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ASUS M5A97 EVO R2.0, ASUS 970 PRO GAMING/AURA, Gigabyte GA-970-Gaming or MSI GAMING 970?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Help me pick between these four motherboards:

https://www.asus.com/Motherboards/M5A97_EVO_R20/
https://www.asus.com/Motherboards/970-PRO-GAMING-AURA/
http://www.gigabyte.com/products/product-page.aspx?pid=5654
https://www.msi.com/product/motherboard/970-GAMING.html

Okay so I'm kind of undecided which one I should pick. They're all priced very similar, at roughly 1000 SEK, which is a little more than 100 USD, although the Aura is a couple of hundred Swedish kronors more expensive. Specs-wise they're all very similar, with the main difference that some of them have USB 3.1 which I don't really need for now but it's not bad to have I guess, and the Gigabyte mobo has some kind of DualBIOS (dual UEFI?), which is very good to have, especially against bootkit viruses and such, which now apparently can infect UEFI motherboards despite Secure Boot.

I'm leaning toward the M5A97 though, because it's the successor to my current motherboard ASUS M4A87TD EVO and I guess I wanna keep it traditional because this motherboard has served me well, and its blue color scheme fits my white/blue Corsair Graphite 780T case. I'm not sure if I can fit my GPU on it though (Sapphire Radeon HD5870 Vapor-X), because my GPU is huge and it seems like the SATA ports on the M5A97 are in the way (why the hell did they place them there?).

I also hear ASUS has higher quality mobos than Gigabyte, not sure if that's accurate, but that's the word on the street. So if that's the case then I may have to go with the Aura mobo, although I'm not sure if my GPU will fit on that one either.



^^ As you can see, the SATA ports are probably in the way of longer GPUs. Any M5A97 owner with a massive GPU who can corroborate this? I'm so not interested in buying a new GPU just because I'm doing a motherboard upgrade.

Anyway, I'm not really in a desperate need for a new motherboard, and I'm mainly doing it for UEFI; that's what I'm most interested in, so other slight improvements like USB 3.1 while useful at a later date, is of low priority right now. Later on this year, AMD Zen will be released, and so I'll be buying a new Zen motherboard sooner or later, but in the meantime, I want a new UEFI motherboard so that I can install Windows and multiple GNU/Linux distros on GPT partitions without the "logical drive" hassle of MBR, and enable Secure Boot, etcetera. How secure is the UEFI on ASUS motherboards, given that it's not DualBIOS? I'm not sure, but "USB BIOS Flashback" seems to be ASUS' equivalent to Gigabyte's DualBIOS? An inferior solution if you ask me. And Gigabyte has a "Multi-BIOS II" in Click BIOS 4, which seems to be an actual dual BIOS. And according to ASUS, the M5A97 has a "64 Mb Flash ROM, UEFI BIOS", which, and correct me if I'm wrong, makes it a DualBIOS? Because UEFI is typically 32 megabit, and DualBIOS 64 megabit.

By the way, I take it that "DualBIOS" is actually two UEFI firmwares and not two traditional BIOS firmware? Hardware manufacturers shouldn't call UEFIs, "BIOS".

In any case, security is the top priority in my mobo upgrade, because other than it lacking UEFI, I'm totally happy otherwise with my current motherboard. A friend of mine has had serious bootkit problems recently, and I want to avoid ending up in a similar situation. If none of these motherboards work out, I may have to go with an AMD 990 chipset.
Edited by EliasAlucard - 2/17/16 at 3:14am
post #2 of 20
ASUS 970 PRO GAMING/AURA is the best of them, by far. Out of these boards it has the best VRM (6+2 native, digital) and the bios is top notch as always on ASUS boards.
post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 
Okay
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Stilt View Post

ASUS 970 PRO GAMING/AURA is the best of them, by far. Out of these boards it has the best VRM (6+2 native, digital) and the bios is top notch as always on ASUS boards.
Okay, sounds good. Do you know if any of them have an actual BIOS, as in hybrid BIOS/UEFI, or are they all purely UEFI and the manufacturers are just calling their UEFI solutions, "DualBIOS", "Multi-BIOS II" etcetera?

