ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 Motherboard Review

Waco - 2013-12-10 18:05:27 in Motherboards
Category: Motherboards
Reviewed by: Waco   
Reviewed on: December 29, 2013
Price: $134.99

ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 Introduction:

All great CPUs need a home. Sometimes that home is a hand-me-down motherboard from computers past (assuming the sockets are the same), but sometimes it's a brand-spanking-new board to house your brand-spanking-new CPU. In my case, I'm tossing my recently acquired AMD FX-8350 into the ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0. That mouthful of letters and numbers represents the newest offering from ASUS sporting the 990FX chipset, AM3+ socket, and enough features to satisfy most without flattening your wallet more than needed.

The ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 offers up similar features to those found in mainstream AMD 990FX chipset boards: SATA 6G ports, 8-channel audio, and enough PCI Express ports to shake a stick at. Additionally, there are an extra two SATA 6G ports thanks to the inclusion of an ASMedia SATA controller. Another ASMedia controller bumps up the complement of eight internal USB 2.0 ports with an additional two internal USB 3.0 ports for ultra-fast connectivity to external devices. With all of these features and a reasonable price, surely ASUS has a hit on its hands here. Keep reading to see if that holds true!

 

ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 Closer Look:

Before we delve into the depths of detail on the board itself, I have to at least show you what your new CPU shrine will arrive in! The box follows the usual styling for ASUS boards, with a mostly black motif accompanied by white and green lettering. ASUS does have a penchant for confusing model numbers and there's no departure from that here: the ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 is indeed a mouthful and is prominently shown on the front of the packaging, along with various features and capabilities. The backside of the box actually goes into surprising detail about these features and specifications, though if you're like me you probably don't look at them more than half a second before opening up your new goodies. Flipping open the top of the box reveals the familiar anti-static bag that protects the circuits very dear to all of us: the body of the machine. While the CPU may be the heart of a rig, surely the motherboard is what makes it beat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Riding along underneath the motherboard is a full complement of SATA cables, an SLI bridge, I/O blocks for easy connections to your case, the I/O backpanel, a driver disc, and a reasonably thick manual. The last of them likely doesn't get opened often, but can be a lifesaver if you don’t have Internet access during your build and need to know where things went wrong! I particularly like the inclusion of the I/O blocks to connect to cases – I absolutely abhor the fact that case connectors haven't been standardized yet and this is a good step forward on the part of ASUS.

ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 Motherboard Closer Look:

Behold, the ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0! Fans of the black and blue will surely fall in love right about here – there's not a single color on the board that isn't a shade of blue aside from the I/O ports on the back and the single green LED near the SATA port cluster. I'm not generally a fan of blue (I'm a red and black sorta guy), but this is definitely an attractive board compared to some of the abominations on the market. You'll also notice not two, not three, but four full-length PCI Express slots for quad-SLI and quad-Crossfire goodness. Unfortunately two of the four slots run at 4x PCIe 2.0, which might limit scalability for extreme setups, but they could be used for fast RAID cards, PCIe SSDs, or sound cards without worrying about slot length.

The CPU VRMs are covered by reasonably beefy heat sinks connected together via a flattened heat pipe. While some heat sinks are clearly designed first for aesthetics and second for cooling capability, the sinks on the M5A99FX Pro R2.0 look like they will be efficient at removing heat while not being a total eyesore at the same time. I have to say, overall, I like the way this board looks. Keep reading for a closer look at what makes it tick!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking at the front edge of the board we are greeted with six edge-mounted SATA ports. The four in white are powered by the SB950 Southbridge, while the two in blue run off of the additional ASMedia controller. While I tend not to like additional controllers for primary drives, additional SATA ports almost never go unused, whether they are powering extra storage or Blu-Ray drives. The seventh internal SATA port is at a right angle to the board near the DIMM slots (the eighth SATA channel powers the eSATA port on the rear panel). The USB 3.0 front panel connector sits next to the 24-pin ATX power fitting. This placement is convenient since many cases commit the cardinal sin of annoying short front panel connector cables.

