon HD 7970
Cooler – Be Quiet Dark Rock Pro 2
Storage – Crucial M4 256GB SATA3 SSD
PSU – LEPA G1600 1600w PSU
AMD FX-8350 Overclocking
Overclocking on the motherboard was by no means the best overclocking experience I have ever had with an AMD motherboard in my life. Firstly the lack of manual voltage settings made life a little difficult as using the offset mode it was very difficult to see exactly what voltage I was setting the CPU and other components to without booting into bios and using a third party software there. Secondly, the motherboard does seem to suffer from some Vdroop issues which I believe meant that I was not able to get the absolute max out of the CPU due to the drop in voltage under load. Finally, the motherboard did not seem to like overclocking the memory as I struggled to get any speed to set properly other than stock at 1333MHz. This is a very disappointing result for a motherboard with a lot of potential to be a great overclocking motherboard and I would have expected to see more from Gigabyte given their reputation for top quality overclocking motherboards.
The max stable overclock I achieved with the 990FXA-UD5 was 4.5GHz using a +0.175V on the VCore and by setting the load line calibration to normal.
Gigabyte has definitely brought out a very decent board for the AMD market. Its wealth of bios options does make overclocking a simple task indeed on the 990FXA-UD5 despite the vdroop issues. The touch bios isn’t perfect though and I wish that every single bios option would drop down and give me a list of different settings when I would double click it, unfortunately this is not the case and would make navigating the bios a more difficult experience for the novice user. I would have also liked to have seen the addition of manual voltage settings instead of just the offset mode available in the UD5’s BIOS. This would have made my overclocking efforts easier for me personally as I know exactly what settings I require to get certain clocks out of my FX-8350.
Aesthetically the board looks very good indeed. The black finish throughout with blue touches is excellent and is sure to please many system builders and modders as it will allow them to create a consistent colour scheme throughout the entire build, something which can be difficult on some boards. The heat pipe design is a little old now but it still looks good in my opinion and does not take away anything from the board.
There is very little that the board doesn’t have in terms of features as it includes everything from triple Crossfire/SLI support, 8 x SATA 6Gbps ports and a huge 10 USB ports on the rear IO which means expandability will be no problem with the UD5
It is a little early to really tell whether the board is a good board or not in our benchmark suite as it is the first AM3+ board we have tested. However despite this, I have no trouble believing the board would be one of the faster AMD boards due to the immense build quality and design the Gigabyte team have put into the board.
I would like to thank OCUK for providing the sample used in this review today. This product is available to purchase from their site through this link HERE
The Gigabyte 990FX UD5 is a good board on the whole that look really good and has plenty of expandability. A few overclocking problems and bios issues which are really the only negative points about the motherboard itself.