And what about the SATA ports on the M5A97, is it in the way of larger GPUs?
Edited by EliasAlucard - 2/17/16 at 3:23am
post #4 of 20
I have almost the same Question ... there is a big deference in price here (Greece)
M5A97 EVO R2.0 = 105 euro, ( last generation )
ASUS 970 PRO GAMING/AURA 146 euro ( new ) with 3.1 + M.2 and ALC 1150
Gigabyte GA-970-Gaming 94 euro ( new ) with 3.1 + M.2 and ALC 1150
MSI GAMING 970 104 euro ( last generation ) ALC1150
Let me ad to the list the
Asrock 970A-G/3.1 89 euro with 3.1 + M.2 and ALC 1150

So is the gigabyte capable to handle the power an FX-8350 needs and if Yes, Can it do a mediocre OC lets say 4.3 - 4.5 TOP ?
Same question goes to Asrock .Witch one between the 2 is better ?
post #5 of 20
Gigabyte 970A-UD3P has an sufficient VRM (4+1 phase doubled, digital) however the bios is pretty bugged. The bugs actually affect the maximum overclock possible through bios adjustment, without altering the BCLK. While Gigabyte is absolutely fine technically, if you want both of the aspects (SW & HW) to be in order, you need to go with ASUS. M5A97 EVO R2.0 is the entry level board from ASUS to be considered for 8 core FXs.

Despite the different marketing names, AFAIK all of the ODMs noways use are native UEFI bios. ASRock, ASUS, Gigabyte and MSI are all Aptio 4.5 or 5 bioses. Hybrid crap no longer exist on relevant models.
post #6 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Stilt View Post

While Gigabyte is absolutely fine technically, if you want both of the aspects (SW & HW) to be in order, you need to go with ASUS.
Could you elaborate? How is ASUS better optimized for software and hardware?
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Stilt View Post

M5A97 EVO R2.0 is the entry level board from ASUS to be considered for 8 core FXs.
I'm not sure I'll be using it with an octacore; I'll be using my Phenom II X6 on it. It's possible I guess that I'll buy an 8 core later when they've dropped in price, but who knows, perhaps I'll just move on to AMD Zen.
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Stilt View Post

Despite the different marketing names, AFAIK all of the ODMs noways use are native UEFI bios. ASRock, ASUS, Gigabyte and MSI are all Aptio 4.5 or 5 bioses. Hybrid crap no longer exist on relevant models.
So shouldn't they just stop calling it "UEFI BIOS" and "DualBIOS" then, if there's no actual BIOS in 'em?

Does the Gigabyte mobo have two actual UEFI chips then? Or is it two traditional/old school BIOS chips? And how's the UEFI security in these boards? Like, are they safe against bootkit viruses?

And the ASUS M5A97 EVO R2.0 as actually released back in August 2012, so it may be a hybrid solution, right?
post #7 of 20
Pretty simple, ASUS doesn´t play around with the component quality in order to achieve minor cost savings. Their bioses are well tested and all of the features work as intended, unlike with several other ODMs. Their QC is top notch, regardless of the product segment.

DualBios on Gigabyte boards means that there are actually two bios chips present on board. The main bios and the back-up bios. It allows you to recover in case of bad flash for example. ASUS R2.0 boards meanwhile have onboard SPI programmer, which makes having dual bios chip unnecessary. You can flash the boards with USBFlashBack even without the CPU present or even if the bios chip is completely empty / corrupted.

All ASUS 970 / 990 boards are true UEFI solution, AMI Aptio 4, 4.5 or 5.

Let´s put it this way, the bios security is the absolute least of your worries.
post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by sprsk View Post

I have almost the same Question ... there is a big deference in price here (Greece)
M5A97 EVO R2.0 = 105 euro, ( last generation )
ASUS 970 PRO GAMING/AURA 146 euro ( new ) with 3.1 + M.2 and ALC 1150
Gigabyte GA-970-Gaming 94 euro ( new ) with 3.1 + M.2 and ALC 1150
MSI GAMING 970 104 euro ( last generation ) ALC1150
Let me ad to the list the
Asrock 970A-G/3.1 89 euro with 3.1 + M.2 and ALC 1150

So is the gigabyte capable to handle the power an FX-8350 needs and if Yes, Can it do a mediocre OC lets say 4.3 - 4.5 TOP ?
Same question goes to Asrock .Witch one between the 2 is better ?

They can all run stock 8350 and in motherboards you usually get what you pay. The Gigabyte 970 Gaming is 4+1 phase only, so on paper it won't overclock much, although here in the forum, there has been a 970 D3P user that OCed to 4.5.

But anyway. The Asrock on paper can support 220W FX, so 4.5Ghz is "guaranteed". The problem is that Asrock isn't very reliable when it comes to TDP certification, you may need to add more cooling to the motherboard. But 4.3 should be doable.

The MSI 970 Gaming, should be safe up to 4.5 (people have brought it to 4.7, but you are putting a lot of stress), but the mosfets aren't of the best brand around and there are cases of the thermal pad bleeding oil from the heat.

https://forum-en.msi.com/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=262675.0;attach=29287;image

On the other hand, a member here with 990FX Gaming, has no problems and have overclocked very high. I do remember however another passerby with 970 Gaming from the forum, who had overheating problems already at 4.2Ghz. So there seems to be inconsistent quality in the boards.

