Gigabyte 990FXA-UD7 Motherboard Review
Recently Gigabyte decided that their high end products would use a black PCB and the packaging of the 990FXA follows this decision, giving us a stylish view of the board and heatsink along with various logo’s which tell us about the board features.
Inside in a seperate box we find a thorough bundle of extras which includes product documentation/software, IO shield, stickers, drive cables and all of the connectors required to take advantage of multi-GPU setups.
As noted above, like other new high end Gigabyte boards, the 990FXA-UD7 uses a black PCB and this is matched by black and grey components to create a lovely looking product with a real performance feel. Inside the PCB things haven’t changed though as this board still features the 2oz copper layers for power and ground which helps transfer heat as well as lowering electromagnetic interference and quality is further enhanced by Ferrite Core Chokes and Japanese solid capacitors.
Two passive heatsinks are used on this product, one on the power circuitry (8+2 Phase) with the other, joined by a single heatpipe, sitting on the Southbridge. Also worth noting is that this board uses Driver MOSFETs which combines the driver IC and MOSFET in one component to achieve higher power delivery and increased efficiency.
Finally for the overall design a new style of bracket is used by Gigabyte (and others) for CPU cooler attachment, it works with existing coolers but lacks the two bars which run down the sides of the processor.
Down at the bottom left of the 30.5×26.3cm PCB we have our PCI/PCIe slots. On the UD7 these are 2x PCIe 16x, 2x PCIe 8x, 2x PCIe 4x (all 16x length) and 1x PCI. This allows us to use 4way SLI and 4Way CrossFire but it should be noted that when four cards are installed all of the slots will run at 8x speed. Looking more closely at the slot layout we also note that Gigabyte are suggesting that users use slot 1 and 5 for dual GPU configurations, leaving plenty of airflow for the top graphics card.
Over at the bottom right of the board are our SATA sockets, six are 6Gb/s capable (RAID 0, 1, 5, 10) and run through the AMD Southbridge, the other is connected to the Marvell 9172 SATA controller which is 6Gb/s enabled also. This combined with the Marvell 6Gb/s eSATA which sits on the back panel means we have ten SATA3 ports on the latest 990FXA board.
Also found in the SATA area are a LED display which assists us in fault finding and the on-board USB 3.0 connector for front panel devices which uses an Etron chipset.
Up at the top right of the board we find our dual channel memory slots, these are capable of holding 32GB of DDR3 and speeds of up to 2000MHz are officially supported. Beside the slots we see a standard 24-pin PSU connector and a SATA power socket which provides additional stability in multi-GPU configurations. Between the two power connectors are three buttons, one for power, one for reset and one (covered) which can be used to reset the BIOS.
Over at the back panel we find plenty of connectivity which starts with PS/2 and continues through 2x USB, coaxial and optical audio (Realtek) 1x USB 2.0, Firewire, 1x eSATA3, 1x eSATA 3/USB combo, 2x USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0 (Etron with enhanced power circuitry), 2x USB 2.0, Realtek GB LAN and Realtek based 3.5mm audio connectors.
Back when the P67 chipset was launching for Intel we saw motherboard manufacturers start to move in earnest to GUI based BIOS layouts with mouse and keyboard functionality. Gigabyte however has remained on the traditional style. Based on Award code this BIOS has the standard Gigabyte layout with the performance options located in the M.I.T. screen and as always we get a great BIOS flashing tool which allows us to update quickly and easily from a USB drive.
Once in Windows we have the option to use AMD Overdrive to control the motherboard, do the same through a portable device by using CloudOC or alternatively we can go with EasyTune6, Gigabytes other software package. This application gives us huge control over the board so that me can maximise performance and tweak energy saving to our needs. Speaking of energy saving the UD7 also features AutoGreen, which combined with a Bluetooth receiver can tell when our mobile phone is not in range, sending the PC into standby at those times.
Finally, Gigabyte also fully support 3TB drives on this board and fast charging of portable devices is also present as is a copy of Norton Internet Security.
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