MSI 990FXA-GD80 review
Posted by Hilbert Hagedoorn on: 07/18/2011 01:00 PM [ 0 comment(s) ]
Finals Words and conclusion
So, just like the other AMD 990FX based motherboard reviews allow me to split up this conclusion into two segments, the AMD chipset and the MSI motherboard. We'll start off with the chipset. To be totally honest I expected more features and innovation in the 990FX chipset, pretty much this a petit overhaul of the 890FX chipset with very subtle yet small changes. The changes can be found in somewhat wider multi-GPU support, creating optimized data paths for stuff like USB 3.0 chips and thus bandwidth and some minor tweaks in the RAID unit. Truth be told, the 790 and 890 chipsets were already very impressive, so while the chipset itself is really good we did hope for native USB 3.0 support, and how cool would it have been to assign three graphics cards x16 PCI-Express lanes? Still though, if you have two GPUs then two full bandwidth x16 links are available to you and that is certainly much better than anything Intel has to offer with its chipsets. But to fully and optimally enjoy multi-GPU solutions, AMD needs faster processors. So tweaks, optimizations, better multi GPU support (SLI is now supported) and of course Socket AM3+ with Bulldozer processor support is what the 990FX chipset is all about. But the chipset release, though remaining a little underwhelming, certainly is capable and sufficient.
That said, let's move onward to the motherboard itself as MSI certainly did a great job with the GD80.
Let's forget about performance with the Phenom II for now and look at the product for what it's intended for, and that would be the upcoming Bulldozer based FX series processors. So from A to Z this motherboard really is impressive. Whether that's build quality, the overall looks or the feature set it simply is a dark and evil looking apparatus.
Once Bulldozer processors are released that's where that other feature will become interesting as well, correct... SLI support. Especially in the high-end segment of graphics cards you certainly need better processor performance than Phenom II can offer right now. So we'll look into that when Bulldozer FX has arrived in August/September of this year.
The motherboard as delivered is extensive, you'll have all the feasible gadgets onboard ranging from integrated multi-channel audio, gigabit Ethernet, wide DDR3 frequency support in dual-channel configuration even up-to 2133 MHz, the USB 3.0 ports but moreover; we like the multiple PCIe x16 slots. Running multiple GPUs is getting more common all the time so it's good to know that at the very least your motherboard supports it.
The overall baseline performance is as good as the 800 series chipset with a Phenom II processor, with 1600/1866/2133 MHz DDR3 memory support now configurable in the BIOS you might see slightly faster performance thanks to that feature, but as many of our memory reviews have already shown, very high memory bandwidth does not do a lot for Phenom II and Athlon II processors at all.
Overclocking wise the sky is the limit and you can take the processor as far as it's willing to go, no problems on that front either. In fact this motherboard allows our 980BE processor to be clocked to 4.3 GHz on air, and that's a first as no other mobo was able to achieve that with this CPU.
Anything bad? Oh yeah... the uEFI BIOs is at an entire new level of suck... it's emulating a standard (regular) BIOS yet you can control it with a mouse. It's laggy and hard to navigate, the uEFI BIOS idea as implemented is simply bad. That needs serious change.
Other than that remark its much like the competition really, the GD80 really is a truly terrific piece of machinery, with SLI support things just got more interesting, as the motherboard gains value, features and could be real fast once AMD's Bulldozer processors are launched, yeah that's where things get really interesting (well -- we hope).
We'll say it again, 990FX should have never been released prior to the new FX series processor launch but instead should have been released alongside of it. For us it is really hard to make a point as to what the motherboard is all about, which is AMD FX (Bulldozer). But we do hope that anyone can see through the Phenom II performance and look at the MSI 990FXA-GD80 for what it really is, a grand design, looking fantastic with all the latest features and gadgets you'll need. At just under 200 USD this really is a lovely motherboard, now bring on the AMD FX Bulldozer processors we say!
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Today we are reviewing the 990FXA-GD80 from MSI, they recently pimped out the 990FX chipset with additional features and plastered it all onto a nice black/blue styled motherboard and are going in for the kill.