The ASUS Aura is of course the best and IMHO, if someone wants to buy a new AM3+ motherboard today, he may as well buy one with the latest features (USB 3.1, M2).

The Asrocks, typically overheat more in the "socket" temp (CPU temp), being thinner. However, if one can't get the Aura and lacking evidence on the capabilities of the Gigabyte 970 Gaming, the best cheap option IMHO is the Asrock. I mean, at least to 4.3 you should be able to go without extra cooling.

The absolute best buy for less money is the Gigabyte 970 UD3P, but doesn't have USB 3.1 or M2 and has BIOS bug that limits multiplier only overclocking to 4.4.

There is also a Gigabyte 990FX Gaming, which is new model and has USB3.1 and M2, which is 8+2 phase and should be better than the Asrock and the MSI.

So, as far as overclockability and safety goes, i 'd say it's a bit like this:

- Tier 1: ASUS Aura, , Gigabyte 990FX Gaming, ASUS M5A7 EVO (doesn't officially support 220W, but it can overclock past 4.5Ghz).
- Tier 2: MSI 970 Gaming, Asrock 970 G/3.1,
- Tier 3: Gigabyte 970 UD3P Rev 2.0 (i would put it in tier 2, if it wasn't for the bugged BIOS of rev2, that limits it to 4.4 with multi only and apparently more overheating than rev 1.0).
- Tier 4: Gigabyte 970 Gaming.

From best bang/buck point of view and considering USB 3.1, i 'd say:

- Asrock > MSI > Gigabyte > ASUS.

For long term reliability (as in the motherboard doesn't die easily), i 'd say:

Gigabyte=ASUS > MSI > Asrock.
Edited by Undervolter - 2/17/16 at 4:58am
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Main
(16 items)
 
Dedicated Encoder
(15 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
FX-8320@4Ghz Gigabyte 970 UD3P rev2.1 Gainward GTX 750Ti Corsair XMS3 1600Mhz 16GB (4x4GB) 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveOptical Drive
Crucial BX100 250GB Western Digital Green 2TB LiteOn Blu-Ray Burner IHBS 112-2 LG BH16NS55 Blu-Ray Burner 
CoolingOSMonitorKeyboard
Scythe Katana 3 Windows 7 Pro 64bit ASUS 22" VS228HR Microsoft Wired Keyboard 600 
PowerCaseMouseAudio
EVGA 430W Sharkoon VG4-V Logitech M90 Onboard 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
FX-8300 Asrock 970 Extreme3 HIS 6570 Silence Corsair XMS3 1600Mhz 8GB (2x4GB) CAS9 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
Plextor M6S 128GB Toshiba 2TB SATAIII LiteOn Blu Ray burner IHBS 112-2 Xigmatek Balder 
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post #9 of 20
What are the differences between M5A97 Evo and 970 Pro Gaming/Aura in terms of vrm components? The 970 Pro appears to have inductors similar to the ones found on 990FX Sabertooth and Z97 Ranger (TUF new alloy or whatever they are called). Are the mosfets still the same OnSemi 4955N as on the Evo?
post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
Just to make it clear: I don't care about overclocking or multiple GPUs (I appreciate the option to do all this, but I don't think it should be necessary, and I don't spend money on it). All I want with this motherboard upgrade is excellent, superior UEFI, not BIOS. I also believe in the necessity of disambiguation, so I never call UEFI, "BIOS".

My two priorities with this mobo upgrade, is top notch UEFI security, and that my GPU (Sapphire Radeon HD5870 Vapor-X) fits on it. I'm not sure my GPU will fit on the M5A97.
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Stilt View Post

Pretty simple, ASUS doesn´t play around with the component quality in order to achieve minor cost savings. Their bioses are well tested and all of the features work as intended, unlike with several other ODMs. Their QC is top notch, regardless of the product segment.

Sounds great.
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Stilt View Post

DualBios on Gigabyte boards means that there are actually two bios chips present on board. The main bios and the back-up bios. It allows you to recover in case of bad flash for example. ASUS R2.0 boards meanwhile have onboard SPI programmer, which makes having dual bios chip unnecessary. You can flash the boards with USBFlashBack even without the CPU present or even if the bios chip is completely empty / corrupted.

Yes I've understood that much, but it's actual BIOS on the Gigabyte mobo, and not two UEFI chips? So it's a hybrid solution then?
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Stilt View Post

All ASUS 970 / 990 boards are true UEFI solution, AMI Aptio 4, 4.5 or 5.

So no BIOS on these mobos?
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Stilt View Post

Let´s put it this way, the bios security is the absolute least of your worries.

Did you read this article? How is the M5A97 secure against bootkits like that, given that it doesn't have a dual UEFI solution?
Edited by EliasAlucard - 2/17/16 at 12:13pm
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