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AMD 990X/970 AM3+ motherboard buyers' guide & help thread

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
For you budget conscious, I've decided to follow in the footsteps of reflex99's 990FX buyers' guide and other earlier buyers' guides for socket AM3 boards.

Need any help as well? Ask away!
Here are your choices:

(PROs denote strong selling points; CONs denote notable missing features vs. other boards that may not affect user experience significantly; CRITICAL CONS are cons that may affect user experience)
(List prices are REGULAR prices, not discount prices)


990X CHIPSET

The midrange AMD 990X chipset features 8x-8x CrossfireX and SLI support and at least two PCI-E slots to accomodate two graphics cards. 990X boards are commonly priced between $120 and $160.

GIGABYTE

GA-990XA-UD3 (Official Club & Help Thread - [CLICK HERE])
215785-official-gigabyte-ga-990xa-970a-series-4451_big.jpg
List price: Approximately $140

FEATURES:
  • Heatsinked 8+2 VRM design; traditional PWM design
  • 2x PCI-E 16x (8x-8x), 1x PCI-E 16x (4x), 2x PCI-E 1x, 2x PCI
  • 6 SATAIII slots
  • Staggered DIMM slots
PROS:
  • All 50,000 hr Japanese solid caps throughout
  • Rear USB3 ports
  • Internal USB3 for front USB3 cases
  • Supports ON/OFF charge (works correctly)
  • Excellent value at $140 (often on sale for less, esp. with processors in combo)
  • Decent slot spacing
CONS:
  • Less mobo fan ports
  • No UEFI (BIOS-based, but Hybrid EFI for 3TB+ hard drives IS supported)
  • MOSFET and chipset cooling may be loose (various easy fixes)
  • Possible vBoost (may have been fixed with recent BIOS update)
  • No board indicator LEDs and buttons
CRITICAL CONS:
  • Top PCI-E 1X slot may be blocked by heatsink.
ASUS

M5A99X EVO

ASUS_M5A99X_EVO1-600x415.jpg
List price: Approximately $165

FEATURES:
  • Heatsinked 6+2 VRM design; digital PWM
  • 2x PCI-E 16x (8x-8x), 1x PCI-E 16x (4x), 2x PCI-E 1x, 1x PCI
  • 6 SATAIII slots, 2 SATAII slots
  • Staggered DIMM slots
PROS:
  • All solid caps
  • VRM protection present
  • UEFI
  • Rear USB3 ports and internal USB3
  • Excellent slot spacing
  • 8 SATA slots (as opposed to 6 on most other boards)
  • Board indicator LEDs and buttons
CONS:
  • Not as good value High list pricing (higher than several 990FX boards!)
  • Only 6 expansion slots
CRITICAL CONS:
  • None
msi

990XA-GD55
990XA_GD55.png
List price: Approximately $135

FEATURES:
  • Heatsinked 8+2 VRM design (see notes below)
  • 2x PCI-E 16x (8x-8x), 4x PCI-E 1x, 1x PCI
  • 6 SATAIII slots
  • Staggered DIMM slots
PROS:
  • All solid caps
  • Rear USB3 ports and internal USB3
  • Great if you require several PCI-E x1 expansion cards
  • More mobo fan ports
CONS:
  • No board indicator LEDs and buttons
CRITICAL CONS:
  • VRM design is prone to failure, but with a very infrequent trend (design similar to older 890FXA-GD65, which is not completely stable when pushing the voltage highest-TDP processors very far) - should be fine for moderate-high OCs with regular usage.
  • No VRM protection present
  • Bottom PCI-E 16x slot position is very bad (the bottom card may be unable to get air on some cases)
  • Bottom PCI slot may be unusable if second card used for SLI
ASRock

970 Extreme4
asrock970extreme4o01.jpg
List price: Approximately $115

NOTICE: Although this board is labelled as a 970 chipset and sold according to price, it is technically a 990X chipset board due to the presence of 8x-8x PCI-E link and SLI support.

FEATURES:
  • Heatsinked 4+1 VRM design
  • 2x PCI-E 16x (8x-8x), 1x PCI-E 16x (4x), 2x PCI-E 1x, 12x PCI
  • 5 SATAIII slots
  • Staggered DIMM slots
PROS:
  • All solid caps
  • UEFI
  • Rear USB3 ports and internal USB3
  • Decent slot spacing
  • Best value CrossfireX/SLI board
  • Board indicator LEDs and buttons
CONS:
  • Smallest VRM design of all 990X boards
  • 5 SATA slots (all other boards have 6 or more)
CRITICAL CONS:
  • When using two cards for CrossfireX/SLI, PCI slots may be unusable


970 CHIPSET

The midrange AMD 970 chipset has 16x-4x CrossfireX support only (the 4x link may bottleneck mid-high end cards) and no SLI support. 970 boards are commonly priced between $90 and $120.

