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Written by David Ramsey   
Wednesday, 19 October 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
MSI 990FXA-GD80 AM3+ Motherboard
990FXA-GD80 Specifications
The AMD 990FX Chipset
Closer Look: MSI AM3 Motherboard
990FXA-GD80 Detailed Features
Motherboard Testing Methodology
AIDA64 Extreme Edition Tests
PCMark Vantage Tests
CINEBENCH R11.5 Benchmarks
CPU-Dependent 3D Gaming
PassMark PerformanceTest
Media Encoding Benchmarks
SPECviewperf 11 Tests
SPECapc Lightwave
Blender and POV-Ray
AM3 Motherboard Final Thoughts
MSI 990FXA-GD80 Conclusion

AM3+ Motherboard Final Thoughts

It was strange to see the MSI motherboard post better scores than the ASUS motherboard with its CPU running at a lower clock speed. Here's a summary of the overclocked results. Remember, I was only able to get the FX-8150 running stably at 4.6GHz on the MSI 990FXA-GD80 while it was at 4.8GHz on the ASUS Crosshair V Formula:

Scores (* = lower is better) ASUS @ 4.8 MSI @ 4.6 % difference
AIDA64 Memory Read 14170 14363 +1.36

AIDA64 Memory Write

10778 10635 -1.33
AIDA64 Queen 38253 39463 +3.16
AIDA64 Photoworxx 49173 52097 +5.95
AIDA64 AES 383034 361129 -5.72

AIDA64 ZLIB

298 233 -21.8
AIDA64 Hash 4197 4684 +11.6
CINEBENCH Single Core 1.14 1.12 -1.75
CINEBENCH Multi Core 7.08 7.47 +5.51
Passmark CPU Marks 10778 10746 -0.30
PCMark Vantage TV/Movies 6032 5946 -1.43
PCMArk Vantage Gaming 6827 6166 -9.68
PCMark Vantage Music 10313 9853 -4.46
Street Fighter IV 458 515 +12.45
Handbrake 0.95* 109 105 +3.81
x264HD Run 1 88.4 84.8 -4.07
x264HD Run 2 87 88 +1.15
x264HD Run 3 41.3 44.0 +6.54
x264HD Run 4 41.7 44.5 +6.71
SPECviewperf Lightwave 29.9 30.1 +0.67
SPECviewperf Maya 10.7 12.3 +14.95
SPECviewperf TCVIS 5.8 6.0 +3.45
SPECapc Lightwave Interactive* 618 589 +4.92
SPECapc Lightwave Multitasking* 1178 1159 +1.64
SPECapc Lightwave Rendering* 658 673 -2.23
Blender/Icetest* 95.0 88.4 +7.47
POV-Ray* 189 169 +11.83
Average MSI Performance Improvement +1.87%

The performance improvement when averaged isn't much, but I'm still at a loss to explain why there should be any performance improvement when running 200MHz slower.

The MSI 990FXA-GD80 is a mid-level enthusiast board, which means you'll do without some of the features of the more expensive ASUS board. For example, only the CPU fan header is a 4-pin PWM header; there's no load-line voltage calibration, and so forth. But look at the performance: it's overall better than the ASUS in these tests. Sure, it's by a tiny average margin, but still.

msi_990fxa_gd80_board3.jpg

My complaints about this board are not about the hardware (it's hard to argue with the results), but about software and documentation. The UEFI BIOS needs some usability work, especially since it makes overclocking (IMO) unnecessarily dangerous by not visually flagging dangerous voltages. Also, the manual might politely be described as "skimpy" (recall that some of the POST codes I saw aren't covered). ASUS' manual easily contains twice the information the MSI manual does. More documentation is always better.

Cost of course is a factor. The ASUS Crosshair V Formula motherboard sells for $229 at Newegg.com, while the MSI 990FXA-GD80 is only $175. That $54 difference is enough for an extra 4G of enthusiast-grade memory these days, and that's something to consider carefully when you're building a system.



 

Comments 

 
# RE: MSI 990FXA-GD80 AM3+ MotherboardChris 2011-10-20 22:42
It's odd. Why is there any performance gain at this clock-speed?

