Introduction & Closer Look
Motherboards are one of the most important components to consider when taking on a new PC build. Everything is going to plug in and pass through it in some way, shape or form. Users will also have to decide if they are going down the AMD or INTEL route and then what type of CPU they will be getting so they can get the correct socket type on their motherboard. Users will also have to decide on colour schemes and sizes when considering a new motherboard as there are so many variations out there. Do you need 4 PCIe lanes or only 2? Do you need 6 SATA ports or 10? The options are endless and we could do this almost all day, but I’ll let you figure all that out for yourselves.
Today I will be taking a look at one of the newest motherboards from MSI and their newest AM3+ board, the 990FXA Gaming. As the name would suggest it is a motherboard designed with gaming in mind and is based on AMD’s 990FX chipset which is the top-of-the-line for AM3+ socket boards. The 990FXA Gaming features a black and red theme as we would expect to see from a gaming themed MSI board. This board is chock-full of MSI’s amazing features such as Killer E2200 networking, Click BIOS 4, Audio Boost 2 and even USB 3.1, helping to give gamers the edge where it matters most!
Having a quick look at the box and it fits right in with the rest of the MSI’s gaming range boards. It has an overall black background with the Gaming Dragon taking up most of the lefthand side. We can also see the model name and some of the amazing features it has to offer on the front of the box.
Over onto the back of the box and we have a bit more information about some of the popular features the board has to offer. We can also see some information regarding the rear IO panel.
Aside from the motherboard, there are a few small accessories in the box. There is the user’s manual, quick installation guide, door hanger and installation CD. We also have a pair of SATA3 cables, MSI Badge, SLI Bridge, Rear IO Shield and some stickers to help label all the wires so we know what goes where.
Getting our first proper look at the motherboard and while it features a nice red and black theme, it is much more toned down than some of the other Gaming motherboards from MSI. I am personally a fan of this more toned down look as I am not overly fond of red, in any situation, so using it just for a bit of accenting sits well with me.
The top half of the board has the normal host of things we would expect to see. Right smack dab in the middle of the top is the AM3+ CPU socket, to the left we have the MOSFETs with covering heatsink, 8 pin EPX connector and the Rear IO that we will look more closely at in a moment. Over to the right of the CPU socket are our RAM slots which are capable of running DDR3 RAM at 2133MHz(OC Mode) and the 24 pin power connector.
The 990FXA comes with 3x Gen PCIe x16 slots, 2x PCIe x1 and 1 standard PCI slot to allow for the use of most expansion cards from GPUs, to PCIe SSD’s, sound cards and many more. The Chipset heatsink features the ever loved MSI Gaming Series badge atop it and running across the bottom of the board are all the normal USB, audio and front panel connectors.
If you look towards the bottom left of the board you will notice the Audio Boost 2. Audio Boost 2 is a revolutionary feature that acts as a dedicated soundcard and even features an isolated audio PCB to help stop electromagnetic interference distorting your sounds. The Audio Boost also allows users to make better use of the Creative Sound Blaster 2 which will enable you to clearly hear specific sounds in-game, giving you the edge over your opponents.
Those looking to do a bit of overclocking on the 990FXA Gaming motherboard will find themselves a nice Slow Mode switch on the board. This is going to allow extreme overclockers to make better use of LN2 and gain more control over system stability.
The 990FXA Gaming comes with 6 SATA3 ports that will allow users to make use of RAID 0/1/5/10 arrays if need be! While there are only 6, this should be more than enough for most standard gaming PC’s.
As far as the rear IO is concerned, there are 2x USB 3.1 (Please note, there is a big difference between USB 3.1 and USB C connections) ports and 8x USB 2.0, PS/2, SPDIF, Killer E2200 LAN and the 7.1 channel audio connectors. The big ones here are of course going to be the Killer E2200 LAN and USB 3.1, more speed means more time to kill enemies and should also, in theory, improve reaction timings.
The Killer E2200 is designed to give users a lower latency in-game while remaining powerful enough to handle multiple streams at once. The Killer E2200 is also smart enough to automatically detect and prioritize traffic for online gaming, HD streaming and more.