Product on review: 990FXA-UD7
Street Price: £190 inc. VAT
The time is almost upon us. Over 6 years in the making and AMD finally have a totally new CPU architecture to offer to the general public. This is a big deal, and if you talk to almost anyone who carries an interest in PC hardware you’ll find they’re familiar with the code name ‘Bulldozer’, which is used to describe AMD’s new 32nm CPU core design. The Bulldozer cores are going to be put to use in server-based chips (‘Interlagos’ and ‘Valencia’) with up to 16 cores on a chip, but the main processors that are of interest to us, and hardware enthusiasts around the globe are going to be the CPUs code named ‘Zambezi’, with the official moniker of ‘FX’. They will offer 4-8 Bulldozer cores on a chip, and clock speeds of up to 4.2GHz (with Turbo Core, base clock 3.6Ghz over 8 cores) this year, with further models expecting to reach 4.5GHz (base clock 3.9GHz over 8 cores) by Q1 2012. Besides increased cores and a new architecture, there are numerous other advantages to the FX CPUs that have been listed in our news articles and all over the web, but I won’t list them here. There will be a full round up when we get our hands on a new chip. That’s right, they’re not released yet, and although there is no firm release date, October/November 2011 is looking quite likely at this time.
Why am I talking so much about CPUs in a motherboard review when they’re not released yet? The reason is that today Vortez has for you the first 9-series AM3+ motherboard that we have got our hands on, and it’s pretty special. With manufacturers being given the design specifications for the ‘Scorpius’ platform (That’s the 990FX/X motherboards + Zambezi CPUs + Northern Islands GPUs) some time ago, the motherboards for the 9-series chipset have been ready and waiting whilst the new CPUs have been delayed. With backwards compatibility to AM3 CPUs, the boards have been released before the new AM3+ processors, and so this is why we won’t be able to fully judge the Gigabyte 990FXA-UD7 until we have our hands on a true Bulldozer-based CPU. However, we can certainly take a look at its features and performance using an AM3 CPU (in this case AMDs flagship 6-core 1100T) in the meantime.
I mentioned that this motherboard was special. That’s because it’s GIGABYTE’s highest performance and most feature-rich AM3+ model. A flagship, if you will. A board that is designed to be better than the competition’s finest offerings, and show consumers what can be done with the ATX format in preparation for the arrival of the FX CPUs. The 990FXA-UD7 sports a whole host of juicy mainboard features from across the entire GIGABYTE catalogue, as seen below. GIGABYTE’s own description of the motherboard also follows. Read on to find out how we tested, what we found and importantly whether we’d recommend the 990FXA-UD7 to you.