Spinning the board around we are greeted with a rather busy I/O panel. Dual PS/2 connectors allow for gaming-grade keyboard access along with 1980s-esque mousing. Honestly I don’t know anyone with a PS/2 mouse these days nor do I know of any advantages of using one, so I wish manufacturers would stick to the single dedicated PS/2 port for keyboards. Moving on, there is a Toslink optical output to drive external receivers or optically driven speakers, dual USB 3.0 ports, eight USB 2.0 ports, an eSATA port, and an RJ45 jack for the built-in gigabit Ethernet. Eight channel audio is also supplied with plug detection and remapping available on the fly.

 

 

Moving down to the "bottom" of the board you'll find the complement of four full-length PCIe slots. As I mentioned before two of these run at x16 bandwidth while two run at x4 bandwidth. Thankfully ASUS has laid these out logically where the two blue slots are x16 allowing for a full slot width between a pair of graphics cards in SLI or Crossfire. Seen just below the bottom PCIe slot is the BIOS Flashback button, which allows you to flash the BIOS with a USB stick, a power supply, and the motherboard. This could be extremely handy if your CPU or memory won't allow the board to boot up with its shipping BIOS, but probably not much use beyond that.

In the bottom left of the second picture you can see the tiny little Realtek ALC892 that powers the onboard 8-channel audio. Adorning the bottom of the board are the connectors for front panel audio and USB 2.0 (all six of them!). Continuing along the bottom edge of the board we are greeted with a white COM port header, the direct-to-BIOS DirectKey button, and the front panel switch/LED header. Just above the DirectKey button is the TPU (TurboV Processing Unit) that manages the power distribution among the CPU VRM phases. Just above that lies the small blue heat sink covering the AMD SB950 Southbridge chipset.

 

 

Spinning around 90 degrees reveals a bit better detail on the SATA configuration and the front panel USB 3.0 connector. It is worth noting that absolutely every single fan header on the ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 is a 4-pin PWM-capable header for computing in silent bliss. Not only will it power five fans directly from the board, but it will also allow for digital control over their speeds without the annoying buzzing, clicking, and humming sometimes associated with voltage-controlled fans. At the top corner of the board, next to the DIMM slots, lies the MemOK! button that confirms your memory is seated properly and ready to game on.

 

 

At the very top edge of the board we are greeted by another pair of PWM fan headers, the 8-pin EPS connector for CPU power, and the massive heat sink that keeps the VRMs from becoming molten slag. Just under the 8-channel audio header are the last two PWM fan headers. The two very blue heat sinks are connected by a flat heat pipe that is sure to balance the heat load between the two.

 

 

Last but not least, the AM3+ socket. Here you can house up to 140 watt CPUs and still keep your warranty intact. There is more than enough room around the socket to mount even the most ludicrously large air coolers on the market as long as your memory isn't of the annoyingly tall variety. While ASUS doesn't specifically support it, I'd bet that you could sneak an FX-9590 or FX-9370 into the socket here and game all day long to your heart's content – the power circuitry certainly seems like it is up to the task! The larger of the heat sinks sports a "Dual Intelligent Processors III" label that refers to the pairing of the EPU (Energy Processing Unit) and the TPU (TurboV Processing Unit).

 

ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 Motherboard Closer Look: Programs & Utilities

So the software opens up with what you see as the toolbar at the bottom of the shots below. Just a simple bar that doesn't really let you see much without clicking on things. I felt most of you were smart enough to look and go "oh" without me taking its own image – sorry if you've proven me wrong. Nonetheless clicking on "Tool" brings up something we can work with. A little sub-menu shows at least the main pages for what is to be found as tools. There's quite a bit more there, which we'll go through briefly. The menu shows "TurboV Evo", "DIGI+ Power Control", "EPU", and "Probe II" since I removed quite a few of the utilities I wasn't going to be using during my overclocking endevours (more about that further on!). These all have more menus to go to and play with. But rather than focusing on which tab brings up what – I'll try to just talk about what each page is and its capabilities.

The first page we see shows us the manual mode options where you can change Bus Frequency, Voltages on the CPU and NB, as well as your DRAM voltage. There is even an advanced tab further down that lets you be nit picky on specific voltages from the BIOS. On the right you can look at CPU frequency in real time. You can cycle through each core individually or just look at the loading indicators for each core. If you at any time want to return to stock settings, a lovely "OS Default Settings" button returns you there. Perhaps you have something else to do besides OC all day and you need a "safe" system – this is for you.

