Finals Words and conclusion
Finals Words and conclusion
So allow me to split up this conclusion into two segments, the AMD chipset and the ASUS motherboard. We'll start off with the chipset. To be totally honest I expected more features and innovation in the 99FX 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 two full bandwidth x16 links are available to you and that is certainly much better then 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 itself remains a little underwhelming, doesn't it?
That said, let's move onward to the ASUS motherboard itself. Admittedly, I have a soft spot for the SaberTooth series, I kinda like the TUF look with the black and military green design. The heat sinks with ceramic coating might not even be optimal for conducting heat, but they sure do look nice don't they?
The motherboard as delivered is extensive, you'll have all the feasible gadgets onboard ranging from integrated multi-channel audio, gigabit Ethernet, DDR3 1866 MHz support in dual-channel configuration, the USB 3.0 ports but more overly; we like the four 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 is supporting it. CrossfireX was already supported, so it's good to know that NVIDIA opened up SLI support on the 990FX chipset as well, and that's a first as it will allow you to run your GeForce graphics cards in SLI mode on AMD processors. As stated two cards will run in full x16 mode, three cards would get you 16:8:8 .. which is still a hack of a lot of bandwidth alright.
The overall baseline performance is as good as the 800 series chipset with a Phenom II processor, with 1866Mhz DDR3 memory support now able to be configured in the BIOS you might see slightly faster performance thanks to that feature, but as many of our memory reviews already have shown, very high memory bandwidth does not do a lot for Phenom II and Athlon II processors at all. The BIOS then, ASUS applied it's uEFI BIOS on this motherboard, and we are surely fans of that implementation. The BIOS is now based on a graphics interface which you can control with your mouse. Quite lovely,
Overclocking wise the sky is the limit and you can take the processor as far as its willing to go, no problems on that front either. So there you have it, you can already purchase this motherboard for give or take 150 EUR and that is a fair deal. The Sabertooth 990FX is a very nice motherboard with a grand feature set. If you are on a 800 series chipset, well it would be hard for me to recommend you to make the switch, unless you dig the updated features or are planning to go for a 4/6/8 core Bulldozer processor in the near future. The design quality is great, the features good and the aesthetics, though personal, are good. The SaberTooth series always manages to impress in terms of value for money versus good looks. The TUF SaberTooth 990FX lives up to that reputation alright, definitely a recommended as ASUS will offer 5 years warranty on the product now as well. Chipset wise things look a tad underwhelming compared to the 800 series, but perhaps the release of Bulldozer processors will change that.
Small note, a primary feature is of course SLI support, NVIDIA however released a SLI compatible driver merely hours ago, being in Taiwan atm, that complicates things. We'll look into it in a later stage, preferably alongside Bulldozer.