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ECS Black Series A990FXM-A Review

nVidia_Freak    -   September 11, 2011
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Conclusion:

So what's ECS got here? In terms of functionality the A990FXM-A is loaded with USB2/3 and SATA ports, so storage ought to not be an issue. Functionally, the board isn't spectacular having experienced issues with saving overclocking settings or not saving them at all. Additionally, the included overclocking software isn't brilliant and is temperamental as to when it will hang and when it will pass the settings on and doesn't offer anything more than what's offered in the UEFI to begin with. It's more of a hassle to use the OC software and I would recommend steering clear of it. Although overclocking from the UEFI is also rather temperamental, more settings are offered, though the lack of a multiplier control is aggravating, even with a 1055T with a limited 14x multiplier. For someone with a 1090T or higher this could be rather limiting for overclocking. That said, even the UEFI has issues holding settings, but it seems to be more reliable and less of a problem than eOC. The rest of the software isn't mindblowing, but some of it, particularly the Driver Live Update utility have potential to be very helpful. Unfortunately, ECS already isn't keeping the drivers up to date, and for eDLU to be anything more than another thing to add to a list, ECS has to do that.

On the other hand, when the board does function properly, which is more often than I may make it seem, it holds its own. With this board I was able to overclock a 1055T that was previously limited to 3.43GHz at 1.34V with a Gigabyte 890FXA-UD5 to 3.5GHz at stock volts, although, I didn't have much of a choice as to how much power the processor took on, because despite loading the correct bus and RAM speeds, CPU voltage never budged. Within this example of the A990FXM-A working patchily is its surprising strength at overclocking with its ability to overclock not only further, but with less power.

Overall, I quite like the board when it works. When it doesn't work, however, it's sufficiently aggravating. The only other 'problem', which is one that AMD needs to address, is the lack of Bulldozers to use with AM3+ boards such as this one. None of the features that are specifically geared toward these as of yet unreleased processors are able to be used and I have a sneaking suspicion that this board and others like it will shine a little brighter once they are. Until then, I can only recommend it based on what's available now, and as it is, I would stick with an 890FX based board if that's what it would replace unless Bulldozer is on your radar. If this would be a first upgrade in five years, I would also recommend it to be future-proof for Bulldozer. As a sidestep upgrade or a switch from Intel, I would wait for BD to be released first. On the whole, a good board.

 

Pros:

  • Very clean design
  • Extra tall EPS12V power plug
  • Loads of connectivity options
  • Can OC a little further with less power than last generation boards
  • Pleasing when it works

 

Cons:

  • Temperamental BIOS
  • Temperamental OC software
  • Mildly aggravating when it fails...continuously


 

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