The DIGI+ Power Control pages allow you to set things using relative settings of "high" or "low" and in some cases percentages. Here I've set the CPU to VRM Fixed Frequency Mode at 400kHz and the CPU Power Phase control to extreme. There are also sliders on the right that allow you optimize based on power or performance. Obviously higher performance is going to cost you in the efficiency game. The second page gives a few more options on thermal control and response control. The right side of the screen here gives you tips on overclocking a bit – reminding you that a higher value on the VRM controller will provide you better power response for "extreme overclocking".

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving along, we've got up the next screen. The EPU (Energy Processing Unit) is ASUS's intelligent hardware controller that has been integrated with this GUI for user friendliness. The EPU is interconnected with the CPU, systems controller, and many components of the system to help you either get the best performance or the best power savings out of the board and chip based on your preferences. On the menu page for it you can see the pentagon with categories of preference. Selecting either AUTO, High Performance, or Max. power saving will show you different plots of categories. Clicking on configurations allows you to change each of these a little – but for us, we'll stick with High Performance, no need for power saving today!

The FAN Xpert page is next. I won't dwell here long as most of you have seen a fan profile before (either with your mobo or perhaps fan controller). I think you all have a basic idea of how this works. The Probe II settings allow you to set a threshold on your voltages, temperatures, fan speeds, and a few performance tweaks that will give you alerts as you hit them. Defaults leave them all the way open, but if you are trying to fine tune it may help to see when some voltages are going high (since not all of us can read everything at the same time). The sensors on the board can allow you to log voltage, temperature, and fan speed while testing things out. You can find your peak voltage and temperature during your epic battle with Nurgle. The "Sensor Recorder" page actually allows you to see a trend over time and even save some history for how things change between setting changes.

 

 

 

Most of you know about Remote GO! from ASUS. If you want to know a lot more I suggest you take a Google trip. Essentially the Remote GO! feature allows you to gain access of your machine via other DLNA devices you have around the house. For example you could gain access to your music folder with your phone and stream music in another room; or perhaps you want to look at some photos on your home theater from your main machine when the relatives are in  not a problem. You just have to have supported devices to really take advantage. But like I said, take a spin on google and see what more it can do for you specifically.

Too much on that – how about we move on to the AI Charge+. This allows you to increase the rate at which your supported devices charge; up to three times as fast! Be sure your device is supported by the BC 1.1 Function before you get too excited, and of course, actual charging times can vary. It is neat that it is here, but just be sure to have it disabled if you are looking to charge from USB 3.0 without a supported device. There is also the USB 3.0 Boost feature that allows you to speed up transfer rate across USB storage automatically. Obviously for the image I didn't have anything plugged in, but you can play with the different protocols to see what gets you the fastest with your devices.

The Network iControl panel lets you change some basic network options. IControl is supposed to provide you with a smoother online experience – I can't really say for sure if it actually did that. I wouldn't be the last to say that our Internet here kinda sucks. But, I could see with a slightly more reliable network it perhaps having an effect of ups and downs with traffic. You can, however, monitor your bandwidth and observe which programs are running and using the network at a given time. Unlucky for you this shot is of an odd occurrence the Steam.exe isn't showing download rates – but you get the idea.

 

 

 

The System Information window provides you with just that: what board you have, what version, and even the serial number. It also provides you with what version of the BIOS you are currently running so you can check and see if you have the newest and greatest without the reboot. Under the settings menu you can control what applications you actually want enabled. For example, I will NEVER use the EPU or Remote GO!, so I can just disable them here and never have to look at them. It's nice to be able to turn off some of the extra features once in awhile. Again, when you click on some of the options of the original tool bar menu you get another sub-menu to play with. The update tab can get you to the ASUS Update page, the EZ update options, and even the USB flashback app for rolling back a BIOS or two. There is a lot here, and whether or not you use it is completely up to you.

