ASUS Sabertooth 990FX R2.0 Reviewformerstaff -
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ASUS Sabertooth 990FX R2.0 Conclusion:
I am not entirely sure what to think about the Sabertooth R2.0. I have had this same FX-8350 placed in the AM3+ sockets of just about every high end 990FX motherboard produced and yet the Sabertooth, affectionately known as the "Saberkitty" among the forums, was able to pull another 125-150MHz out of the same processor. In fact the only reason I stopped pushing was because as benchmark practice dictates obviously that the same peripherals are used in all motherboard testing, which of course includes the cooling solution.
Whether or not I could grab another Sabertooth 990FX R2.0 and FX-8350 off the shelf at MicroCenter and replicate the same results I don't know, but from my experiences with this board and in speaking with a good number of Sabertooth owners here and abroad, I have reached the conclusion that it is an excellent overclocking board, among other things. I think this is a perfect example of what full digital power delivery brings with it. The only issue for the user is the learning curve all of this control over how those volts are delivered to the various components. It will take a little time for the newcomers to overclocking to ferret out just what active full stage phase array and transient response is, how it works, and what effect it has when the VRM fixed frequency is set to 425kHz; well, you get the idea. I have seen people who purchase this board on day one of its release break their own overclock record just last week, without a break in tweaking. You literally could tweak for months with the Sabertooth R2.0 if you wanted to. Then again ASUS can remove that process some of us call fun and auto-tune an overclock for you.
The components used are high grade components and are certified by a third party under military testing and standards, which are spelled out specifically in the certification that comes with the board's bundle. I am not sure if the Sabertooth merely highlights this with this board or if some of them are exclusive, however the high current Alloy chokes with a single piece enclosure are found on other ASUS boards, as well as the solid capacitors and same grade of MOSFETs. It may be that these have been sent somewhere to be certified as part of the T.U.F. series.
In the looks department a military camo-themed board usually garners an eyeroll from me because its treatment is taken way over the top. Not the case with the Sabertooth R2.0 as it is actually understated and tastefully done. If you prefer that your Southbridge looks like several rounds of faux .50 caliber bullets, this is not the board for you. Speaking of looks the very large and stylish heatsinks about the Sabertooth R2.0 are covered with a compound called CeraM!X (yes that is how it's spelled) that not only is used on things that need to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere in all likelihood, but draws the heat away from its source faster and creates 50% more surface area for cooling due to its rough texture. CeraM!X is another good example of ASUS leaving no stone (in this case ceramics) unturned.
As far as very real and tangible time savers offered, the Sabertooth R2.0 has a few that anyone who tweaks for performance will use eventually, if not on a regular basis, in the form of MemOK. I have used this a few times before being a performance tweaker and it is maybe the best onboard feature found on a PCB yet in my opinion. If your memory for any reason has a conflict that will not allow it to boot, a press of this button allows it to patch the problem and boot, or return to the BIOS to investigate. I have no idea how it works but I will stick with my explanation of "a complex set of algorithims" for now and ask ASUS as soon as I get a chance. The second is BIOS Flashback; the ability to flash or re-flash a BIOS with a USB stick and standby power is a real time saver as well. The same can be said of DirectKey, an on-board button that takes you directly to the BIOS for those of us that spend a lot of time there. Above the DirectKey button is a 2-pin connector that you can place your front panel reset connection to for external access.
As usual of late with ASUS motherboards, the con list is very short, as in nonexistent. I really cannot find anything to complain about. The deeper you dig into the Sabertooth 990FX R2.0, the harder it gets to find something you can't access, adjust, or upgrade to. Superior overclocking, efficient, versatile, and sub $200. Not a bad package at all.
- Great looking board
- 8+2 digital power
- Triple/quad Crossfire capability
- Excellent overclocking
- ASUS DIGI+ VRM
- Power delivery connections
- E.S.P. - Efficient Switching Power Design
- TUF components (military certified)
- Turbo EVO Suite II
- Intuitive and responsive UEFI BIOS
- Onboard DirectKey
- MemOK feature
- BIOS Flashback feature
- Build quality