|MSI 990FXA-GD80 AM3+ Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Thursday, 20 October 2011|
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990FXA-GD80 Detailed Features
I like POST code displays a lot better than beep codes for boot problems. Sadly, MSI doesn't list all possible POST codes in their aforementioned thin manual. What does "52" mean? I dunno; the manual doesn't list that one...but everything's working perfectly here.
As an enthusiast-level motherboard, the 990FXA-GD80 comes equipped with Start and Reset buttons, which we reviewers love because it means we don't have to connect the case wires on our test bench systems. The OC Genie button is here, too: pressing this button (it locks down) while your computer's off will apply an instant, albeit modest overclock to your system. It's nice for neophytes but experienced users will want to jump directly into the BIOS. Also visible in this shot, to the left of the buttons, are the FireWire (IEEE 1394) ports and serial port; to the right of the buttons you can see the two onboard USB 2.0 headers (four ports total). The one in red can supply extra current for charging consumer devices like an iPad.
Six SATA6 ports and a USB 3.0 header. Really, this should be standard on any motherboard these days.
I found the UEFI BIOS a little clunky. You'll never get lost because the upper status area (which occupies a third of the screen by itself) and the six giant navigation buttons at the sides are always present, relegating the content you actually want to see to the smallish center pane.
Another complaint: many BIOS settings are implemented as giant pick lists. I prefer typing in values myself, or using "+" and "-" keys, but my real problem is with the lack of information shown. For example, in this pick list of possible CPU voltages, what's the default? I can set it to AUTO, but I don't know how far I'm taking the CPU over stock unless I look up the stock voltage on Google or something. And there's nothing to indicate when I start straying into dangerous territory: voltages that would almost certainly kill the CPU in short order are in the same white-on-gray lettering as everything else. ASUS uses color coding (green, then yellow, then red) as you increase voltages, and this is something MSI should strongly consider.
But at least you have these cool power phase LEDs!
OK, let's start running some actual tests.