 

ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 Motherboard Closer Look: The BIOS

The new UEFI BIOS pages seem to add more and more to look at, though it doesn't seem like there is really that much more to change; well unless of course you are looking at a DELL motherboard setup. The one thing they tend to offer more of, sometimes, is better descriptions of what the different things you can change actually are (well like I said, sometimes). The ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 is not too hard on the eyes. There are six main tabs to focus what you want to change/look at: Main, Ai Tweaker, Advanced, Monitor, Boot, and Tool. There is also an Exit button in the upper right in case you are not navigating completely with a keyboard. The Main screen shows you quick information on what BIOS version you are currently running, the total amount of memory seen, your system date and time, as well as what your preferred system language is. In the lower right you can see how to navigate the menus with the keyboard options; most of which are pretty straight forward. One worth pointing out, and one which has become popular with UEFI boards, is the F12 function of print screening. This is definitely a handy feature when you want to keep track of settings while setting up your OC or perhaps just having trouble and need your buddy to take a look at what you have set. Either way it's quite handy to be able to dump settings quickly to a USB stick with the literal click of a button.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jumping into the actual fun stuff, let's take a look at the Ai Tweaker tab. There's a little more here than just the tab leads on. You can scroll down to more settings, as well as navigate another layer deep (shown in the next picture set). Default settings are all about set on AUTO, which is the usual pain in the ass of trying to really figure out what the "default" options are. Anyway, this tab allows you to play with the basic CPU settings, adjusting your CPU ratio, turning off the auto OC, and setting up your new memory to run at proper speeds. Scrolling down you can adjust your voltage settings by either choosing AUTO, Offset Mode, or Manual Mode. You can guess which one I'll be playing with – full Manual! It lets you tweak the individual voltages and get a finer tuned OC, or just perhaps a little more out of that OC. Everyone knows that extra bit counts.

 

 

Moving into one of those sub-menus, DRAM Timing Control, you can find even more settings to play with. I think I'll leave these on AUTO for now, but you can really play with your RAM settings here; that's a completely different world of overclocking (no time today). Another sub-menu, DRAM Driving Control, provides even more settings; again I'm showing them off, but we won't get into the details in this review – just enjoy knowing they are there. Additional sub-menus include: OC Tuner and DIGI+ Power Control where you guessed it, you can play with more settings for your overclock and power management settings. Are you power saving or power hungry?

 

 

The Advanced tab has some more settings, perhaps not all advanced, but provide you with a nice list of menus to access what you are looking to fix. Beneath the CPU Configuration options you can toggle some of those features that are often hard to find. Cool'n'Quiet is listed here along with the C1E settings and Core C6 State options that can often help quite a bit in getting that last bit. One new-to-me feature, as I haven't had a board with it before, is the HPC Mode. It is supposed to keep the CPU from throttling. It is intended, I think, to be much like the big high performance clusters and never throttle down. However, in practice it seems to still throttle at some point.

 

 

The Monitor tab does just what you'd expect: it provides live updates of what is happening right now on the board. It sees the CPU's reported temperature, the VCORE voltage, the different voltage rails, and even fan speeds for those plugged into the board. Further down the list you can set fan profile options and even set a minimum speed you want your CPU fan to run at. This ensures that even on the quiet mode your fan keeps some air moving.

 

 

The Boot tab is pretty straight forward and I won't dwell long here. You can enable "Fast Boot" to reduce your start up time by reducing the devices launched with boot. With it Enabled you can see that USB will partially initialize, PS/2 will fully initialize, and your network ROM won't even go. After a power loss it knows to boot up slowly and make sure things are okay and defaults to a Normal Boot after an outage. You can of course tweak these settings as you see fit. It's enabled by default and really I see no reason for it to be disabled. The rest of your standard boot options are here as well: turn off that full screen logo, be sure to wait for the F1 on error, and get things set the way you like it on boot.

 

The final tab of most of these UEFI BIOS pages is the Tool tab. It allows you to easily flash your BIOS with a thumb drive and access saved OC BIOS settings so you can go back to something you know is stable without going all the way back to stock every time (no more losing your settings). The SPD menu gets you access to the RAM timings directly off the sticks. It can read the XMP profiles for Intel boards, but unfortunately these sticks lack the AMP profiles that AMD supports.

 

ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 Motherboard Specifications:

