Today we unbox the Gigabyte AMD 990FXA-UD5 Rev 3.0, one of the best Gigabyte AM3+ motherboards based on the 990FX chipset. This chipset brings multi-GPU support of up to 4 graphic cards. The only other motherboard that Gigabyte offers that is better (with a $50 higher price ) is its big brother the Gigabyte 990FXA-UD7 . It doesn’t feature that much more but its good to note the differences of  one more PCI-E x16, a better audio chipset and one less PCI-E x1 slot in the UD7 model compared to the UD5.

Since this version of the Gigabyte 990FXA-UD5 features the UEFI BIOS we expected a friendlier user interface. Gigabyte  has always been known for its good build quality but in terms of  the BIOS people always have had a bit of a nightmare when it comes to finding there way around (even for the hardcore Gigabyte fans).  This is something that would help give Gigabyte an advantage  against competitors, as it already has affordable solutions compared to the same spec boards of giants like Asus . Another feature Gigabyte has been lacking compared to Asus is its software. Easy Tune has lived to see its 6th update and we are all hoping that they managed to improve it . This motherboard carries a ~$150 price tag and this review will help to determine if it really justifies its price.

 

Test System

***Note : The products are not free from the companies, we by them with our own money and test***

Gigabyte 990FXA-UD5 Rev 3.0 Specs

Inside the Gigabyte 990FxA-UD5 Box

Gigabyte comes with 4 SATA 6Gb/s connectors, a SLI bridge and just to show they mean business when they say multi GPU support they have included a triple SLI bridge as well. We find this a bit too much, maybe the better option would have been if they included a Crossfire bridge instead of the triple SLI one. Users would find this a little better, since its more likely that this board will be used  for a dual GPU  set up and it would have been nice to give users who prefer CF a choice as well. However since the manufactures pay Nvidia the license to use  SLi technology it could be that the triple SLi bridge is part of the deal, so I doubt Gigabyte had a lot of choice in this matter. Standard backplate with Driver CD and Manuals are also part of the content with unavoidable stickers.

  990fx UD5 Box content

A Closer Look

The board comes in full black PCB with black slots and grey passive coolers on phases, chipset and on the Southbridge. The motherboard is massive and looks promising but then again we didn’t expect anything less from Gigabyte. The mobo is designed with style, and if we need to express our opinion about its looks, its designers have taste. It is clear that it was made in order for people to like it, which isn’t something that we could say for some of the previous Gigabyte motherboards. The board comes with five fan headers, its not bad, but not too impressive. We feel that Gigabyte should have provide at least two more, having in mind users that are planning to install water coolers.

 

Gigabyte 990fx overview

 

Passive coolers on the power phases and chipset are well built and connected via heat pipes in order to dissipate heat efficiently. They carry the Ultra Durable tag, and we must agree that its justifies its name as you will later see. Gigabyte has solved any potential heating issues aswell.

 

Gigabyte 990fx Cpu slot

 

The cooler on the Southbridge (SB950 chipset) is also very well made and very well composed and designed in order to fit the styling of the upper coolers. Eight 6Gbit/s SATA ports are present for your disposal and we think that this will satisfy even the most demanding users who can never have enough SATA ports.

 

990fx UD5 passive coolers

 

Five PCI-Express 2.0 slots reminds us again that we bought a 990FX motherboard. We already said that we think this is overkill for this type of platform (or any other). But my God an excuse was needed for all of those SLI bridges, or was it the other way around? Oh well..

 

Gigabyte UD5 pci-e slots

 

Specs

 

CPU AMD FX-8350 @ 4Ghz
Motherboard Gigabyte 990FXA-UD5 Rev 3.0
RAM 2x 8GB@ 2133 Mhz Kingston HyperX Beast : KHX21C11T3K2/16X
HDD/SSD 2 x Intel 520 Series 240 GB
GPU Gigabyte GTX770 4GB
Monitor Shimian QH270-IPSMS 2560x1440p 27″
PSU Thermaltake ToughPower XT 775W
OS Windows 7
Drivers ATI Catalyst 13.9
Bios FB and FCB

 

Software, BIOS and Overclocking

 

EasyTune6

Gigabyte’s EasyTune 6 software looks great something like Asus’s AI Suite (although its isn’t that intuitive) but looks from the use is a whole different story. Just as we first ran it, browsed a bit and later decided to take some screenshots of the application it crashed and nothing could get  it running again. We even tried reinstalling it, but the software refused to respond. Then we downloaded EasyTune6 from the official website but the result were the same. Too bad it looked promising, if nothing else.

