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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

AIDA64 Extreme Edition Tests

AIDA64 Extreme Edition is the evolution of Lavalys' "Everest Ultimate Edition". Hungarian developer FinalWire acquired the rights to Everest in late November 2010, and renamed the product "AIDA64". The Everest product was discontinued and FinalWire is offering 1-year license keys to those with active Everest keys.

AIDA64 is a full 64-bit benchmark and test suite utilizing MMX, 3DNow! and SSE instruction set extensions, and will scale up to 32 processor cores. An enhanced 64-bit System Stability Test module is also available to stress the whole system to its limits. For legacy processors all benchmarks and the System Stability Test are available in 32-bit versions as well. Additionally, AIDA64 adds new hardware to its database, including 300 solid-state drives. On top of the usual ATA auto-detect information the new SSD database enables AIDA64 to display flash memory type, controller model, physical dimensions, and data transfer performance data. AIDA64 v1.00 also implements SSD-specific SMART disk health information for Indilinx, Intel, JMicron, Samsung, and SandForce controllers.

All of the benchmarks used in this test- Memory reads and writes, Queen, Photoworxx, ZLib, hash, and AES- rely on basic x86 instructions, and consume very little system memory while also being aware of Hyper-Threading, multi-processors, and multi-core processors. Of all the tests in this review, AIDA64 is the one that best isolates the processor's performance from the rest of the system. While this is useful in that it more directly compares processor performance, readers should remember that virtually no "real world" programs will mirror these results.

Although I'm using the same physical memory on both the AMD and Intel systems, I'm running it at different speeds: the officially supported maximum on each platform, which is 1333MHz for the Intel Core i5 and AMD Phenom II 1100T, and DDR3-1866 for the FX-8150. Let's see how this plays out in AIDA64's memory throughput tests:

aida64_memory.png

The MSI motherboard scores are, as you'd expect, very close to the ASUS motherboard scores, and both are far beyond the 1100T's scores. But the Intel 2500K system still wins by a huge margin, even with its lower memory frequency.

aida64.png

The Queen and Photoworxx tests are synthetic benchmarks that iterate the function many times and over-exaggerate what the real-world performance would be like. The Queen benchmark focuses on the branch prediction capabilities and misprediction penalties of the CPU. It does this by finding possible solutions to the classic queen problem on a chessboard. At the same clock speed theoretically the processor with the shorter pipeline and smaller misprediction penalties will attain higher benchmark scores.

Like the Queen benchmark, the Photoworxx tests for penalties against pipeline architecture. The synthetic Photoworxx benchmark stresses the integer arithmetic and multiplication execution units of the CPU and also the memory subsystem. Due to the fact that this test performs high memory read/write traffic, it cannot effectively scale in situations where more than two processing threads are used, so quad-core processors with Hyper-Threading have no real advantage. The AIDIA64 Photoworxx benchmark performs the following tasks on a very large RGB image:

  • Fill
  • Flip
  • Rotate90R (rotate 90 degrees CW)
  • Rotate90L (rotate 90 degrees CCW)
  • Random (fill the image with random colored pixels)
  • RGB2BW (color to black & white conversion)
  • Difference
  • Crop

In the Queen test, all the processors, with their differing number of cores, different memory speeds, and different clock speeds, score about the same. The 2500K wins the Photoworxx benchmark, although not by much, while the 1100T is clearly playing out of its league. However, note something we'll be seeing a lot in this review: although I couldn't reach the same FX-8150 overclock in the MSI board that I did when it was in the ASUS board, the MSI still has slightly higher scores when overclocked. It's interesting that overclocking the FX-8150 leads to only minor Photoworxx improvements in its score in either motherboard.

aida64_zlib_hash.png

In the ZLib test, the AMD CPUs leap ahead of the Intel 2500K, with even the previous-generation 1100T beating the 2500K. In the Hash test, the difference is even more profound: the Intel CPU simply can't keep up with the AMD CPUs here. Again, note that the FX-8150 at 4.6GHz in the MSI motherboard beats the FX-8150 at 4.8GHz in the ASUS motherboard.

Intel's Clarksdale and subsequent CPUs have dominated the AES test due to their Advanced Encryption Standard New Instructions (AES-NI), which dramatically accelerate AES code. AMD's own implementation of AES-NI makes its first appearance in Bulldozer-based CPUs, and in the ASUS motherboard turns in slightly better scores than the Intel CPU, although the score in the MSI motherboard is, oddly, about 11% lower. Overclocking has a minimal effect on this benchmark in either case, and the Phenom II X6-1100T, which does without AES-NI, just can't compete.

aida64_aes.png

So far, we've seen the Intel and AMD CPUs slug it out and swap wins in these tests. Let's move on to the PCMark Vantage benchmark.



 

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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