CPU:
AMD AM3+ FX™/Phenom™ II/Athlon™ II/Sempron™ 100 Series Processors
Supports AM3+ 32 nm CPU
Supports CPU up to 8 cores
Supports CPU up to 140 W
AMD Cool 'n' Quiet™ Technology
Chipset:
AMD 990FX/SB950
Memory:
4 x DIMM, Max. 32GB, DDR3 2133(O.C.)/1866/1600/1333/1066 MHz ECC, Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel Memory Architecture
* Refer to www.asus.com for the Memory QVL (Qualified Vendors Lists).
* Due to OS limitation, when installing total memory of 4GB capacity or more, Windows® 32-bit operation system may only recognize less than 3GB. Install a 64-bit Windows® OS when you want to install 4GB or more memory on the motherboard.
* Due to CPU spec., AMD 100 series CPUs support up to DDR3 1066MHz. With ASUS design, this motherboard can support up to DDR3 1333MHz.
System Bus:
Up to 5.2 GT/s HyperTransport™ 3.0
Multi-GPU Support:
Supports NVIDIA® Quad-GPU SLI™ Technology
Supports AMD Quad-GPU CrossFireX™ Technology
Expansion Slots:
2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (dual x16)
2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (x4 mode, black)
1 x PCIe 2.0 x1
1 x PCI
Storage:
AMD SB950 controller :
5 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), gray
1 x eSATA port(s), red
ASMedia® PCIe SATA controller :
2 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), navy blue
LAN:
Realtek® 8111F, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s)
Audio:
Realtek® ALC892 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking
Audio Feature :
- Absolute Pitch 192kHz/ 24-bit True BD Lossless Sound
- Blu-ray audio layer Content Protection
- DTS Ultra PC II
- DTS Connect
- ASUS Noise Filter
- Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
USB Ports:
ASMedia® USB 3.0 controller :
4 x USB 3.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, blue, 2 at mid-board)
AMD SB950 controller :
14 x USB 2.0 port(s) (8 at back panel, black, 6 at mid-board)
ROG Exclusive Features:
Overclocking Protection :
- ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
Special Features:
ASUS Dual Intelligent Processors 3 with New DIGI+ Power Control :
 
SMART DIGI+ :
- Smart DIGI+ Key- Quickly delivers optimized VRM frequency, voltage and current for superior CPU/DRAM overclocking performance with one click.
ASUS TPU :
- Auto Tuning
- TurboV
ASUS EPU :
- EPU
ASUS Digital Power Design :
- Industry leading Digital 6 + 2 Phase CPU Power Design
- Industry leading Digital 2 Phase DRAM Power Design
- CPU Power Utility
- DRAM Power Utility
ASUS Exclusive Features :
- Remote GO!
- USB BIOS Flashback
- MemOK!
- AI Suite II
- Ai Charger+
- Front Panel USB 3.0 Support
- ASUS UEFI BIOS EZ Mode featuring friendly graphics user interface
- Network iControl
- USB 3.0 Boost
ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution :
- Stylish Fanless Design Heat-pipe solution
- ASUS Fan Xpert
ASUS EZ DIY :
- DirectKey
- Precision Tweaker 2
- ASUS O.C. Profile
- ASUS EZ Flash 2
- ASUS MyLogo 2
- Multi-language BIOS
ASUS Q-Design :
- ASUS Q-LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, Boot Device LED)
- ASUS Q-Slot
- ASUS Q-DIMM
- ASUS Q-Connector
Operating System Support:
Windows® 8.1
Windows® 8
Windows® 7
Windows® Vista
Windows® XP
Back I/O Ports:
1 x PS/2 keyboard (purple)
1 x PS/2 mouse (green)
1 x eSATA
1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
2 x USB 3.0
8 x USB 2.0 (one port can be switched to USB BIOS Flashback)
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
6 x Audio jack(s)
Internal I/O Ports:
1 x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 2 USB 3.0 port(s) (19-pin)
3 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 6 USB 2.0 port(s)
1 x TPM connector(s)
1 x COM port(s) connector(s)
7 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)
1 x CPU Fan connector(s) (4 -pin)
1 x CPU OPT Fan connector(s) (4 -pin)
3 x Chassis Fan connector(s) (4 -pin)
1 x S/PDIF out header(s)
1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
1 x Front panel audio connector(s) (AAFP)
1 x System panel(s) (Q-Connector)
1 x DirectKey Button(s)
1 x DRCT header(s)
1 x MemOK! button(s)
1 x Clear CMOS jumper(s)
1 x USB BIOS Flashback button(s)
Accessories:
User's manual
I/O Shield
4 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)
1 x SLI bridge(s)
1 x Q-connector(s) (2 in 1)
BIOS:
64 Mb Flash ROM, UEFI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.7, ACPI 2.0a, Multi-language BIOS, ASUS EZ Flash 2, F12 PrintScreen, F3 Shortcut Function and ASUS DRAM SPD (Serial Presence Detect) memory information
Manageability:
WfM 2.0, DMI 2.0, WOL by PME, WOR by PME, PXE
Support Disk:
Drivers
ASUS Utilities
ASUS Update
Anti-virus software (OEM version)
Form Factor:
ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm )

