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MSI 990FXA Gaming - a casual review

post #1 of 113
Thread Starter 
The " This package may contain awesome" er - package..... arrived yesterday. I thought to myself " I'll see about that" wink.gif
The MSI 990FXA gaming motherboard had no idea what was waiting for it when it got here all safe and sound in it's sporty looking box.
I think when I started to take the screws out of the stock cooler mount, reality was starting to set in.
I plopped my - voltage hungry by today's standards - but quite capable batch 1235 FX 8350 into the socket , dabbed some AS 5 on it ( I know, I know....it came out when Christ was a child, but I like it , maybe cause I'm old too?) and mounted the Koolance 380A.

Sound exciting??? Oh heck I understand that freshening up 990 chipset motherboards is a little like microwaving stale bread to get just little more life out of it. BUT it's good bread...probably my favorite and no one had bothered baking any new for a couple years so I was hungry for another "slice".

My initial thoughts were that it's a nice looking board, the red and black theme is a welcome change from a 3 chipset's old black and blue scheme that MSI had pretty much ran into the ground ( I liked them, but I was due for a change). Build quality is a step up from the GD-65 and GD-80 from appearances, it seems "stiffer" by comparison. The only hint of weakness being on the ps2/ usb input module that "wiggled " a little as I struggled with the aggrevations of presbyopia, rather than swallowing my pride, grabbing my readers and stubbornly I "felt" the ps2 mouse into place.
One thing that caught my eye was the "slow mode" switch , a little something for the guys who use LN2 . Hmm maybe there is more to this board than I thought?


Adequate is the word I would use to describe the package contents, sata cables, I/O shield, decent manual, a snazzy case badge and something to hang on the bathroom door that would give an old man a " plausible" explanation of why he is taking so long in there... Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)


These will be updated as I spend some more time with the board:

The good:

Build quality
Appearance
Runs cooler than most 990 boards NB - SB , VRM and socket.
Audio quality - no noise... none - probably the least of any sound card or onboard I've used
Very little V-droop
Killer nic - better than most ( e2200 )
Managed better memory frequency with it than my other MSI 990 boards ( GD 65, GD 80)
Decent software overclocking utility
5 fan headers ( counting the cpu fan) with good contols for them under the "hardware monitor" tab in bios
Has added " smart " cpu protection to the bios
Has a "slow mode" switch for LN2 benching
USB 3.1 - no real way for me to test this one, but it should be a nice bump from older tech .

The bad
Sata ports get covered by long video cards - making it hard to swap them etc.

Locks some of the voltages in bios when you plop an FX 9xxx on it

No onboard power, reset or overclocking controls

Fewer overclocking/overvolting features than the GD 80.

Seems to lag behind the GD-80 in stability tests to the tune of around 200 mhz when similarly equipped , but isn't that far behind in benchmarks such as Cinebench etc.

Not as much of a boost in the headphone amps as I would like * personal preference, probably fine for most anyone*


The ugly
Really haven't found anything that annoys me greatly, the sata ports are about the biggest complaint I have.

Conclusions thus far

It's capable of pushing any one of my 8 core Vishera's well enough to be prime95 or IBT AVX stable at 4.7 ghz given an excellent supporting cast. Which is respectable, but doesn't seem to be a threat to the highest tier 990 motherboards when it comes to overclocking. At $139, it probably shouldn't be expected to either.
It fared better in benchmarks, managing 5.1 ghz Cinebench runs on both FX 8 cores I've tried.
It's obvious focus is on gaming, the Killer NIC and excellent onboard audio make it a very good choice in that regard.

I picked the most power hungry 8 cores I have, giving the board's power delivery system a real test. I started to chicken out at 1.64 volts to the cpu, board temps were still good ( optimal airflow conditions) , but there were starting to be signs it was straining a bit. Quite amazingly it only drooped to 1.632 volts under load. Eventually I will try to get one of my post 1429 batch FX 8 cores mated up to this board and see where they land as well.


The supporting cast

Psu Pc power and cooling 910 watt silver rated unit : http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817703022

Cooling - Koolance 480 mm radiator - fans in pull config - Koolance 380A cooling block with 3/4 inch tubing Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)




Here's some links to more " professional" reviews.

http://www.pcper.com/reviews/Motherboards/MSI-990FXA-Gaming-Review-SLI-CF-and-USB-31-AM3

http://www.play3r.net/reviews/motherboards/msi-990fxa-gaming-motherboard-review/
Edited by cssorkinman - 10/27/15 at 4:38pm
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post #2 of 113
Thread Starter 
Reserved = Shenanigans forthcoming

Edit in progress:

First go around with the 8350 pay special attention to the Vcore - no LLC , but very little V-droop. Obviously a much different 990 board than earlier ones.
Also note the motherboard temps ( 120 mm fan on the VRM's also a fan on the back side of socket)
9370 optimized defaults on the prime 95 run










Edited by cssorkinman - 10/24/15 at 10:08pm
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post #3 of 113
Thread Starter 
Reserved part 2 ( more shenanigans )
Bios screens - Notice the cpu voltage is locked when I have the 9370 on it. This is not the case when running my FX 8xxx's









Edited by cssorkinman - 10/24/15 at 9:06pm
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post #4 of 113
Look under those if you have vrm vout ((( hwinfo


I have it on my mobo and with extreme llc it follow the voltage in the bios

While the vcore is higher

I have a gigabyte ud3p 979a
Edited by bonami2 - 10/22/15 at 7:14pm
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post #5 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by cssorkinman View Post

( I know, I know....it came out when Christ was a child, but I like it , maybe cause I'm old too?)
You are not old. I remember when dirt was invented.
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post #6 of 113
The board looks pretty stout so far.
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post #7 of 113
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by p4inkill3r View Post

The board looks pretty stout so far.

It has an all-star supporting cast in the cooling and psu that are a big help, but I'm impressed at this point in time.

It was surprisingly cool , the heatsinks were only slightly warm even pushing 1.64 volts on real bench. I'll see if I can scrounge up a digital thermometer and get some temps for everyone.

I look forward to testing it with the FX 8370e, it's such a different chip from the one I'm testing now - could be interesting .
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post #8 of 113
that VRM looks very similar to the one on the 970 Gaming. Any chance you'll take the heatsink off and give us the MOSFET part numbers?
post #9 of 113
Looking forward to seeing the results.

I'm impressed with the features of the board too, nice audio setup, aesthetics, and heatsinks. How much did you pay for it?
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post #10 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by cssorkinman View Post

It has an all-star supporting cast in the cooling and psu that are a big help, but I'm impressed at this point in time.

It was surprisingly cool , the heatsinks were only slightly warm even pushing 1.64 volts on real bench. I'll see if I can scrounge up a digital thermometer and get some temps for everyone.

I look forward to testing it with the FX 8370e, it's such a different chip from the one I'm testing now - could be interesting .




Nice biggrin.gif


Can you check in Hwinfo 64 for the VR VOUT reading if it has any and tell me if it close to the vcore


Thank you smile.gif
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