Hmm. Does this board do that much better? Perhaps the higher end MSI boards are worth taking a look at.
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# RE: MSI 990FXA-GD80 AM3+ MotherboardAdam 2011-10-21 16:58
"PS/2 mouse and keyboard ports. C'mon, it's 2011!"

Tell that to RTS/MMO gamers!

I find all this Military spec rubbish fairly annoying, can see that it has at least an element of truth behind it, but it's still grade A marketing bollocks.
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# RE: RE: MSI 990FXA-GD80 AM3+ MotherboardDavid Ramsey 2011-10-21 17:04
I prefer FPS to RTS/MMO, but I still find it hard to believe that anyone needs more than 6-key rollover...
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# RE: MSI 990FXA-GD80 AM3+ MotherboardRed1776 2011-10-22 01:28
Nice review as usual Mr Ramsey,
I was one of 'them' who rolled the dice and invested in the BD platform a few months ago with a 990-UD7 and have a tin can of 8150 myself. I am hearing the "no BIOS" howl from the owners of the supposedly backwards compatible 890 crowd. are you suspecting as I am that the same power stability you ran into here is what the holdup is with the 890 chipset boards? One of the stated differences between the 990's and the 890's is supposedly a beefier VRM. and they need it...I think the lights on my block dim when I load it up.
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# RE: RE: MSI 990FXA-GD80 AM3+ MotherboardDavid Ramsey 2011-10-22 21:26
I am tempted to try the FX-8150 in an 890FX board to see if it would work at all...
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# RE: RE: RE: MSI 990FXA-GD80 AM3+ MotherboardGripless 2012-02-10 13:07
Did that work out? i had a 890FX board and was curious, but i ended up getting the MSI board on this review. I thought it might actually work but never had a chance to try it.
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# RE: MSI 990FXA-GD80 AM3+ MotherboardRed1776 2011-10-23 01:37
Apparently they function with absolutely no controls. multi/HT/voltage/ref clock...nothing
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# Bulldozer.........Christopher Fields 2011-10-26 22:02
zzzZZZZZzzzzz........Bulldozer.......(Rolls over and falls back asleep until AMD pulls a rabbit out of their hat, now that would be more impressive than.......Bulldozer)
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# RE: MSI 990FXA-GD80 AM3+ MotherboardPeter 2011-10-27 08:18
What the hell is wrong with PS/2. Sure, it's old, but there are still many PS/2 mice and keyboard around. Not to mention that PS/2 is still actually better for keyboards (not for mice though).
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# RE: RE: MSI 990FXA-GD80 AM3+ MotherboardPeter 2011-10-27 08:19
Pardon me. The first . is a ?
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# Performance Marketing ProfessionalJim Berry 2011-12-02 10:25
I run this board with an AMD 1100t BE, XFX 6950, and 8gb dual channel ram. At the preset 3300 mhz on the processor, it seemed to be running a bit hard ,judging from the processor fan speed. CPU temp ran about 101F in normal operation.
I turned the processor up to 3700 mhz and the vid card to 835 mhz and it now runs around 83F under normal load and rarely goes over 101F when I game. I run the vid card @ 840 mhz when gaming.
That seems to be the sweet spot for this setup. Cool and quiet.
Thanks for your time!
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# RE: MSI 990FXA-GD80 AM3+ MotherboardSteve 2012-02-08 20:13
Very impressed with the testing and benchmarking. Am using this board with the 8150 running @ 3.8Gigs. I agree with the comments about the BIOS as well. As far as the PS2...Either I have a defective USB keyboard or a PS2 Keyboard is required to enter BIOS. Actually RMA'd the 1st board because it was bringing me to a boot menu (even though I had only 1 OS) instead of the BIOS. The 2nd board did exactly the same thing till I used a PS2 Keyboard. Am using the same USB keyboard on my Biostar TA-990FXE and I can get into the BIOS. Another unanswered question. Yes I was hitting DEL on the MSI 990FXA-GD80. Strange.
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# RE: RE: MSI 990FXA-GD80 AM3+ MotherboardDavid Ramsey 2012-02-08 20:42
That's weird. I only use USB keyboards (in most cases, through a KVM switch) and didn't have any problem getting into the BIOS.
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