GIGABYTE

GA-970A-UD3 (Official Club & Help Thread - [CLICK HERE])
gigabyte-ga-970a-ud3_iph3w9494925.jpg
List price: Approximately $105

FEATURES:
  • Heatsinked 8+2 VRM design; traditional PWM design
  • 2x PCI-E 16x (16x-4x), 3x PCI-E 1x, 2x PCI
  • 6 SATAIII slots
  • Staggered DIMM slots
PROS:
  • All 50,000 hr Japanese solid caps throughout
  • Rear USB3 ports
  • Internal USB3 for front USB3 cases
  • Supports ON/OFF charge (works correctly)
  • Excellent slot spacing
CONS:
  • Less mobo fan ports
  • No UEFI (BIOS-based, but Hybrid EFI for 3TB+ hard drives IS supported)
  • MOSFET and chipset cooling may be loose (various easy fixes)
  • Possible vBoost (may have been fixed with recent BIOS update)
  • No board indicator LEDs and buttons
CRITICAL CONS:
  • None
GA-970A-D3 (Official Club & Help Thread - [CLICK HERE])
gigabyte-ga-970a-d3-amd-970-socket-am3-2xpcxdzwglansata3usb3raidddr3-5.jpg
List price: Approximately $105

FEATURES:
  • 4+1 VRM design, NO COOLING; traditional PWM design
  • 2x PCI-E 16x (16x-4x), 3x PCI-E 1x, 2x PCI
  • 6 SATAIII slots
  • Staggered DIMM slots
PROS:
  • All 50,000 hr Japanese solid caps throughout
  • Rear USB3 ports
  • Supports ON/OFF charge (works correctly)
  • Excellent slot spacing
CONS:
  • Quality VRM design, but NOT COOLED - not for overclocking, unless cooled
  • Less mobo fan ports
  • No UEFI (BIOS-based, but Hybrid EFI for 3TB+ hard drives IS supported)
  • No board indicator LEDs and buttons
CRITICAL CONS:
  • None

ASUS

M5A97 EVO/PRO

269675_250212744993423_146703038677728_1220863_3123309_n.jpg
List price: Approximately $120

FEATURES:
  • Heatsinked 6+2 VRM design; digital PWM
  • 2x PCI-E 16x (16x-4x), 2x PCI-E 1x, 2x PCI
  • 6 SATAIII slots
  • Staggered DIMM slots
PROS:
  • All solid caps
  • VRM protection present
  • UEFI
  • Rear USB3 ports
  • The EVO has internal USB3 (PRO does not) - also some extra switches
  • Excellent slot spacing
CONS:
  • Only 6 expansion slots
  • No board indicator LEDs and buttons
CRITICAL CONS:
  • None
M5A97

Asus-M5A97.jpg
List price: Approximately $100

FEATURES:
  • Heatsinked 4+2 VRM design; traditional PWM
  • 2x PCI-E 16x (16x-4x), 2x PCI-E 1x, 2x PCI
  • 6 SATAIII slots
  • Staggered DIMM slots
PROS:
  • All solid caps
  • VRM protection present
  • UEFI
  • Rear USB3 ports
  • The EVO has internal USB3 (PRO does not) - also some extra switches
  • Excellent slot spacing
  • Best value
CONS:
  • Lower end 4+2 VRM design
  • Only 6 expansion slots
  • No board indicator LEDs and buttons
  • Few mobo fan ports
CRITICAL CONS:
  • None
msi

970A-G45
970ag45.png
List price: Approximately $105

FEATURES:
  • Heatsinked 4+1 VRM design (see notes below)
  • 2x PCI-E 16x (16x-4x), 4x PCI-E 1x, 1x PCI
  • 6 SATAIII slots
  • Staggered DIMM slots
PROS:
  • All solid caps
  • Rear USB3 ports
  • Decent slot spacing
CONS:
  • No board indicator LEDs and buttons
  • Few mobo fan ports
  • No internal USB3
CRITICAL CONS:
  • VRM design is based on an older design with low quality transistors, and is prone to failure - failures have been recorded - recommend avoid this board if using very high TDP processor with overclocking
  • No VRM protection present
ASRock

970 Extreme3
FT_15422.jpg
List price: Approximately $95

FEATURES:
  • Heatsinked 4+1 VRM design
  • 2x PCI-E 16x (16x-4x), 1x PCI-E 16x (4x), 2x PCI-E 1x, 12x PCI
  • 5 SATAIII slots
  • Staggered or parallel unknown
PROS:
  • All solid caps
  • UEFI
  • Rear USB3 ports
  • Decent slot spacing
  • Competitive pricing
CONS:
  • Smaller 4+1 VRM design
  • 5 SATA slots (all other boards have 6 or more)
  • Only 6 expansion slots
  • No board indicator LEDs and buttons
CRITICAL CONS:
  • None
Yes, I will be discussing with an editor about stickies as soon as I see one.