 

Gigabytes Dual UEFI BIOS

Again we must say that we were expected alot from Gigabyte’s new UEFI BIOS. We were really hoped that the user experience was on the mind of Gigabyte’s engineers when they planned it out. Before entering the BIOS we flashed with the newest version of FCb. In the start when reinstalling the OS, the motherboard failed to recognize multiple DVD writers, after 15-20 minutes of trying we managed to get it working. Just as entered the BIOS we pressed the F12 to do a screenshot and the BIOS blocked itself. We restarted the computer, went back into the BIOS pressed the F12 again and again the same thing happend . It happened again and again for around 80% of the time, which felt really discouraging in planning out this review. When they are made, screenshots need to be stored on to a USB flash drive, previously  formatted in FAT 16 or FAT 32. However, at around 20-25 screenshots , only 6 of them managed to be stored. We also tried flashing an older version (FB) but that did not get us anywhere. We use this occasion to excuse our selves for not providing more images from the BIOS but at some point we had to drop making screenshots afraid that our motherboard review might end before it even started. This is basically the same BIOS you will find on the Gigabyte 990FXA-UD3 motherboard.

First we wanted to see whether the motherboard will recognize a XMP profile of our ram, which went smoothly, the motherboard set the frequency, voltage and timings as specifications required and after one hour of testing we concluded that ram was stable at the set values.

 

Gigabyte Dual Uefi Bios

 

We then started thinking about overclocking the CPU, but before that we needed to adjust the Advanced Voltage Settings Menu in order to see any changes, and OMG were we in for a treat.

First what we saw is that there are no values set for the CPU cores, which meant that you would have to go back to the main bios page just to make sure. Also we noticed lack of CPU/NB voltages but after a few minutes of head scratching we determined that NB Core was in fact CPU.NB . Why did they change the name of that feature we will probably never understand.

Gigabyte has also removed the option to directly adjust HT multipliers.

 

Gigabyte Dual Uefi Bios Cpu Settings

 

At first we just settled with a basic overclock which brought us to a stable 4,7Ghz running at 1,5V . Temperatures never went above 65c with our Z600 in push-pull. Coolers on the chipset and power phases were luke warm but nothing dangerously hot, and we will say again that Gigabyte did a good job in terms of cooling solutions for this board. Although the CPU’s stable voltage drops during the test were quite frequent, which got us worried for awhile.later we started experimenting with bus speed and ram frequency and have managed to pull off 4,7 GHz at 1.45V, bus speed at 291 and multiplier at 17. Certain vdroop has been visible here as well.

 

Value and conclusion

When you put this altogether its not that easy recommending the Gigabyte 990FXA-UD5 revision 3.0. As we said at the beginning build quality is solid and that is something that you would expect from Gigabyte motherboards, how ever BIOS and software are one step back compared to previous versions. The 990FXA-UD5 has lived to see its third revision and from the point that the revision 4.0 might be just around the corner we don’t really know what to say. The UD3 motherboard has already got a revision 4 and it is expected that the same faith will reach the UD5.

Who and why you would want to buy the 990FXA-UD5?

It’s not a bad motherboard if you are one of those people that never overclock. If  you like bumping up the CPU multiplier and voltage slightly or are a hardcore Gigabyte user with endless patience of a Buddhist monk you might wanna give this mobo a go. Power users spoiled by Asus (and even MSI) shouldn’t take this motherboard into consideration unless they are ready to handle significant frustration. Gigabyte needs to get their things in order ASAP in terms of software and the bios.

See Pricing
 
If you have any questions about the review please ask in the comment section below and I will be glad to answer.

About The Author

"I love the smell of fresh hardware in the morning..."