ASUS Sabertooth 990FX R2.0 Reviewformerstaff - June 27, 2013
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ASUS Sabertooth 990FX R2.0 Closer Look:
ASUS takes its software very seriously from looks to functionality. The AI II Turbo EVO Suite II looks as powerful as it is. Organized in an intuitive manner, it puts just about any voltage, temperature, or resource usage nearby. Even some of those who are not traditionally fans of overclocking in a software environment will find the ease and option rich environment a bit much to pass up. One thing that ASUS does wonderfully is to animate overclocking adjustments as they are made and carried out. You always know and can watch in real time as that next attempt at a higher frequency is carried out and the heat and voltage being generated and used.
When you open the Sabertooth Turbo EVO you are met with the E-Z Overclocking mode. Here you have control over the reference clock and the unlocked multiplier complete with a cylindrical portrayal GUI that illustrates what you are adjusting . You can also adjust voltages for the memory, APU, NB, and SB. Under the GPU boost tab you can adjust the frequency of the on-die GPU. The CPU multiplier tab lets you choose the cores you want to OC and features a real time animation to illustrate the settings you change. Here you can set the parameters for an auto clock, whether you want it fast or more conservative, or give the program 'Extreme' liberties to manipulate the voltages for the CPU and other functions. When you find a profile that works (or seemingly works) you can name it and store it for later use or updating. Clicking the advanced tab replaces the the fancy GUI on the bottom half with adjustments for more detailed sliders for voltages.
Taking things in your own hands, EVO in concert with the TUF Engine Digital Power gives you the options to change the capacitance for the CPU, CPU/NB, and the DRAM. This raises the level of power available for higher overclocking and more stability by changing the VRM switching frequencies. As in the BIOS, the capacitance adjustments are in 10% increments that range from 100% to 130%, save the phase control that is adjustable to 140%.
Of course while all of this overclocking is taking place, you want to keep an eye on such things as temperatures and voltages to make sure nothing goes awry. ASUS has some of the most thorough real time monitoring programs available today. ASUS EVO Probe II is a complete package that not only monitors temps, voltages, and fan speeds, but also provides the adjustment control to set thresholds for all of them and sets an alarm if they drop below or exceed the tolerance you set. While doing a previous review with the ASUS Digital Power, ASUS Probe II popped up a warning box in the bottom right corner letting me know that the SB voltage had momentarily dropped below the 1.0V I had set. There is also a History Record tab that lets you log the voltage, fan, and temperatures of everything so you can reference it later and see if you need a fan on the VRM/NB heat sinks or not.
Sticking to the monitoring and adjusting theme, ASUS FAN Xpert is a highly customizable fan profile program that lets you enter and change custom fan curves for every fan that draws from the motherboard headers. The idea is made simple with a graphical interface that you drag and drop your fans' temperature setting and RPM on an X-Y axis, and changes take place in real time.
A new application that we did not see with the EVO Suite II accompanying the Formula-Z is the Thermal Radar program. The ASUS Thermal Radar has a GUI that has different spots on the motherboard pinpointed to the location of various sensors around the board. Mousing over them will name the sensor and the result, while on the left is a readout from all of the designated sensors. The Thermal Radar covers fan speeds, V-core, and voltage rails, as well as temperature.
If you are not a heavy duty all out overclocker and prefer to apply an easy overall theme to your operations, ASUS EPU may be more your speed. The GUI is set as a radar graph with different aspects from 'performance' to 'energy saving' to 'tranquility' in operation. On the side there is a CO2 emissions saved readout. While that is not exactly my kind of thing, if you become skillful at this program and being green you can save a tree or two.
ASUS USB BIOS Flashback is a utility that allows you to flash a corrupt BIOS or update and even simply try out a BIOS version. You can also schedule a check for new BIOS versions and download them. The Clear CMOS button on the rear I/O panel is held down for three seconds while a USB drive with a BIOS file is plugged in and the BIOS is updated or flashed back, without the machine even having to be powered on. In fact, the BIOS can be flashed without a CPU or system memory being in place. Paired with BIOS Flashback is ASUS update. From this utility you can update the BIOS from your choice of three ways: directly from the Internet, a download, or from a BIOS file. Choose your method and the program will walk you through a BIOS flash.
ASUS AI Charger enables up to three times the normal charging speed for devices that are compatible, most notably the iPad, iPhone, iPod, etc. It can easily be enabled or disabled from within the software suite. USB 3.0 Boost enables faster transfer rates via UASP protocol and automatically detects the devices' compatibility to take advantage of it. The GUI shows the USB port on the rear I/O panel that is highlighted with a green border to highlight the USB Charger+, so all you have to do is plug into the corresponding port for faster charging than the 4.5-5W routed to a standard USB port. You can also choose the settings for charging under sleep or hibernate modes.
ASUS USB 3.0 Boost boosts transfer speeds for USB storage devices automatically for devices that support it. ASUS claims that with the utilization of both UASP and BOT protocol, read performance is much closer to the rates seen with the use of SATA 6Gb/s ports or up to 170%. ASUS Network iControl optimizes your Internet connection and can prioritize your current network program.
Remote GO! connects absolutely everything electronic (your PC, tablets, smart phones, and TVs) and lets them all communicate, be controlled, and share with each other. All of this can be set up from an existing LAN cable and router setup. It is the definition of 'being wired.'
Again with the Sabertooth 990FX software suite and its new additions, I continue to be impressed with the functionality and how ASUS literally leaves no stone unturned to give the most control of its hardware. The AI Suite II is even more polished than its immediate predecessor and I believe is far and away the best in the industry.