 

ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 Motherboard Features:

 

 

Information courtesy of: http://www.asus.com/Motherboards/M5A99FX_PRO_R20/#specifications

ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 Motherboard Testing

Testing the ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 motherboard will involve running it through OCC's test suite of benchmarks, which includes both synthetic benchmarks and real-world applications, to see how each of these products perform. The gaming tests will also consist of both synthetic benchmarks and actual gameplay, in which we can see if similarly prepared setups offer any performance advantages. The system will receive a fully updated, fresh install of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit edition, in addition to the latest drivers for each board and Nvidia GeForce 331.93 drivers for the GTX 770. In the past we had locked the clock speed on the processor to eliminate any easily controlled variables due to processor speed. However there is a difference in how each manufacturer handles the CPU default and boost speeds creating opportunity for one board to deliver a higher level of performance. This variable is a point of difference between boards. The majority of users will run the stock settings making this point a valid concern so we are changing up the test methods to capture this difference.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Motherboards:

 

 

ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 Motherboard Overclocking:

Overclocked Settings:

Overclocking with the ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 was relatively straightforward. I followed the usual method of disabling any power-saving options, locked in frequencies manually, and set about my way cranking up the speed. To make things move more quickly, after setting the basics in the BIOS, I fired up ASUS AI Suite to start iterating on my settings. After a few rounds through setting and testing I was sitting fat and happy at a very much thermally limited 4715 MHz at 1.43 volts. Any lower on the voltage would yield a failure on core #5 (which was the first one to fail in every single test) and any higher on either the voltage or clocks pushed the CPU into thermal throttling after a few minutes of Prime95. The final settings ended up being 200x23.5, 1.43 volts vcore, and 1.225 volts to the memory controller. All of my testing was done with the H100i cranked up to the unbearable maximum of its two 120mm screamers, but there just wasn't any more headroom to keep it cool under load; the 8350 is not a cool chip when cranked this high. The last 15 MHz came from the board slightly overclocking the FSB even though I locked it in at 200 MHz.

 

 

Maximum Core Clock Speed:

 

Benchmarks:

  1. PCMark 8
  2. SiSoft Sandra 2014
  3. Cinebench 11.5
  4. X.264 5.1
  5. AIDA 64 4.00
  6. Crystal Disk Mark
  7. iPerf
  8. Rightmark Audio Analyzer
  1. 3DMark
  2. Metro: Last Light
  3. DiRT 3

ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 Motherboard Testing:

PCMark 8 is the latest iteration of Futuremark's popular PCMark system performance tool. This version is designed for use on Windows 7 and 8 PCs and features a combination of 5 different test suites to accurately measure the performance of all PCs from laptops to desktops.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

  

  

 

 

SiSoft Sandra 2014 is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful. For this benchmark, I will be running a broad spectrum of tests to gauge the performance of key functions of the CPUs.

Overall Score

  

 

With the two boards being so similar in build and final overclocked speed these results are no surprise. I expect them to continue to be neck and neck for essentially all of the tests, with the slight edge going to the Gigabyte board on average in the overclocked tests since it managed to run about 15 MHz faster. It's not much of a difference, but it's about the only differentiating performance feature between it and the ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0.

ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 Motherboard Testing:

Cinebench 11.5 is useful for testing your system, CPU, and OpenGL capabilities using the software program, CINEMA 4D. We will be using the default tests for this benchmark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

X.264 Benchmark: This benchmark is used to measure the time it takes to encode a 1080p video file into the x264 format. The default benchmark is used with an average of all four tests on each pass taken as the result.

  

  

 

AIDA64 Extreme Edition 4.0 is a software utility designed to be used for hardware diagnosis and benchmarking. I will be using the Cache and Memory benchmark tool to measure memory performance.

 

  

  

  

  

 

Again, the two boards are totally locked in sync with each other. Both perform quite well and both get a pretty good boost from the overclock to just over 4.7 GHz. The ASUS board did seem to have a slight edge in the memory tests, but the results are so close that I doubt they're much past statistical noise.

ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 Motherboard Testing:

Crystal Disk Mark 3.0: Crystal Disk Mark is a hard drive benchmark designed to measure the read and write speeds of drives by using 4k blocks, 512k blocks, and sequential data. For the test, we chose the 1000MB option.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 once again kept stride with the Gigabyte competition. This, again, isn't all that surprising considering both contenders sport the same I/O chipset. I wish I could pick out a winner here, but they're both essentially equal.

ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 Motherboard Testing:

LAN performance will be tested via a pair of utilities to gauge the performance of the on board network solutions. The motherboard being tested will be connected via a Gigabit switch to another system with an integrated Gigabit network solution on board.

iPerf: is a small lightweight utility run from the command prompt and can be used to "measure both TCP and UDP performance on a network. IPerf is cross platform software and open source." The test is configured to run for 20 seconds with a window size of 256 KB and four simultaneous streams that should be able to saturate the TCP link on a good NIC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rightmark Audio Analyzer 6.3 is used to test the sound solution on board each motherboard. Nothing beats a good set of ears and headphones but this is a graphic representation of the capabilities of the installed hardware. Sampling mode is 24bit 44kHz.

 
Gigabyte 990FXA-UD3
ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0
Frequency Response dB
+0.07,-0.18
+0.13,+ 0.07
Noise Level dBA
-89.9
-85.5
Dynamic Range dBA
89.9
85.5
Total Harmonic distortion %
0.130
0.130
Intermodulation distortion +noise
0.257
0.256
Stereo Crosstalk,db
-86.2
-85.3
Intermodulation distortion + noise (Swept Freq) %
0.322
0.323
Frequency Response (Swept Sine), db
+0.1,-0.1
+0.1,-0.1

Both boards were essentially identical in the network performance tests; if bandwidth is a concern neither will leave you starved. The ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 did stand out in the Rightmark audio test, but not exactly in a great way. Its frequency response was very slightly better, but the noise floor, dynamic range, and crosstalk numbers were all a few decibles short of the Gigabyte board. Fear not, however, since these differences are so slight that even those who claim to have golden ears are extremely unlikely to notice the differences. Both performed admirably, if a bit short of their advertised ratings.

ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 Motherboard Testing:

3DMark: The just released version of Futuremark's popular 3DMark suite is designed to let a wider range of the user base the ability to make a comparative analysis of the gaming prowess of their systems from entry level PCs to notebooks and Extreme Gaming PCs.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DiRT 3 is the third iteration of this series. Published and developed by Codemasters, this game uses the EGO 2.0 game engine and was released in the US on PC in May of 2011.

Settings

 

 

Part first-person shooter, part survival horror, Metro: Last Light is the followup to the extremely popular game Metro 2033. Developed by 4A games and published by Deepsilver, this game uses the 4A game engine. In this game set a year after the missile strike on the Dark Ones you continue on as Artyom as he digs deeper into the bowels of the Metro.

 

 

Settings:

 

 

 

More of the same here – both boards are neck and neck. In gaming neither dissapoints. I feel somewhat like a broken record here!

ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 Motherboard Conclusion:

So what does all of this sum up to? In short, ASUS has delivered a midrange board for somewhat less than midrange pricing (even before mail-in-rebates). It performs well, overclocks well, is loaded with features and expandability, and doesn't break the bank. If you had to ask me to improve the ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 I'd be hard-pressed to say anything. Perhaps the color scheme could be changed (hey, I don't like blue!), perhaps the extra PS/2 port could be removed, but really, these are minor things. There is no major feature or specification that I'd change if asked to tweak things to my liking.

So the real question is why would you buy this over any other midrange AMD 990FX board? In short, the small stuff. Five PWM fan headers provide the ability to compute in peace. Up to 14 USB 2.0 ports and four USB 3.0 ports make running out of external ports a non-issue. The included software is great, even for pushing an overclock to the limit from within Windows, and the BIOS is similarly well laid-out. The extra SATA ports allow for extra devices without losing the ability to run a crazy RAID setup if you so choose. Even the things you may only use a single time, like the MemOK! button and the USB BIOS Flashback, are worthwhile additions – though you may never need them, the one time you do you'll be thanking the stars you chose the M5A99FX Pro R2.0.

I know that I'll be keeping it around to house the FX-8350 that hums along at 4.7 GHz without even pretending to think about overheating the onboard VRMs.

 

 

Pros:

 

Cons: