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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

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.

msi_990fxa_gd80_post_code.jpg

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.

msi_990fxa_gd80_buttons.jpg

Six SATA6 ports and a USB 3.0 header. Really, this should be standard on any motherboard these days.

msi_990fxa_gd80_sata_ports.jpg

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.

msi_990fxa_gd80_bios_oc.jpg

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.

msi_990fxa_gd80_cpu_voltage.jpg

But at least you have these cool power phase LEDs!

msi_990fxa_gd80_phase_leds.jpg

OK, let's start running some actual tests.



 

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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