Edited by xd_1771 - 11/5/11 at 11:59am
post #2 of 11
The m5a99x DOES have the board indicator LEDs and buttons. Atleast mine does
post #3 of 11
Good thread, this will help a lot of people.
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post #4 of 11
I wish there was a thread like this a few weeks ago when I was buying my AM3+ MB. Very good info. I did end up getting the Asus M5A97 (mainly because my local computer shop only had this one in stock). I like the board and have just begun to learn how to overclock. I know that I won't be able to overclock like a higher end board, but for what I need it is all I need. But for cheaper builds, it is a nice board and this is a great thread.
    
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Athlon II X3 450 Asus M5A97 Galaxy 210 Corsair XMS3 8GB(2 x 4GB) 
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post #5 of 11
Now we need a AMD CPU buyers guide... how to decide which is better and if/if not get BD.
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
Updated, as the 970 Extreme3 price has lowered.
post #7 of 11
Still any news on if there would be coming any AM3+ mATX boards equipped with 9 series chipset (+ proper vrm) ?

Sent from my overclocked HTC Desire running Cool3D AceS v3
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Intel Core i7 3770K Asus Maximus IV GENE-Z Club3D HD 7850 8GB Samsung 30nm 
RAMHard DriveHard DriveOptical Drive
8GB Team Group Crucial BX100 250GB WD30EFRX Samsung SH-B083L 
CoolingOSMonitorKeyboard
Thermalright HR-02 Macho Windows 10 Professional 64bit Benq G2410HD Cherry G80-3000 
PowerCaseMouseAudio
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Intel Pentium G2120 Intel DH77EB Gigabyte 5670 DDR3 1Gb (GV-R567D3-1GI) Kingston 2x4GB 1600Mhz CL9 1.35v 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
WD1001FALS Samsung 830 64GB Optiarc AD5280S Noctua NH-U12P 
CoolingCoolingCoolingOS
Arctic Cooling Accelero S1 Rev. 2 Scythe Slip Stream PWM Scythe Gentle Typhoon AP-14 Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit 
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(19 items)
 
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(18 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel Core i7 3770K Asus Maximus IV GENE-Z Club3D HD 7850 8GB Samsung 30nm 
RAMHard DriveHard DriveOptical Drive
8GB Team Group Crucial BX100 250GB WD30EFRX Samsung SH-B083L 
CoolingOSMonitorKeyboard
Thermalright HR-02 Macho Windows 10 Professional 64bit Benq G2410HD Cherry G80-3000 
PowerCaseMouseAudio
Seasonic 660w XP2 Fractal Design Define R5 Logitech Performance Mouse MX SMSL SD-793ii 
OtherOtherOther
2x Fractal Design GP-14 1x Noctua NF-A14 PWM Kensington Expert Mouse 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel Pentium G2120 Intel DH77EB Gigabyte 5670 DDR3 1Gb (GV-R567D3-1GI) Kingston 2x4GB 1600Mhz CL9 1.35v 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
WD1001FALS Samsung 830 64GB Optiarc AD5280S Noctua NH-U12P 
CoolingCoolingCoolingOS
Arctic Cooling Accelero S1 Rev. 2 Scythe Slip Stream PWM Scythe Gentle Typhoon AP-14 Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit 
MonitorKeyboardPowerCase
LG 32LH2000 Logitech MK520 Seasonic SS-400FL V2 Lian Li PC-A05NB 
Other
HDHomerun HDHR3/EU 
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post #8 of 11
So Gigabyte is saying the FX cpu's are only supported with the latest version of the bios for 990fx mobos. Does that mean I'll have to flash the bios for it to work or something? I've never updated a bios before, a quick explanation will be much appreciated.
Edited by DutchBoy - 11/5/11 at 4:20pm
    
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post #9 of 11
Yeah you need to use a pre Bulldozer CPU to flash the BIOS before installing the Bulldozer. These boards came out before Bulldozer so the bios at the time only supported the older CPUs, but you might be lucky my board came with the latest one installed already.
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Hard DriveOptical DriveCoolingOS
Crucial 64GB M4 SSD + F3 1TB LG 22x DVD-RW SATA CM 212+ P/P MX3 Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Retail 
MonitorKeyboardPowerCase
Samsung SyncMaster T220 Cyborg V.5 Corsair TX 650W CM 690 II 
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Razer DeathAdder 1800 SteelSeries QCK+ Xonar D2>NAD 302>HARX700 
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post #10 of 11
Screw that then, I'm going for the ASrock, maybe even the 990fx extreme3.
    
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Vista Ultimate 64bit Thermaltake Midi Tower Matrix VX VD3000SWA MX518 
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